Welcome to the online home of Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer.

Tim Challies

Challies on FacebookChallies on Twitter

devotional

3 years 2 weeks ago
Earlier today I was looking for something at Amazon and Amazon thought I might be interested in buying a copy of Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions For Kids. I reviewed Jesus Calling a short time ago, but it came as a surprise to me that there is now a children’s edition. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I spent a few minutes browsing through the sample Amazon provides. 

My main critique of Jesus Calling is that Young positions her book as a collection of devotionals given to her by God. God has spoken to her (she calls herself a “Listener”) and now she is sharing the words God has given her. This raises an all-important question related to the authority her words carry. If they are truly given by God, aren’t they authoritative and binding on us? She does not answer well. Though she says that her writings must be subservient to the Bible, she does not actually tell us what they are or how we are to regard them. Are they authoritative? Are they in any way binding on her or on us? If they are not inspired and not inerrant, what exactly are they? It is one thing to say that God has spoken to you, and another entirely to set these words within a context that continues to honor the authority and uniqueness of Scripture. These are not unreasonable questions, and especially so now that Young is modelling her form of listening to not only adults but to children and encouraging them to participate in it.

I found the Introduction to the children’s version of her book quite interesting. She repeats her claim that these are words given to her by God while affirming that only the Bible is perfect. But what is equally interesting to me is that she appears to have either received 365 new words from God for children (the devotionals in this book are very different and very obviously targeted at children) or she has adapted existing devotionals, but without stating that she has done so. Either way, this book seems to muddy her claims. Either God has given words to her specifically for other people (in this case, for children)—some form of prophetic function—or she has taken God’s words and translated or adapted them to fit a new audience. In either case, I think it’s time we saw this for what it is.

Here is the book’s Introduction:

 

Jesus Calling for Kids

Jesus Calling for Kids 2

3 years 1 month ago
I had no knowledge of either the book or the author when I began reading Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling (having been asked by some of the readers of this site to do so). I had seen the book as a fixture on the Christian bestselling lists, but had never taken a look at it. The first thing I learned is that it has over 450 reviews on Amazon where it is holding down a 5-star average, something that is no small accomplishment. I downloaded it to my Kindle and began to read.

Sarah Young is the wife of a third-generation missionary to Japan who has earned post-graduate degrees from Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, a Presbyterian seminary. Her book is a devotional, a year’s worth of short reflections on the Christian faith. But it has one major, all-important twist.

I will review the book under 2 headings: What She Says About What She Says and then What She Says. In other words, the first part will discuss the foundation of what she says and the second part will look at the actual content of the devotionals.

What She Says About What She Says

This is a book about experiencing the Presence of God (Presence is always capitalized in the book). It is about growing closer in relationship to the Lord, something every Christian craves. Young uses Presence to describe a very tangible feeling of God’s presence. Here is some background, the first time she encountered this Presence:

One night I found myself leaving the warmth of our cozy chalet to walk alone in the snowy mountains. I went into a deeply wooded area, feeling vulnerable and awed by cold, moonlit beauty. The air was crisp and dry, piercing to inhale. Suddenly I felt as if a warm mist enveloped me. I became aware of a lovely Presence, and my involuntary response was to whisper, ‘Sweet Jesus.’ This utterance was totally uncharacteristic of me, and I was shocked to hear myself speaking so tenderly to Jesus. As I pondered this brief communication, I realized it was the response of a converted heart; at that moment I knew I belonged to Him. This was far more than the intellectual answers for which I’d been searching. This was a relationship with the Creator of the universe.

Influenced by authors such as Catherine Marshall and Andrew Murray, Young continued to pursue this Presence of God, seeking to learn how to continually feel or sense God’s presence. She grew in her love for God and grew in her desire to spend time with him, speaking to him in prayer and hearing from him through the Word. It was in 1992 that she received a copy of God Calling, “a devotional book written by two anonymous ‘listeners.’ These women practiced waiting quietly in God’s Presence, pencils and paper in hand, recording the messages they received from Him. The messages are written in the first person, with ‘I’ designating God.” This book became a treasure and a textbook.

Young continues,

The following year, I began to wonder if I, too, could receive messages during my times of communing with God. I had been writing in prayer journals for years, but that was one-way communication: I did all the talking. I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more. Increasingly, I wanted to hear what God had to say to me personally on a given day. I decided to listen to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever I believe He was saying. I felt awkward the first time I tried this, but I received a message. It was short, biblical, and appropriate. It addressed topics that were current in my life: trust, fear, and closeness to God. I responded by writing in my prayer journal.

You will not be surprised to learn that the content of this book, each of the devotionals, is a message Young has received from the Lord—a message meant to provide a deeper experience of Jesus’ Presence and Peace. “This practice of listening to God has increased my intimacy with Him more than any other spiritual discipline, so I want to share some of the messages I have received. In many parts of the world, Christians seem to be searching for a deeper experience of Jesus’ Presence and Peace. The messages that follow address that felt need.”

