The Bible


Matthew 27:50-54 : The veil was torn

Study the Inner Meaning


50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,

53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.

   Study the Inner Meaning

Exploring the Meaning of Matthew 27      

By Rev. Dr. Ray Silverman

Chapter 27.

When Morning Comes

1. And when it was morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put Him to death;

2. And binding Him, they led [Him] away, and delivered Him up to Pontius Pilate the governor.

3. Then Judas, who betrayed Him, seeing that He was condemned, being remorseful, returned the thirty [pieces of] silver to the chief priests and the elders,

4. Saying, “I have sinned, in that I have delivered up innocent blood.” But they said, “What [is it] to us? Thou shalt see.”

5. And throwing down the [pieces of] silver in the temple, he departed, and going away hanged himself.

The old will must die, but a new understanding can be raised up

The crowing of the rooster announces the end of the night; but it also heralds the dawning of a new day — a time of spiritual awakening. This is contained in the first words of the next episode: “When morning came….” (27:1).

In each of our lives, “morning” represents a state of clarity in which we “wake up” and see truth clearly — especially the truth about ourselves. At the end of the previous episode, Peter awoke to the reality of his unfaithfulness, and wept bitterly. In this next episode, something similar happens for Judas. When Jesus is captured, bound and carried away to Pilate, Judas awakens to the reality of what he has done. Conscience-stricken, he says, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood” (27:4). Deeply remorseful, but spiritually awakened, he tries to assuage his guilt by returning the thirty pieces of silver — the “blood-money” the religious leaders paid Judas for agreeing to deliver Jesus to them.

The religious leaders, however, reject Judas’ offer. “What is this?” they say (27:4). They have no interest in taking back the money in exchange for Jesus’ release. For them, the real issue is not the money, but rather their concern about Jesus’ rising influence with the people. This has to be stopped. They therefore reject Judas’ offer.

Fully aware of his betrayal, Judas is overcome with despair. While Peter weeps bitterly, Judas goes much further. Feeling utterly devastated, Judas casts the thirty pieces of silver on the floor of the temple, and goes off to hang himself (27:5). The contrast between Peter’s bitter weeping and Judas’ suicidal death represents the difference between the old understanding (the false beliefs that we held) and the old will (the evil desires that generate false beliefs). Also referred to as “the old man,” evil desires must be completely expelled; they cannot be converted into good desires. This is why Judas, who in this episode represents our inherited evil nature, must die. 1

Peter, on the other hand, represents an aspect of our intellect. Even though it may reason falsely, if it can be separated from the evil will, it can be reformed. Therefore, we read that although Peter “wept bitterly,” he did not end his life. This is because the intellect (represented by Peter in this case) can receive truth and be reformed. And a new will can be built in a new understanding. For each of us, the death of the old will (Judas) and the building of a new understanding (Peter) is the morning of a new day. 2

Hope for All

6. And the chief priests taking the [pieces] of silver said, “It is not permitted to cast them into the offertory, since it is the price of blood.”

7. And taking counsel, they bought with them the field of the potter, for a sepulcher for sojourners.

8. Therefore that field was called Field of Blood to this day.

9. Then was fulfilled what was declared through Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “And they took the thirty [pieces] of silver, the price of Him who was honored, whom they of the sons of Israel honored;

10. And gave them for the field of the potter, as the Lord directed me.”

Seen spiritually, Judas’ dark and terrible fate also has a bright side. Just as his rejection of the thirty pieces of silver represents the rejection of an inordinate love of worldly things, his suicide represents the rejection of an inordinate love of oneself: it is the rejection of arrogant pride, self-aggrandizing ambition, and the meritorious feeling that we are sufficient unto ourselves without the help of God. These two evils, called “the love of the world” and the “love of self,” include all other evils. However, when love of the world is properly subordinated, we receive a genuine love for the neighbor. And when the love of self is properly subordinated, we receive a genuine love for the Lord. 3

While we do not mean to imply that Judas’ tragic death is a good thing in itself, its representation of what must die in each of us teaches an important lesson. Despair teaches us how much we need God. Desperation leads us to the acknowledgment that we can do nothing without His power. Sorrow, guilt, and shame can be signs that we do indeed have something left of conscience and are therefore redeemable. True remorse opens the way for redemption and reformation.

Humility, then, is a blessed quality. As it is written in the psalms, “A broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:17). The Lord is forgiveness itself; and we know that His forgiveness is always available, flowing in immediately to the extent that we recognize evils in ourselves, turn from them, and strive to do good. We are fortunate to live in an age when such clear teachings about the Lord’s forgiveness — and how to receive it — are available.

But it was not so at the time of Jesus’ advent. Evil spirits were widespread and eager to take possession of whomever they could. They had already filled Judas with the spirit of betrayal. And although he comes into an awareness of what he has done, he does not realize he has been a mere agent through whom hell has worked its diabolical schemes. It is one thing to accept responsibility for what we have done. This is a sign of emotional and spiritual health. But it is something else to become so immersed in guilt feelings that we feel irredeemable, unforgivable, and beyond hope. 4

Therefore, it is essential to believe that whatever we have done, however much we have sinned, there is still hope. We may at times feel as though we are beyond redemption, but the truth is that we are loved by God, and born for a specific purpose. There is implanted in every human soul the capacity to believe in God and an ability to live according to His commandments — divine gifts which are always preserved and never taken away. We can, of course, keep these gifts deeply buried, and practically extinguish them, but they are always there like the embers of a dying fire awaiting the inspiring and life-giving breath of God.

Apparently, the religious leaders seem to have misgivings about accepting the thirty pieces of silver that Judas has thrown on the floor. “It is not lawful to put them in the treasury,” they say, “because they are the price of blood” (27:6). So instead of putting the silver in the temple treasury, they purchase a location called, the “Potter’s Field” to use as a burial place for strangers. Their decision to purchase the field is a direct fulfillment of the prophecy, “And they took thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced … and gave them for the potter’s field” (27:10; Jeremiah 32:6-9).

Is it possible that these religious leaders know and understand that the thirty pieces of silver is “blood money”? If so, it is an indication that even in the greediest and most selfish human beings there is something decent and humane, deeply hidden perhaps, but nevertheless there. There is a lesson in this for us as well. No matter how far we have strayed, we can always return. There is hope for all. 5

Utterly Alone

11. And Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked Him, saying, “Art Thou the King of the Jews?” And Jesus declared to him, “Thou sayest.”

12. And when He was accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing.

13. Then says Pilate to Him, “Hearest Thou not how many things they witness against Thee?”

14. And He did not answer him to one saying, so that the governor marveled greatly.

15. And at [the] festival the governor was accustomed to release one prisoner to the crowd, whom they willed.

16. And they had then a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas.

17. When therefore they were gathered, Pilate said unto them, “Whom do you will [that] I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus that is called Christ?”

18. For he knew that for envy they had delivered Him up.

19. And when he was seated on the tribunal, his wife sent to him, saying, “Have thou nothing to do with that just [One], for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him.”

20. But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds, that they should ask for Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.

21. And the governor answering said to them, “Which of the two do you will that I release to you?” And they said, “Barabbas.”

22. Pilate says to them, “What then shall I do with Jesus that is called Christ?” They all say to him, “Let Him be crucified.”

23. And the governor declared, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they cried out exceedingly, saying, “Let Him be crucified!”

24. And Pilate, seeing that he profits nothing, but more of an uproar was made, taking water he washed off [his] hands opposite the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just [Man]; you shall see.”

25. And all the people answering said, “His blood [be] upon us, and upon our children.”

26. Then released he Barabbas to them, but delivered Jesus up, when he had whipped [Him], to be crucified.

As this next episode begins, Jesus is standing before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor. The religious leaders have done all they can to make it appear that Jesus is guilty of blasphemy. But Roman law does not allow them to pronounce or carry out the death penalty. Therefore this will have to be a civil matter, to be decided by the civil government. In this case the crime cannot be for blasphemy — that is a religious offense; it must be for treason, which is a civil offense. The Roman government will be able to make this charge because Jesus has been called “King of the Jews,” thereby challenging Caesar’s supremacy.

Therefore, Pilate’s question, unlike Caiaphas’, is not, “Are You the Christ, the Son of God?” (26:63), but rather, “Are You the King of the Jews?” (27:11). In both cases, whether accused of blasphemy by the religious leaders or treason by political leaders, Jesus gives similar answers: “You said” (26:63) and “You say” (27:11). Modern translators, in order to make this response understandable have added the words “It is as” to Jesus’ response. So it is written, “It is as you said,” and “It is as you say.” But the original statement can be understood to mean “You have said it!” 6

The emphasis falls on the word “you.” However it is translated, Jesus’ answer challenges each of us as well. Who indeed is Jesus? Each of us must decide for ourselves. What do you say? Is He the Son of God? Is He the king and ruler of our inner lives? Pilate is not willing to make a decision about this. Instead, he urges Jesus to defend Himself. “Do you not hear how many things they testify against You?” he says to Jesus (27:13). But Jesus chooses to remain silent: He answers him “not one word” (27:14).

