Count Nicholaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf, founder of the Moravian Brethren, died on this day (May 9) in 1760. We remember him especially for the hymn we often sing:
Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness
Born in 1700, Zinzendorf founded a community of earnest Christians called Herrnhut ("The Lord's Watch") .The community became part of the Moravian church and was best known for its unparalleled missionary zeal.
In 1727 the community started a 'round the clock "prayer watch" that lasted unbroken for 100 years. There were about 300 persons in the community at the beginning, and various ones covenanted to pray for one of the 24 hours in the day. In 1792, 65 years later, with the lamp of prayer still burning, the little community had sent out 300 missionaries to the unreached peoples of the West Indies, Greenland, Lapland, Turkey, and North America.
With all our talk about our love for Christ and belief in missions, we have never come close to anything like this. These were men and women who were utterly dedicated to making Jesus known to the ends of the earth.
After Zinzendorf had finished the University he took a trip throughout Europe looking at some of the cultural highspots. And something very unexpected happened. In the art museum at Dusseldorf, he saw a painting by Domenico Feti entitled Ecce Homo ("Behold the Man"), currently at the Galleria degli Uffizi, in Florence. It was a portrait of Christ with the crown of thorns pressed down on His head and blood running down His face.
When Zinzendorf stood before the painting in Dusseldorf as a believing, faithful member of the church of Jesus Christ, he could say on the authority of this text: "These wounds were meant to purchase me. These drops of blood were shed to obtain me." Beneath the portrait were the words, "I have done this for you; what have you done for me?"
All of his life Zinzendorf looked back to that encounter as utterly life-changing. As he stood there, as it were, watching his Savior suffer and bleed, he said to himself,