We cannot miss this. As I have spoken to others about the book, I’ve heard some people say that this book is written as if Jesus is speaking to the reader. But it’s important to know that Young makes a far more audacious claim—this is Jesus speaking, through her. The messages he has given her, she now passes on to us.

This is a very good time to pause and consider this claim. Sarah is claiming some kind of new revelation from God. She is saying that God speaks to her and that she then passes these messages to others. Immediately we need to ask what she believes about the Bible. Is she claiming that these messages are equal to Scripture? That they trump Scripture?

She makes no such claim; not directly, anyway. At one point she says, “I knew these writings were not inspired as Scripture is, but they were helping me grow closer to God.” Later she says “The Bible is, of course, the only inerrant [without error] Word of God; my writings must be consistent with that unchanging standard.” But this is all she says. While she clarifies that her writings must be subservient to the Bible, she does not actually tell us what they are or how we are to regard them. Are they authoritative? Are they in any way binding on her or on us? If they are not inspired and not inerrant, what exactly are they? There are no answers forthcoming because immediately Young begins to share those words of God as daily devotionals, saying “I have continued to receive personal messages from God as I meditate on Him. The more difficult my life circumstances, the more I need these encouraging directives from my Creator.”

James Montgomery Boice once said that the real battle in our times would not be the inerrancy or infallibility of Scripture, but its sufficiency—are we going to rely on the Bible or will we continually long for other revelation? In Jesus Calling we see this so clearly. Young teaches that though the Bible is inerrant and infallible, it is insufficient. It was not enough for her and, implicitly, she teaches that it cannot be enough for us. After all, it was not reading Scripture that proved her most important spiritual discipline, but this listening, this receiving of messages from the Lord. It is not Scripture she brings to us, not primarily anyway, but these messages from Jesus.

On this basis alone this book is very suspect and needs to be treated with the utmost care. Young offers us words that she insists come straight from the Lord. But she gives no proof that we should expect the Lord to speak to us this way; all she offers is her own experience of it. At this point we are left with a few options. We can stop reading altogether, we can continue to read while rejecting her claims that these are words from the Lord, or we can read and take her at her word. Personally, unless reviewing the book, I would abandon it immediately. If she claims to be speaking Jesus’ words, I am no longer interested. However, for the sake of reviewing it, I continued to read.

What She Says

Young offers a years’ worth of devotionals, all of which are written in the first person, as messages from Jesus. Each of them is followed with a few Scripture passages. Here is the first half of the devotional for January 8:

Softly I announce my Presence. Shimmering hues of radiance tap gently at your consciousness, seeking entrance. Though I have all Power in heaven and on earth, I am infinitely tender with you. The weaker you are, the more gently I approach you. Let your weakness by a door to My Presence. Whenever you feel inadequate, remember that I am your ever-present Help.

It is interesting that the majority of the devotionals are affirmations rather than commandments which means that the book tends to be more descriptive than prescriptive. It is less about Jesus telling how we are to live, but more about who he is, who we are, and how to enjoy his Presence. It is notable that these affirmations span only a very narrow range of the Christian experience. It is equally notable that many of Jesus’ words sound very little like what he says in the Bible. For example, “Let the Light of My Presence soak into you, as you focus your thoughts on Me.” And shortly after, “Learn to hide in the secret of My Presence, even as you carry out your duties in the world.” I do not even know what that means or how it might be applied. There is no clear command there for me to obey and no clear word about who Jesus is.

Conclusion

Jesus Calling is, in its own way, a very dangerous book. Though the theology is largely sound enough, my great concern is that it teaches that hearing words directly from Jesus and then sharing these words with others is the normal Christian experience. In fact, it elevates this experience over all others. And this is a dangerous precedent to set. I see no reason that I would ever recommend this book.

6 years 2 months ago
With Disney’s adaptation of Prince Caspian having just arrived on the big screen, we have seen a flood of Narnia-related books hitting the store shelves. Readers who searched for books to coincide with the release of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe will be familiar with many of the authors and their books. Devin Brown’s Inside Prince Caspain is written in the same style and format as Inside Narnia. Leland Ryken’s and Marjorie Mead’s A Reader’s Guide To Caspian is the sequel to A Reader’s Guide Through the Wardrobe. And Christin Ditchfield’s A Family Guide to Prince Caspian is a follow-up to A Family Guide to the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

A Family Guide to Prince Caspian is a guide to discovering the story within the story. Where the other titles tend to focus on the books and movies as literature, analyzing the literary elements, Ditchfield’s books seek to highlight the biblical truths underlying the stories. Each chapter of the book, which is parallel to the chapters in the original, offers “Biblical Parallels and Principles” and some applicable Scriptures. Throughout the book you’ll also find devotional readings, trivia, reflective questions, a few projects that will continue the adventure with children, and a map of Narnia that features all of Prince Caspian’s most significant sites.

