Saturday, March 27, 2010

Lazarus' Resurrection - Why?

In the rasiing of Lazarus from the dead (after four days in the tomb) Jesus was making an important statement in anticipation of His own death on the Cross.  Notice how Jesus caused Lazarus' resurrection. He said, “And when He had thus spoken, He cried with a loud voice. Lazarus, come forth.”

Saint John Chrysostom comments on this, 
Why did he not say, “In the name of My Father come forth”? Or, “Father, raise him up”? Why did he omit all these expressions, and after assuming the attitude of one praying, show by His actions His independent authority? Because this also was a part of His wisdom, to show not only by words by words, but by His deeds, power. For since they had nothing else to charge Him with except that He was not of God… This is that of which He spoke, “The hour is coming, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.” John 5:28 For, that you might not think that He received the power of working from another, He taught you this before, and gave proof by deeds, and said not, Arise, but, “Come forth,” conversing with the dead man as though living. What can be equal to this authority?
Jesus had no illusions that this miracle would convince everyone. It only hastened his Death and resurrection. 
After Lazarus came walking out of the tomb in the full glare of a noonday sun, one would have thought that everyone would have believed. But miracles are no cure for unbelief. Some will not believe even though one were to rise from the dead. It was the resurrection of Lazarus that brought out the crowds on Palm Sunday, but it was also Lazarus’ resurrection that built the cross; for as the Apostle John writes, "From that day on they plotted his death." Fr. Anthony Coniaris 

This shows how precious our faith in Him is.
Saint John Chryssostom says. 
A great blessing then is faith when it arises from glowing feelings, great love, and a fervent soul; it makes us truly wise, it hides our human meanness, and leaving reasonings beneath, it philosophizes about things in heaven; or rather what the wisdom of men cannot discover, it abundantly comprehends and succeeds in. Let us then cling to this, and not commit to reasonings what concerns ourselves. 
Shudder at the threat, dread the vengeance. The pleasure here is not so great as the punishment there, but may it not came to pass that any one (here) become liable to that punishment, but that exercising holiness they may see Christ, and obtain the promised good things, which may we all enjoy, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
We can also look act this symbolically as does Fr. Stephen Freeman. 
“For me, he is also a sign of the universal entombment. That even before we die, we have frequently begun to inhabit our tombs. We live our life with the doors closed (and we stink). Our hearts are often places of corruption and not the habitation of the good God. Or, at best, we ask Him to visit us as He visited Lazarus. That visit brought tears to the eyes of Christ. The state of our corruption makes Him weep. It is such a contradiction to the will of God. We were not created for the tomb. 
I also note that in the story of Lazarus – even in his being raised from the dead – he rises in weakness. He remains bound by his graveclothes. Someone must “unbind” him. We ourselves, having been plunged into the waters of Baptism and robed with the righteousness of Christ, too often exchange those glorious robes for graveclothes. Christ has made us alive, be we remain bound like dead men.   Fr Stephen Freeman 
Fr. Alexander Schmemann gives us aditional insigth in this most signficant event. 
“It stinketh.” say the Jews trying to prevent Jesus from approaching the corpse, and this awful warning applies to the whole world, to all life. God is Life and the Giver of Life. He called man into the Divine reality of Life and behold “it stinketh”…The world was created to reflect and proclaim the glory of God and “it stinketh.” At the grave of Lazarus God encounters Death, the reality of anti-life, of destruction and despair. He meets His Enemy, who has taken away from Him His World and become its prince. And we who follow Jesus as He approaches the grave, enter with Him into that hour of His, which He announced so often as the climax and the fulfillment of his whole work. The Cross, its necessity and universal meaning are announced in the shortest verse of the Gospel: “and Jesus wept”… We understand now that it is because He wept, i.e., loved His friend Lazarus, that Jesus had the power of calling him back to life. The Jesus had the power of calling him back to life. The power of Resurrection is not a divine “power in itself,” but power of love, or rather love as power. God is Love and Love is life, Love creates Life…It is Love that weeps at the grave and it is Love that restores life. This is the meaning of the Divine tears of Jesus. In them love is at work again – recreating, redeeming, restoring the darkened life of man: “Lazarus, come forth!...” And this is why Lazarus Saturday is the beginning of both: the Cross, as the Supreme sacrifice of love, the Resurrection, as the ultimate triumph of love.  Fr. Alexander Schmemann 

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