It is because He wept.

LAZARUS SATURDAY

“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 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

Icon from Sinai, 12th century

9 thoughts on “It is because He wept.

  1. I’m still learning to reflect with (and pray beyond?) Icons. I hadn’t seen a representation of this one. Matching it with Father Schmemann’s words makes a big difference for me. I suspect if I had the opportunity to approach the original icon I might not need the words, although now that I have read them — more than once — I won’t forget them, I pray. Thank you for adding much to today!

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  2. A timely post. Thanks for sharing. Two words that describe our world so aptly, “it stinketh”, and I can smell it more and more. The Resurrection is the ultimate triumph of love. So true!

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  3. I have pondered Lazarus a lot, and his relationship with Jesus. If Lazarus had remained in the tomb, he would have been with Jesus in heaven quite soon. Everybody cried and grieved his departure, but was it better to bring him back? Did he have a lovely life, reviled by the Jewish leaders. Just breathing, he was the single best remaining evidence of Jesus’s divinity. How he must have waited for death again, not fearing it now, but wondering why in the world he’d been allowed to pass through it once and be pulled back. It’s a pondering subject.

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    1. I can’t imagine Lazarus doubting the goodness of the Lord’s miracle in “pulling him back.” But what went through his mind and heart would certainly have been unique! We’ll have to ask him one day, hmm?

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