Holy Week is designed to be a spiritual sojourn, a chance to reflect not only on Christ’s last week on earth leading to His crucifixion and resurrection, but also on our own relationship to Him and to His Church. Great Lent officially ends on a Friday in the Church’s liturgical calendar. The first thing we do at the end of Lent is to commemorate Christ raising His friend Lazarus from the dead on Saturday. The next day, Sunday, celebrates Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem which is also one of the Twelve Major Feasts of the liturgical year. This Feast marks the transition to Holy Week. Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday both pre-figure the events of Christ’s resurrection and entry into the Heavenly Temple. Think about them as you make your spiritual journey toward Pascha. The Cross and the tomb will both be empty, and yet they are full signs of the divinity of Christ.
Lazarus Saturday: Jesus Wept John 11:1-45
“‘Jesus wept.’ The perfect joy of His divine nature did not exclude tears from His human nature. The evangelist adds other touches to his reference to the Savior’s tears. Near Lazarus’ tomb the Saviour “groaned…troubled Himself.” How are we to understand this emotion of Christ, because in the end Jesus knows that He is going to raise Lazarus? Perhaps we must see in the Saviour’s sorrow something more than compassion for a friend who has died, but who will soon rise again. Jesus weeps over the universal destiny of men, over death which afflicts this human nature of ours which the Father had made so beautiful. Jesus weeps over all of man’s suffering, the consequences of sin. The God-Man takes this suffering on Himself. His sorrow is His share in the world’s sorrow.” (A Monk of the Eastern Church, Jesus: A Dialogue with the Savior, pp. 71-72)
The sins of the world cause the Son of God to weep. How should I feel about my own sins? What about the sins of others? In Ezekiel 18:23 and 33:11 God says He had no desire for the death of anyone, even of sinners. Yet death reigned on earth – at least until the coming of Christ (see Romans 5). It is my sins that lead to the death of Christ on the cross. If I confessed my sins, how do I now live the remaining time of my life in repentance?