Feast of Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Fortieth Day of Easter (Zadeeg),
Song of Solomon 3:6-4:3
Song of Solomon 3:6-4:3
 What is that coming up from the wilderness,
like a column of smoke,
perfumed with myrrh and frankincense,
with all the fragrant powders of the merchant?
 Behold, it is the litter of Solomon!
About it are sixty mighty men
of the mighty men of Israel,
 all girt with swords
and expert in war,
each with his sword at his thigh,
against alarms by night.
 King Solomon made himself a palanquin
from the wood of Lebanon.
 He made its posts of silver,
its back of gold, its seat of purple;
it was lovingly wrought within
by the daughters of Jerusalem.
 Go forth, O daughters of Zion,
and behold King Solomon,
with the crown with which his mother crowned him
on the day of his wedding,
on the day of the gladness of his heart.
 Behold, you are beautiful, my love,
behold, you are beautiful!
Your eyes are doves
behind your veil.
Your hair is like a flock of goats,
moving down the slopes of Gilead.
 Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes
that have come up from the washing,
all of which bear twins,
and not one among them is bereaved.
 Your lips are like a scarlet thread,
and your mouth is lovely.
Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate
behind your veil.
 Who is this that comes from Edom,
in crimsoned garments from Bozrah,
he that is glorious in his apparel,
marching in the greatness of his strength?
“It is I, announcing vindication,
mighty to save.”
 Why is thy apparel red,
and thy garments like his that treads in the wine press?
 “I have trodden the wine press alone,
and from the peoples no one was with me;
I trod them in my anger
and trampled them in my wrath;
their lifeblood is sprinkled upon my garments,
and I have stained all my raiment.
 For the day of vengeance was in my heart,
and my year of redemption has come.
 I looked, but there was no one to help;
I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold;
so my own arm brought me victory,
and my wrath upheld me.
 I trod down the peoples in my anger,
I made them drunk in my wrath,
and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.”
 And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
 They gave him a piece of broiled fish,
 and he took it and ate before them.
 Then he said to them, “These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.”
 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures,
 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,
 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
 You are witnesses of these things.
 And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high.”
 Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them.
 While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven.
 And they returned to Jerusalem with great joy,
 and were continually in the temple blessing God.
 Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons.
 She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept.
 But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.
 After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country.
 And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.
 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they sat at table; and he upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.
 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.
 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues;
 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.
 And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it. Amen.
 And he told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.
 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor regarded man;
 and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, `Vindicate me against my adversary.’
 For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself, `Though I neither fear God nor regard man,
 yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her continual coming.'”
 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says.
 And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?
 I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others:
 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, `God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.
 I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’
 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, `God, be merciful to me a sinner!’
 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
 In the first book, O The-oph’ilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach,
 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.
 To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God.
 And while staying with them he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me,
 for John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority.
 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Sama’ria and to the end of the earth.”
 And when he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.
 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes,
 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away;
 and when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James.
 All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.
 And when they saw him they worshiped him; but some doubted.
 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”
 Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan;
 and large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.
 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?”
 He answered, “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female,
 and said, `For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?
 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”
 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?”
 He said to them, “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.
 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery.”
 The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry.”
 But he said to them, “Not all men can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given.
 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it.”
 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people;
 but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
 And he laid his hands on them and went away.
 And they were bringing children to him, that he might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them.
 But when Jesus saw it he was indignant, and said to them, “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God.
 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands upon them.
 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.
 You know the commandments: `Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'”
 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth.”
 And Jesus looking upon him loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
 At that saying his countenance fell, and he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.
 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!”
 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!
 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?”
 Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyright © National Council of Churches of Christ in America