The Saturday of Lazarus

lazarusToday is a day of transition.  Today is the day we transition from the season of Great Lent and begin the Holiest of weeks on the Church calendar.  As we heard in the Hymns of Vespers last night:

We have completed the forty days that profit our souls. Now let us beg the Lover of Man: enable us to see the Holy Week of Your passion, that we may glorify Your mighty work, Your wonderful plan for our salvation, as we sing with one heart and voice: “O Lord, glory to You!”

The hymns of the services this week have been telling the story of Lazarus:

Lazarus is now three days in the tomb; he sees the dead from all the ages. It is a bazaar and terrifying sight. He sees countless souls chained as prisoners in Hades. His sisters cry bitter tears before his tomb. But Christ comes to bring his friend life. And all of us together offer one single hymn of praise: O Savior, you are blessed! Have mercy on us!

Those hymns were preparing us for the feast that we celebrate today.

But why do we set aside a day to recall the raising of Lazarus form the dead?  Why Lazarus and not the many others that were raised from the dead? The resurrection of Lazarus is seen as “prophecy in action.” In this resurrection we see both the Resurrection of Christ as well as the general resurrection of all of the dead at the end of time.

As we heard in the Hymns of Vespers last night, the resurrection is more than an event it is a person, Jesus Himself that bestows on all of us who believe in Him, eternal life now and not at some obscure time in the future.

We also see, for the first time, the revelation of the two natures of Christ.  Jesus knew that Lazarus was going to die and He knew what the final outcome would be.  We also have a glimpse of the humanity of Jesus.  Scripture tells of the deep feels and very human emotions that Jesus felt upon learning of the death of His friend, even though He knew He was going to raise Him.  We see Jesus consoling the sisters of Lazarus and showing genuine concern for their well being.  We will see more of the humanity of Jesus in the coming days.

The other interesting point is Lazarus came forth from the tomb completely wrapped in his burial shroud from head to toe.  When the women go to the Tomb on the day of Resurrection, the burial shroud of Jesus has been left behind, Jesus was not going need His shroud again, but Lazarus would need it as he would meet death once again.

We have completed what we set out to do and now we transition to the rest of the story.

These past six weeks we have spent time focusing on gaining control over the passions.  This is a necessary part of our spiritual journey or our Theosis, as we transition in our lives.  Our journey is just that, a journey that has a beginning and an end.  It starts with the realization that we have to make a change and it ends, well, with the end.

Today begins Jesus’ journey to his eventual end.  Jesus was well aware of what was waiting for Him at the end of His journey and last Sunday we heard Him tell His closest friends what was going to happen.  During the coming week we will see Jesus in His most human moments, as we see today.  Take time in these coming days to reflect on that journey and take the time to walk along with Jesus.

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