Afraid to have the blood of an innocent man on his hands, Pilate decides to let the multitude make the decision for him. He is able to do so because there is a Passover custom in which one prisoner is released each year, and the people can choose which prisoner they wish to set free. Pilate, therefore, presents both Jesus and Barabbas to the crowd, saying “Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Christ?” (27:18).

Barabbas was a well-known criminal — a “notorious prisoner” — a robber and a murderer (27:16). It would seem, therefore, that Jesus would be the obvious choice of the crowd, the one to be released. After all, the two men are complete opposites: Barabbas is a murderer and Jesus is a life-giver. If the crowd decides to release Jesus, Pilate will have an easy way out of his dilemma. Therefore, Pilate is banking on the idea that the crowd will easily discern between good (Jesus) and evil (Barabbas) and set Jesus free. Ordinarily, this would be an easy choice for those who have eyes to see.

It should be remembered, however, that this is no ordinary crowd. These people have been strongly influenced by the religious leaders whom they respect and fear. These religious leaders represent the false teachings and selfish desires that make us unable to freely choose the good. It is these false teachings and selfish desires that persuade the multitudes [in us] to free Barabbas and “destroy Jesus” (27:20). This is precisely what happens. When Pilate asks, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” the multitudes cry out, “Barabbas!” (27:21).

This unexpected response puts Pilate in a difficult situation. His wife has already cautioned Him, regarding Jesus’ innocence: “Have nothing to do with that just Man,” she has told him, “for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him” (27:19). Pilate’s wife represents the remnant of conscience still remaining in each of us — conscience that still strives to get through, even in a dream. The question is, however, “Will Pilate listen?”

The difficult decision is now in Pilate’s hands. On one side is his wife’s warning; on the other is the cry of the crowd. Pilate must decide what he must do with Jesus. Even though his wife has strongly cautioned him, he is not yet ready to accept her advice, or make a strong decision for himself. Instead, he spinelessly turns to the crowd a second time and asks, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” (27:22). If he expects them to change their mind, he is quite wrong. Still under the powerful influence of the religious leaders, they shout out again, “Let Him be crucified” (27:22).

Pilate believes that he can do nothing more. The multitude has made its decision for him, and he weakly acquiesces. Wishing to absolve himself of any wrong-doing, he takes water, washes his hands before the multitude, and says, ‘I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it” (27:24). And the people answer, “Let His blood be on us and our children” (27:25).

What has turned the multitudes away from Jesus? He has loved them, healed them and worked miracles among them for three years. Why are they choosing to crucify Him now? Where are the lepers that He has made whole, the lame that He has made to walk, the deaf that He has made to hear, and the blind that He has made to see? Where are the sick people He has made well, the hungry people He has fed, and the demon-possessed that He has set free? Where are they now? And if they are among the multitude, why are they not speaking up?

The answer is clear. Even as Peter denied Him, Judas betrayed Him, and all the disciples forsook Him, the multitudes turn against Him. In the end, Jesus stands utterly, absolutely alone. No one defends Him; no one speaks for Him. In the closing words of His final parable, Jesus said, “I was in prison and you came to Me.” But no one came to be with Him. As it was written in Isaiah, prophesying this moment in Jesus’ life, “I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with Me…. I looked but there was no one to help” (Isaiah 63:3, 5).

This may seem unbelievable to us today. But that was the hellish state of the world that Jesus was born into. And that is why it was necessary for God to come into the world at that time to redeem fallen humanity — even if it meant being beaten, scourged, and crucified. Pilate, it seemed, was initially reluctant to crucify Him, but he was too weak to stand against the crowd.

In this regard, Pilate represents each of us whenever we refuse to hear the still, small, voice of conscience. Instead, we find ourselves swayed by the angry crowd of inner accusers shouting, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him.” Whenever the mob mentality in us overrules the inner voice of love and reason, Barabbas is set free and Jesus is crucified. And so, we read that Pilate “released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified” (27:26).

King of the Jews

27. Then the soldiers of the governor, taking Jesus into the Praetorium, gathered against Him the whole band [of soldiers].

28. And stripping Him, they put around Him a scarlet mantle.

29. And braiding a crown of thorns, they put [it] on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and kneeling before Him, mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”

30. And spitting upon Him, they took the reed, and struck [Him] on His head.

31. And when they had mocked Him, they took the mantle off Him, and put His own garments on Him, and led Him away to crucify [Him].

32. And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name; him they compelled to take His cross.

33. And when they were come to a place called Golgotha, which is called Place of a Skull,

34. They gave Him vinegar to drink, mingled with gall, and when He had tasted, He was not willing to drink.

35. And when they had crucified Him, they divided His garments, casting a lot, that it might be fulfilled which was declared by the prophet, They divided My garments among them, and upon My vesture they cast a lot.

36. And sitting [down], they kept [watch over] Him there;

37. And set over His head His charge written, “This is Jesus the King of the Jews.”

38. Then were two robbers crucified with Him, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.

39. And they that went by blasphemed Him, moving their heads,

40. And saying, “[Thou] that undoest the temple, and in three days buildest [it], save Thyself. If Thou be the Son of God, step down from the cross.”

41. And likewise also the chief priests, mocking with the scribes and elders, said,

42. “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He be the King of Israel, let Him step down now from the cross, and we will believe Him.

43. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now, if He delights in Him; for He said, I am the Son of God.”

44. And for the same thing the robbers also, who were crucified with Him, reproached Him.

Jesus’ alleged offense is labeled “treason” for it is claimed that He calls Himself the “King of the Jews.” If true, this would be a crime against the state whose king is the Roman Emperor, Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus. It is a crime punishable by death. The Roman soldiers now proceed to beat and taunt Jesus, cruelly mocking Him by dressing Him up like a king, putting a scarlet robe on His body, and a crown of thorns on His head. They also place a reed (probably a stick) in His hand instead of a royal scepter.

Then, bowing down before Jesus, they say sarcastically, “Hail, King of the Jews!” (27:29). On top of their mockery, they add contempt and abuse, spitting on Him and striking Him on the head with the scepter they now use as a club. When they are finished with their cruel sport, “they put His own clothes back on Him, and lead Him away to be crucified” (27:31).

Jesus has undergone grueling, torturous suffering at the hands of the soldiers. He is now being led away to be crucified. While prisoners are ordinarily compelled to carry the upright beam of the cross upon their backs, Jesus has been so scourged and beaten that His frail body lacks the power to do so. Therefore a man named Simon, a stranger who just happens to be in town at that time, is compelled to carry Jesus’ cross (27:32). The theme of Jesus’ utter loneliness, with no one to help, continues. A stranger carries His cross.

Finally they come to the place where Jesus is to be crucified, “a place called Golgotha, that is to say, Place of the Skull” (27:33). The translated phrase speaks volumes to us as we imagine a world that has lost all sight of reason. The human mind, without reason or compassion, is no better than the lifeless skull that contains it. Today, the place called Golgotha still stands on the outskirts of Jerusalem, an imposing cliff of unyielding rock. And in the rock one can see with unmistakable and chilling accuracy the shape of a skull — two hollow eyes, a hole where there should be a nose, and a menacing mouth with no lips, or teeth or tongue. This is Golgotha: an ominous symbol of life without religion, and religion without God.

It is there, at Golgotha that they give Him “sour wine mingled with gall” — a fitting representative of a world gone sour. In place of the sweet wine of pure truth, there is the sour wine of falsified religion. Therefore, Jesus refuses to drink it (27:34). It is at this point that they crucify Jesus and put a sign over His head, writing down the mocking accusation, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews” (27:37).

The crucifixion, however, does not end the taunting and mockery. Even those who pass by say, “You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross” (27:40). And they add, derisively, “He saved others, Himself He cannot save” (27:42). “He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him” (27:42-44).

Coming down from the cross was not Jesus’ purpose. Saving His body was not His goal. In the previous chapter, when one of His disciples tried to defend Him, Jesus told him to put down his sword. God did not come to earth to save Himself, or to fight physical enemies. Rather He came to fight the hosts of hell through a frail and finite human body — a body that could feel physical pain, and a mind that could be assaulted by evil. This is the plan all along, and He has accepted it. Therefore, He will not come down. Instead, with unflinching courage He chooses to suffer to the bitter end the agony and the humiliation of the cross. Even the robbers who are being crucified with Jesus insult and revile Him (27:44).

The invisible battle

Jesus is on the cross now, rejected by everyone and suffering alone. He has been rejected by the religious establishment, the civil government, the multitudes, the disciples, and even by the two robbers who hang beside Him on the cross. Indeed, “He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3).

