Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday
Visible triumphs are few within the earthly life of our Lord Jesus Christ. He preached a kingdom “not of this world.” At His nativity within the flesh there was “no room at the inn.” For practically thirty years, whereas He grew “in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52), He lived in obscurity as “the son of Mary.” When He appeared from Nazareth to start His public ministry, one of the primary to listen to of Him requested: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). In the tip He was crucified between two thieves and laid to relaxation in the tomb of one other man.
Two temporary days stand out as sharp exceptions to the above—days of clearly observable triumph. These days are recognized within the Church as we speak as Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday. Together they type a unified liturgical cycle which serves because the passage from the forty days of Great Lent to Holy Week. They are the distinctive and paradoxical days earlier than the Lord’s Passion. They are days of seen, earthly triumph, of resurrectional and messianic pleasure in which Christ Himself is a deliberate and lively participant. At the identical time they’re days which level past themselves to an final victory and closing kingship which Christ will attain not by elevating one useless man or coming into a specific metropolis, however by His personal imminent struggling, loss of life and resurrection.
By elevating Lazarus from the useless earlier than Thy Passion,
Thou didst verify the common resurrection, zero Christ God!
Like the youngsters with the palms of victory,
we cry out to Thee, zero Vanquisher of Death:
Hosanna within the highest!
Blessed is He that comes within the title of the Lord!
(Troparion of the Feast, sung on each Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday)
In a fastidiously detailed narrative the Gospel relates how Christ, six days earlier than His personal loss of life, and with specific mindfulness of the folks “standing by, that they may believe that thou didst send me” (John 11:42), went to His useless buddy Lazarus at Bethany exterior of Jerusalem. He was conscious of the approaching loss of life of Lazarus however intentionally delayed His coming, saying to His disciples on the information of His buddy’s loss of life: “For your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe” (John 11:14).
When Jesus arrived at Bethany, Lazarus was already useless 4 days. This truth is repeatedly emphasised by the Gospel narrative and the liturgical hymns of the feast. The four-day burial underscores the horrible actuality of loss of life. Man, created by God in His personal picture and likeness, is a spiritual-material being, a unity of soul and physique. Death is destruction; it’s the separation of soul and physique. The soul with out the physique is a ghost, as one Orthodox theologian places it, and the physique with out the soul is a decaying corpse. “I weep and I wail, when I think upon death, and behold our beauty, fashioned after the image of God, lying in the tomb dishonored, disfigured, bereft of form.” This is a hymn of Saint John of Damascus sung on the Church’s burial providers. This “mystery” of loss of life is the inevitable destiny of man fallen from God and blinded by his personal prideful pursuits.
With epic simplicity the Gospel information that, on coming to the scene of the horrible finish of His buddy, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). At this second Lazarus, the buddy of Christ, stands for all males, and Bethany is the mystical middle of the world. Jesus wept as He noticed the “very good” creation and its king, man, “made through Him” (John 1:three) to be stuffed with pleasure, life and light-weight, now a burial floor through which man is sealed up in a tomb exterior the town, faraway from the fullness of life for which he was created, and decomposing in darkness, despair and loss of life. Again because the Gospel says, the folks had been hesitant to open the tomb, for “by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days” (John 11:39).
When the stone was faraway from the tomb, Jesus prayed to His Father after which cried with a loud voice: “Lazarus, come out.” The icon of the feast exhibits the actual second when Lazarus seems on the entrance to the tomb. He continues to be wrapped in his grave garments and his mates, who’re holding their noses as a result of of the stench of his decaying physique, should unwrap him. In all the things stress is laid on the audible, the seen and the tangible. Christ presents the world with this observable truth: on the eve of His personal struggling and loss of life He raises a person useless 4 days! The folks had been astonished. Many instantly believed on Jesus and a terrific crowd started to assemble round Him because the information of the elevating of Lazarus unfold. The regal entry into Jerusalem adopted.
Lazarus Saturday is a singular day: on a Saturday a Matins and Divine Liturgy bearing the essential marks of festal, resurrectional providers, usually correct to Sundays, are celebrated. Even the baptismal hymn is sung on the Liturgy as a substitute of Holy God: “As many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.”
Troparion — Tone 1
By elevating Lazarus from the useless earlier than Your ardour, / You did verify the common Resurrection, O Christ God! / Like the youngsters with the palms of victory, / We cry out to You, O Vanquisher of loss of life; / Hosanna within the Highest! / Blessed is He that comes within the Name of the Lord!
Kontakion — Tone 2
Christ the Joy, the Truth and the Light of all, / The Life of the World and the Resurrection / Has appeared in His goodness, to these on earth. / He has grow to be the Image of our Resurrection, / Granting divine forgiveness to all!