Lazarus Saturday, Resurrection, and the Faith of Children: by Fr. Chad Hatfield

Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. (I Corinthians 15:12-14)

 But now, Christ is risen from the dead and has become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. (I Corinthians 15:20-22)

These words from the Apostle Paul beautifully underscore the centrality of the resurrection in the Orthodox Christian faith. We Orthodox Christians affirm our belief and give personal testimony, like St. Paul, each time we profess our faith with the words of the Nicene Creed. We rejoice on Pascha as we sing: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.” We believe firmly that the first-fruits of the Old Testament given in offering to God are a promise of later fruits. (Exodus 23:16) In the same way, the Resurrection of Jesus is a first-fruit offering to God, a promise for all believers that we will be later fruit. (I Corinthians 15:23)

Lazarus Saturday is a unique liturgical affirmation of this centrality. Lazarus Saturday is the only time, outside of Sunday, that we Orthodox celebrate what can be called a resurrectional service. We shout on this day that Christ Jesus has raised Lazarus, confirming “the universal resurrection of mankind,” even before His own passion, death, and resurrection. 

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