Holy Spirit Coming, by He Qi.
He Qi's work, which Christianity Today has previously covered, is on display at Wheaton College until June 9. More of his paintings are in our slideshow, "The Dragon in the Belly: Patriarchs, Judges, and Kings."
"If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever - the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
- John 14:15-17
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
- Acts 2:1-4
Why did Christianity arise, and why did it take the shape it did? The early Christians themselves reply: We exist because of Jesus' resurrection. ? There is no evidence for a form of early Christianity in which the resurrection was not a central belief. Nor was this belief, as it were, bolted on to Christianity at the edge. It was the central driving force, informing the whole movement.
- N. T. Wright, The Challenge of Jesus
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"
They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, "It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon." Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
- Luke 24:30-35
And they sang a new song:
"You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth."
Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang:
"Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!"
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing:
"To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!"
Holy God, Holy and Mighty,
Holy and merciful Savior,
deliver us not into the bitterness of eternal death.
- The Burial of the Dead, Rite Two from The Book of Common Prayer
I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see him
with my own eyes - I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, and am not silent.
Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the praise of Israel.
In you our fathers put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
They cried to you and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not disappointed.
But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by men and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads:
"He trusts in the Lord;
let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him."
Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you
even at my mother's breast.
From birth I was cast upon you;
from my mother's womb you have been my God.
Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.
Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
Roaring lions tearing their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted away within me.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.
Dogs have surrounded me;
a band of evil men has encircled me,
they have pierced my hands and my feet.
I can count all my bones;
people stare and gloat over me.
They divide my garments among them
and cast lots for my clothing.
The Brazen Serpent monument by Giovanni Fantoni, photo by David Bjorgen. The sculpture, on Mt. Nebo in Jordan, commemorates God's command to Moses to raise a sculpture of a snake on a pole in order to heal Israelites dying of snakebites.
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
- John 3:14-15
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
- "When I Survey The Wondrous Cross" by Isaac Watts.
On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus' disciples asked him, "Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?"
So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, "Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, 'The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?' He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there."
The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.
- Mark 14:12-16
Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast - as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.
- 1 Corinthians 5:7-8
And Peter Wept by Wayne Forte.
Then Jesus told them, "This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:
"'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee."
Peter replied, "Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will."
"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times."
But Peter declared, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." And all the other disciples said the same.
Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. "You also were with Jesus of Galilee," she said.
But he denied it before them all. "I don't know what you're talking about," he said.
Can You Drink the Cup I Am About to Drink? by Fr. John Kiefer .
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me."
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."
Christ's prayers fall into two categories with regard to this: conditional and absolute. As far as his conditional prayers were concerned, Luke 22:42 is a prime example: "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." . . . This prayer was answered in the following ways. His mind was strengthened against the terror of the impending events. This enabled him to be perfectly composed to embrace God's will: "not my will, but yours be done." So Christ was heard to the extent he he had wished to be heard. Although, by nature, he desired deliverance, since he was human, yet he did not desire this absolutely, as he was wholly given over to God's will.
- Adapted from Hebrews by John Owen. Copyright 1998 by Watermark.
Victory over Death, by Frederick Wilson at Church of the Incarnation. Photo by Chester Burger.
The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
"Blessed is the King of Israel!"
Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written,
"Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion;
see, your king is coming,
seated on a donkey's colt."
At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.
After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:
"Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb."
All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying:
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
A young man in the Philippines weaves palaspas for Palm Sunday celebrations. Photo by Regina Dycaico.
Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave - just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
- Matthew 20:25-28
Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!
Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and having salvation,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
I will take away the chariots from Ephraim
and the war-horses from Jerusalem,
and the battle bow will be broken.
He will proclaim peace to the nations.
His rule will extend from sea to sea
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
- Zechariah 9:9-10
Easter Hats Fall Victim to Economic Downturn
By Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service
There are many things that Paula Settles is willing to forgo in these budget-conscious times, but an Easter hat isn't one of them.
Reflection, by Steph Roberts. "[My] recent diver paintings continue to explore the dichotomy of free will and destiny," Roberts writes. "Even in their precise and controlled movements, the divers themselves strain against pervasive natural forces. This relationship speaks to the assertion of human will in the context of circumstances beyond one's control."
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death -
even death on a cross!
- Philippians 2:5-8
"When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full."
- Matthew 6:16
O king, Araunah gives all this to the king." Araunah also said to him, "May the Lord your God accept you." But the king replied to Araunah, "No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing."
- 2 Samuel 24:23-24
Golgotha: Station Nine by Kevin Rolly.
May those who hope in you
not be disgraced because of me,
O Lord, the Lord Almighty;
may those who seek you
not be put to shame because of me,
O God of Israel.
For I endure scorn for your sake,
and shame covers my face.
I am a stranger to my brothers,
an alien to my own mother's sons;
for zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
- Hebrews 12:2-3
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."
