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Download our printable packet for a complete Lazarus lesson plan, which includes:
– Background for the teachers
– Printable storytelling resources
– Icon activities and worksheets
– Step-by-step craft, game and snack ideas
TEACHING THE RAISING OF LAZARUS
- The Raising of Lazarus is the most important miracle that our Lord Jesus Christ performed, just before He entered His Holy Passion. It is a great feast day of the Church, and is celebrated the Saturday before Palm Sunday (thus the name Lazarus Saturday), right before the beginning of Holy Week.
- The importance of the Raising of Lazarus can be summarized as follows:
By raising Lazarus, Jesus Christ appears as Lord and Victor over Death.
The miracle is a prophecy in the form of an action – it foreshadows the Resurrection of our Lord, which happened eight days later and, by extension, our own resurrection on the Last Day.
- This miracle clearly reveals the two natures of Christ, human and divine. Jesus simultaneously displays human emotions, weeping for His friend, and the fullness of His divine power, raising Lazarus’ dead and already decomposing body.
- Because of the Raising of Lazarus, Christ was recognized by the masses as the long-anticipated Messiah King of Israel. This further enraged the Pharisees against our Lord, and from that moment on they planned to put Him to death – and to also kill Lazarus.
- Lazarus’ bodily corruption symbolizes the corruption happening to our soul because of our sins.
- Children should be able to briefly retell the story of Lazarus.
- Children should point to our Lord, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in the icon. Older children should also be able to describe more details in the icon (Bethany in the background, the cave, the people holding their noses).
- Older children should be able to explain that this miracle is important to us today because it reveals Christ’s dominion over death, thus reminding us of the potential for our own salvation if we choose to follow Him.
Planning the lesson
Using our material, a lesson on the Raising of Lazarus could go as follows:
- Introduce the story using our paper puppets.
- Read the story from an Orthodox-approved children’s Bible and discuss the main points.
- Present and explain the icon.
- Do one or more reinforcement activities (worksheet, craft, game, act-out activity with the puppets).
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!
You can listen to the chanted troparion in English on YouTube, chanted by Vassilios Hadjinikolaou.
Icon of the day
Christ stands in the center, with His right hand raised, calling forth Lazarus. Lazarus is shown standing in the tomb entrance, still wrapped up in his burial clothes. Mary and Martha are kneeling in front of Christ and weeping. On the right side of the icon, we see one or two young men rolling away the tombstone, and, in some variations of the icon, starting to unbind Lazarus. On the left side of the icon, the disciples stand behind Christ, looking fearful as well as doubtful.
In the background we see the walls of the town of Bethany from where the Jewish people have come out to the tomb site to mourn Lazarus. Some of them have raised their garment in front of their nose to indicate the odor coming out of the four-day-dead body of Lazarus.
Icon by Athanasios Clark, Courtesy of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Department of Religious Education.
- Lazarus Saturday, Greek Orthodox Church of America
- Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday, Orthodox Church in America
- Lazarus Saturday, Podcast by Fr. Thomas Hopko, Ancient Faith Ministries
Scrapbooking paper used in the illustrations:
- The Paper Studio – Eclectic Remix 12″x12″
- The Paper Studio – The Basics 12″x12″
- Recollections multi-patterned paper pad 12″x12
- DCWV – Double Sided Cardstock Stack 12″x12″
- Colorbök – Spray Paint Cardstock 12″x12″
- Jane Davies – Collage Papers
- Pebbles – Front Porch 12″x12″