As a guide to the film and the book that is applicable to the family and that will help children see the significance behind the story, this book is a success. In fact, read in conjunction with one or more of the other titles, this book will enhance your enjoyment of the series and show you both the literary and theological depths contained even in such a simple story.

 

8 years 11 months ago

Twelve Extraordinary Women.jpgJohn MacArthur wears a lot of hats. He is a pastor, theologian, author, teacher and president of a seminary. He also speaks at conferences and hosts a daily radio program. I assume he also finds time to spend with his wife and family. While he clearly excels at all of these roles, the one for which most of us know him best is simply as teacher of the Bible. And honestly, I cannot think of any man of this generation who does a better job of expositing the Scriptures. MacArthur has the amazing, God-given ability to make what is difficult seem simple. His years of passionate, careful, deliberate study of the Scripture have served to bring untold blessings to the body of Christ.

John MacArthur is one of my favorite teachers and his books have had a profound influence on my life and have done much to shape my theology. I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to preview his upcoming book, Twelve Extraordinary Women, which is due for publication later this year.

Preview

Twelve Ordinary Men, John MacArthur’s book on the apostles, was a surprise hit. After the book stayed on the bestseller lists for over a year, Thomas Nelson suggested publishing a second volume, this one dealing with some of the best-known women of the Bible. MacArthur accepted the challenge and drew up a long list of possible subjects. “I admit that I chose the twelve women featured here by a completely unscientific process: I weighed their relative importance in biblical history alongside the amount of material I had already developed on each of them as I have taught through various passages of Scripture. Then I chose the twelve women who were most familiar to me.” Twelve Extraordinary Women is not exactly a sequel to MacArthur’s Twelve Ordinary Men, yet it bears many similarities. Like its predecessor (and unlike the majority of MacArthur’s books), Twelve Extraordinary Women is not primarily expository. Instead, it is a series of brief character studies. Like Twelve Ordinary Men, it is ideally suited for personal or group study, and is intensely practical.

The women MacArthur chose as subjects for this book are: Eve, Sarah, Rahab, Ruth, Hannah, Mary, Anna, The Samaritan Woman, Martha and Mary, Mary Magdalene and Lydia. “My prayer for you is that as you read this book you will share their faith, imitate their faithfulness, and learn to love the Savior whose work in their lives made them truly extraordinary. Your life can be extraordinary, too, by His wonderful grace.”

The format of the book will be familiar to those who have read Twelve Ordinary Men. MacArthur spends a chapter discussing each of the women (though Martha and Mary share a single chapter) and shows that what made each of these women extraordinary was nothing they brought to God, but the work of the Savior in their lives. Each of them had a deep reverence towards God and trusted His promises, whether they looked forward to a time when the Savior would come, or whether they looked back at his death and resurrection. Some of them stood between the New and Old Testament eras, even witnessing with their own eyes the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

By way of introduction, MacArthur writes about the high position given to women within Scripture. Women are never relegated to a secondary status and, unlike so many other religions, are never degraded and considered less important than men. From the beginning of the New Testament era to the close of the canon of Scripture we see God granting extraordinary privilege to women. There are countless women in the Bible who stand as examples of faithfulness, integrity, hospitality and every other admirable virtue. “The faithfulness of these women is their true, lasting legacy. I hope as you meet them in Scripture and get to know more about their lives and characters, they will challenge you, motivate you, encourage you, and inspire you with love for the God whom they trusted and served. May your heart be set ablaze with the very same faith, may your life be characterized by a similar faithfulness, and may your soul be overwhelmed with love for the extraordinary God they worshiped.”

Each of the subsequent eleven chapters is a study of a particular woman, with MacArthur shining light on the Scriptural accounts of each subject. Each chapter is practical, showing how the virtues exemplified in the lives of the women can be applied to the life of the reader. The reader is show how he, too, can be extraordinary through the power of God.

What Others Are Saying

At this point I have not been able to find any endorsements for this book. It seems to me that with John MacArthur’s long track-record of successful, biblical books he hardly needs endorsements!

Content

Preface
 Introduction

1. Eve: Mother of All Living
2. Sarah: Hoping Against Hope
3. Rahab: A Horrible Life Redeemed
4. Ruth: Loyalty and Love
5. Hannah: A Portrait of Feminine Grace
6. Mary: Blessed Among Women
7. Anna: The Faithful Witness
8. The Samaritan Woman: Finding the Water of Life
9. Martha and Mary: Working and Worshiping
10. Mary Magdalene: Delivered from Darkness
11. Lydia: A Hospitable Heart Opened

Epilogue

Conclusion

Twelve Extraordinary Women is a worthy successor to Twelve Ordinary Men. This book is both informative and inspiring. It will lead the reader to understand what each of these twelve women surely knew, that God was the truly extraordinary one, as He conformed such ordinary women to the likeness of their Savior. I highly recommend this book for both personal and group study.