But what about the angels? Surely, they would never reject, despise, or abandon the Lord. Angels, however, like all people, are still human, and still have their weaknesses. Although their capacity to understand truth and do good is vast, they are, after all, not divine. Therefore, as Jesus comes into the extremity of temptation, He is assaulted not only by the most wicked and infernal hells but is also challenged by the angels. These temptations are the inmost of all for they involve a most subtle attack on our deepest loves and desires. In Jesus’ case, it is His ardent love for the salvation of the human race, a love that will not compel anyone. Such is the nature of the divine love itself, and such is the nature of Jesus’ final temptation on the cross. 7

The word “temptation” is normally understood to mean an “allurement” or an “enticement,” the urge to say or do something wrong. But there is a much deeper form of temptation which involves not so much the temptation to say or do evil, but rather the temptation to doubt that the truth we think is really true, and the good we do really matters. As this deeper form of temptation continues, it leads to despair, and finally to the thought that our lives have been wasted, and that nothing we do has any significance. There is no particular “urge to do evil,” but rather a much more subtle urge to simply give up on everything and everyone, including our loved ones, our life’s purpose, and even ourselves. Life seems altogether bleak and hopeless, and all of our efforts seem meaningless.

If questions and doubts like this were being injected by the hells, they would have been much easier to overcome. But coming from friends, and especially from angels, who mean well, they would be much more difficult to combat. We saw something of this earlier, when Peter rebuked the Lord for even considering the possibility that He would have to go to Jerusalem and suffer and die. But Jesus told Peter that His suffering and death in Jerusalem could not be avoided, and that Peter should be mindful of the things of God, not the things of men (16:21-23). Now, as Jesus hangs on the cross, much to the great sorrow of the angels, they come into great despair about the future of the human race, wondering if humanity can ever be saved through the mere gift of freedom. “Oh, Lord,” they perhaps cried out, “Take unto Yourself Your great power and reign. You must do something! It can’t end like this. There is so much more work to be done. Please, don’t give up like this.” 8

This is one of the most difficult forms of temptation. It occurs when those closest to us suggest that we come down from our highest principles. As it is written in the psalms, “If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if an enemy were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, and my close friend” (Psalm 55:12-13).

The pressure is on now — even more than in Gethsemane — and it is coming from all sides. The disciples want Him to come down from the cross to set up an earthly kingdom. The people who pass by say that He should come down from the cross to demonstrate that He is truly the Son of God. The religious leaders taunt Him to come down from the cross, saying “He saved others, but He cannot save Himself.” And now, even the angels, urge Him to come down from the cross, and end the anguish.

What no one can see, not even the angels, is that Jesus is not giving up. He is fighting an invisible battle against the subtlest and most diabolical of all the hells. And it will be a fight to the finish. Throughout this mighty battle, it is important to remember that the nature Jesus took on is human, and therefore subject to temptation. None of us likes to suffer, and none of us would choose to endure the agony of crucifixion, especially if it appears to be a useless endeavor. Similarly, none of us would want to see our loved ones choosing lives that lead to misery and destruction. It is only natural to want to stop them, to use whatever power and control we have to direct them onto a different course. Now imagine this in Jesus’ case. He knows that the human understanding cannot be compelled to believe truth, nor can the human heart be compelled to love good. This is the way He designed the universe, knowing that our very humanity consists in being free to understand and love the things which proceed from God, without compulsion. 9

In this regard, we should also consider the onslaughts of the hells that are attacking Jesus, endeavoring with all their fury to stir up bitter thoughts and emotions. Like all of us, Jesus must have been tempted to vindicate Himself and prove His innocence. But He chooses to remain silent. Like all of us He must have been tempted to fight back, to retaliate, to punish those who were so cruelly abusing Him. But He does nothing of the sort. Instead He hangs there, silently, without a word of complaint, fighting inner combats more painful than the the pain caused by the iron spikes that are piercing His hands and feet. Regardless of the pain, both external and internal, Jesus remains steadfast in His mission. He will fight against hell, even as it unleashes its full fury against Him, until He has expelled every last evil from His inherited humanity. As a result, the fullness of God’s Divinity would be made manifest in Him. And He will not come down until that mission is accomplished. 10

Jesus’ Last Words on the Cross

45. And from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.

46. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a great voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” That is, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”

My God, My God

Although this chapter begins with the words, “When morning came,” it is perhaps the shortest morning in the history of time. For darkness comes quickly, and by noon “there is “darkness over all the earth” (27:45). This darkness continues for three more hours until Jesus cries out in a loud voice “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? That is, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (27:46).

In His human nature, Jesus’ sense of being utterly alone, and without support of any kind, is now complete. Not only does He feel abandoned by the disciples, then by the multitudes, and even by the angels, but He now feels abandoned by God. The Hebrew scriptures capture this feeling exquisitely. As it is written, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me? Why are You so far from My groaning?” (Psalm 22:1). “I am like a man who has no strength, adrift among the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom You remember no more, who are cut off from your care…. Why, O Lord, do You reject me and hide Your face from me? I am in despair … the darkness is my closest friend” (Psalm 88:4-5, 14, 18). 11

In His weakened human condition, Jesus’ sense of abandonment has reached its lowest point; the desire to give up is overwhelming. As never before, Jesus has to summon up everything that He has within Him in order to rise above the desperate thoughts and feelings that are inundating Him. In the midst of it all, He has to have confidence that humanity can be saved, and that this can be done without compulsion. He has to have confidence that He is not abandoned and that His inmost love for the salvation of the human race (which He calls “the Father”) is still present. He has to have comfidence that although He feels totally abandoned by God, this is not the case. In brief, Jesus’ desperate sense of hopelessness and abandonment will need to be overcome by an inmost sense that God would never abandon Him. This teaching, in fact, was at the heart of Jesus’ entire ministry. Now would be the chance to prove it — not through a miracle, but through faith in God’s goodness and the courage to remain unbroken in spirit, even till His last breath. 12

This is a lesson for each of us as well. There are times in each of our lives when we might feel alone, abandoned, and separated from God. At such times, thoughts like these might arise in our minds:

O God, I’ve done everything you’ve asked of me.

I have believed in You and I have lived according to your Word.

And now, here I am, going through this agonizing experience.

I feel myself sinking.

Where are You? Where are Your wonders?

Why have you abandoned me?

Jesus’ last words on the cross, “My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?” convey a powerful message about faith during times of utter despair. Although Jesus might feel that God has abandoned Him, Jesus has not abandoned God. Out of the depths of His distress, Jesus calls upon the Lord, crying out, “My God, My God.”

The reality of Jesus’ suffering

It has been suggested that Jesus was not in despair at all; instead, when He uttered that plaintive cry, He was merely quoting the opening words of the twenty-second psalm which begins with the words, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” The psalm gives key details about Jesus’ excruciating suffering on the cross, but also goes on to describe the inspired outcome of His prayer. As it is written, “The Lord has not despised or rejected the afflicted…. When he cried out to Him, He heard” (Psalm 22:24). And the next psalm begins with the immortal words, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1).

It may be that Jesus was indeed quoting the twenty-second psalm, but this does not mean that His suffering was not real. In fact, the intensity of His suffering is exactly the point. By taking on our fallen humanity, Jesus was able to meet and conquer every physical and spiritual torment that a human being might undergo, including the final, and most piercing torment of all — the feeling that one has been abandoned by God. As a finite human being, like all of us, Jesus had to go through this agony Himself to show us that it could be done. He had to feel utterly alone and abandoned, weak and powerless, entirely on His own so that He could demonstrate that no matter what happens, no matter how furiously we are assailed by the hells, God is still with us.

Like Jesus, we also experience times that may feel like crucifixion. These are the times when we must fight against evil desires and false thoughts as if we are fighting from ourselves while acknowledging that all the power to do so is from the Lord alone. Prayer, of course, is an essential part of this combat because it connects us to the power of God. But prayer alone, even the most fervent prayer, will not chase away the evil desires and false thoughts that arise within us. Therefore, we must do this as if from ourselves, summoning up every last bit of strength and courage. The more we are assailed, the deeper we must go, remaining faithful in times of doubt, resilient in the face of adversity, and determined when feeling despair. The more we do this, fighting as if from ourselves, while believing that the Lord is fighting for us, the more will goodness and truth flowing in from the Lord sustain us and become our own. No matter how often we stumble, no matter how often we fall, if we get up and keep going, in love and faith, we will gradually develop a new nature, a new character, a new will. We will become the people God intends us to be. 13

No matter what happens to us, no matter how strongly we are assailed by doubts and despairs, we must cling to the truth that there is a God who loves us and is supporting us throughout our every trial. This is a God who will never abandon us — a God who will suffer anything for us, even the agony of the cross, to show us how to live, even in the face of death. But we must do our part; we must fight with the strength of Samson who, with his last breath, tore down the pillars of the Philistines; we must fight even as Jesus fought, against all that is evil and false within us, so that we may be born again as children of God. We must never surrender. 14

When Jesus was in the wilderness, the devil tempted Him to cast Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple. Jesus refused. Again, the devil tempted Jesus to bow down and worship him. Again, Jesus refused. And now, as Jesus concludes His earthly ministry, He is again tempted to come down — this time from the cross. Again, He refused. No one — no living person, no devil of hell, and no angel of heaven — could convince Jesus to come down from the cross or abandon His all-important mission. He remained steadfast and unwavering in His firm resolve to fulfill the purpose for which He came: to subdue the hells and, thereby, make it possible for people to be saved. And because He was fighting for the salvation of the entire human race, and doing this from pure love, He was inmostly aware that He could not help but be victorious. 15

Glorification: The Other Side of Temptation

47. And some standing there, hearing [it], said, “This [Man] calls for Elijah.”

48. And straightway one of them running, and taking a sponge, and filling [it] with vinegar, and placing [it] on a reed, gave Him to drink.

