Seeds of Revival: Ecce Homo

The young Count Nicholaus Zinzendorf walked through an art gallery in Dusendorf, Germany in 1720. As he meandered past the paintings, his mind wrested with his heart’s desire to evangelize the lost. He had a rich spiritual life, an intense theological education, and already, in his early twenties, had distinguished himself as a lay leader in the church. Yet, his privileged life had kept him somewhat cloistered. He had no ministry to the lost. Although intellectually knew that evangelism was good, it was still little more than theory. He approached a painting by Sternberg depicting a flogged and bruised Christ before Pilate ("Ecce Homo" "Behold, the Man"). Beneath were written the words "All this I have done for thee, What hast thou done for Me?" Those words completely disarmed him. Feeling a new urgency and determination, he resolved that Christ and His kingdom would be the only passion in his life. He returned to his estate constrained by the love of God to make Christ known to all.

At about that time, several hundred persecuted Christians from Moravia had sought refuge on Zinzendorf’s property. The count, filled with compassion, permitted all who needed his protection to settle there. A number of other beleaguered Christian groups also came. Because of the diversity of groups that came, there was initially some infighting and factionalism. The Count took the reins of leadership to bind all the settlers together as a community, covenanted together, in obedience to Christ. Zinzendorf sought to lead the new religious community in an ever-increasing walk of holiness, devotion and piety. It is recorded that "The Count made a covenant with the Lord. The Brethren all promised, one by one, that they would be the Savior’s true followers. Self-will, self-love, and disobedience, these they bade farewell…no one was to seek his own profit before that of others." They earnestly began to seek God. There were constant prayer meetings, fasting, singing and praising God. There was not a settler among them who was not convicted and moved by the sincere devotion to Christ. They began to intercede in prayer for lost around the clock. The slogan "to win for the lamb that was slain, the reward of his sufferings" became their battle cry.

From this small group of devoted believers (numbering only 300 initially), eventually score of missionaries were sent out. Some went to the frigid waste of Greenland. Others, became as slaves to reach the oppressed in the West Indies. Others went to Russia and North America. Although many lost their lives in their pursuit of advancing God’s Kingdom, the effect they had on Western civilization cannot even be estimated. The presence of God went with them. It was these missionaries, and their example of devotion and courage that brought the Wesley’s (the founders of Methodism), as well as numerous other Christian leaders to Christ. It was the pattern of repentance and personal commitment from the Moravian missionaries that the circuit riders emulated, that spawned the Great Awakening in the Western world. The ministry of Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield, were, at the very least, indirect beneficiaries of the Moravians. Their sincere consecration to Christ was contagious. The greatest revival this nation has ever seen flowed right from that small community. There are few nations today that have not been affected, either directly or indirectly, through what happened on Count Zinzendorf’s estate, several hundred years ago.

Today, we still have the vestiges and traces of these events in our culture. Unfortunately, that is all they are; merely traces and fragments that remain. The question must be asked: Could it happen again? God, of course can do anything. The answer undoubtedly is yes. What, then, would it take on our part? If the First Great Awakening is any pattern, then it most assuredly requires a body of believers, fully consumed with advancing Christ’s Kingdom. It takes a people who have laid aside their personal ambitions, Self-will, and duplicity to serve God and one another. There must be a devotion to communion with Christ in prayer, and intercession for the lost. The vision to "win for the Lamb that was slain, the rewards of His labors" must be the fully implanted in the hearts of all. Is this not identical to the New Testament pattern that we see in the first few chapters of the Book of Acts? There is no secret "church growth" formula here. It is pure primitive, Biblical Christianity. It begins with the gripping conviction that Christ is our all and all. How have you responded to the sacrifice Christ made for you? Today, as with Zinzendorf nearly 300 hundred years ago, the Holy Spirit is saying pleading for us to "Ecce Homo", "Behold the Man". When we behold Christ, beaten and disfigured for us, crucified on our behalf, he asks us "What hast thou done for Me?". How we respond to that question may be the spark that re-lights the flames of God’s presence, not only in our lives, but in countless others as well.

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