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What is a Christian? 2
Christians believe that Jesus was taken back into Heaven on Ascension Day.

What is a Christian? 2

A Christian, like other religious believers, will have faith.

Our previous Quiz under this title dealt largely with what most Christians accept and honour as 'the facts of Jesus' earthly life'. This time we delve somewhat more deeply into the mystic and significant things He did and said over the final days of His earthly ministry, and what He and others have subsequently said and made of them, which have become the bedrock of faith for Christians. Again, there may be some differences of emphasis and acceptance across and between the range of Christian confessions.

1.
In slightly more modern, Christian terms (remember: Jesus wasn't Himself 'a Christian' ~ that label was an outsiders' nickname for His followers some while after the Resurrection and Pentecost) ... whose was the very last soul that Jesus saved before His death on the cross?
The Centurion (leading Roman soldier in the execution party)
The repentant criminal hanging on one of the crosses to either side of Him
Judas Iscariot
Joseph of Arimathea
The other criminal had teased (if that's quite the word, in their extreme circumstances) Jesus about rescuing Himself and all of them, if He had the supernatural powers and inclination to do so. The other offender rejoined that 'We are up here deservedly, yet He has done nothing wrong', to which Jesus responded 'Today you will be with me in paradise'. (I.e. this offender had recognised and expressed his own guilt, and as such deserved rewarding.)
2.
Which of the following does NOT belong within the final summary paragraph of the standard English version of the Apostles' Creed, as authorised and used in English-speaking churches in the Catholic and mainstream Protestant traditions?
'I believe in ...
... the Holy Ghost / Spirit;
... the holy Catholic church; the communion of Saints ...
... the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body ...
... the coming of the Kingdom, and the life everlasting
Most Christians may well believe in the coming of the Kingdom ~ but it has no place, as such, within the formulation of the Creed.
3.
Which early Christian missionary wrote that 'Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth?'
Jesus
The Apostle Paul
Philemon
James
This is the nub of a very famous passage from Paul's letter to the believers in Rome (Romans 13:6), and widely read as a scriptural Lesson at wedding ceremonies. Beyond the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles, apart from Revelation the remainder of the New Testament consists of commentary and correspondence between early believers, principally Paul after his remarkable conversion.
4.
Christians believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus, and the New Testament of the Bible reports a number of attested, post-resurrection bodily appearances by Him. Which of the following is NOT a 'full sighting' of Him in His risen form?
The occasion when He invited the 'doubting' disciple Thomas (who had somehow missed seeing Him previously) to put his fingers into His (Jesus') wound-marks in order to reassure himself that what he saw was true
The time when two dejected disciples were trudging away from Jerusalem, and 'a stranger' drew alongside them who listened to their stories, cheered them up by explaining how these tallied with Old Testament prophecies, then accepted their invitation to join them for supper and overnight at an inn at Emmaus, and was recognised by them only in the fleeting moment when, as their guest, He broke bread at supper
The occasion when He met the disciples by the lakeside and ate freshly grilled fish with them, by way of showing He was physically 'all there' and not some kind of ghost or hallucination
When He confronted Saul (soon to become Paul) on his way to Damascus, where ~ as a hardline Jew ~ he was going to root out and persecute Christians
The reference at Answer 4 is 'only' recorded as the flashing of a bright light ~ a relatively standard symbol of God's presence (cf. 'Let there be light' at the outset of Genesis; Noah's rainbow [involving sunlight through the rain, as we now understand], the Burning Bush, the Prophets of Baal, and several other 'theophanies') ~ plus the voice of Jesus; but not His bodily presence as such. (He had Ascended into Heaven by the time of this encounter, anyway ...)
5.
Christians believe that Jesus was taken back into Heaven on Ascension Day, and that in order to empower His ongoing earthly work, the third Person of the Trinity would manifest itself upon the Apostles. They therefore gathered in some secrecy and suspense until the Sunday of Pentecost, at which point the Holy Spirit made its presence known ... in what form, at first?
Tongues of fire (or what appeared to be such) alighting on their heads
A sound 'like the rushing of a mighty wind'
A blaze of lightning and a clap of thunder
A dove (the symbolic bird of peace)
