Lazarus Saturday is the day before Palm Sunday (the feast of Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem). This Saturday and Sunday are the connection between Great Lent and Holy Week. On the eve of the celebration of the Resurrection of Lazarus, the forty days of Great Lent are formally brought to an end at Vespers. These two days are the unique and paradoxical days before the Lord's Passion.
Celebration of the feast
Lazarus Saturday is a paschal celebration. The liturgy of Lazarus Saturday glorifies Christ as the Resurrection and the Life who, by raising Lazarus, has confirmed the universal resurrection of mankind, even before his own suffering and death. This liturgy is the only time in the Church year that the resurrectional service of Sunday is celebrated on another day.
Lazarus Saturday was once among the few great baptismal days in the Orthodox Church Year. At the Divine Liturgy of Lazarus Saturday the baptismal verse from Galatians: As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Galatians 3:27) replaces the Thrice-Holy Hymn.
Fulfillment of prophecies
Because of the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead, a four day long death, Christ was hailed as the long-expected Messiah, the King of Israel.
In fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament, he entered Jenrsalem, the City of the King, riding on the colt of an ass (Zech 9:9; John 12:12). Crowds greeted him. They had branches in their hands and called out to him with shouts of praise: Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! The Son of David! The King of Israel! Because of this glorification by the people, the priests and scribes were finally driven to destroy him, to put him to death (Luke 19:47; John 11:53, 12:10).
Troparion (Tone 1)
- By raising Lazarus from the dead before Your passion,
- You did confirm the universal Resurrection, O Christ God!
- Like the children with the palms of victory,
- We cry out to You, O Vanquisher of death;
- Hosanna in the Highest!
- Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord!
Kontakion (Tone 2)
- Christ the Joy, the Truth and the Light of all,
- The Life of the World and the Resurrection
- Has appeared in His goodness, to those on earth.
- He has become the Image of our Resurrection,
- Granting divine forgiveness to all!