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When Good Friday doesn’t seem so good

For most of my life, Good Friday primarily served as a heads-up for a nice candy-gorge. I glossed over what it really represented, anticipating instead the large egg-hunts with my cousins around my grandparents’ farm on Easter Sunday.

It was only a few years ago that I gained a painful understanding of the true significance of Good Friday. That happened when one of my closest friends from middle school, Erica, died suddenly in a car accident. All throughout late elementary and middle school, Erica and I had been joined at the hip. We attended summer camps together, were pairs for science-class projects, and even had our 15 minutes of fame at a statewide jump rope competition (yes, you read correctly: jump rope).

We communicated less as we went through college and pursued separate ways after graduating, but we never lost our mutual respect and affection. I had planned to contact her after the Easter holiday to reconnect before she moved overseas for missions work.

But in the late night hours of Good Friday, I learned that Erica had died in a car accident while driving home that day. It was inconceivable. In the wake of her death, I was confronted with the reality of how wrong and intrusive death could feel.

Yes, death is wrong. We weren’t designed to experience the sudden separation of death. But because of the Fall of man, death became part and parcel of life. Suddenly, I had a glimpse of the confusion, anger, and sadness that the disciples of Jesus experienced when He died.

But then, I also saw hope. The day I had previously ignored—Good Friday—commemorates two things. One, the torture and wrongful murder of the one who claimed to be the world’s Savior; two, the “good” result His death achieved: a way out of death for us! His resurrection three days later, which we commemorate on Easter Sunday, gives us hope for a lasting solution to death.

Thanks to what was accomplished that first Easter, I could rest in the fact of Erica experiencing paradise right now even as I grieved her unfathomable death and the depth of our earthly separation.

What has been of immense encouragement to me are the words that Jesus gave His disciples in John 16:33 before His crucifixion, which summarize the incomparably low moments of Good Friday and the unsurpassed high of Easter. Jesus told them, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Today, we still experience effects of the fall. The emotions and pain that Jesus’ disciples felt still exist in this life. But even when we experience these extreme lows, we have the truth of Easter to hold on to. Jesus has already overcome the wrong by taking our place on the cross, and, accrediting His righteousness to us, declared, “it is finished” (John 19:30).

Knowing that Erica had fully accepted Jesus as her Savior, I look forward to seeing her again one day. And hey, for old time’s sake, maybe we’ll go ahead and earn another ribbon with our old jump rope routine!

Stations At The Cross

These wood-crafted panels were done for Sacred Heart Church in Samford Village, Queensland, Australia to replace their aged and fading framed reproductions of the Traditional Stations of the Cross.

Prayerfully painted on 1.2m tall hoop pine kneelers stripped from old church pews, these Scriptural Stations of the Cross are rich in symbolism.

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What is the Mark of A Great Man?

Written by Eudora Chuah, Singapore

Exactly a year ago, my country lost a remarkable man. Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s founding prime minister, passed away at the age of 91 on 23 March, 2015, after battling severe pneumonia. He had led the country to independence in 1965 and played a key role in building it up into what it is today.

Here was a man of great foresight and leadership. He had lived and breathed Singapore, served his nation with his whole life, and had the unwavering courage to act on his convictions. Few can deny the many contributions he made to the country.

His death drew an outpouring of grief among Singaporeans, both young and old. I was one of the one million or so people who queued for many hours (some even overnight) at the Parliament House to pay our respects to the man who shaped modern Singapore. On the day of his state funeral, more than 100,000 people lined the route of his funeral cortege to bid a final farewell.

A year since, Mr Lee remains in people’s minds and hearts. Three remembrance sites have been set up and more than a hundred events have been organized across Singapore to commemorate the first anniversary of his death—a fitting response indeed for a man who had given up his life for his nation.

As I reflected on Mr Lee’s legacy, someone much closer to my heart came to mind. This man did not just impact the lives of his own people, but the entire human race. And in two days’ time, Christians all over the world will be commemorating what he has done.

This person is none other than Jesus Christ, God’s own Son, who suffered a humiliating and tortuous death on a cross for our sins. God raised Him from the dead three days later, and because of what Jesus did, we now have the privilege of being able to enjoy a personal relationship with God. Jesus’ life and death, which was marked by love, humility, and obedience to God, transformed the lives of people not just in His day, but all throughout history—from religious bigots to hardcore criminals.

To such a man, whose life and death changes lives in so great a manner, it would be fitting to ascribe Him the greatest adulation and honor. But have we done it?

I’d be the first to admit the disparity between my response to the death of my country’s founder, and that to my life’s founder. Would I be as eager, I wonder, to tell others about the gospel and what Jesus did as I was in sharing with others about what Mr Lee did for Singapore? Sure, I could argue that Mr Lee’s passing is still fresh in my mind whereas Jesus’ death happened so long ago. But it doesn’t change the fact: If I can bestow so much respect on a mortal man, shouldn’t I show much more honor and reverence for the God who loves me so unconditionally and showed this through dying for me (John 3:16-17)?

I recognize that it is a process of learning, and I am thankful that God guides my heart to grow in love for Jesus and His word, a little more every day.

This Good Friday, may we all be encouraged to respond with our all—our hearts, our hands, and our voices—to Jesus, the one who changed our lives for eternity.

Photo credit: chooyutshing via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

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At The Cross

Title: At The Cross
Materials: Paper
Description: My inspiration behind this diagonal cross is from Rembrandt’s painting “Elevation of the Cross”.

This scene depicts men stretching their body to lift up the unbearable weight of the cross, with the chief priest, teachers of the law and elders standing at the right sneering. On the left, the disciples are grieving.

May this new unique perspective renew our appreciation of what Christ did for us. (Matthew 27:32) (John 19:17)

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Artist Feature | Sven Lim

Sven-Lim

I am an application engineer by day and artist at night. I believe that each of us are given gifts to do things to benefit others.

As a child, I wanted to create three dimensional figures.When I had some spare time, I tried using wood, but it was difficult to carve. I switched to soap carving, but I found that it broke easily.

Then one day as I browsed the internet, I came across a picture of octopus made from book pages; the book itself served as the ocean with its pages swirling like waves of water.

From then on I realized that I could craft and carve old books into three dimensional figures. I started doing book art in 2011.

Through my art, I hope to encourage others to use whatever gifts they have to serve others (1 Peter 4:10).