Good Friday Service - 14 Apr 2017
We were led into contemplative worship by the opening choir. Dressed all in black, they displayed the sobriety appropriate for the remembrance of events when an innocent man, a King sent from God to reign over the world, became the sacrificial lamb for the entire humanity’s sins, calling the congregation to “Behold the Lamb of God”.
Together the church sang about how Jesus Christ died for our sins that we might die to sin.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
(From the hymn: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross)
What were the thoughts of Simon Peter that very night after Jesus had been crucified on the cross? Perhaps the words of Jesus “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) were ringing in his mind, even as he recalled how he had denied Jesus thrice at dawn before his master was led to the cross. Opening with this perspective, Wen Pin preached a sermon titled “The Way to Life is Our Way of Life” from 1 Pet 4:1-5. The way to the cross is a path of suffering, evident in Jesus’ example, and in the first-century letter Peter wrote to Christians in a region that co-relates to modern-day Turkey, he was writing to a church that had been suffering for Jesus. Wen Pin gave us four good reasons for Christians to embrace suffering.
1) Arm yourself with the willingness to suffer by no longer protecting anything this world considers to be precious (1 Pet 4:1).
2) Embracing suffering expresses our commitment to God’s way, to make a clean break with sin (1 Pet 4:2).
3) Be willing to suffer to stop living like pagans. (1 Pet 4:3)
4) Be willing to suffer, for suffering is the guaranteed result of following God’s way (1 Pet 4:4-5)
In an air-conditioned nation like Singapore, are we becoming “air-conditioned Christians” who are more comfortable with success than suffering? Wen Pin challenged us to align our lives to what God’s word calls us to. If we are not willing to suffer for Jesus (the way to life), we will end up taking the easy way (the way to death). Jesus has said, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matt 7:13-14)
The way we must walk as a church is the way of our Master, a radical one where we willingly suffer for ministry and get hurt in loving others that they may experience the sweet salvation available in Jesus, just as we have. The service ended shortly after we partook in the Lord’s Supper together, meditating upon the events of that fateful night. However, even as we looked back to the cross, we looked forward to a grand feast awaiting us when Jesus returns. Christ suffered that we might have hope. When he returns, all must “give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” (1 Pet 4:5).