This Saturday, April 1, we commemorate the Raising of Lazarus as told in the Gospel of John, Chapter 11. Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha were good friends of Jesus. Their home in Bethany (near Jerusalem) was Jesus’ home whenever he was in Jerusalem. Lazarus’ sudden death threw his sisters into deep mourning. Jesus also wept for his friend. John’s gospel account emphasizes the fact that Lazarus was indeed dead by pointing out that his body was in the tomb after four days. Jesus’ raising of Lazarus convinced many people of his divine powers, and according to John, the authorities took steps to try to silence him.
Lazarus represents humankind and Bethany represents the whole world. The major themes of this day are the forthcoming victory of Christ over death, the supreme sacrifice of love, and the resurrection as the ultimate triumph of love.
The forty days of Great Lent (Medz Bahk) come to an end with Vespers on Friday prior to the commemoration of the Raising of Lazarus. A new fasting period for Holy Week begins on Monday and continues through Holy Saturday.