49. But the rest said, “Let be, let us see if Elijah will come to save Him.”

50. And Jesus, again crying with a great voice, let [forth] the spirit.

This kind of faith is invincible, indestructible, and supreme. Jesus was indeed assaulted in His infirm humanity and brought into states of severe mental anguish. But He continually drew upon those more interior resources — especially that inmost confidence that whoever fights from pure love will prevail. The crueler and more ferocious the onslaughts, the deeper He went, continuously accessing the divine love within Him and drawing it into His finite humanity. In so doing, through combat after combat, He progressively glorified His humanity until He become one with His Divine Soul — the “Father” within Him. Jesus’ passion on the cross, the last of a long series of fearsome battles with hell, was the culmination of this process. As He defeated the last of the hells, and ended the combat, He “cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit” (27:50). 16

The combat was fierce; but the result was glorious. It is similar for each of us. To the extent that we call upon the Lord, use the truth that we know, access His love, and then fight valiantly — while giving all the glory and all the credit to God — we advance a little more on the spiritual journey, as humbler, wiser, and more loving human beings.

It is a process that continues throughout our lifetime in this world and into the next, for none of us can be perfected in a moment. It is through combats of temptation, in fact, that we develop our spirits. So, although temptations may seem like dreaded foes, and unwelcome experiences, the Lord arranges the circumstances of our life perfectly so that every temptation becomes an opportunity to take the next step on our spiritual path. Whenever we meet these temptations with faith and courage, we develop, we grow, and we become spiritually mature. Each time we turn aside from evil, good flows in and takes its place. Each time we refuse to think or say what is false, truth flows in and takes its place. Each time we oppose the urge to criticize, or blame, or find fault, heavenly thoughts and emotions flow in, and take their place. 17

This process was the same for Jesus, but on a much different level. As He fought against and subdued every form of evil His humanity gradually became fully aligned with His divinity. It was as though a substance (His divinity) was being poured into a vessel (His humanity), gradually molding that vessel into a form of perfection until both the vessel and the substance became one. To put it another way, Jesus filled His mind (the finite vessel) with sacred scripture until His humanity become a perfect vessel for the reception of the divine love. In the beginning, the Divine was made human; but in the end, the human was made Divine. 18

Through a lifetime of undergoing temptations, expelling evils, and drawing upon the Divine love within Him, Jesus Christ became much more than the incarnation of God in a weak and fragile human body that died upon the cross. Rather, He became the living God in a new and glorified Humanity — the Divine Human that we can know, approach, and love. 19

This process, through which Jesus gradually filled Himself with divinity, until every cell was fully Divine — including every thought and every emotion — is called “glorification.” It is because of the glorification process that God can now be with us in a Divine natural form. This means that we no longer have to worship an infinite, unknowable, invisible God. Instead, we can worship a visible God — Jesus in His glorified humanity. 20

Jesus’ struggles and victories, up to and including His glorification, have several benefits. While a complete enumeration of those benefits is beyond human understanding, two of them are especially significant. First, in combating and subduing the hells, Jesus has made it possible for each of us to learn the truth and thereby be regenerated. The hells can no longer overwhelm us as long as we turn to the Lord in His Word and live according to the truths therein. Secondly, in glorifying His Humanity, Jesus has made the invisible Creator of the universe visible. Because of this, humanity now and forever has a fuller and more accurate idea of God. Instead of a distant, unknowable, intangible Deity, He became a Divinely Human God — a God who fights for us and shows us how to conquer. Although infinitely loving and wise, and beyond human understanding, the Creator of the universe, could now be seen as a visible God — the Lord Jesus Christ — whom we can know, and love, and follow. 21

Acknowledging Jesus’ Divinity

51. And behold, the veil of the temple was ripped in two, from the top to the bottom; and the earth was shaken; and the rocks were ripped [open];

52. And the sepulchers were opened, and many bodies of [the] holy [ones] that slumbered arose,

53. And coming out of the sepulchers after His resurrection, entered into the holy city, and appeared to many.

54. And the centurion, and they that were with him, keeping [watch over] Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and those things that were done, feared greatly, saying, “Truly this was the Son of God.”

55. And many women were there, beholding from afar off, who followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him,

56. Among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

57. And when it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, whose name was Joseph, who also himself was a disciple of Jesus.

58. He coming to Pilate asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered the body to be given up.

59. And Joseph, taking the body, wrapped it in a clean cloth,

60. And put it in his new sepulcher, which he had hewn in the rock; and rolling a great stone onto the door of the sepulcher, he went away.

61. And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb.

At the peak of the crucifixion, “the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (27:51). The veil of the temple was a beautifully decorated curtain that separated the holy place from the “holy of holies” — the sacred room where the Ten Commandments were kept. The tearing in two of the veil, revealing the “holy of holies,” signifies that the Ten Commandments were once again visible. Even as God had now become visible in Jesus, the Ten Commandments, covered over for so long, now became visible for all to see. The parting of the veil, then, represents a new and clearer understanding of those sacred precepts.

We read also that “the earth quaked and the rocks were split” (27:51). This signifies a profound re-orientation in what we consider good (the earth quaking) and what we consider true (the rocks splitting). When this happens, and we discover a new way to live, we come up from our previous lives, and start a new life. Therefore, it is written that when the earth shook and the rocks split, “the graves were opened.” 22

This represents our resurrection from natural life (concerned primarily with one’s self) to spiritual life (concerned primarily with love for God and others). During this time, our buried affections and tender feelings begin to resurface; they are “raised,” as it were, out of their graves. As it is written, “And many bodies of saints who had fallen asleep were raised.” As we emerge from our “graves” of selfishness and from our deep “sleep,” we become more sensitive to spiritual values, more aware of the needs of others, and eager to be of service. In other words, we are becoming alive and awake to spiritual reality. In this higher state of consciousness, we see the Ten Commandments as central to our lives — no longer concealed by a curtain. Jesus’ words from a previous episode take on new meaning: “If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17).

Finally, as we emerge from the graves of selfish concern, especially after having been asleep to spiritual values for many years, we “go into the holy city.” This represents our re-awakened desire to go to the Word (the “holy city”) and eagerly learn about the truths that lead to eternal life. When earth-shaking, rock-splitting miracles like these are taking place within us, we become like the witnesses at the foot of the cross who cry out, “Truly, this was the Son of God!” (27:54). The answer to Jesus’ question, “Who do you say I am?” (16:15) becomes clear: He is God in human form.

The beginning of a new spirituality

The miracles that took place during Jesus’ crucifixion — darkness at noon, the earthquake, the splitting of the rocks, the tearing of the veil in the temple, people coming out of their graves — stunned the crowd. From this point onwards, no one blasphemed or taunted Jesus. His crucifixion was no longer a scornful, derisive, mockery. Rather, it became transformed into a scene of sacred awe. Something truly miraculous had happened; suddenly, the same crowd that wanted to see Him crucified now began to openly acknowledge His divinity. This is accompanied by a re-awakening of love among the multitudes — represented by the “many women” who are taking notice. As it is written, “And many women who followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him, were looking on from afar” (27:55).

Whenever we weather the storms of temptation, and make it through upheavals of life, we come into a fuller appreciation of Jesus’ divinity. We are like the witnesses who said, “This was the Son of God.” At the same time, our love for Jesus re-emerges — just as the women who had been holding their distance now reappear. At such times, we acknowledge that He alone has brought us through our troubles. This is represented by the presence of Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons who have all returned to minister to Jesus (27:56). These women represent the re-awakened affections in us that are drawn to Jesus, acknowledging His divinity.

Along with these re-emerging affections, represented by the three women, comes the desire to live by the truth that Jesus teaches. This is represented in the next episode when “a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph” (27:57), comes forward. The phrase “a rich man” signifies one who knows many truths. The problem with the religious leaders who sought to destroy Jesus is not that they did not have truth. In fact, they were “rich” with truth. But they had perverted and destroyed the truth by using it in the service of their own self-interest. That religious establishment, therefore, had come to an end, and a new a new one was being raised up to take its place. The coming forward of the three women, and now Joseph of Arimathea, represents the beginning of this new spirituality.