Availability

Twelve Extraordinary Women is being published by Nelson Books and according to Amazon will be available on the 1st of November, 2005. It is already available for pre-order:

It appears that in addition to the book, Thomas Nelson is publishing:

  • A Study Guide (which is not yet available at Amazon). For future reference, the SKU for the guide is 1418505579. The guide will contain “Insightful Questions for In-Depth Study, Places to Journal and Guided Prayers.”
  • An Audio CD. You can pre-order it from Amazon here.
9 years 6 months ago
Sometimes I read a book that has come with such numerous and lofty recommendations that really it can only be disappointing. Having heard so much about how the book will change my life and cause my faith to grow in leaps and bounds, I have often found the reality to be disappointing. Conversely, sometimes a book comes unhyped and unheralded and takes my heart and mind by storm. Such is the case with The Cross He Bore by Frederick Leahy.

Truthfully, I do not remember where I first heard of this book. I was surprised one day to see it turn up in the mail and I soon realized that at one point I had added it to my Amazon wishlist. I knew nothing about it other than what the cover told me: “Meditations on the sufferings of the Redeemer.” Edward Donnelly writes in the foreward that this book has three virtues: it provides solid instruction; gives full play to a disciplined and sanctified imagination; and it recalls the neglected art of meditation. He says further that “in rereading these chapters, I found myself more than once compelled by emotion to stop - and then to worship. I cannot help feeling that this is exactly how they were written and that the author’s chief desire is that each of us who reads should be brought to gaze in fresh understanding and gratitude upon ‘the Son of God,’ who loved me and give himself for me.” As with Donnelly, I was often compelled to stop and worship, to stop and meditate, or to stop and dry my eyes, thanking Christ for His immeasurable sacrifice.

The book is comprised of thirteen chapters, each of which is a short meditation or reflection on a different aspect of Christ’s sacrifice, from the close of the Last Supper to the blotting of the sun from the sky while He hung on the cross. It truly strikes to the very heart of the Gospel.

But I hesitate to say more. Perhaps part of the beauty and significance of this book, was that it came unannounced. There was no lofty position for it to attain to. And perhaps it is best that way. And so I will leave it with merely my wholehearted recommendation and the knowledge that I will return to it often. This short book is an invaluable treasure and I am certain that the reflections it contains will stay with me and come to heart and mind whenever I meditate upon the cross of Christ.

10 years 5 months ago

I do not often answer questions directly on this site, but since this one fits the theme of the crucifixion which I have been writing about this week, I thought I would post it publicly.

Question: Why did Jesus “give” his mother to John when He was hanging on the cross?

Answer: A very good question. The passage relevant to your question can be found in the book of John.

Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!”7Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. (John 19: 25-27)

Though the Bible does not explicitly state it, the evidence indicates that Joseph, Mary’s husband, had died before this time. The last we hear of Joseph was when Jesus was twelve years old (see Luke 2: 41-50). It seems that Joseph died while Jesus was somewhere between 12 and 33 years old. As the oldest son Jesus would have assumed the responsibility as the head of the household. Knowing that He was going to die, Jesus honored the fifth commandment by making provision for His mother.

The next question to consider is this: why did Jesus not assign the care of His mother to His brothers? Again, the Bible does not explicitly say why Jesus told John to provide for Mary. However, the evidence does point to a logical conclusion.

We do not know how many children Mary and Joseph had after Jesus, but we do know there were several. They were Jesus’ half-siblings because they had Joseph as their father while Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit. One of Jesus’ brothers, James, went on to become an important figure in the early church and pastored the church in Jerusalem. He also wrote the book of the Bible that bears his name. So why, then, did Jesus not tell James to take care of their mother?

The answer is found in John 7. In verse 5 we read “For even His brothers did not believe in Him.” The gospels make it clear that Jesus’ siblings did not believe in Him until after the resurrection. We know that Jesus appeared to James, for 1 Corinthians 15:7 says “After that He was seen by James.” It is probable that this event is what finally inspired James to believe in His brother as the Son of God.

At the time Jesus hung on the cross, His siblings did not believe in Him. It stands to reason, then, that He would ask one of His followers to care for His mother. He selected John, his closest friend who is consistently referred to as “the disciple Jesus loved,” to take on this responsibility. We can assume that if James had believed in Jesus at this time, He would have received this responsibility.

NOTE: The Catholic Church teaches that, because of Mary’s perpetual virginity, Jesus had no siblings. I do not know how the Catholic Church answers this question.

10 years 5 months ago

The Passion of the Christ has been described by Protestant leaders as being �factually accurate,� �very accurate [in the details],� �realistic,� �biblical,� �an accurate account,.� �a true representation of Jesus� and �close to the Scriptures.� All of these quotes were taken from The Passion Outreach Web site, a resource dedicated to helping churches of all denominations capitalize on this movie. This movie is continually described as an exceedingly accurate portrayal of the gospel account of the passion of Jesus � an account that transcends denominations.

