The solemnities of Great and Holy Week are preceded by a two-day festival commemorating the resurrection of Lazaros the friend of Christ, and the triumphant entry of Christ into the holy city of Jerusalem. These two events punctuate Christ’s Ministry in a most dramatic way (St. John 11:1-12, 19). By causing the final eruption of the unrelenting hostility of His enemies, who had been plotting to kill him, these two events precipitate Christ’s death. At the very same time, however, these same events emphasize His Divine Authority. Through them our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is revealed as the Source of Life and the Promised Messiah. For this reason, the interlude which separates Great and Holy Week from the Great Fast is Paschal in character. It is the forerunner of Christ’s victory over death and of the inrush of His Kingdom into the life of the world.
The Saturday of Lazaros is counted among the Major Feasts of the Orthodox Church. It is celebrated with great reverence and joy. The event of the raising of Lazaros is recorded in the Gospel of Saint John (11:1-45). The hymnography of the feast interprets the theological significance of the event. Accordingly, the resurrection of Lazaros is viewed as the prophecy in action. It prefigures both the resurrection of Christ Our Lord, as well as the General resurrection of all the dead in the end times. Thy hymns of the feast also emphasize the Biblical Truth that the resurrection as such, is more than an event. It is a Person, Christ Himself, Who bestows eternal life now upon all who believe in Him, and not at some obscure future time (St. John 11:25-26).
In addition, the resurrection of Lazaros occasioned the disclosure of Christ’s two natures, the divine and the human. He manifested His Divine power by His foreknowledge of the death of Lazaros and by the final outcome, the miracle of his resurrection. Also, in the course of the dramatic events Jesus Christ displayed deep human emotions. The Gospel records His deep feelings of love, tenderness, sympathy and compassion, as well as distress and sadness. The narrative reports that He sighed from the heart and wept (Saint John 11:5, 33, 36, 38).