Joseph goes directly to Pilate and asks for the body of Jesus. Pilate, though weak and fearful, is not without common decency, even though it is so deeply buried that he could not prevent Jesus’ crucifixion. But things are changing now; the crucifixion has changed many things. We read, therefore, that “Pilate commanded the body to be given to him” (27:58). In the tender scene that follows, Joseph wraps the body in a clean cloth and lays it in a new tomb, hewn out of a rock. Then, after rolling a large stone against the door of the tomb, he departs. We are left with a final picture of Jesus wrapped in linen, and laid in a new tomb, with a large stone blocking the entrance. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary are sitting nearby, opposite the tomb (27:59-61).

A practical application

There are dark times in our lives when the Word does not seem to be speaking to us. We may read the literal words, but we do not hear the Lord’s voice or feel His presence. There is no light in our darkness. Nevertheless, if we wait patiently, like the two Marys, and if we respectfully regard the literal teachings of the Word, like Joseph of Arimathea, something might arise. All we need to do at such times is meditate on a passage of scripture with the uses of life in mind. If we do this prayerfully, guided by faith in the Lord’s goodness, something might arise out of that “new tomb.” The Lord may come to us through His Word. 23

Sealing the Tomb

62. And on the morrow, which is [the day] after the Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees were gathered together to Pilate,

63. Saying, “Lord, we remember that the deceiver said, while He was yet living, After three days I will arise.

64. Order therefore that the tomb be secured until the third day, lest His disciples coming by night steal Him, and say to the people, He is risen from the dead; and the last error shall be worse than the first.”

65. And Pilate declared to them, “You have a guard; go, secure [it] as you know [how].”

66. And going they secured the tomb, sealing the stone, with the guard.

The previous episode ended with a description of the two Marys sitting opposite the tomb, watching and waiting. It suggests the way each of us can wait patiently for life to arise from the Lord’s Word. There is something in each of us, God-given, that seeks inspiration and guidance from the Lord’s Word, even when there seems to be no life there at the moment.

At the same time, however, there is another force that wants to keep the tomb well sealed so that nothing might arise. This force fears the light of truth and strives to keep things in darkness. It wants to silence the voice of God. This is represented in the next episode by the words of the religious leaders. Coming to Pilate, they say, “Sir, we remember while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore, order that the tomb be made secure until the third day lest His disciples come and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from dead.’” (27:63-64).

Once again, we see a representation of the two opposing forces in us. On one side, there is the tender picture of Jesus being cared for by Joseph of Arimathea and watched over by the two Marys. This is a picture of our faith in the Word and our desire to be inspired by its teachings. On the other side, the religious leaders want to make sure that Jesus’ body remains entombed. For them, the worst possible thing that could happen is that Jesus’ disciples steal the body and spread a rumor that Jesus has risen. As they put it, “If His disciples tell the people, ‘He is risen from the dead,’ the last error shall be worse than the first” (27:64). This is the part of us that does not want to hear what the Word has to say, the part of us that prefers to remain in darkness, the part of us that is represented by the religious leaders who resent Jesus’ power and influence. Remembering Jesus’ promise that He would rise again in three days, they want to make sure it will not come to pass. Therefore, they ask Pilate to set a guard and secure the tomb. But Pilate is no longer willing to comply with their wishes. “You have a guard,” he says to the religious leaders. “Go your way and make it as secure as you know how” (27:65).

In response, the religious leaders “went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard” (27:66). There are places within the human spirit that are dead set against allowing Jesus to be a living influence in our lives. These are the places that “seal the stone and set the guard.”

The two Marys, on the other hand, represent those qualities within us that await Jesus’ promised return. It is the expectation of new life, even in the midst of what appears to be death. Whether we are speaking about the inner meaning of the Word rising up out of the letter, or Jesus rising up from the grave, it suggests that new life can arise within us. The religious authorities, however, want to keep Jesus out of sight — permanently. They want to make sure that the tomb is kept sealed.

A practical application

Jesus came to subdue the hells, not to destroy them. Through His victories in temptation He provided that the hells could no longer overpower and dominate people. But people can still choose to be led by their lower nature. In this way, the Lord preserves human freedom. In every moment we can choose to be led by our highest principles of goodness and truth or be led by base desires and self-centered thoughts. It is this very struggle between good and evil forces within each of us that is portrayed in this episode. Which side will prevail?


1. Arcana Coelestia 18: “Before anyone can know what is true, and be affected with what is good … the old man [evil desires] must die.” See also Arcana Coelestia 2816: “The Lord admitted temptations into Himself in order that He might expel from Himself all that was merely human, and this until nothing but the Divine remained.”

2. Arcana Coelestia 5113: “After the truth is learned, the person is able to think it, and then to will it, and at last do it. This is how a new will is formed in a person in the intellectual part.” See also Arcana Coelestia 5072: “Those things which are subordinate to the intellectual part are represented by the butler of the king of Egypt, and those which are subordinate to the will part are represented by his baker; that the former [the intellectual part] are for a time retained, but the latter [the will part] cast out, is represented by the butler returning to his place, and the baker being hanged.”

3. Heaven and Hell 151: “Love to the Lord and charity towards the neighbor make heaven, while love of self and love of the world make hell, because the two are opposite.”

4. New Jerusalem Its Heavenly Doctrine 196: “Assaults [of evil spirits] take place . . . by a continual drawing forth, and bringing to remembrance, of the evils which one has committed, and of the falsities which one has thought, thus by inundation of such things; and at the same time by an apparent shutting up of the interiors of the mind, and, consequently, of communication with heaven, by which the capacity of thinking from one’s own faith, and of willing from one’s own love, are intercepted. These things are effected by the evil spirits who are present with a person; and when they take place, they appear under the form of interior anxieties and pains of conscience; for they affect and torment a person’s spiritual life, because the person supposes that they proceed, not from evil spirits, but from one’s own interiors.” 5. In the novel, Les Miserables, Victor Hugo writes: “Is there not in every human soul … a first spark, a divine element, incorruptible in this world, and immortal in the next, which good can fan, ignite, and make to glow with splendor, and which evil can never wholly extinguish?” (Chapter 21). While Swedenborg does not speak of a “divine spark” (because we do not have life from ourselves), he does say that the Lord implants “remains” within everyone. These are the tender affections of childhood that are with us throughout our life in the world. See Arcana Coelestia 530: “Remains are always preserved … otherwise there would be no conjunction of heaven with humanity.” Also, Arcana Coelestia 5128:5: “There are in every person goods and truths from the Lord stored up from infancy. In the Word, these goods and truths are called ‘remains.’”

6. The actual Greek is su legais (σὺ λέγεις). Other translators render this “Yes” (Living Bible); “So you say” (Good News Bible); “You say so” (New Revised Standard); “Yes, it is as you say” (New International Version), and “Thou sayest” (Kempton Version). 7. Arcana Coelestia 4295: “The angels are continually being perfected by the Lord, and yet can never to eternity be so far perfected that their wisdom and intelligence can be compared to the Divine wisdom and intelligence of the Lord.” See also Arcana Coelestia 4295. “In the end the Lord fought with the angels themselves, nay, with the whole angelic heaven . . . in order that the universal heaven might be brought into order. He admitted into Himself temptations from the angels who, insofar as they were in what is their own, were so far not in good and truth. These temptations are the inmost of all, for they act solely into the ends, and with such subtlety as cannot possibly be noticed.”

8. See Revelation 11:17: “We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty … because You have taken Your great power and reigned.”

9. Divine Providence 136[3]: “The internal is so averse to compulsion by the external that it turns itself away. This is because the internal wishes to be in freedom, and loves freedom, for freedom belongs to a person’s love or life. Therefore, when freedom feels itself to be compelled it withdraws as it were within itself and turns itself away, and looks upon compulsion as its enemy…. Furthermore, compelled worship shuts in evils, which evils then lie hidden like fire in wood under ashes, which is continually kindling and spreading till it breaks out in flames.”

10. Arcana Coelestia 1607:3: “His Human Essence [was] united to His Divine Essence when He had overcome the devil and hell, that is, when by His own power and His own might He had expelled all evil, which alone disunites.”

11. Arcana Coelestia 840: “As long as temptation lasts, a person assumes that the Lord is not present. This is because the person is being harassed by evil spirits of the worst kind, so harassed in fact that sometimes the person has so great a feeling of hopelessness as scarcely to believe that God exists at all.”

12. True Christian Religion 126: “In temptation it looks as if a person is left to oneself, but it is not so, since God is most intimately present at the inmost level, secretly giving support. Therefore, when anyone is victorious in temptation, that person is most inwardly linked with God, and in this case, the Lord was most inwardly united with God His Father.” See also Arcana Coelestia 840: “In times of temptation the Lord is more present than a person can possibly believe.”

13. Arcana Coelestia 8179:2: “They who are in temptations usually slack their hands and rely solely on prayers, which they then ardently pour forth, not knowing that prayers will not avail, but that they must also fight against the falsities and evils which are being injected by the hells…. When people fight [against evil and falsity] as if from their own strength and yet believe that they do so in the Lord’s strength, goodness and truth flow in from the Lord and become their own. This gives them a new proprium [sense of self] … which is a new will.”

