Celebrated the Day before Palm Sunday
Epistle: Hebrews 12:28-13:8
Gospel: John 11:1-45
O Lord, wishing to see the tomb of Lazarus – for You were soon to dwell by Your own choice within a tomb – You asked, “Where have you laid him?” And learning that which was already known to You, You called to him whom You loved, “Lazarus, come forth.” And he who was without breath obeyed the One Who gave him breath, the Savior of our souls.
O Lord, wishing to give Your disciples an assurance of Your Resurrection from the dead, You came to the tomb of Lazarus and called to him by name. Then was hell despoiled, and it released the one that had been dead four days, as he called upon You, “O blessed Lord, glory to You!”
Verses from the Vespers.
About the Feast
Lazarus Saturday is a paschal celebration. It is the only time in the entire Church Year that the resurrection service of Sunday is celebrated on another day. At the Liturgy of Lazarus Saturday, the Church glorifies Christ as “the Resurrection and the Life” who by raising Lazarus has confirmed the universal resurrection of mankind even before His own suffering and death.
At the Divine Liturgy of Lazarus Saturday, the baptismal verse from Galatians (“As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” Galatians 32:27) replaces the Thrice-Holy Hymn, thus indicating the resurrectional character of the celebration, and the fact that Lazarus Saturday was once among the few great baptismal days in the Orthodox Church Year.
Because of the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead, Christ was hailed by the masses as the long-expected Messiah-King of Israel. Thus, in fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament, he entered Jerusalem, the City of the King, riding on the colt of an ass (Zechariah 9:9; John 12:12) the crowds greeting him with waving branches and shouts of praise: Hosanna! Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord! The Son of David! The King of Israel! Because of this glorification by the people, the Jewish priests and scribes were finally driven “to destroy Him, to put Him to death.” (Luke 19:47; John 11:53, 12:10)
About the Icon
St. Lazarus, the figure on the extreme right, is at the entrance of his tomb, wrapped in his white burial shroud. Christ, the third figure from the left, commands Lazarus to emerge from his tomb with His hand outstretched to greet His friend. St. Peter, representing all the twelve disciples, and Sts. Mary and Martha the sisters of Lazarus stand behind Christ. The walled city of Jerusalem, where Christ will arrive in triumph
the following day, is depicted in the background.
By raising Lazarus from the dead before Your Passion,
You confirmed the universal resurrection, O Christ God!
Like the children with palms of victory,
We cry out to You, O Vanquisher of Death;
Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord!
Christ – the Joy, the Truth, and the Light of All, the Life of the World and the Resurrection – has appeared in his goodness to those on earth. He has become the Image of our resurrection, granting divine forgiveness to all.