Saturday of Holy and Righteous Lazarus
The Reading from the Epistle of the Holy Apostle Paul to the Hebrews (2:28-13:8)
Brethren: Since we are receiving a Kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire. Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in bonds as though you were bound with them, and those who suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body. Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled; but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. Let your manner of living be without covetousness, and be content with such things as ye have. For He hath said, ‘I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee’; so that we may boldly say, ‘The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.’ Remember those who have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the Word of God. Follow their faith, considering the outcome of their manner of living. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.
The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to John (11:1-45)
At that time: A certain man was sick named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was that Mary who had anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) Therefore his sisters sent unto Him, saying, ‘Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick.’ When Jesus heard that, He said, ‘This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.’ Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. When He heard therefore that Lazarus was sick, He stayed two days still in the same place where He was. Then after that He said to His disciples, ‘Let us go into Judæa again.’ His disciples said unto Him, ‘Master, the Jews of late sought to stone Thee, and goest Thou thither again?’ Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth because there is no light in him.’ These things said He, and after that He said unto them, ‘Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awaken him out of sleep.’ Then said His disciples, ‘Lord, if he sleep he shall do well.’ However Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He had spoken of the taking of rest in sleep. Then Jesus said unto them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent that ye may believe. Nevertheless let us go unto him.’ Then Thomas, who was called Didymus, said unto his fellow disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with Him.’ Then when Jesus came, He found that he had lain in the grave four days already. Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about two miles away, and many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary to comfort them concerning their brother. Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him; but Mary sat still in the house. Then Martha said unto Jesus, ‘Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now, whatsoever Thou wilt ask of God, God will give it Thee.’ Jesus said unto her, ‘Thy brother shall rise again.’ Martha said unto Him, ‘I know that he shall rise again at the resurrection on the Last Day.’ Jesus said unto her, ‘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. Believest thou this?’ She said unto Him, ‘Yea, Lord, I believe that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God, who should come into the world.’ And when she had so said, she went her way and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, ‘The Master has come, and calleth for thee.’ As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly and came unto Him. Now Jesus had not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met Him. The Jews then, who were with her in the house and comforting her, when they saw that Mary rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, ‘She goeth unto the grave to weep there.’ Then when Mary had come where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying unto Him, ‘Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother would not have died.’ When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping who came with her, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled, and said, ‘Where have ye laid him?’ They said unto Him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, ‘Behold, how he loved him!’ And some of them said, ‘Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?’ Jesus therefore again, groaning in Himself, came to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, ‘Take ye away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of him that was dead, said unto Him, ‘Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he hath been dead four days.’ Jesus said unto her, ‘Said I not unto thee that if thou would believe, thou should see the glory of God?’ Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard Me. And I knew that Thou hearest Me always, but because of the people who stand by I said it, that they may believe that Thou hast sent Me.’ And when He thus had spoken, He cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’ And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus said unto them, ‘Loose him, and let him go.’ Then many of the Jews who came to Mary and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed in Him.
Troparion of Lazarus & Palm Sunday (Tone 1)
In confirming the common Resurrection, O Christ God, Thou didst raise up Lazarus from the dead before Thy Passion. Wherefore, we also, like the children bearing the symbols of victory, cry to Thee, the Vanquisher of death: Hosanna in the highest; blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.
Kontakion of Lazarus Saturday (Tone 2)
Christ, the Joy of all, the Truth, the Light, the Life, the Resurrection of the world, hath, of His goodness, appeared to those on earth, and become the archetype of the Resurrection, granting divine forgiveness unto all.
SYNAXARION FOR LAZARUS SATURDAY
On this day, the Saturday before Palm Sunday, we celebrate the fourth-day raising from the dead of Lazarus, the righteous friend of Christ.
Lazarus was a Hebrew, of the sect of the Pharisees and, as far as is known, he was the son of Simon the Pharisee, who dwelt in the village of Bethany. He became a friend of our Lord Jesus Christ when He sojourned on earth for the salvation of our race. For when Christ continually conversed with Simon, entering his house and discoursing on the resurrection from the dead, Lazarus was quite pleased with the genuineness of this teaching, and not only he, but also his two sisters, Martha and Mary.
