How did Lazarus and
Jesus' mother Mary DIE?

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QUESTION: How did Mary, the mother of Jesus, die? I know that Lazarus was resurrected from the dead by Christ. When and how did he die the SECOND time?

ANSWER: The Bible itself is silent regarding how Mary and Lazarus died. The last mention of Mary in Scripture is her meeting regularly with the disciples in Jerusalem, after the ascension of Christ, for prayer (Acts 1:14). What we know is mostly based on tradition.

Roman Catholic tradition, found in its apocryphal works dating back to the second century A.D., holds that after the death of her firstborn son Jesus that Mary (the sister of Lazarus) lived out her life in Jerusalem. The place venerated as her tomb is supposedly located near Jerusalem in the valley of Kidron. Nothing is stated regarding the cause of her death, how old she was or what year she died. There is a possibly problem, however, with the idea that Mary lived out her life in Jerusalem and died in the city.

The Bible is clear that the apostle John was charged directly by Christ on the cross to take care of his mother (something which, as a side note, would not be needed if Mary's husband Joseph was still living - John 19:26 - 27). How long John and Mary stayed in Jerusalem after Christ's death is not known.

We do know, however, that in all likelihood (based on Foxe's Book of Martyrs) John was the person who started churches in Smyrna, Pergamos, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, and Thyatira (six out of the seven churches of Revelation). All these churches were located in Asia Minor and were fairly close to Ephesus. John's long-time residence in the city is well-known.

In fact, it is widely held (even among the Catholics) that John, after writing the book of Revelation and his release from being banished to the island of Patmos, lived out the remainder of his days in Ephesus. Given that the bulk of his pastoral work was in Asia Minor, not Palestine, it seems more plausible that John took Mary with him as he labored spreading the gospel and that she spent the last years of her life in Ephesus.

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Lazarus was the brother of Mary and Martha. The story of his death, why Jesus seemed unconcerned and uncaring when told he had died, and the miracle of resurrecting him in the face of many who hated him, is a fascinating story of itself (see John 11:1 - 4, 6, 17, 20 - 21, 23 - 27, 32 - 34, 39 - 47).

There is no known Biblical reference to the death of Lazarus a second time after being resurrected from the grave. The Chief priests and other religious leaders, however, certainly WANTED to kill him a second time because his resurrection was causing many Jews to leave Judaism and begin to believe in Christ.

9. Then a great crowd of the Jews found out that He was there. And they came, not only because of Jesus, but also that they might see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead.

10. But the chief priests took counsel in order that they might kill Lazarus also; 11. Because by reason of him, many of the Jews were leaving them and believing in Jesus.

17. Then the group that was with Him when He called Lazarus out of the tomb, and raised him from the dead, testified of what they had seen. 18. Because of this, the people also met Him, for they had heard of this miracle that He had done. 19. Then the Pharisees said among themselves, "Do you see that we are not gaining in any way? Look! The world has gone after Him." (John 12:9 - 11, 17 - 19, HBFV)

Catholic tradition states Lazarus was the first Bishop of Marseilles and that he died somewhere in the second half of the first century A.D. The Greek church claims his body was eventually brought to Constantinople and buried there. No other information exists.

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