Today and tomorrow are a bridge between Great Lent and Holy Week. Great Lent ended last night, and today and tomorrow are feastdays in the Church. Today is the Saturday of Lazarus, which commemorates the raising of Lazarus from the dead. He had been dead for four days when Jesus spoke just a few words to bring life back into his friend Lazarus.
“Lazarus, come out!” These were the only words that Jesus had to speak before Lazarus walked out of his own tomb wrapped in burial clothes. (You can read the entire story below.) The point I wish to bring to your attention today is that of all the miracles Jesus performed while on Earth, this is the one the reveals his creative power, just as if we were reading Genesis. “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” (Genesis 1.3) With just a few words, God created light, fish, birds, crawling things, trees and vegetation, and EVERYTHING else except human beings. When it came to humans, He used His hands. (You can read the entire Creation story in Genesis 1 and 2)
By bringing life back to Lazarus with a just a few words, Jesus was reminding all those watching that He was indeed God, the Giver of Life. This is the same Jesus that next week we will follow through His trial, execution, death, burial and eventual resurrection. Great Lent has been preparing us for the next week. The celebration of Holy and Pascha next week is the story of God recreating us with life.
That is a reason to celebrate. We don’t stop fasting yet, but we do celebrate. The raising of Lazarus from the dead was such an important event, that huge crowds gathered on Palm Sunday to welcome the King of Kings to claim His people. More about that tomorrow.
At that time, a certain man was ill, Lazaros of Bethany, from the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazaros was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, "Lord, he whom you love is ill." But when Jesus heard it he said, "This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it."
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazaros. So when he heard that he was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, "Let us go into Judea again." The disciples said to him, "Rabbi, the Jews were but now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?" Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any one walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if any one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him." Thus he spoke, and then he said to them, "Our friend Lazaros has fallen asleep, but I go to awake him out of sleep." The disciples said to him, "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover." Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, "Lazaros is dead; and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him." Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."
Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazaros had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary sat in the house. Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. And even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you." Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world."
When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying quietly, "The Teacher is here and is calling for you." And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. Then Mary, when she came where Jesus was and saw him, fell at his feet, saying to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled; and he said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see." Jesus wept. So the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?"
Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb; it was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, "Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days." Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?" So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you have heard me always, but I have said this on account of the people standing by, that they may believe that you did send me." When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, "Lazaros, come out." The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go." Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him. – John 11.1-45