Saturday of Lazarus
|About the Icon: The Raising of Lazarus
Saint Lazarus is the figure on the extreme right and is depicted at the entrance of the tomb, wrapped in a white burial shroud.
Christ is depicted commanding Lazarus to come forth from the tomb.
The Disciples are the figures depicted on the extreme left.
Saint Mary and Saint Martha, the Sisters of Lazarus, are the two women bowing down before Christ and worshipping Him.
The people in the far center of the Icon are those who
were morning the death of Lazarus in the home of his sisters when Christ
arrived. The walls depicting the city of Jerusalem can also be seen in
Hebrews 12:28-13:8 (Epistle)
John 11: 1-45 (Gospel)
O Christ our God, before Your Passion, You raised Lazarus from
the dead to confirm the common Resurrection for all. Therefore, we
carry the symbols of victory as did the youths, and we cry out to You,
the victor over death, "Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He who comes
in the name of the Lord."
Showing compassion for the tears of Martha and Mary, O Christ,
God, Your cry commanded that the stone be rolled from the tomb, You
raised the dead man, O Life-Giver, thereby confirming the resurrection
of the world. Glory to Your dominion, O Savior. Glory to Your power.
Glory to You who, by a word, established all things.
Christ, everyone's joy, the truth, the light, life, the
resurrection of the world, has by His goodness appeared to those one
earth. He is the archetype of the resurrection, granting divine
forgiveness to all.
The Creator of all foretold to His disciples, saying,
"Brethren and acquaintances, our friend has fallen asleep." Foretelling
this, You taught them by this that as creator of all, everything is
known to You. "Let us go, therefore, and see a different burial and
behold the lament of Mary and the tomb of Lazarus. For as a prelude to
my crucifixion I intend to perform a miracle, thereby granting divine
forgiveness to all."
Before your own death, O Christ, You raised from Hades,
Lazarus, who was a dead man for four days, violently plucking the
dominion of death; thus, through this one dearly beloved friend,
foretelling freedom from corruption for all humanity. Wherefore,
worshipping Your almighty power we cry out, "Blessed are You O Savior,
have mercy on us."
Martha and Mary said to the Savior, "If You had been here,
Lord, Lazarus would not have died." But Christ, who is the Resurrection
of the dead, raised from the dead him who lay dead for four days. Let
all the faithful come and worship Him who comes in glory to save our
You humbled Yourself among the crowds granting the Apostles
signs of Your Divinity which you desired to conceal. Wherefore, with
foreknowledge, and as God, you foretold the death of Lazarus to the
Apostles. In Bethany unknowing the tomb of your beloved friend Lazarus,
You asked, as a man, in the presence of the people, where it could be
found. But he, who was raised by You after four days, proclaimed Your
dominion. Almighty Lord, glory to You.
Explanation of the Feast
The Saturday of Lazarus is counted as one of the great feast
days of the Church. It is celebrated with a great deal of joy and
The Gospel of John (11.3) tells us that while Christ was
preaching elsewhere, Mary and Martha, sent word that their brother
Lazarus was sick. Jesus did not leave at once to go and visit His ailing
friend, however, because through His divinity He knew that Lazarus'
sickness would not result in permanent death. Christ knew that Lazarus
would be brought back to life by Christ, an act which would bring glory
to the Father and the Son. So Jesus waited two days before making the
journey to Bethany to visit Martha and Mary and Lazarus, who by this
point had been dead for four days.
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming she went out to meet
Him and immediately fell at His feet and worshipped Him saying "Lord
had you been here then my brother would not have died." Christ then asks
her to go and call her sister Mary and to show Him where they buried
When Martha called Mary she told her sister that the Lord
was asking for her and they immediately left their home and went to the
tomb. When Jesus saw the tears of the sisters and the sorrow of all
those who had come to mourn Lazarus He felt a great deal of sorrow in
His heart and wept (John 11:35).
Jesus then asked that the stone which was placed in front of
the tomb be removed. Martha immediately protested stating that her
brother has been dead for four days and that his body will have a
terrible smell, but Christ insisted and they rolled away the stone.
It is significant that Lazarus had been dead for four days.
According to ancient Jewish Tradition, it is said that the soul
remained near the body for three days but by the fourth day a person was
truly considered to be dead.
Jesus, then lifts up His voice in prayer and cries out,
"Lazarus come forth," and Lazarus exited the tomb still wrapped in the
linen shroud. They immediately unbound him and offered glory to God.
During His earthly ministry, Christ had performed many miracles, curing
the mother-in-law of Peter, healing the paralytic, healing lepers, those
possessed by demons, and the blind. Never had anyone raised someone who
had been dead for four days! Everyone in attendance offered praise to
God. It did not take long for word of what happened to spread throughout
Jerusalem which explains the reception He receives the following day
In today's celebration we clearly see the two natures of
Christ being revealed. His Divinity through the pre-knowledge of
Lazarus' Death and coming Resurrection and His Humanity through His
asking to be shown where they buried Lazarus and His weeping.
According to both custom and tradition fish as well as oil and wine are permitted on the Saturday of Lazarus and Palm Sunday.
- Plan on attending the services and worshipping as a
family. Prepare yourselves to receive Holy Communion during the Divine
- Make an effort to arrive during the Orthros Service
so that you are able to hear the Hymns of the Day being chanted. Our
children's choir also chants the responses during the Divine Liturgy,
please feel free to join your voices with theirs in prayer.
- Plan to stay with your family for the communion breakfast and assist in the folding of the Palm Crosses.
- Use the Troparion and the Kontakion hymns as prayers before lunch and dinner.