14. Arcana Coelestia 10182:6: “In the heavens all power is from the Divine truth that proceeds from the Lord’s Divine good. From this the angels have … the power to protect people by removing the hells from them, for one angel prevails against a thousand spirits from the hells. This cannot be apprehended by those who have the idea that truth and faith are merely thought. The fact is that thought from a person’s will produces all the strength of one’s body, and if it were inspired by the Lord through His Divine truth, a person would have the strength of Samson.”

15. Arcana Coelestia 1812: “While He lived in the world the Lord was in continual combats of temptations, and in continual victories, from a constant inmost confidence and faith that because He was fighting for the salvation of the whole human race from pure love, He could not but conquer.

16. Arcana Coelestia 4735: “The Lord’s passion was the last stage of His temptation, by which He fully glorified His humanity.”

17. “Suppose a linen handkerchief is the natural body which the Lord took on from the virgin Mary. If we pull out one thread of linen and then weave in a thread of gold along the warp, and do that over and over again, removing one thread of linen at a time and filling in with a thread of gold, then turn the handkerchief the other way and do the same with the woof, in the end we will have a handkerchief … but it will be all transformed into gold, without the size and shape perishing. The point is this: The Lord came into the world primarily to give us an image of a God that we can know and love and worship and see.” (Rev. Karl Alden, Doctrinal Papers, (Bryn Athyn: General Church Religion Lessons, 1951) p. 30. 18. True Christian Religion 73[3]: “God could not by His omnipotence have redeemed men unless He had become man; neither could He have made His human Divine unless that human had first been like the human of a babe, and then like that of a boy; and unless afterwards the human had formed itself into a receptacle and habitation, into which its Father might enter; which was done by His fulfilling all things in the Word, that is, all the laws of order therein; and so far as He accomplished this He united Himself to the Father, and the Father united Himself to Him.”

19. Arcana Coelestia 2551: “The Lord by degrees and from His own power, as He grew up, made Divine the human into which He was born. Thus, by means of the knowledge that He revealed to Himself, He perfected His rational, dispersed by successive steps its shadows, and introduced it into Divine light.”

20. True Christian Religion 109: “Before He came into the world, the Lord was certainly present with the people of the church, but through the mediation of angels as His representatives; however, since His coming He is present with the people of the church without any intermediary. For in the world He put on the Divine Natural too, in which He is present with human beings. The Lord’s glorification is the glorification of His Human, which He took upon Himself in the world; and the glorified Human of the Lord is the Divine Natural.”

21. True Christian Religion 126: “Glorification is the uniting of the Lord’s Human with the Divine of His Father. This was effected gradually, and was completed through the passion of the cross. For every person ought to draw near to God; and as far as a person does draw near, God on His part enters into that person. It is the same as with a temple, which first must be built, and this is done by human hands; afterwards it must be dedicated; and finally, prayer must be made for God to be present and there unite Himself with the church. The union itself [of the Lord’s Divine and human natures] was made complete through the passion of the cross, because that was the last temptation endured by the Lord in the world. It is by means of temptations that conjunction is effected.”

22. Apocalypse Explained 659:14: “To open the tombs and to cause the people to come up out of the tombs” signifies to be raised up out of falsities from evil, thus [to be raised up] from the dead. It also signifies [what happens when the Lord] imparts truths from good, thus life, which life is ‘the Spirit of God.’”

23. Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture 78: “It is through the Word that the Lord is present with people and is conjoined to them, for the Lord is the Word, and as it were speaks with people in it…. The Lord is indeed present with people through the reading of the Word, but people are conjoined with the Lord through the understanding of truth from the Word.” See also Arcana Coelestia 9817: “The Lord flows in with people of the church chiefly through the Word.”

From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 2576, 2798, 2916, 4772, 8018, 9093, 9229, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 586

Doctrine of the Lord 12, 19

Heaven and Hell 312

True Christian Religion 342

References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 204, 220, 223, 400, 532, 659, 812, ...

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:

Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Exodus 26:31

2 Chronicles 3:14

Isaiah 53:8

Ezekiel 37:12

Bible Word Meanings

In Revelation 5:2, 'a loud' or 'great voice' signifies divine truth from the Lord, in its power or virtue.

'The seven spirits' in Matthew 12:45 signify all falsities of evil, and as a result, a total extinction of goodness and truth. 'The seven spirits'...

A grave, as in Psalm 88:5, signifies hell. ‘To come forth out of the grave,’ as in John 5:29, signifies to come forth out of...

To open,' as in Revelation 9, signifies communication and conjunction.

The body (Matt. 6:22), signifies the man (homo). "His body shall not remain all night upon the tree" (Deut. 21:23), signifies lest it should be...

'Saints' mean people governed by truths from the Lord through the Word.

Cities of the mountain and cities of the plain (Jeremiah 33:13) signify doctrines of charity and faith.

The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

There's a great deal of talk in Swedenborg about "truth" as a concept – it's how we learn the Lord's will, what we must seek...

son of god
Swedenborg offers different angles on the phrase "the Son of God," sometimes saying that it refers to the "divine human" and sometimes saying it refers...

Videos from the Swedenborg Foundation

The videos shown here are provided courtesy of our friends at the Swedenborg Foundation. You can find out more about them here:

What Happened Immediately After Jesus Was Crucified? - S&L Short Clips

Learn the symbolism of dramatic events that happened right after Jesus was crucified -- an earthquake, a veil torn in two, and people rising from the grave.

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.

 Do We Try to Entomb the Lord?
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story or passage and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Easter Morning
The story of Easter morning teaches that the Lord Jesus, who came to earth and touched us with His great love and wisdom, is more than a man. He is our God.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 For Reflection: Points of View on the Lord's Crucifixion
Think about how different people might have felt about the Lord's crucifixion, considering the disciples, the chief priests, and others who may have witnessed or heard about it.
Activity | Ages over 15

 Jesus’s Trial and Crucifixion
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 Let Him Be Crucified
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Pilate Questions Jesus
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Quotes: The Lord's Final Temptation
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Soldiers Guard the Tomb
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Crucifixion at Golgotha
Make a picture of the crosses to help remember the Lord’s victory over evil. He let Himself be crucified, resisted the hells, and then rose again on Easter morning.
Project | All Ages

 The Lord's Last Days on Earth
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 The Miracle of Easter
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 Trying to Entomb the Lord
This story teaches us that the Lord Jesus, who came to earth and touched us with His great love and wisdom, is more than just a man. He is our God, and He has all power. 
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 When the Lord Was Crucified
Make a wax-resist picture to show how the world went black when the Lord was crucified and then rejoiced when He rose on Easter morning.
Project | All Ages



The Veil was Torn in Two


By New Christian Bible Study Staff

Photo by Rezha-fahlevi from Pexels

When Jesus died on the cross, there was an earthquake. Rocks were split. The centurion and his soldiers who had carried out the crucifixion orders were afraid.

In the heart of the temple, in the "holy of holies", in the very heart of Jerusalem, the sacred veil tore, from top to bottom.

The veil, "rent in twain"...

The veils in the tabernacle and later in the temple were important. They're described in great detail in Exodus and in 1 Kings. In Arcana Coelestia 2576, it says that, "Rational truths are a kind of veil or clothing to spiritual truths.... The veil represented the nearest and inmost appearances of rational good and truth....

And now, as Jesus dies on the cross, the veil tears. What does this mean?

Here's how Swedenborg describes the symbolism of this:

"...that once all appearances had been dispelled, the Lord entered into the Divine Itself, and at the same time He opened a means of access to the Divine Itself through His Human that had been made Divine." (Arcana Coelestia 2576)

Think about four watershed spiritual events:

1) The creation of the physical universe. (Current best guess: 13.8 billion years ago). Genesis 1:1-10

2) The beginning of life. (On earth, between 3.5 and 4.5 billion years ago.) Genesis 1:11-25

3) The beginning of spiritually conscious human beings. (Reasonable guess: 100,000 years ago). Genesis 1:26-31

4) The incarnation and resurrection of the Lord God Jesus Christ (2000 years ago).

God's love and wisdom have been flowing into the universe for a long time. Where you might expect entropy, instead we see a universe that seems to favor life and intelligence. Think what a fulfilling moment it must have been when God could tell that human minds were now responding to Him, after all that outpouring.

But the free response-ability has tragedy baked in, because we can also choose not to respond, and to go the opposite way.

As we humans grew more "sophisticated", God used new channels to reach us, notably prophets and spiritual leaders, and later the written word. And in those channels, from the earliest times, there are already prophecies that the Lord would one day come into the world in human form.

Why did He need to do that? He must have foreseen that people would need to have that human level of connection, in order for enough good and truth to exist for us to make the decisions that open us to salvation.

Let's go back to Swedenborg's description:

"... once all appearances had been dispelled the Lord entered into the Divine Itself..."

