The Raising of Lazarus Icon: Spiritual Concept
The iconographic plot of the miraculous raising of Lazarus is one of the most famous and appreciated in the Orthodox Church. The biblical event that stands behind this icon is one of the Twelve Great Feasts – the major scenes in the life of Jesus Christ. The Raising of Lazarus icon hides many symbols and concepts. You should learn them if you want to immerse yourself in the world of religious art. In this blog post, we will discuss all the iconographic details.
Lazarus of Bethany: who was he?
As we know, the raising of Lazarus is of great importance to the Christian tradition. The miracle of Jesus Christ showed many people that it was performed by the Son of God.
So who was Lazarus?
According to tradition, Lazarus lived in Bethany and had two sisters, Martha and Mary. One day, he fell seriously ill and died but was soon resurrected by Jesus Christ. Later Lazarus moved to Cyprus where he became the first bishop of Kition in AD. 45. There, he was preaching the word of God for about 18 years. Lazarus died in Cyprus in 63 AD. After the resurrection, he lived for thirty years.
Raising of Lazarus icon
The Raising of Lazarus icon describes the historical event in great detail. The icon depicts the cave where, according to the legend, Lazarus was buried. We see a man pushing back a stone slab. Many people are standing by the cave: Christ’s disciples, friends of Lazarus, and other townspeople. One of them covers his nose with a handkerchief to avoid the unpleasant smell. It should be reminded that Lazarus was dead for four days. Jesus is shown in front of the cave. He blesses Lazarus who stands wrapped in his shroud. In the background, one can see the city outline.
This iconographic subject holds certain symbols. The image of Lazarus standing in the cave expresses complete obedience and humility before Christ. At the same time, Jesus is depicted as almighty and omnipotent, ruling over life and death. Thus, the scene shows the resurrection of not a single man but the entire humanity. Its significance is to glorify the divine nature of Jesus Christ and His power.
The Raising of Lazarus icon shows the material world, weightlessness, and Jesus Christ as the Savior of all mankind.