The soaring, light-filled structure of Hagia Sophia (also known as the Church of the Holy Wisdom) has been a church, a mosque, and a museum. Its interior reflects this changing history in a rich mix of Christian and Muslim artistic and architectural elements.
Byzantine architecture of the Hagai (The Church of the Holy Wisdom or Ayasofya in Turkish) and a park with fountain tranquil scenery in Istanbul, Turkey.
a former patriarchal basilica (church), later an imperial mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turke y. From the date of its construction in 537 until 1453, it served as an E astern O rthodox cathedral and seat of the Patriarchate of Constantinople except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire. The building was a mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931. It was then secularized and opened as a museum on 1 February 1935.
Two Christian churches were built and destroyed on the site, near the imperial palace, before Emperor Justinian asked Greek mathematicians Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles to design this third, long-lasting edifice.
The church was constructed in only six years, and when it opened in 537 it was one of the largest cathedrals in the world. Justinian is said to have boasted, “Solomon, I have outdone thee.”
The rectangular basilica is topped by a huge central dome, 160 feet high and 101 feet across. The dome rests on a series of arches and semi-domes and in its airy magnificence has been likened to the dome of heaven.
Gilding, multicolored marble and stone inlays, and brilliant mosaics decorate the interior. When the Ottoman Empire defeated the Byzantines in 1453, the church became a mosque. Whitewash covered the figural art, and Islamic roundels were eventually hung from the dome.
Now, the mosaics in the upper galleries are being restored and can once again be seen. The building on Aya Sofya Square is now part of a UNESCO World Heritage site that includes several locations in Istanbul.
Visitors can tour Hagia Sophia from Tuesday through Saturday.
God made men and women to be alike, but also different. For example, men are supposed to control and provide.
Not control women or even other people, but to control situations to keep the women safe. But of course, most people don’t view things the way God does.
So there have been some very powerful women in the past, such as Cleopatra and Nefertiti, and tomorrow we’re going to look at…
The Parable of the Sower
1 And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him,
Hagia Sophia is topped by a vast dome, under which is an arcade of 40 windows. Elevated galleries were once set aside for women.
“He went throughout” – Jesus’ ministry had been centered in Capernaum, and much of His preaching was in synagogues, but now He traveled again from town to town on a second tour of the Galilean countryside. For the first tour see 4:43-44: Matt 4:23-25; Mk 1:38-39.
2 And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils,
“Mary called Magdalene” – her hometown was Magdala. She is not to be confused with the sinful woman of chapter 7 or Mary of Bethany (Jn 11:1).
3 And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.
4 And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable:
5 A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.
6 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.
Hagia Sophia at night.
7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.
8 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bear fruit an hundredfold. And when he said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
“An hundred fold” – Luke’s version is more abbreviated than Matthew’s (13:8)) and Mark’s (4:8), but the point is the same: The quantity of increase depends on the quality of soil, the soil being faith.
9 And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be?
10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.
“Mysteries of the kingdom of God” – truths that can be known only by revelation from God (cf. Eph 3:2-5; 1 Pet 1:10-12).
I became convinced that Jesus is real at the age of 21 (1983), but I was not saved until 2007. I have walked with Him for 6+ years (you don’t have to walk with Him to be saved) and even though we talk constantly and I know Him personally, I’m clueless about the “kingdom of God.”
Perched atop scaffolding, artists carefully poece together Hagai Sophia’s mosaics.
I doubt there are few, if any, that know anything about the kingdom of God. God doesn’t tell us things or give us things because of the length of time we spend with Him or what we do for Him. God provides us with what we need when we need it.
“That seeing they might not see” – this quotation from is Is 6:9 doesn’t express a desire that some would not understand, but simply states the sad truth that those who are not willing to receive Jesus’ message will find the truth hidden from them.
Their ultimate fate is implied in the fuller quotation in Matt 13:14-15.
11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
“Lest they should believe” – the devil’s purpose is that people will not hear with understanding and therefore will not appropriate the message and be saved.
When we were children out parents didn’t tell us everything, they protected us, and we were to trust them. For example, they made us go to bed at certain times, eat certain food, told us not to go certain places, etc. God does the same. When it’s time for us to know we will be told.
