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Revision as of 20:02, April 20, 2008Saint Lazarus or Lazarus, the Four Days Dead was a friend and one of the first disciples of Jesus Christ. He was resurrected by Jesus the day before His triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem. The Church commemorates his feast on Lazarus Saturday, the first day of Holy Week and, conversely, the eve of Palm Sunday.
The Lazarene Miracle
According to the Gospel of John, Lazarus lived in the town of Bethany (approximately two miles outside of Jerusalem in the present day West Bank) with his two sisters, Mary and Martha. On His way to Jerusalem before the Passover, the sisters had sent word to Jesus and His Apostles that Lazarus was ill. The Lord tarried where He was, later perceiving Lazarus' death. When He arrived, Lazarus had already been in his tomb for four days. When Martha reproached Our Lord for not arriving sooner, Christ assured her that Lazarus would rise. Martha mistook this for the universal resurrection on Judgment Day, to which He replied, "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever believeth in me shall never die" (John 11:25-26, KJV). In the presence of the mourners, the Lord ordered the stone rolled away from Lazarus' tomb and bade him to come forth. Lazarus did so, still in his grave wrappings. Jesus then called for the crowd to remove the wrappings and free him. St. John goes on to explain that even more Jews were convinced of Jesus' divinity. This event struck fear into the hearts of the Jewish leaders, so much so that they even considered putting Lazarus to death (John 12:9-11). The religious hierarchy of the Jews at this time was dominated by Sadducees, who denied the resurrection. The Raising of Lazarus represents a testimony to the resurrection - both Christ's and the universal resurrection, as well as Our Lord as victor over death.
According to the V. Rev. Fr. Thomas Hopko, the Lazarene Miracle is the "climactic high point" of St. John's Gospel and the proof of Christ's divinity. It is also the act which serves as the catalyst of the events leading to Our Lord's arrest and Passion.1
Lazarus' second tomb is on the island of Cyprus, in the town of Larnaka (formally the ancient city of Kittim). According to Cypriot tradition, Lazarus served as the first bishop of Kittim and was buried there after his second death. In A.D. 890 his tomb was found there, bearing the inscription "Lazarus, the Friend of Christ." Subsequently a church, Saint Lazarus, was built on this site.