Every year we Orthodox take the spiritual sojourn through Holy Week – back to the beginning of Christianity, back to the Resurrection of Christ. Great Lent brings us to Pascha night when we proclaim the Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).
To get to that beginning, we join our Lord Jesus Christ in His last week on earth – we walk with our Lord each day of Holy Week. We think about the things Christ did and said – for us and for our salvation – during His final days before His crucifixion. He did and said these things “to keep us from falling away” (John 16:1), that we would have His joy in us to the full (John 15:11), and that we might believe (John 14:29). And these three expressed goals of Jesus are already found in the events we now commemorate on Lazarus Saturday. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead; and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” (John 11:14)
St. Basil the Great reminds us that in Christ raising His friend, Lazarus, from the dead, he was giving each of us faith and hope in the resurrection. As much pain and grief as the death of a loved one causes us, Christ in dealing with the death of His friend tells us “don’t be without hope, for I have overcome death.”
“But as for the Lord weeping over Lazarus and the city, we say this: He also ate and drank, not because he needed to, but in proportion and limit, that you might renounce the natural sensations of the soul. He also wept, that those who are disposed to immoderate sorrow might regulate their lamentation and tears. For if our tears are to be in reasonable moderation, it is necessary to assess the circumstances: who, how, when, and in what manner they are fitting. Thus the Lord wept without excessive passion as an example for us, adding these words, Our friend Lazarus, has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him. Who among us bewails a sleeping friend, one he believes will shortly awaken? Lazarus, come out! And the dead man came to life, and the bound one walked forth. Wonder of wonders! The feet were bound with cloth wraps and yet unhindered from coming forward. The power was greater than the constriction.” (On Fasting and Feasts, p. 102)
With the dead being raised, we are on the road to the beginning of creation.