Mel Gibson has repeatedly acknowledged that He drew inspiration for The Passion of the Christ both from the gospels and from the writings of Anne Catherine Emmerich. He respects her to such an extent that he carries an Emmerich relic in his pocket at all times. Most Protestants pastors and leaders admit that Gibson has taken �artistic license� at times, but by reading Emmerich�s book The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ we will see that much of what is perceived as artistic license is actually following the words of Emmerich. It seems that it is impossible to reconcile Emmerich and the Bible. The movie must either follow the Word of God or the words of a human. Though the two seem to complement each other at times, far more often they contradict. A staunch Roman Catholic and devotee of Mary, Emmerich adds situations and theology which stand in direct contrast to the beliefs Protestants should hold dear.

Why?

Before we begin this examination I would like to answer the question of why I have decided to present this information. Certainly this could be construed as an attempt to just be critical for the sake of being critical. It could be seen as an attempt to lower other people�s perception of a man who claims to be a Christian. It could be seen as an attempt to discredit this movie.

I present this information for the sake of sharing what is true and what is false in this movie. This movie is being presented as truth, yet much of it is error. I seek to expose what is truth and what is error so people who see the movie can understand what parts of the story truly happened and are therefore important and part of the story of the Savior�s death. At the same time I wish to show which parts are inspired by false revelation supposedly revealed by God almost two thousand years after the writing of the Bible. The error adds elements to the story that detract from God�s glory and Christ�s purpose in suffering and dying.

Brief Biographical Sketch of Anne Catherine Emmerich

The following information is drawn primarily from the Catholic Encyclopedia. It is evident that her abilities are fiction, yet the Encyclopedia teaches they are fact.

Anne Catherine Emmerich was an Augustinian nun, stigmatic and ecstatic who was born in 1774 and died in 1824. She was forced to work from an early age and after a difficult twenty eight years of life entered the Augustinian convent at Agnetenberg, Dulmen. She soon began to display strange powers and ecstasies. Her convent was closed in 1812 and she was forced to find refuge in a poor widow�s house. In 1813 she became bedridden. It was during her long illness that her supernatural abilities became popular knowledge. Some of these abilities included conversing with the child Jesus, predicting future events, having knowledge of other people�s diseases and prescribing remedies that never failed. She soon experienced the stigmata with which she suffered for many years. In 1819 the poet Klemens Brentano visited her and she asked him to write down the many visions God had given her. In 1833 the “The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the Meditations of Anne Catherine Emmerich” was released followed in 1852 by “The Life of The Blessed Virgin Mary.”

Six weeks after her death a rumor surfaced that her body had been removed from its grave. She was disinterred and it was discovered that her body had suffered no decay.

Emmerich�s visions are considered by the Roman Catholic Church to be private revelations and not public revelations. Therefore, not all Catholics are required to believe them and the Church has no official position on their accuracy or truth. They are widely accepted amongst Traditionalist Catholics and relatively unknown to other Catholics.

Emmerich�s Influence in The Passion of the Christ

The following table details many of the scenes in the movie that are not described in the Bible and shows, where I have been able to find out, where the inspiration came from. This is not an exhaustive list of all the extra-Biblical material presented in the movie.

The Passion of the Christ

The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Satan torments Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane

Chapter 1, pages 100-102

But Satan, who was enthroned amid all these horrors, and even filled with diabolical joy at the sight of them, let loose his fury against Jesus, and displayed before the eyes of his soul increasingly awful visions, at the same time addressing his adorable humanity in words such as these: ‘Takest thou even this sin upon thyself? Art thou willing to bear its penalty? Art thou prepared to satisfy for all these sins?’”

Mary wakes up, sensing Jesus’s arrest

Chapter 1, page 116

During this agony of Jesus, I saw the Blessed Virgin also overwhelmed with sorrow and anguish of soul, in the house of Mary, the mother of Mark. She was with Magdalen and Mary in the garden belonging to the house, and almost prostrate from grief, with her whole body bowed down as she knelt. She fainted several times, for she beheld in spirit different portions of the agony of Jesus.”


Chapter 11

THE Blessed Virgin was ever united to her Divine Son by interior spiritual communications; she was, therefore, fully aware of all that happened to him—she suffered with him, and joined in his continual prayer for his murderers. But her maternal feelings prompted her to supplicate Almighty God most ardently not to suffer the crime to be completed, and to save her Son from such dreadful torments.”

Soldiers throw Jesus off a bridge

Chapter 3, page 131

I saw our Lord fall twice before he reached the bridge, and these falls were caused entirely by the barbarous manner in which the soldiers dragged him; but when they were half over the bridge they gave full vent to their brutal inclinations, and struck Jesus with such violence that they threw him off the bridge into the water”

Jesus’ abuse when before the priests.

At this answer of Jesus the countenance of Annas flushed with fury and indignation. A base menial who was standing near perceived this, and he immediately struck our Lord on the face with his iron gauntlet, exclaiming at the same moment, ‘Answerest thou the High Priest so?’ Jesus was so nearly prostrated by the violence of the blow, that when the guards likewise reviled and struck him, he fell quite down, and blood trickled from his face on to the floor. Laughter, insults, and bitter words resounded through the hall. The archers dragged him roughly up again, and he mildly answered, ‘If 1 have spoken evil. give testimony of the evil; but if well, why strikest thou me?’”