As the time of the Savior’s Passion drew near, when it was especially necessary to believe in the Mystery of the Resurrection, Jesus was sojourning on the other side of the Jordan. Here, He raised from the dead the daughter of Jairus and the son of the widow. At this time, His friend, Lazarus, contracted a grievous illness and died. Then Jesus, even though He was not present there, said to His disciples, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep (John 11:11), and again a little later, Lazarus is dead. (See John 11:14.) Then Jesus left the Jordan and went to Bethany, which was about fifteen stadia (approximately 2 miles) away from Jerusalem. Martha, the sister of Lazarus, went to meet Him and said, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. (John 11:21-22). Jesus asked the crowd, Where have ye laid him? (John 11:34.) Immediately everyone went to the tomb. As the stone was removed, Martha said, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. (John 11:39). He shed tears for the one lying there, and He cried out with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth (John 11:43). At once, he who was dead came forth, was unbound, and set out for home amidst great rejoicing and thanksgiving. This strange wonder roused the Hebrew people to malice, and they were infuriated with Christ. But Jesus once more fled and escaped. The high priests determined to kill Lazarus, because many who saw him were won over to Christ. Since Lazarus knew what they were thinking, he sailed away to Cyprus. He dwelt there and was later elevated by the Holy Apostles to be Archbishop of Citium (present-day Larnaka). He was beloved by God, conducting himself most nobly as an archpastor, performing many miracles.
Thirty years after his resurrection, in 63 A.D., he died once more and was buried in Citium.
It is said that after his return to life Lazarus ate only meals having some sweetness, because of the bitter taste in his mouth from having been dead. Also, it is related that the All-Holy Mother of God sewed his omophorion and cuffs with her own hands and presented them to him as a gift. Furthermore, it is told that Lazarus never laughed more than once after being raised from the dead, and that was when he observed someone stealing a clay vessel. At that point he smiled and said, “Clay stealing clay.” Lazarus said nothing concerning those in Hades, either because he was not permitted to behold anything, or he was directed to be silent about what he had seen.
The most wise emperor Leo, in 890 A.D., after a divine vision, transported the precious and holy relics of this saint to Constantinople to the church of St. Lazarus that he had constructed and deposited them reverently and ceremoniously to the right of the church’s entrance against the front walls of the holy bema. Here his precious relics still remain, exuding an ineffable fragrance. The translation of his holy relics is commemorated on October 17.
The resurrection of Lazarus is appointed to be celebrated on this present day, after the forty-day purifying Fast, because our Holy and God-bearing Fathers, especially the Holy Apostles, found this miracle to be the beginning and cause of the fury of the Jews against Christ, when He was about to give Himself over to His Holy Sufferings. For this reason they placed this extraordinary and wonderful event here. In addition, the placement of this feast by the Holy Fathers serves as a necessary rest” and “transition” between the rigors of the Fast and the awesome and saving events of Holy Week. For in truth, yesterday evening’s Vespers not only ended the Holy Forty Days, but also ushered us into a joyous resurrectional prelude that will eventually lead to our Savior’s Passion.
St. John the Theologian alone records the raising of Lazarus, since the other Evangelists omitted it—perhaps because Lazarus was still living and able to be seen. It is said that the rest of the Gospel of John was written about the eternal begottenness of Christ, the other Evangelists including nothing about this. It is desired to believe that Christ is both the Son of God and God, that He is risen, and that there will be a resurrection of the dead. And because of the raising of Lazarus, this is especially to be believed since his resurrection is a confirmation of the universal resurrection of man. Therefore, from this event, every man who has already died is said to be a “Lazarus,” and the burial garment is called a Lazaroma, for the word alludes to the remembrance of the first Lazarus. For if Lazarus was raised by the word of Christ and came back to life again, so all men, even if they have died, will rise at the last trumpet and live eternally.
Through the intercessions of Your beloved friend, St. Lazarus, О Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.