And then here comes Satan, he wants us to continue being infants. To be amazed at things in the world; to stay within the boundaries of this world.
Interior view of the Hagia Sophia, showing Islamic elements on the top of the main dome.
Satan doesn’t want us to step out of the box, to step into God’s reality. Therefore, just in case our curiosity gets the best of us and we begin to venture outward, he creates False Realities, i.e., counterfeit realms of God.
Such as psychics, powerful crystals, the New Age idea, ludicrous dogma (like the Catholic Church).
13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
“For a while believe” – the kind of belief is superficial and does not save. It’s similar to what James calls “Dead” faith (Jas 2:17, 20, 26).
I used to be like that.
14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.
Stone remains of the basilica ordered by Theodosius II, showing the Lamb of God.
16 No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light.
“Lighted a candle” – although Jesus told much of his message in parables, He wanted the disciples to make the truths known as widely as possible.
17 For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither anything hid, that shall not be known and come abroad.
This verse explains v. 16. It is the destiny of the truth to be made known. The disciples were to begin a proclamation that would become universal, and that they did do.
18 Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.
19 Then came to him his mother and his brethren, and could not come at him for the press.
20 And it was told him by certain which said, Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee.
21 And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.
19th-century marker of the tomb of Enrico Dandolo, the Doge of Venice who commanded the Sack of Constantinople in 1204, inside the Hagia Sophia.
Jesus was not rejecting His natural family, but emphasized the higher priority of His spiritual relationship to those who believed in Him.
22 Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth.
23 But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy.
24 And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm.
25 And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! For he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.
26 And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, which is over against Galilee.
27 And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs.
28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not.
The mysterious stone “sarcophagus”, carved by shape of the human body
silhouette, located on the territory of Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom,
the unique ancient Orthodox church), Istanbul, Turkey.
29 (For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness.)
30 And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him.
31 And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep.
“The deep” – or “the Abyss,” the place of confinement for evil spirits, Satan and non-believers (see Rev 9:1).
32 And there was there an herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they besought him that he would suffer them to enter into them. And he suffered them.
33 Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked.
34 When they that fed them saw what was done, they fled, and went and told it in the city and in the country.
35 Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.
36 They also which saw it told them by what means he that was possessed of the devils was healed.
Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey, constituting the country’s economic, cultural, and historical heart. With a population of 13.9 million, the city forms one of the largest urban agglomerations in Europe and is the second-largest city in the world by population within city limits. Istanbul’s vast area of 2,063 sq mi is coterminous with Istanbul Province, of which the city is the administrative capital. Istanbul is a transcontinental city, straddling the Bosphorus—one of the world’s busiest waterways—in northwestern Turkey, between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea. Its commercial and historical center lies in Europe, while a third of its population lives in Asia.
37 Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear: and he went up into the ship, and returned back again.
38 Now the man out of whom the devils were departed besought him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying,
39 Return to thine own house, and shew how great things God hath done unto thee. And he went his way, and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him.
40 And it came to pass, that, when Jesus was returned, the people gladly received him: for they were all waiting for him.
41 And, behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at Jesus’ feet, and besought him that he would come into his house:
42 For he had one only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she lay a dying. But as he went the people thronged him.
43 And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any,
44 Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched.
45 And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?
Statue of Emperor Justinian I
46 And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.
47 And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately.
48 And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.
49 While he yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue’s house, saying to him, Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master.
50 But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole.
The column of Justinian stood on the south-west of Hagia Sophia and was nearly as high as its dome. The column was built of brick and covered with a bronze sheating. On its top there was a statue of emperor Justinian (527-565) on horseback, the left hand holding a globe, the right hand raised and pointing to the east. It was probably the only monumental statue of an emperor that survived until the late byzantine time, and maybe this is the reason why it was then also believed to be a representation of Constantine the Great. The column and the statue were demolished only by the Ottomans shortly after the conquest in 1453.
51 And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden.
52 And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth.
53 And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead.
54 And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise.
55 And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat.
56 And her parents were astonished: but he charged them that they should tell no man what was done.
…the Emperor Irene.