Throughout the Lord's life on earth, there was the appearance that he was a man, like us. He had a human body. He could be tired and hungry. He could be tempted (though unlike us, he always won). In his spiritual life, there were times when he felt keenly the appearance of his human separate from his Divine essence. At other times, that appearance thinned, and he felt his divinity more powerfully. As he grew up, and was baptized, and began his ministry, he must have been growing more and more fully aware of what was going on inside him -- the glorification of the human part of him. With the death of his body on the cross, the bodily human-ness was no longer in the way. That appearance was dispelled. A new connection was fully forged between the Divine and the human.

And then, there's the second part of Swedenborg's statement:

"at the same time He opened a means of access to the Divine Itself through His Human that had been made Divine."

The veil was torn. The old religion, which had placed ritual above real good, and where God was invisible, separated from human knowledge by a veil -- was torn. New light could reach people, through the new teachings of the Lord. We could respond to a God who, in His Divine Human, we now could understand and approach and love more deeply.

The Bible


Genesis 1:11-25

Study the Inner Meaning


11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.

14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,

18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.

19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.

23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.


   Study the Inner Meaning

Genesis 1: The Creation and Development of our Spiritual Life      

By Rev. William Woofenden

The first book of the Bible is "Genesis", which means "creation". It's a very, very ancient story - one of the oldest stories of humankind, and it's full of symbolic meaning that - still - gets to the core of what it is to be truly human.

The first three days of creation describe the development of the natural degree of man's life. They come first as a preparation for the opening of the spiritual degree of our minds. The creation of the grass, herbs, and trees took place on the third day, and constitutes the third step in regeneration. The creation of the fowl and fish was on the fifth day. Between these on the fourth day the sun, moon, and stars were created.

From the beginning man had light, for all light is from the Lord, but it was not direct light. He was not at first in the clear light of the sun, moon, and stars, which are set in the firmament. The firmament is the internal man. There is a preparation that has to be made before the internal man is opened. At first we think we see the truth and do good from ourselves. Hence only inanimate things are produced. All truth and good are from the Lord who alone is truth and goodness, and only when we come to acknowledge this can we have true love from him, true faith in Him, and true knowledge of spiritual things. These are not seen from the external or natural degree of life.

Again we should note a change of language. It was said, "Let the earth bring forth" the grass, herb, and fruit trees. Now and through the remaining days it is said that "God created." Man has a part to play in his regeneration. There must be in his mind forms into which the warmth of love and the light of faith and of spiritual truths can flow.

When the mind is so prepared, influx from the Lord can be received, with greater power. "And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven." It should be noted that it is the waters that are commanded to bring forth the moving creature that hath life, and that it is not the seas but the waters which are to produce the living creatures. The seas represent the gathering together of knowledges, but by the "waters" are meant the spiritual truths in the mind. So in the Lord's words to the woman of Samaria, "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst" (John 4:14). In Ezekiel it is the "waters" issuing from the sanctuary that give life (Ezekiel 47:1). The Psalmist writes, "Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters" (Psalm 104:3). It is not in natural waters that the Lord lays the beams of His chambers. His chambers are the interior principles of His church; the beams give them support and strength. These are said to be laid in the waters because they rest and have their foundation in the genuine truths of the Word. So in Revelation the Word itself is described as a pure river of water of life.

The will faculty in man embraces all his affections and is the internal man. When the sun, moon, and stars—love, faith, and knowledges of spiritual truth—are set in this heaven and begin to impart their warmth and light to the external man, enabling him to think and act from these higher and purer principles, then the external man is gifted with a new life. There may be no apparent change in his outward conduct—he may already be living a moral life—but the motives that direct his acts will be wholly different. And it is the motive that gives character to the act as well as to the actor. He no longer thinks of the truths that he has learned, either natural or spiritual, as the product of his own mind nor of the good, that he does as the result of his own efforts, but thinks of them as wholly from the Lord, who alone is the source of all true light and life.

Before one recognizes clearly that all good and truth come from the Lord, he can bring forth only inanimate things, the grass, herb, and fruit tree, however good and useful these may be. But when he is enlightened by genuine love and faith, his knowledges become the basis for the development of spiritual life and God can create in him the living creatures that have life. First the fishes are created; then the fowl of the air. There is a difference between fishes and birds. The fishes, living in water, represent our affections for natural truths. The great whales, the largest of living creatures, are affections for the great general principles that control the mind. The principle may be either true or false. Of Pharaoh or Egypt it is written, "Thou art as a whale in the seas: and thou earnest forth with thy rivers, and troubledst the waters with thy feet, and fouled at their rivers" (Ezekiel 32:2) Here is pictured a ruling false principle from the natural degree of the mind — Egypt. That is, when the ruling principle is false, it will be a monster making the truths in the mind obscure like filthy or muddy waters.

Another example of the meaning of the whale in a bad sense is in the story of Jonah. When the principle is false it swallows up for a time all the truths that are in the mind. This is the whale swallowing Jonah the prophet. But Divine truth cannot be used by a false principle so as to become a part of its organic structure. Nor can the Divine truth perish. So the whale could not digest Jonah, nor could the prophet perish, but the whale vomited him up.

Spiritually there are whales trying to swallow prophets today, evil principles that try to use Divine truths to attain their ends. In the creation story, however, the whales are affections for the principles of natural truth for the sake of uses to the spiritual man. There is one source of genuine love. The creatures of the fifth day are living because they are animated by this love. Birds fly in the air above the earth. They have the power of flight and enjoy broader views. They represent affections for truth that rise above the natural. They are the thoughts that look at life from the heights of spiritual perception, ideas about the Lord, heaven, and spiritual things. Isaiah writes, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles" (Isaiah 40:31). Birds represent spiritual intelligence, the power to lift us up to understand spiritual truth in heavenly light, through which truth the Lord can impart to us something of the Divine intelligence. So at the baptism of the Lord "The heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him" (Matthew 3:16). So a new knowledge of heavenly life is given, a new perception of our possibilities, and in this higher intelligence a basis for further development is laid. This further development is pictured in the creation of the living creatures upon the earth. These are symbols of the affections. Here, too, it is said, "Let the earth bring forth" and also "And God made the beast of the earth." The creation of living animals on the earth and of man in the image and likeness of God marks the completion of the six days of creation—the six stages in regeneration. Man has first to learn what is to be believed and done and then to do it.

It is the office of the understanding to hear the Word and of the will to do it. In this way the truths are made our own, and the will and understanding make one mind. And when one begins to act from love as well as from faith, he becomes a spiritual man, who is called an image of God, and is given dominion over all things. Thus all things natural and spiritual come to be a delight to him and serviceable to him. To be an image and likeness of God one must act from impulses similar to those of God. This he cannot do until he comes into the final state of regeneration. Then he will not act from selfish motives, as does the natural man, nor from mere obedience to truth, but from love to the Lord and the neighbor. When these loves are developed and rule, to them is given the dominion over all subordinate affections and the fruits of all the growths of intelligence. These are what make man to be a man and cause him to be in the image and likeness of his Maker. Each step in the formation of a truly human character the Lord saw and pronounced good, but of the work of the sixth day it is said, "God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good."

From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

Arcana Coelestia 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, ...

Other references to this text:

Arcana Coelestia 246, 670, 709, 862, 3235, 4697, 4786

Apocalypse Revealed 414

True Christian Religion 490

References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 229, 401, 527, 610, 650, 664, 750

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:

Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Genesis 2:19, 8:17

Deuteronomy 4:19

Job 12:7, 9

Psalms 8:4, 74:16, 104:14, 19, 25, 136:7, 9, 148:7

Isaiah 40:26, 61:11

Jeremiah 31:35

Mark 4:28

1 Corinthians 15:38

Hebrews 6:8

Bible Word Meanings

When the Bible speaks of "Jehovah," it is representing love itself, the inmost love that is the essence of the Lord. That divine love is...

As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

Is there any difference in meaning between “earth” and “ground”? At first it doesn’t seem so; both refer to the soil making up the land...

Every herb in the Word signifies some species of scientifics. 'Herb bearing seed,' as mentioned in Genesis 1:29, signifies every truth which regards use. 'Green...

Every herb in the Word signifies some species of scientifics. 'Herb bearing seed,' as mentioned in Genesis 1:29, signifies every truth which regards use. 'Green...

'A seed' signifies love, and everyone who has love, as in Genesis 12:7. 8:15, 16. 'A seed' signifies faith grounded in charity. 'A seed' signifies...

In Zechariah 8:12, 'the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground her increase,' signifies that the spiritual affection of truth produces the good of...

In general, plants in the Bible represent facts, thoughts and ideas – intellectual things. This makes sense: Plants are rooted in place, but can grow...

To look,' as in Genesis 18:22, signifies thinking, because seeing denotes understanding. Look not back behind thee,' as in Genesis 19:17, means that Lot, who...

It seems rather circular to say that “good” in the Bible represents good, but in a general sense it’s true! The case is this: The...

Since the light and warmth of the sun represent the Lord’s wisdom and love, it makes sense that evening, a time when the light and...

