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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