Resurrection of Lazarus Saturday

Archbishop Seraphim : Homily
The same, yesterday, today, and forever”.
Resurrection of Lazarus Saturday
19 April, 2008
Hebrews 12:28-13:8 ; John 11:1-45

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Today, we hear the Apostle say to us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever”. This verse is connected to one of my favourite memories. It is really important for us to remember these words always, because there are very many people who are speculating, trying to figure out Who is Jesus, based on I do not know what sort of speculative, philosophical foundation. They treat Him as some sort of an idea instead of as a Person. In fact, there are right now plenty of books and articles being written which flatly reject Jesus Christ as a Person. They treat Him only as some sort of a proposition or philosophical idea (or a nice myth, perhaps).

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever”. We, who are Christians, know Him personally. We have a personal experience of Him. Our personal experience of Him is the same personal experience that Christians have been having for 2,000 years, and not just in a particular place, but always, and everywhere. If we go to Borneo today, let us say, and talk to a Christian there about Jesus Christ and our experience of Him, we are going to find out that yes, we do know the same Person. It is the same Jesus Christ. They know Him, and we know Him. We could go to Russia, Africa, Australia – around the world wherever we like – and our experience as Christians would be that Jesus Christ is the same to them as He is to us. He is not different.

We are the ones who are different. We are the ones that are the sick persons. We are the ones who are the betrayers. We are the ones who try to put Him in a place where we can control Him instead of accepting our Saviour for Who He is. However, it does not matter what we try to do. He remains forever the same. It is essential that we remember this in the course of our life.

It is important for us, looking at and remembering what we have just encountered with the resurrection of Lazarus, that this is the case : “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever”. The Jesus Christ who raised Lazarus from the dead is the same Jesus Christ who is our hope and our resurrection, too. The resurrection of Lazarus is the foreshadowing of our Lord’s Resurrection, and also of our resurrection. They are all connected. He is “the Resurrection, and the Life”. This is a practical application of Who He is, this Jesus Christ who is “the same yesterday, today, and forever”. He is the “Resurrection and the Life”. He is our hope. He is our life.

It is interesting, too, to consider, and to remember the words of the sisters of Lazarus, which we have just heard. Usually, when we are thinking about Mary and Martha, we think only about the passages that are read at the time of a feast of the Mother of God, where Martha is working in the kitchen and Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus. There is a tendency, especially with our popular manner of comparing a woman (or a man, too, sometimes) with Martha, to say that she is just a doer and Mary is a listener. By following that sort of a proverb too closely, and making such a distinction between the two persons, we are making a mistake, as is shown very clearly today. What does Martha say when she encounters Christ ? She says : “'Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died'”. What does Mary say when she comes running up to Him in the same place ? Exactly the same words : “'Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died'”. Mary and Martha have different personalities, as sisters do. They are sisters, but they are not identical persons. Yet, their relationship with Christ is the same. They know, together, Who He is. Mary is more contemplative as a person, one could say ; Martha is more active as a person. That does not change the relationship between them and Jesus Christ. One is not lesser than the other – they are just different.

These differences that the Lord creates in us are all expressing the variety of His creation, the variety of His love. We are all very different persons. Our lives are different ; our experiences are different ; our gifts are different (even though we may sometimes look similar, like identical twins). Identical twins definitely do not have the same personality. As much as silly scientists without God think that cloning human beings would make the same person, they are “out to lunch”. If God were to give life to a human being who had been cloned by us reckless persons, it would very quickly be found that that person is not the same as the prototype. That person would still be a different, unique person with different experiences, with different gifts according to what God has given. If the Lord gives life, it is not because of some silly, human experiment. The Lord will still enable this person to proclaim His glory. I say that, because we are capable of such horrible things.

The Lord, who is the Giver of life, remains the Lord of everything. Jesus Christ, who is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” is not subject to our stupidity, our recklessness. Although we think we are so smart, He is the One who will teach us. If we were to clone a human being (and the clone had life and personality), God would, as it were, be saying : “All right ; it is I who give life to this person, and I will show you. See if you can understand : this person is not some exact replica, because a human being cannot be an exact replica of another person”. If God gives life to a person, He gives life to that person uniquely.

Every human being (and every animal, too) is created uniquely, with its own unique personality, with its own unique gifts, with its own unique responsibilities, with its own unique manner of serving. The Lord, who is the Giver of life, behaves in that way with us. His love is like that with us. His love is not limited as we are limited (although we think we are not). He is the Giver of life, the Sustainer of everything. Everything that is, is, because of His love.

Therefore, He gives life to Lazarus today, and He gives life to you and to me. He is our Hope. He is our Salvation. He is our Everything. It is extremely important for us to remember every day of our lives to turn everything over to Him, to offer everything to Him, to connect everything to, and with Him, and to glorify Him in everything, together with the unoriginate Father, and the all-holy, good, and life-giving Spirit, now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages.