The miracle of Lasarus is recounted in the Gospel of John (II:1) which tells how Mary Magdalene's brother, Lasarus, fell ill and died. Jesus arrived in the village of Bethany four days later, telling Mary to take heart, saying "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." (John 11:25-26) In the presence of a crowd of Jewish mourners, Jesus had the stone rolled away from the tomb and bade Lazarus to come out, and so he did, still wrapped in his grave-cloths.
This second version of the subject (the larger version having been executed ten years previously) displays a more authentic spirituality than the earlier plate. Compared to the looming drama of the larger etching, the present composition is more human in scale, with Jesus integrated into the crowd who share with him this intimate mystical event.