Good Friday and Easter 2023

good friday and easter 2023 header

Every year, our Good Friday and Easter Sunday services help us to remember the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Frederick Chua reflects on how the sermons at both services helped us to go back to the precious truths and foundations of the Christian's life. 

This Good Friday, we heard from one of our members, Thomas Hamilton, about the certainty we can have in believing in Jesus. Thomas preached from John 19:16b-30 and began by highlighting how there are many myths and legends in the world that speak of great kings. Some nations have stories that speak of the coming of a king and what they would accomplish. For example King Arthur of Camelot was chosen by drawing a sword out of a stone. This ability qualified him to be king. However, many of these stories can sound fantastical to our ears and we may doubt their accuracy as they were written after the king was in power.

The prophecies and narrative around Jesus are different. The prophecies written of Him existed hundred of years before His coming. For Jesus, we have a king who will lead an eternal kingdom and He is a king unlike any earthly king who ever lived. The prophecies that preceded His coming described Jesus as a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief (Isa 53:3), one who would be pierced for our iniquities (Isa 53:5) and who would make His grave with the wicked yet not for any wrong He had done (Isa 53:9). He is a king unlike any other. One who is willing to suffer, die, be stricken not for what He has done but for the sake of others. 

good friday and easter 2023

Singing about Christ's death during our Good Friday service.

We are then reminded of the significance of Jesus’ death, the King’s death which reveals His life-bringing purpose. Jesus chose to be on the cross. Good Friday is the darkest day in history, but for what Jesus has done and the work He finished, it is exceedingly good news for each of us. It was also timely that we took the Lord's Supper together, which reminded us of this precious work of Christ. 

On Easter Sunday, Pastor Mark walked us through the account of Thomas in John’s gospel, from John 20:24-31. This was not the first time that Thomas appears in the gospel of John. He appeared twice before, first in John 11 where he declared bravely and seriously that the disciples would go with Jesus and even die with Him. In John 14 we also see how Thomas is a practical man saying, “We do not know where you are going? How do we know the way?”. In John 20, we see how Thomas wrestles with doubt and faith after Jesus' death and resurrection. 

This text deals with the heavy topic of death. In the past, death used to be more in the consciousness of man as people used to die at home surrounded by family and friends. Today, we can shy away from this topic as people often die in hospitals surrounded by machines and medical professionals. In our world today, people have many ways of dealing with death, whether it is to philosophise it, hide it or laugh at it.

Yet, no matter how we deal with it, death stalks us. We are held in slavery all our lives to the fear of death. Even for those who know the Bible, fear can prey on our innate scepticism and cause doubt. Doubt wrongly dealt with can be spiritually crippling. What do we do in the face of death and doubt?

With Thomas we see three roots of his doubt. Firstly, there is the desire to be in control, where we put God to the test. Secondly, Thomas prioritised certain kinds of evidence and ignored the eyewitness accounts and Jesus’ own words telling of His death and resurrection. Similarly for us, this may lead us to ignore the evidence which is already there. The last root of doubt is despair, where the disciples and Thomas had their hopes crushed by Jesus’ death. 

Despite Thomas’ doubts, God gives us many reasons to believe. From the text, Pastor Mark pointed out how He is a gracious God and heard Thomas’ doubts and questions, even though He did not appear to Thomas immediately. Eight days after Mary, Peter and John encountered Jesus’ empty tomb later, Jesus appeared to the disciples who had gathered, including Thomas.

In this account, we are given three reasons to believe in Jesus—the signs of the resurrection testified by the apostles, the account of the seeker where Thomas’ doubting turned to conviction and the appearance of the Saviour Himself. These point to what Jesus’ work on the cross accomplished. As Jesus met the disciples, He greeted them by saying, “Peace be with you”. This was not just a customary salutation, but spoke of how our great need for a Saviour has been dealt with and now we have peace with God. Indeed, on the cross where Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied for every sin on Him was laid.

At the end of Good Friday we were challenged to reflect on how we ought to respond to Jesus’ death on the cross. On Easter Sunday, we were again reminded of the price paid for our sins and the resurrected Saviour who has redeemed us. Both passages taught us that we can trust in King Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins because of His saving work on the cross and His resurrection.

We were also prompted to consider whether we are living our lives in a way that truly reflects the magnitude of Jesus’ work on the cross. It was timely then, that we also had baptisms at our Easter service. As a church, we welcomed six new members by both baptism and transfer. They are Marc Chan, Phua Kia Qian, Deborah Seng, Chan Yong Kang, Michelle Chow and Regina Yeo. These members shared how God drew them to Himself. You can read their testimonies here. Just as Thomas and the disciples heard the gospel and believed that first Easter, these members also reminded us that God is still at work in our time. 

good friday and easter 2023 2

(From left to right) Pastor Eugene with Deborah, Marc, Kia Qian, Michelle, Regina, Yong Kang and Pastor Mark

For myself, the weekend services was a good prompt to reflect on the first quarter of 2023 in which I was up to my neck in my work as an auditor. I often found myself reaching for easy excuses where “I’m tired” or “I have to work” are reasons to compromise. Easter was a good reminder and a great challenge to re-order my priorities and to repent of the times when I let other things overtake my love for Jesus.