The Mystery of the Lazeruses and Simon the Leper

Simon the Leper was of Bethany:

Matthew 26:6-13

6 Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon, a man who had suffered from a dreaded skin disease. 7 While Jesus was eating, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar filled with an expensive perfume, which she poured on his head. 8 The disciples saw this and became angry. "Why all this waste?" they asked. 9 "This perfume could have been sold for a large amount and the money given to the poor!" 10 Jesus knew what they were saying, and so he said to them, "Why are you bothering this woman? It is a fine and beautiful thing that she has done for me. 11 You will always have poor people with you, but you will not always have me. 12 What she did was to pour this perfume on my body to get me ready for burial. 13 Now, I assure you that wherever this gospel is preached all over the world, what she has done will be told in memory of her." (TEV)

Mark 14:3-9

3 Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon, a man who had suffered from a dreaded skin disease. While Jesus was eating, a woman came in with an alabaster jar full of a very expensive perfume made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on Jesus' head. 4 Some of the people there became angry and said to one another, "What was the use of wasting the perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than three hundred silver coins and the money given to the poor!" And they criticized her harshly. 6 But Jesus said, "Leave her alone! Why are you bothering her? She has done a fine and beautiful thing for me. 7 You will always have poor people with you, and any time you want to, you can help them. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could; she poured perfume on my body to prepare it ahead of time for burial. 9 Now, I assure you that wherever the gospel is preached all over the world, what she has done will be told in memory of her." (TEV)

If the story in John is the same (it agrees on many points, big difference is that John specifies the perfume was poured on the feet rather than head as specified in Matthew and Mark - perhaps it was poured on the head and feet), Mary, Martha and Lazarus lived in Simon's house:

John 12:1-7

12:1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus went to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, the man he had raised from death. 2 They prepared a dinner for him there, which Martha helped serve; Lazarus was one of those who were sitting at the table with Jesus. 3 Then Mary took a whole pint of a very expensive perfume made of pure nard, poured it on Jesus' feet, and wiped them with her hair. The sweet smell of the perfume filled the whole house. 4 One of Jesus' disciples, Judas Iscariot--the one who was going to betray him--said, 5 "Why wasn't this perfume sold for three hundred silver coins and the money given to the poor?" 6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief. He carried the money bag and would help himself from it. 7 But Jesus said, "Leave her alone! Let her keep what she has for the day of my burial. (TEV)

The similarities are striking. All three stories took place in Bethany. All three were perfume poured by a woman. Mark and John specifically state the value as a year's wages. All three stories then switch to Jesus' betrayal (by Judas ben Simon in Matthew and Mark) or the subject of Jesus death (and Lazarus' death as well by the chief priests). All three imply close proximity in time to Jesus arrest. All three took place at a social gathering. Mark possibly implies Jesus as a guest of honor (He is reclining at Simon's table) and John overtly states Jesus was guest of honor. All three specify astonishment at the "waste" of the perfume's value - if these were separate events it is unlikely that the reaction would have been so similar for a second (or even third) event.

Lazarus is a shortened form of Eleazar, meaning "God has helped"

Lazarus the Leper is reported:


19 "There was once a rich man who dressed in the most expensive clothes and lived in great luxury every day. 20 There was also a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who used to be brought to the rich man's door, 21 hoping to eat the bits of food that fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs would come and lick his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to sit beside Abraham at the feast in heaven. The rich man died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, where he was in great pain, he looked up and saw Abraham, far away, with Lazarus at his side. 24 So he called out, "Father Abraham! Take pity on me, and send Lazarus to dip his finger in some water and cool off my tongue, because I am in great pain in this fire!' 25 But Abraham said, "Remember, my son, that in your lifetime you were given all the good things, while Lazarus got all the bad things. But now he is enjoying himself here, while you are in pain. 26 Besides all that, there is a deep pit lying between us, so that those who want to cross over from here to you cannot do so, nor can anyone cross over to us from where you are.' 27 The rich man said, "Then I beg you, father Abraham, send Lazarus to my father's house, 28 where I have five brothers. Let him go and warn them so that they, at least, will not come to this place of pain.' 29 Abraham said, "Your brothers have Moses and the prophets to warn them; your brothers should listen to what they say.' 30 The rich man answered, "That is not enough, father Abraham! But if someone were to rise from death and go to them, then they would turn from their sins.' 31 But Abraham said, "If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone were to rise from death.'" (TEV)

Lazarus the Brother of Mary and Martha is reported:

John 11:1-44

11:1 A man named Lazarus, who lived in Bethany, became sick. Bethany was the town where Mary and her sister Martha lived. 2 ( This Mary was the one who poured the perfume on the Lord's feet and wiped them with her hair; it was her brother Lazarus who was sick.) 3 The sisters sent Jesus a message: "Lord, your dear friend is sick." 4 When Jesus heard it, he said, "The final result of this sickness will not be the death of Lazarus; this has happened in order to bring glory to God, and it will be the means by which the Son of God will receive glory." 5 Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 Yet when he received the news that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was for two more days. 7 Then he said to the disciples, "Let us go back to Judea." 8 "Teacher," the disciples answered, "just a short time ago the people there wanted to stone you; and are you planning to go back?" 9 (C) Jesus said, "A day has twelve hours, doesn't it? So those who walk in broad daylight do not stumble, for they see the light of this world. 10 But if they walk during the night they stumble, because they have no light." 11 Jesus said this and then added, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I will go and wake him up." 12 The disciples answered, "If he is asleep, Lord, he will get well." 13 Jesus meant that Lazarus had died, but they thought he meant natural sleep. 14 So Jesus told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead, 15 but for your sake I am glad that I was not with him, so that you will believe. Let us go to him." 16 (C) Thomas (called the Twin) said to his fellow disciples, "Let us all go along with the Teacher, so that we may die with him!" 17 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had been buried four days before. 18 Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many Judeans had come to see Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother's death. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, "If you had been here, Lord, my brother would not have died! 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask him for." 23 "Your brother will rise to life," Jesus told her. 24 "I know," she replied, "that he will rise to life on the last day." 25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me will live, even though they die; 26 and those who live and believe in me will never die. Do you believe this?" 27 "Yes, Lord!" she answered. "I do believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who was to come into the world." 28 After Martha said this, she went back and called her sister Mary privately. "The Teacher is here," she told her, "and is asking for you." 29 When Mary heard this, she got up and hurried out to meet him. 30 (Jesus had not yet arrived in the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him.) 31 The people who were in the house with Mary comforting her followed her when they saw her get up and hurry out. They thought that she was going to the grave to weep there. 32 Mary arrived where Jesus was, and as soon as she saw him, she fell at his feet. "Lord," she said, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died!" 33 Jesus saw her weeping, and he saw how the people with her were weeping also; his heart was touched, and he was deeply moved. 34 "Where have you buried him?" he asked them. "Come and see, Lord," they answered. 35 Jesus wept. 36 "See how much he loved him!" the people said. 37 But some of them said, "He gave sight to the blind man, didn't he? Could he not have kept Lazarus from dying?" 38 Deeply moved once more, Jesus went to the tomb, which was a cave with a stone placed at the entrance. 39 "Take the stone away!" Jesus ordered. Martha, the dead man's sister, answered, "There will be a bad smell, Lord. He has been buried four days!" 40 Jesus said to her, "Didn't I tell you that you would see God's glory if you believed?" 41 They took the stone away. Jesus looked up and said, "I thank you, Father, that you listen to me. 42 I know that you always listen to me, but I say this for the sake of the people here, so that they will believe that you sent me." 43 After he had said this, he called out in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" 44 (C) He came out, his hands and feet wrapped in grave cloths, and with a cloth around his face. "Untie him," Jesus told them, "and let him go." (TEV)

Mary and Martha are mentioned in Luke, but Lazarus is notorious by his absence & the house is specified as Martha's house:

Luke 10:38-41

  1. As Jesus and his disciples went on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha welcomed him in her home. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat down at the feet of the Lord and listened to his teaching. 40 Martha was upset over all the work she had to do, so she came and said, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to come and help me!" 41 The Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha! You are worried and troubled over so many things, (TEV)

If fact, the only Lazarus mentioned in Luke is Lazarus the Leper. (See above)

The Roman Catholic tradition of Saint Lazarus, who was raised from the dead, is that he was a leper:

Saints Preserve Us!, Sean Kelly & Rosemary Rogers, Random House, 1993 pp177-178

Lazarus, if he was Simon's son, would be referred to as Lazarus ben Simon.

Simon is a very common name attributed to twelve different individuals in the NT and Apochropha.

Could Lazarus and Simon be the same person, called Lazarus due to the commoness of the name Simon?

Or, (Judas Iscariot was mentioned as being present at Simon's house in Matthew and Mark), could Simon be Judas' father and he and Lazarus brothers?

The report of Jesus of the Leper Lazarus in Luke was that the rich man in Hell wanted Lazarus to come back from the dead to warn his family of the reality of Hell. It was further reported that the rich man's family would not listen to Lazarus. Abraham did not say that Lazarus would not be sent back.

The Lazarus reported in John was brought back from the dead and the Pharisees would not listen to him and plotted to murder him.

John 12:10

10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus too, 11 because on his account many Jews were rejecting them and believing in Jesus. (TEV)

The biggest problem with the Lazaruses being the same person is that the Lazarus of Luke is very poor and would be happy to have food scraps that fell from the table of the rich man and that the Lazarus of John appears to be modestly affluent. The probability of affluence is based on the cost of the perfume poured by Mary, the probable large size of the house allowing a large number of people to be entertained and the fact that Lazarus had a cave tomb covered with a rock.


1) A person with leprosy at that time was segregated from society and not allowed any normal social intercourse.

2) Depictions of lepers that I have seen are not necessarily poor. Remember the movie Sea of Joy - the lepers (untouchables) provided the Rickshaw.

3) It seems reasonable that a leper would be happy with the social droppings from the rich (in social status) man's table. The story presents a vast contrast between the affluence of the rich man and the relative poorness of Lazarus.

4) If Lazarus was one of those cured of leprosy (none are named), and he was cured early in Christ's ministry, many of these issues would be manageable.

5) The master of the house portrayed in Luke was Simon the Leper. If Simon could be a leper and be the master of the probably affluent house, why could not Lazarus? Wouldn't Lazarus have a tendency toward the disease if Simon was the master of the house and Lazarus lived there?

6) Perhaps one of the reasons Jesus wept at the ressurection of Lazarus was because he had lived his life as a leper and had to re-enter the world and it's cruelty out of mercy for the rich man's family.

7) What a lesson this would be to the Pharisees if the Lazaruses are the same - Jesus' great mercy overcoming the statement of the Law by Abraham, and the predicted outcome the same. The story of Lazarus in Luke is an object lesson in the law and the mercy of God via Jesus - presented specifically for the Pharasees.