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Lazarus, come forth.


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

Today we look toward the resurrection, and we look also set our eyes on the resurrection we will celebrate with great fervor and zeal and festivity in only another week. But today we look at our resurrection, very explicitly because Lazarus was a man like us and was dead and already decomposing, and our Lord raised him from the dead.

Imagine what he felt. He was in Hades, and he heard the voice of God, all the way in Hades, and He brought him back in an instant, in a flash. He knew the power of God, and those around saw that power, as Jesus, with a loud voice said, "Lazarus, come forth." And the same voice calls us -- the same voice calls us to come forth. The same voice says, " I am the resurrection. If you believe in Me you will have eternal life." We must believe. We must understand. I tell you. We must also live according to the way Christ is, and then you will understand what it means to be a Christian.

Did you see the two ways that the sisters dealt with the death of their brother? One stayed still in the house, and one ran out to Jesus. They both believed. But their faith was weak, and they'd never heard of a man who was four days dead being raised from the dead. They'd heard of a person who had died that day being raised from the dead. Christ had done it twice. They knew of Saint Elias who had raised someone from the dead, and of the prophet Elisha, but in both of those cases the man was dead one day. Now a man had been dead four days, and it was beyond their understanding how he could be raised from the dead. They thought of a far-off time when there would be the resurrection of all things. They didn't think really of how it applied to then and now.

The resurrection applies to us now brothers and sisters. Not later -- now. It changes us now, makes us able to live now . It comforts us now . It burns away our passions and our sins now . "The kingdom of God is within you," Christ said. The Resurrection and the Life lives within us now . We must understand this. We must live this.

And we must approach Christ in these two ways that his beloved friends approached him. Mary sat still in the house: we must pray, we must develop within ourselves great love, great fervor, unshakable belief. We must also be active in our faith. We must go to Christ. We must beg Him for the things we need. And we must live according to the way He has told us to live. He has told us, live within the ark of the church, to fast, to pray, to partake of all the things that the church has given us. This is the activity that Martha points to. Both are necessary. Neither one is enough to save a soul. We must have fervent belief, and we must live within that belief.

Slightly more than seven days from now -- no, actually it will be Friday evening -- I will read a sermon of Saint Epiphanius in which he speaks of when Jesus Christ, the resurrection and the life, when down into Hades. We have a taste of that today. We should meditate very carefully, and think what it would be like to be in the depths of Hades, to be in the depths of hopelessness, to see our flesh and see how weak it is, and for God to say, "Come forth", and break everything that is holding us fast. A Christian must really understand this. This is what the resurrection means for us. It is how we reach our perfection.

It is very painful. It is painful for me, and I tell you, it might sound strange, but I hope and I pray that it is painful for you. I hope that you see the uselessness of so much in what we call this life, that you see the depravity, both in yourself and outside of yourself, and that you long to be made whole, to be made complete. A Christian must be like that. He must be like a stranger in a strange land, like Moses. He must consider himself to only be passing through on the way to the heavenly city, to Zion, to Jerusalem, to perfection.

This is what we are going after, you know. And we see that God can perfect. He didn't just raise Himself from the dead; He raised us from the dead. This must be understood. And it's not just something you read in a book and understand. It's not just a point of doctrine or a question to be answered. It's in the heart. If you know that God raised you from the dead, you won't want to do anything but to become like Him, and you will know that you can become like Him. You have beenpromised that you can become like Him. This is the meaning of the resurrection.

This is why God raised Lazarus from the dead. To show us the power of the resurrection in us, because we're weak. He knows. We might say, "He did it, but he is God. So how does that apply to me?" Just like Mary and Martha, I know that some day we'll be raised from the dead in the resurrection, but they didn't apply it to their life now. This is why Lazarus was raised from the dead. And it's also why Jesus waited. Not only so Lazarus would die. He certainly, as God, could have arranged that He was near the town, but He was far away from the town and after He was told about Lazarus, He went slowly to Bethany and took four days. He waited so that He could teach us something that is very important: that we must wait, that we must be patient, that we must have faith even when it appears that things are not as we would wish them to be, and that they won't change. Jesus Christ can take a man, stinking, from the grave, after four days, and raise him from the dead, He can raise us.

But don't believe in the resurrection later; believe in the resurrection now . Live in that belief. Try to change because of that belief. Believe that you can be changed. I don't care what it is that assails you. God can heal you. Not later, but now . Don't believe in the resurrection -- later. Believe in the resurrection and the life, Who is with us, now. We're about to partake of His holy body and blood for our sustenance, that medicine of immortality. Our immortality, you know, begins with our baptism. And we are just increasingly fulfilling it every day that we live. Live in the light of the resurrection. Believe it. Believe that you will change. And when you hear God's voice saying, "Come forth" at the resurrection, you will be filled with joy. May God help you.

By Fr. Seraphim Holland


Source: http://orthochristian.com/69841.html

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