Flashback: Jesus, as a young carpenter, is at home with Mary


During court scene, Mary prays, “It has begun Lord. So be it.”


After thrice denying Jesus, Peter runs to Mary, weeping and calling her, “Mother.”

Chapter 11, page 165

Mary approached him instantly, and said, ‘Simon, tell me, I entreat you, what is become of Jesus, my Son !’ These words pierced his very heart; he could not even look at her, but turned away, and again wrung his hands. Mary drew close to him, and said in a voice trembling with emotion: ‘Simon, son of John, why dost thou not answer me?’—‘Mother!’ exclaimed Peter, in a dejected tone, ‘0, Mother, speak not to me—thy Son is suffering more than words can express: speak not to me!’”

Mary walks about the now-emptied courtyard and then falls with her face pressed to the floor, directly above the cell in which Jesus is imprisoned

Chapter 11, page 166

John, therefore, led her and the holy women to the front of the prison where Jesus was confined. Mary was with Jesus in spirit, and Jesus was with her; but this loving Mother wished to hear with her own cars the voice of her Divine Son.”

Satan and his minions torment Judas

Chapter 5, page 144

I beheld the traitor, Judas Iscariot, wandering about, alone, and a prey to the tortures of his guilty con-science; he feared even his own shadow, and was followed by many devils, who endeavored to turn his feelings of remorse into black despair.”

An effeminate Herod is depicted amidst cushions

Chapter 20, page 194

Herod was expecting them. He was seated on a pile of cushions, heaped together so as to form a species of throne, in a spacious hall, and surrounded by courtiers and warriors.”


Chapter 20, page 195

the luxurious and effeminate prince turned away in disgust, uttered the name of God, and said to the priests in a tone of mingled pity and contempt, ‘Take him hence, and bring him not back into my presence in such a deplorable state.’”

Herod calls Jesus a fool and commands that Jesus be given a fool’s homage

Chapter 20, page 197

But he spoke in the most contemptuous manner to Jesus, and turning to the guards and servants who surrounded him, and who were about two hundred in number, said: ‘Take away this fool, and pay him that homage which is his due; he is mad, rather than guilty of any crime.’”

The scourging scene is very similar to that written by Emmerich. Jesus is scourged against a pillar in the center of a courtyard. The scourging culminates with the use of chains with barbs that tear chunks off his back. Jesus is then rotated so the soldiers can scourge the other side. Mary is prominent throughout the scene as if exhorting Jesus.

Chapter 22, page 206

This pillar, placed in the centre of the court, stood alone, and did not serve to sustain any part of the building”


Chapter 22, page 206

Jesus trembled and shuddered as he stood before the pillar, and took off his garments as quickly as he could, but his hands were bloody and swollen. The only return he made when his brutal executioners struck and abused him was to pray for them in the most touching manner: he turned his face once towards his Mother, who was standing overcome with grief; this look quite unnerved her: she fainted, and would have fallen, had not the holy women who were there supported her.”


Chapter 22, page 208

Two fresh executioners took the places of the last mentioned, who were beginning to flag; their scourges were composed of small chains, or straps covered with iron hooks, which penetrated to the bone, and tore off large pieces of flesh at every blow. What word, alas! could describe this terrible—this heartrending scene!

The cruelty of these barbarians was nevertheless not yet satiated; they untied Jesus, and again fastened him up with his back turned towards the pillar. As he was totally unable to support himself in an upright position, they passed cords round his waist, under his arms, and above his knees, and having bound his hands tightly into the rings which were placed at the upper part of the pillar, they recommenced scourging him”


Chapter 23, page 211

I SAW the Blessed Virgin in a continual ecstasy during the time of the scourging of her Divine Son; she saw and suffered with inexpressible love and grief all the torments he was enduring.”

During the scourging scene, Mary says, “My son, when, where, how will you choose to be delivered from this?”


Pilate’s wife hands white linens to Mary, who uses these to wipe Jesus’s blood from the floor

Chapter 23, page 211

I saw Claudia Procles, the wife of Pilate, send some large pieces of linen to the Mother of God.”


Chapter 25, page 218

Then it was that the Mother of Jesus, accompanied by the holy women, approached the pillar and wiped up the blood with which it and the ground around were saturated.”

Flashback: Mary Magdalene recalls Jesus preventing her from being stoned and writing on the ground (this is a misusage of John 8:1-11; the woman in this passage was never named)


Jesus prays, “I am your servant and the son of your handmaid.”


Jesus falls multiple times while carrying the cross (These correspond to the 3rd, 7th, and 9th Stations of the Cross. “The Stations of the Cross are a popular Catholic devotion. Each of the fourteen stations stands for an event which occurred during Jesus’ Passion and death at Calvary on Good Friday. A person making the Stations Of The Cross is to meditate about each event depicted at each station, and pray.”