- I Corinthians 1:18-19
Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus' honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
- John 12:1-3
My burden in thy Passion, Lord, thou hast borne for me,
For it was my transgression which brought this woe on thee.
I cast me down before thee, wrath were my rightful lot;
Have mercy, I implore thee; Redeemer, spurn me not!
What language shall I borrow to thank thee, dearest friend,
For this thy dying sorrow, thy pity without end?
O make me thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to thee.
- "O Sacred Head Now Wounded," at?trib?ut?ed to Ber?nard of Clair?vaux
Graves on the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem. By John LaRue.
That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. . . . Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.
- Matthew 22:29
"Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
- Acts 2:22-24
"Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him."
- Acts 2:22-24
Since Jesus had no sin either in his nature or in his conduct, he need never have died either physically or spiritually. ... Then why did he do it? What was the rationale of his death? There is only one possible, logical, biblical answer. It is that he died for our sins, not his own. The death he died was our death, the penalty which our sins had richly deserved.
- John Stott, Our Guilty Silence
"The Parable of the Vineyard" by John S. C. Abbott & Jacob Abbott, Illustrated New Testament (1878).
He then began to speak to them in parables: "A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully.He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed.
"He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, 'They will respect my son.'
"But the tenants said to one another, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.' So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.
"What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others. Haven't you read this scripture:
"'The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes'?"
Then they looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away.
Photo of the Seventh Station, Gate of Justice in Jerusalem taken by the American Colony between 1898 and 1914. From the Library of Congress.
As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.
- Luke 9:51
When Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem, he set his face to die.
Remember, when you think of Jesus' resolution to die, that he had a nature like ours. He shrunk back from pain like we do. He would have enjoyed marriage and children and grandchildren and a long life and esteem in the community. He had a mother and brothers and sisters. He had special places in the mountains. To turn his back on all this and set his face towards vicious whipping and beating and spitting and mocking and crucifixion was not easy. It was hard. O how we need to use our imagination to put ourselves back into his place and feel what he felt. I don't know of any other way for us to begin to know how much he loved us. "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).
If we were to look at Jesus' death merely as a result of a betrayer's deceit and the Sanhedrin's envy and Pilate's spinelessness and the soldiers' nails and spear, it might seem very involuntary. And the benefit of salvation that comes to us who believe from this death might be viewed as God's way of making a virtue out of a necessity. But once you read Luke 9:51 all such thoughts vanish. Jesus was not accidentally entangled in a web of injustice. The saving benefits of his death for sinners were not an afterthought. God planned it all out of infinite love to sinners like us and appointed a time.
- John Piper, from "He Set His Face to Go to Jerusalem"
Slavic people have been making pysanky (above) for centuries. When Christianity was introduced in their region more than 1000 years ago, much of the pagan symbolism in the eggs was repurposed, so that fish came to represent Christ; lines encircling the egg eternal life; triangles, the Trinity; and the egg itself, the Resurrection, as well as spring and fertility.
In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
- Luke 1:26-33
The Passion fa?ade of Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Fam?lia in Barcelona. Sculpture designed by Josep Maria Subirachs.
It is curious that people who are filled with horrified indignation whenever a cat kills a sparrow can hear the story of the killing of God told Sunday after Sunday and not experience any shock at all.
- Dorothy Sayers, quoted by Barbara Brown Taylor in God in Pain
Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high priest whose name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on his hands,
My name is written on his heart.
I know that while in heaven he stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.
When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on him and pardon me.
- "Before the throne of God above" by Charitie L. Bancroft, 1863.
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss to bear the dreadful curse for my soul?
When I was sinking down beneath God's righteous frown, Christ laid aside His crown for my soul.
- From "What Wondrous Love Is This," attributed to Alexander Means.
Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval."
Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?"
Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."
So they asked him, "What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'"
Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."
"Sir," they said, "from now on give us this bread."
Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."
Last Night in Gethsemane by Wisnu Sasongko
At the very core of fasting is empathy with the divine or participation in God's perception of a sacred moment. When someone dies, God is grieved; when someone sins, particularly egregiously, God is grieved; when a nation is threatened, God is grieved. We could provide more examples. The point is this: fasting identifies with God's perspective and grief in a sacred moment. Fasting enables us to identify with how God views a given event; fasting empowers us to empathize with God. Fasting is about pathos, taking on the emotions of God in a given event. . . . When people tell us they are fasting, we should ask "In response to what?" instead of "What do you hope you will get out of it?"
- Scot McKnight, Fasting
Ramon Crater as seen from Mizpe Ramon. Photo by Armin Schon, Nes Ziona, Israel
Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."
Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"
A church in New Orleans' lower 9th Ward, April 2007. Photo by Julie Dermansky.
To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,'
"Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat of it
all the days of your life.
It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return."