April 8, 2023

Why Did the Lord Raise the Dead? (A Homily of St. Luke of Simferopol)

Why Did the Lord Raise the Dead?

A Homily on Luke 7:11–15 
(Third Sunday of Luke)

(Delivered on October 22, 1944)

Our Lord Jesus Christ repeatedly resurrected the dead miraculously: the son of the widow of Nain, the daughter of Jairus, Lazarus, who had been in the tomb for four days. Godless people laugh at our belief in the resurrection of the dead, they consider it a fable. But - how strange and incomprehensible - they also naively believe that the dead can be resurrected by scientific means. In Tashkent, they once seriously believed that a boy who died two years ago could be resurrected, whose corpse was soaked in nitric acid.

With fear and delight we read the Gospel story about how the corpse of the only son of an unfortunate widow was carried out of the gates of a small town, how the Lord Jesus Christ, taking pity on her, stopped those who carried the coffin and said: “Young man! I tell you, get up." And the dead man got up and sat down, looking around in amazement (see Luke 7:11-15).

Fear and trembling seizes us when we read about the resurrection of the daughter of Jairus or Lazarus of the four days. From the Acts of the Apostles we learn how the Apostle Peter resurrected the Christian Tabitha. After sending everyone out of the room, he prayed and said: “Tabitha, get up!” She opened her eyes and sat up. Then the apostle called the saints and widows and set her before them (see Acts 9:40-41).

With all our hearts we believe that everything can be done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that everything is subject to Him. None of us will ever doubt the authenticity of these miraculous resurrections.

But think about why Jesus Christ raised the dead? He was motivated to this by love and compassion for fallen humanity, doomed to death. We read in the Gospel that before the resurrection of Lazarus, He was agitated, and tears flowed from His holy eyes. He could not watch how Martha and Mary, the sisters of Lazarus, were tormented by grief. Pity and love guided Him. But there was another reason: it was necessary to reveal to the human race that the Lord has power over death. The purpose of this is to show people that He could have avoided crucifixion and death on the Cross, but that He willingly gave Himself up to death for our salvation in eternity.

There was also a third reason. The resurrection of Lazarus was to serve as a type for us of our spiritual resurrection, salvation from death in sins to eternal life. The Holy Apostle Paul testifies that this reason was the main task of Jesus Christ, for the sake of which He came to earth and sacrificed Himself.

“Buried with Him in baptism,” says the Apostle Paul, “in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Col. 2:12–14). You, who were dead in sins, the Lord called to the spiritual resurrection.

What does it mean to be dead in sins? Sin and death are inseparable. Isn't life in sins, in the lusts of the flesh, a slow death? Do not fornication and adultery, often punished with a bad disease, lead to corruption? Doesn't drunkenness destroy the body and reduce the soul to a bestial state? Doesn't a lie corrupt a person like a worm a tree? Do not pride and self-exaltation, slander and blasphemy repel with their moral stench? And the stench is the smell of death. Life in sins, in low service to the passions, is not life, but decay, leading to death. Spiritually dying are millions of unfortunate people who do not seek salvation from the Lord from spiritual corruption.

And we who have received Christ into our hearts, He calls to be reborn, "because you have heard of Him and learned in Him" - since "the truth is in Jesus" - "put aside the old way of life of the old man, rotten in deceitful lusts, but be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man, created according to God, in righteousness and holiness in truth” (Eph. 4:21-24).

We must cast off our sins like dirty garments saturated with impurity, put off the old man, who rots in lust and sins, and put on the new, created according to God in Christ. The Lord calls us to this, and for this it was necessary to resurrect the dead, as a prototype of spiritual rebirth.

That is why the Lord Jesus Christ came into the world and suffered a painful, terrible death, in order to deliver us from the power of the devil, who entangles us with sins and leads to destruction. He gave us the power to be children of God and in His name to trample on the enemy of the human race, to erase the head of the serpent. We just need to want to accept this power from the hands of Christ, we need to be ashamed of our stench and desire holiness, life according to God and truth.

And if the grace of God touches our hearts, if we are renewed in our minds, then we must lead a completely different life. Therefore, “having rejected all falsehood,” having hated it, for “the father of lies is the Devil” (John 8:44), from now on “speak the truth with your neighbors, because we are members of one another” (Eph. 4:25). We should be quiet and meek, not angry and harsh. And if anyone sins by being inflamed with his neighbor, then “let not the sun go down in your anger” (Eph. 4:26), ask for forgiveness while it is still day, so that Satan does not establish himself in your heart.

“He who stole, do not steal in advance, but rather work, doing something useful with your own hands, so that you have something to give to the needy” (Eph. 4:28), the apostle called on the Ephesian Christians who lived surrounded by pagans; and in our time, many have ceased to consider theft a sin and a disgrace.

“Let no rotten word come out of your mouth, but only good for edification in faith, so that it brings grace to those who hear. Let all irritation, and rage, and anger, and shouting, and slander, with all malice, be removed from you; but be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:29, 31-32). Do not act like people who do not know Christ, keep a vigilant eye on every word that comes out of your mouth, because God hears every word. Fear anger and condemnation, and above all, be afraid not to forgive your brothers. If we fulfill all this, we will be true disciples of Christ and we will live a completely new life, as those who died to sin, as truly reborn in the spiritual font.

Let us all desire this miraculous rebirth and ask God to help us by His grace and mercy to cast off the stinking image of the old man, decaying in sins and lusts, and clothe us in the bright and pure garments of eternal life. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

Become a Patreon or Paypal Supporter:

Recurring Gifts

Contact Form


Email *

Message *