Chapters 31-33

Mary meets Jesus while on the way to Golgotha (4th Station of the Cross)

Chapter 32

Then came her beloved Son. He was almost sinking under the heavy weight of his cross, and his head, still crowned with thorns, was drooping in agony on his shoulder. He cast a look of compassion and sorrow upon his Mother, staggered, and fell for the second time upon his hands and knees. Mary was perfectly agonised at this sight; she forgot all else; she saw neither soldiers nor executioners; she saw nothing but her dearly-loved Son; and, springing from the doorway into the midst of the group who were insulting and abusing him, she threw herself on her knees by his side and embraced him. The only words I heard were, ‘Beloved Son!’ and ‘Mother!’”

Flashback: Mary remembers a time when Jesus (as a child) fell and she came running with outstretched arms


The scene in which Simon of Cyrene is pressed into service is very similar to that written by Emmerich. One of Simon’s children is present. He is initially reluctant, exhibiting great disdain towards Jesus. Simon soon after experiences a change of heart.

Chapter 33

At this moment Simon of Cyrene, a pagan, happened to pass by, accompanied by his three children. He was a gardener, just returning home after working in a garden near the eastern wall of the city, and carrying a bundle of lopped branches. The soldiers perceiving by his dress that he was a pagan, seized him, and ordered him to assist Jesus in carrying his cross. He refused at first, but was soon compelled to obey, although his children, being frightened, cried and made a great noise, upon which some women quieted and took charge of them. Simon was much annoyed, and expressed the greatest vexation at being obliged to walk with a man in so deplorable a condition of dirt and misery; but Jesus wept, and cast such a mild and heavenly look upon him that he was touched, and instead of continuing to show reluctance, helped him to rise, while the executioners fastened one arm of the cross on his shoulders, and he walked behind our Lord, thus relieving him in a great measure from its weight”

Veronica wipes Jesus’s face (6th Station of the Cross; the cloth with the bloody face imprinted in it is now a relic)

Chapter 34

Seraphia was the name of the brave woman who thus dared to confront the enraged multitude; she was the wife of Sirach, one of the councillors belonging to the Temple, and was afterwards known by the name of Veronica, which name was given from the words vera icon (true portrait), to commemorate her brave conduct on this day.

Seraphia had prepared some excellent aromatic wine, which she piously intended to present to our Lord to refresh him on his dolorous way to Calvary. She had been standing in the street for some time, and at last went back into the house to wait. She was, when I first saw her, enveloped in a long veil, and holding a little girl of nine years of age whom she had adopted, by the hand; a large veil was likewise hanging on her arm, and the little girl endeavoured to hide the jar of wine when the procession approached. Those who were marching at the head of the procession tried to push her back; but she made her way through the mob, the soldiers, and the archers, reached Jesus, fell on her knees before him, and presented the veil, saying at the same time, ‘Permit me to wipe the face of my Lord.’ Jesus took the veil in his left hand, wiped his bleeding face, and returned it with thanks. Seraphia kissed it, and put it under her cloak. The girl then timidly offered the wine, but the brutal soldiers would not allow Jesus to drink it.”

The scene of Jesus and Simon of Cyrene is very similar to that written by Emmerich. Simon threatens to stop helping if the soldiers continue in their cruelty, saying that he will do so even if the soldiers kill him. Simon then places Jesus’s arm across his shoulders, supporting him.

Chapter 35, page 243

Their cruelty to Jesus so exasperated Simon of Cyrene that he at last exclaimed, ‘If you continue this brutal conduct, I will throw down the cross and carry it no farther. I will do so if you kill me for it.’”


Chapter 35, page 244

Jesus was on the point of again falling, but Simon, who was behind, perceiving that he could not stand, hastened to support him; he leant upon Simon, and was thus saved from falling to the ground.”

The scene in which Jesus is nailed to the cross is very similar to that written by Emmerich. After the first hand is nailed, Jesus’ other arm is stretched out with a sickening crunch to reach the hole provided for the nail. The soldiers also subject Jesus to more agony as they stretch his body out to the wooden footrest that they placed too low.

Chapter 38, page 250

The Blessed Virgin stood motionless; from time to time you might distinguish her plaintive moans; she appeared as if almost fainting from grief, and Magdalen was quite beside herself. When the executioners had nailed the right hand of our Lord, they perceived that his left hand did not reach the hole they had bored to receive the nail, therefore they tied ropes to his left arm, and having steadied their feet against the cross, pulled the left hand violently until it reached the place prepared for it. This dreadful process caused our Lord indescribable agony, his breast heaved, and his legs were quite contracted.”