Morning comes with the rising of the sun, and the sun – which gives life to the earth with its warmth and light – represents...

The Writings talk about many aspects of life using the philosophical terms "end," "cause" and "effect." The "end" is someone’s goal or purpose, the ultimate...

Third day
'The third day' signifies the end of a state of preparation for reception, and so an end of purification, as in Exodus 19:16. 'The third...

"Day" describes a state in which we are turned toward the Lord, and are receiving light (which is truth) and heat (which is a desire...

'The two luminaries' denote love and faith in the internal self.

The firmament, as in Genesis 1, signifies the internal man. The firmament of heaven is mutual love.

"Heaven" and "heavens" are used many times in the Bible, with a couple of variations of meaning. Sometimes it is relatively literal, including times when...

The sun in the Bible represents the Lord, with its heat representing His love and its light representing His wisdom. “Daytime,” then, represents a state...

'A token,' as in Genesis 9:12, 13, 17, signifies causing it to be.

"Day" describes a state in which we are turned toward the Lord, and are receiving light (which is truth) and heat (which is a desire...

'The two luminaries' denote love and faith in the internal self.

The number "two" has two different meanings in the Bible. In most cases "two" indicates a joining together or unification. This is easy to see...

Great lights
Great lights, as in luminaries, signify love and faith, and are called in Genesis 1:14-17, the sun, moon, and stars.

The word "great" is used in the Bible to represent a state with a strong degree of love and affection, of the desire for good;...

The word "great" is used in the Bible to represent a state with a strong degree of love and affection, of the desire for good;...

Like other common verbs, the meaning of "give" in the Bible is affected by context: who is giving what to whom? In general, though, giving...

"Darkness" is a state without light. "Light" is truth from the Lord, so "darkness" represents a state where truth is lacking. Here's a cogent passage...

'The fourth watch' signifies the first state of the church at break of day, when good begins to act by truth.

'Lives' is used in the plural, because of the will and understanding, and because these two lives make one.

Fowl signify spiritual truth; a bird, natural truth; and a winged thing, sensual truth. Fowl signify intellectual things. Fowl signify thoughts, and all that creeps...

To fly, when spoken of the Lord, signifies to foresee and to provide. To fly, when predicated of the Lord, also signifies omnipresence. To fly...

To open,' as in Revelation 9, signifies communication and conjunction.

The creation of heaven and earth in the first chapter of Genesis means the new creation of the celestial church called 'Man'.

'A whale,' as in Jeremiah 51:34, signifies people who possess the universal aspects of the knowledges of faith, as known, and apply them to evil...

'Lives' is used in the plural, because of the will and understanding, and because these two lives make one.

'Wings' signify spiritual truths. 'Wings,' when related to the Lord, signify the divine spiritual. In the opposite sense, 'wings' relate to falsities and rationalizations from...

The Lord is perfect love expressed as perfect wisdom. He created us so that He could love us, could give us love and wisdom of...

To be fruitful is predicated of goodnesses, and to be multiplied, of truths.

'Spreading themselves on the earth,' as in Genesis 8:17, signifies the internal self operating on the external.

Being "filled" means being endowed with a spiritual quality. When the material in question is good – water, food, people who represent good things, etc....

Water generally represents what Swedenborg calls “natural truth,” or true concepts about day-to-day matters and physical things. Since all water ultimately flows into the seas,...

"Beasts" represent the affection for doing good things, a true desire to do them from the heart. In the negative sense, "beasts" stand for the...

Videos from the Swedenborg Foundation

The videos shown here are provided courtesy of our friends at the Swedenborg Foundation. You can find out more about them here:

Swedenborg 101: The Basic Nature of Everything - Swedenborg and Life

In this episode, host Curtis Childs and featured guests explore what eighteenth-century Christian mystic and philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg learned during his mystical explorations of the spiritual world. They delve into his life, spiritual awakening, and resulting philosophies about the relationship between this life and the afterlife.

What the 7 Days of Creation Mean - Swedenborg and Life

Was everything we see around us really created in seven days? Could that story in Genesis actually have something to say to each of us, right now? Join us as we discuss Swedenborg's accounts of his spiritual experiences and what he learned through them.

Genesis 1:14-19 >> 27:16
, 31:59
Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.

 Animals and Plants in Heaven
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Celebrating the Seven Days of Creation
Offers a wide array of ideas for play time, art projects, field trips, and more.
Activity | Ages up to 10

 Correspondences of Light
Illustrations of three stories in the Word that talk about light. (Quotations are the King James translation.)
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Creation Chain
Make a paper chain with the names (or pictures) of the people in your family and other things that the Lord has made. Or make a paper chain that illustrates several things in creation that depend on one another. 
Project | Ages 4 - 14

 Creation Diorama
A great family project to build and display in your home.
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 Creation Mobile
Assemble this lovely mobile to remind you of all the Lord's precious gifts to us.
Project | Ages 4 - 14

 Creation Poem with Hand Motions
A lovely poem about creation with hand motions.
Activity | Ages up to 10

 Creation | Seas to Trees Pop-up
Color cut-and-fold pop-up project showing dry land rising out of the water and then growing a tree illustrating Genesis 1:9-13. Sample activity from Creation: reflection of God, Level C, ages 11-14.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 14

 Creation Sequencing Cards
Children can color and cut out these cards, then practice putting them in order from day 1-7.
Activity | Ages 4 - 10

 Creation Story (circle book project)
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 Creation | The First Day - Level A
Complete lesson with activity choices: light and darkness game and song, separate light and darkness collage, scripted story discussion, coloring page, and a memory verse. Sample lesson from Creation: reflection of God, Level A, ages 3-6.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 3 - 6

 Creation | The First Day - Level B
Complete lesson with activity choices: light and darkness experiment with accompanying video, let there be light folding paper project, scripted story discussion, coloring page, and a memory verse. Sample lesson from Creation: reflection of God, Level B, ages 7-10.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 Creation | The First Day - Level C
Complete lesson with activity choices: living in the dark--group blindfold games, video and discussion on the bible, creation and a can of peaches, scripted story discussion, and an illustrated quotation card. Sample Lesson from Creation: reflection of God, Level C.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 14

 Family Worship: The Story of Creation
Ideas for reading and discussing the story of creation in Genesis 1. Includes suggestions for extending the experience such as going for a nature walk.
Religion Lesson | Ages 3 - 15

 God Said What? The Creation Story
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Memory Verse: Giving Thanks for Creation
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Memory Verse: Life Is Eternal
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Men and Women Are Different
Studies confirm that differences between men and women extend beyond the physical body, affecting engagement on all levels of life.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Overview of Creation Reflection of God Levels A, B, C for ages 3-14
Overview of Creation: reflection of God, Levels A, B, C for ages 3-14.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 3 - 14

 Prophecies of the Advent
Prophecies of Jesus' advent on earth often use the image of new light dawning in darkness to describe the spiritual impact His birth would have on the world.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Qualities of the Lord
Look at colored pictures of stories from the Word. Using a word bank, identify the quality of the Lord shown in each picture.
Project | Ages 9 - 14

 Quotes: Giving Thanks for Creation
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 Summary of Creation and Thankfulness
This lesson discusses a story from the Word and suggests projects and activities for young children.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 Sun and the Fruit of Creation
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

A Thanksgiving "wreath" to color and display.
Project | Ages 4 - 14

 Thanking the Lord for Creation
How can your words and actions show the Lord that you appreciate His creation?
Activity | Ages over 15

 The Creation
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Creation: A General View
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 The Creation: The Fifth and Sixth Days
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 The Creation: The First Four Days
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 The Days of Creation Collage Book or Mural
Ideas from an art teacher for making a creation book or mural.
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 The Fifth Day of Creation
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Fifth Day of Creation
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The First Day of Creation
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The First Day of Creation
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Fourth Day of Creation
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Fourth Day of Creation
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Greatest Gift
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 The Meaning of the Tree of Life
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Purpose of Creation
Birth brings a person into the natural world, but God's ultimate purpose is that a person be born again into heavenly life, the life of the spirit.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 The Second Day of Creation
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Second Day of Creation
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Seven Days of Creation
An illustrated story of the seven days of creation.
Story | Ages 3 - 7

 The Sixth Day of Creation
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Sixth Day of Creation
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Story of Creation
Family lessons provide a worship talk and a variety of activities for children and teens..
Religion Lesson | Ages 4 - 17

 The Story of Creation: Family Worship Ideas
Detailed notes on the seven days of creation.
Article | Ages over 18

 The Third Day of Creation
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Third Day of Creation
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Universe
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Word Made Flesh
Like Genesis, the Gospel of John begins with creation. While Genesis describes the creation of natural light, John describes a second creation into spiritual light.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Two Great Lights
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Using the Lord’s Creation
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Where Did Everything Come From?
Grandpa explains to Annika and Peter where everything came from.
Story | Ages 4 - 6

 Why Are We Here?
Lesson and activities to explore why we were created - what God intends for us.
Religion Lesson | Ages over 15