This morning our Old Testament and New Testament lessons, which have been independently walking through the books of Genesis and John, step onto the same subject for a brief moment: resurrection.
Genesis 22 is the story of Abraham and Isaac, the father offering his son on an altar, though not having to go through with the actual spilling of blood. As the anonymous New Testament author explains it,
Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back (Hebrews 11:17-19).
Thus Genesis 22 is a sort of prototype resurrection story, prefiguring the Cross of Christ, and we usually hear it read in the Good Friday liturgy.
The New Testament lesson from John 11 is the story of the resurrection of Lazarus. This is one of the lessons offered in our Burial Office due to its prominent place as a vivid and explicit example of the resurrection power of our Lord Jesus Christ. Not only does he perform a miraculous resurrection of a man four days dead, but he also speaks of his own inherent life – that Jesus himself is resurrection, he himself is life.
Obviously, it is a plain coincidence that these two lessons are read together today. The nature of a Daily Office Lectionary is to read through the Bible in sequential bits, not to try to connect the dots between Scripture (that is the function of a traditional Communion lectionary, which our modern ones unfortunately only do half the time). Nevertheless, the co-incidence of explicit resurrection themes in Genesis 22 and John 11:1-44 is refreshing and noteworthy. You might even want to grab an Easter-appropriate Canticle in place of the Te Deum… instead of saying Surge illuminare (#2) how about Cantemus Domino (#5), Dignus es (#6), or Cantate Domino (#7, Psalm 98)!