The wind, emblematic of the 'breath of new life', was the first form in which they perceived anything abnormal happening.
6.
Which of the following individuals did NOT play a direct and causal part in the chain of events leading to Jesus' arrest, trial/s and Crucifixion?
Judas Iscariot
Simon Peter
King Herod
Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor
Peter's denial was poignant, disappointing and probably characteristic (though who are we, to blame him?), but not ultimately causal in the same clear sense as the other people's words and actions were.
7.
Some people with knowledge of Roman times may be familiar with Julius Caesar's alliterative autobiographical claim, 'Veni, vidi, vici' ('I came, I saw, I conquered). There is a similarly alliterative tag from the sayings of Jesus as reported in the Vulgate (Latin Bible): 'Via, Veritas, Vita', whose English version has since (among many other interpretations) become a very catchy 'chorus'. What is Jesus claiming in these words?
'I am the way, the truth and the life'
'Go forth, seek and you shall truly find'
'I am the truth which shall set you free'
'This is the gate of eternal life'
Jesus may have made some others of these claims, or others fairly startlingly like them, but Answer 1 is the usual version of John 14:6. There are seven such 'I am' claims in John's Gospel.
8.
For how long was Jesus in the tomb?
From just before sunset on the Friday, until some time before dawn on the Sunday: so, probably, between 30 and 36 hours
From Friday afternoon until the morning of the third day, so presumably somewhere over 40 hours
From Friday mid-evening until the small hours of Sunday, so probably fewer than 30 hours
From Friday night until mid-morning Sunday, so probably at least 36 hours
The Crucifixion and deposition were over by late afternoon on the Friday, and with the Jewish Sabbath due to start at sunset, the burial had to be fairly hasty. We are told that the womenfolk were unable to complete their last rites before sundown; which is why, in turn, they made their way to the tomb shortly after dawn on the Sunday to carry on and complete these. Bearing in mind that we are dealing with the 'far end of the Mediterranean' at around the time of the spring equinox, the timespan from Jesus' burial to 'the third day' discovery of the Resurrection would have been around 36 hours maximum.
9.
The Revelation to John the Divine (a.k.a. 'Revelation'; note its singular form, rather than the oft-misquoted plural) is the final, apocalyptic book in the Christian scriptures. It purports, among much else (and a lot of extraordinary numerology and symbolism) to describe a vision of 'a new Heaven'. This is such an alien experience for the author that he cannot begin to describe it positively in any known language, only by the absence of certain universal landmarks in human life and experience. Which of these is the correct list of 'items entirely missing in the new heaven'?
Blood, toil, sweat and tears
Death, mourning, crying nor pain
Toil and trouble
Weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth
Answer 2 offers the nearest version of Rev.21:4.
Answer 4 is also Biblical, while Answer 1 is from Winston Churchill and Answer 3 from Shakespeare.
John does his best to describe, with his limited human vocabulary, what Heaven will be like; but it seems to be so wonderfully different that only ever being there oneself would enable anyone to find out.
10.
Virtually all Christian churches which hold communion services, according to Jesus' commandment at the Last Supper, use a special form of bread. This may perfectly healthily be plain ordinary, local artisan bread; but just as likely, given the special nature of the occasion, it may be in the form of a flat whiteish wafer (or as individual portions broken off a larger one of these). What is the strongest reason for the preferential use of the wafer/s?
Practicalities of storage
It imitates the unleavened bread of the Passover, which Jesus was already (or additionally) commemorating at the Last Supper
Portions are easier to manage, and there is less indignity over crumbs
Brittle bread does not absorb so much wine in the communicant's mouth
Passover (still celebrated by observant Jews, well over 3000 years or 100+ generations since the original event) marks the deliverance of 'God's chosen people' from slavery in Egypt. They had to be ready to leave on a moment's signal, which meant there was not time tor bread to be left to rise normally, hence its preparation without leaven (yeast). Jesus was at least heavily implying that His own imminent bodily self-sacrifice would open the way for a new kind of freedom (from death, sin etc) to His followers. There may well be further implicit harkback to the flaky nature of the 'manna' on which the Israelites were fed during their trek through the desert ('bread of/from Heaven'). Meanwhile, several churches mark Maundy Thursday with a very special and atmospheric evening service, that combines communion with a shared meal along Old Testament / Passover lines.

 

Author:  Ian Miles

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