Chapter 38, page 251

The executioners had fastened a piece of wood at the lower part of the cross under where the feet of Jesus would be nailed, that thus the weight of his body might not rest upon the wounds of his hands, as also to prevent the bones of his feet from being broken when nailed to the cross. A hole had been pierced in this wood to receive the nail when driven through his feet, and there was likewise a little hollow place for his heels These precautions were taken lest his wounds should be torn open by the weight of his body, and death ensue before he had suffered all the tortures which they hoped to see him endure. The whole body of our Lord had been dragged upward, and contracted by the violent manner with which the executioners had stretched out his arms, and his knees were bent up; they therefore flattened and tied them down tightly with cords; but soon perceiving that his feet did not reach the bit of wood which was placed for them to rest upon, they became infuriated. Some of their number proposed making fresh holes for the nails which pierced his hands, as there would be considerable difficulty in removing the bit of wood, but the others would do nothing of the sort, and continued to vociferate, ‘He will not stretch himself out, but we will help him;’ they accompanied these words with the most fearful oaths and imprecations, and having fastened a rope to his right leg, dragged it violently until it reached the wood, and then tied it down as tightly as possible. The agony which Jesus suffered from this violent tension was indescribable; the words ‘My God, my God,’ escaped his lips, and the executioners increased his pain by tying his chest and arms to the cross, lest the hands should be torn from the nails. They then fastened his left foot on to his right foot, having first bored a hole through them with a species of piercer, because they could not be placed in such a position as to be nailed together at once. Next they took a very long nail and drove it completely through both feet into the cross below, which operation was more than usually painful, on account of his body being so unnaturally stretched out”

As the cross is lifted up, Mary opens fists, releasing pebbles she had been holding (perhaps in a gesture of surrender)


Jesus is depicted as having long hair and being generally pleasing to the eye

Chapter 41, page 257

The complexion of our Lord was fair, like that of Mary, and slightly tinted with red; but his exposure to the weather during the last three years had tanned him considerably. His chest was wide, but not hairy like that of St. John Baptist; his shoulders broad, and his arms and thighs sinewy; his knees were strong and hardened, as is usually the case with those who have either walked or knelt much, and his legs long, with very strong muscles; his feet were well formed, and his hands beautiful, the fingers being long and tapering, and although not delicate like those of a woman, still not resembling those of a man who had laboured hard. His neck was rather long, with a well-set and finely proportioned head; his forehead large and high; his face oval; his hair, which was far from thick, was of a golden brown colour, parted in the middle and falling over his shoulders; his beard was not any great length, but pointed and divided under the chin.”

Mary begs, “Flesh of my flesh, heart of my heart, my son, let me die with you.”

Chapter 43, page 259

the Blessed Virgin, filled with intense feelings of motherly love, entreated her Son to permit her to die with him”

A soldier is showered by Jesus’ blood after piercing His side

Chapter 48, page 276

He seized his lance and rode quickly up to the mound on which the Cross was planted, stopped just between the cross of the good thief and that of our Lord, and taking his lance in both hands, thrust it so completely into the right side of Jesus that the point went through the heart, and appeared on the left side. When Cassius drew his lance out of the wound a quantity of blood and water rushed from it, and flowed over his face and body. This species of washing produced effects somewhat similar to the vivifying waters of Baptism: grace and salvation at once entered his soul. He leaped from his horse, threw himself upon his knees, struck his breast, and confessed loudly before all his firm belief in the divinity of Jesus.”

Jesus’ body is lowered by the soliders and other men

Chapter 48, page 285

Then Joseph and Nicodemus, having placed ladders against the front of the Cross, in a very upright position, and close to the body, untied the upper strap, and fastened it to one of the hooks on the ladder; they did the same with the two other straps, and passing them all on from hook to hook, caused the sacred body to descend…”

Jesus’ body is lowered into Mary’s arms and the camera focuses on Mary in the “Pieta pose” before panning and fading out (this suggests Mary as a co-redeemer)

Chapter 50, page 285

When the body was taken down it was wrapped in linen from the knees to the waist, and then placed in the arms of the Blessed Virgin, who, overwhelmed with sorrow and love, stretched them forth to receive their precious burden.”


Chapter 51, page 286

THE Blessed Virgin seated herself upon a large cloth spread on the ground, with her right knee, which was slightly raised, and her back resting against some mantles, rolled together so as to form a species of cushion. No precaution had been neglected which could in any way facilitate to her—the Mother of Sorrows—in her deep affliction of soul, the mournful but most sacred duty which she was about to fulfil in regard to the body of her beloved Son. The adorable head of Jesus rested upon Mary’s knee, and his body was stretched upon a sheet. The Blessed Virgin was overwhelmed with sorrow and love. Once more, and for the last time, did she hold in her arms the body of her most beloved Son, to whom she had been unable to give any testimony of love during the long hours of his martyrdom. And she gazed upon his wounds and fondly embraced his blood-stained cheeks, whilst Magdalen pressed her face upon his feet.”



Sources:

Emmerich, Anne Catherine. The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Read It Online

I am indebted to a brother in Christ for doing much of the comparison between the movie and Emmerich’s book.

�I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book.� Revelation 22:18