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Hunting for the Truth of Easter

Title: Hunting for the Truth of Easter
Artwork by: Elroi Teo and YMI
Description: 
We are in a constant search for something, whether it be the meaning of life or the reason for our existence. But this Easter, let us search through the Bible as we rediscover the significance of Easter, and why Jesus is the only one worth searching for.

 

Judas was searching for earthly treasures. But soon learned the consequences of his actions.

Thirty pieces of silver was all it took for Judas to betray Jesus. When his act of treachery was discovered, Judas felt remorseful and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. He confessed he had sinned, and innocent blood had been betrayed in the process. Judas’s story is an example of the dangers of an unguarded heart, of a heart that wants what it wants. We are to guard our hearts to prevent ourselves from being swept away by the currents of temptation, or in Judas’s case, exchanging Jesus for fleeting earthly treasures such as status, or material wealth. What can we do today to guard our hearts in the face of temptation, and to stand firm in Jesus?

 

 

Peter was looking for a way to show Jesus his love for him. But ended up denying Jesus.

Peter trusted in his own strength when he told Jesus he would not betray him. Yet Peter went on to deny Jesus three times before the rooster crowed. Peter wept bitter tears when he realized what he had done, and asked Jesus to forgive him. Like Peter, none of us are perfect, and as willing as we are to love Jesus perfectly, our weaknesses and failures often become our stumbling block. Fortunately, we are able to bring all these to the cross, and Jesus will meet us there to restore and refresh us. Will we look to Jesus today as the only one who refreshes and restores us?

 

 

Two thieves were looking for salvation. But only one accepted His invitation.

We often cry to God to save us from earthly struggles, but find it incredibly hard to believe we have already been saved from our struggles. We tell Jesus to remember us in Heaven, forgetting the invitation has already been extended to us. Jesus died on the cross for our salvation, and that means we are now able to spend eternity with Him in paradise. But when we think of heaven, do we think of it as simply a place where there will be no more tears and suffering? Or do we look forward to heaven because we get to be with Jesus, and to worship Him?

 

 

Mary (Jesus’ mother) and Mary were seeking for Jesus’ body. But all they found was an empty tomb.

Jesus’ mom and Mary were upset and disappointed when they discovered His tomb was empty. But they were met by an angel, who told them the one they are looking for has risen. Upon hearing this, the women rejoiced. Like them, we too can rejoice, in  knowing Jesus has overcome death at the cross, and rejoice in knowing death no longer has any power or hold on us. We should constantly remind ourselves that the Lord has indeed risen, and the resurrected Christ is still very much alive today. It can be easy to tune our hearts out to Jesus, and relegate him to the dusty recesses of our minds. But let us keep Him alive in our hearts today.

 

 

Thomas was looking for evidence that Jesus has risen. But his encounter with Jesus revealed his doubt and unbelief.

It is hard to believe in something we cannot see, but this is where faith comes in. We have to believe that Jesus has risen, and that He is alive. If you are struggling with unbelief, call out to God to show you that he is real. He wants us to know the truth, and He will reveal Himself to us in due time. Let us cast aside our unbelief, and reach out to Jesus.

 

Exploring Easter’s Treasures

Title: Exploring Easter’s Treasures
Artwork by: Zach Stuef (@stuefcreative) and YMI
Description: 
It can be easy to think of Easter as simply being made up of hot cross buns, Easter bunnies, chocolate eggs, and long weekends. However, Easter is about reminding ourselves of what Jesus had done at the cross, where He laid His life down for us. The reason for our existence is found at the cross. His death was the crux of salvation, and His resurrection is the assured hope of that salvation.

Follow us on this journey from Palm Sunday to Easter Monday as we explore the significance of each day. Each day’s artwork is also available for download as lockscreens (simply click on the image).

 


PALM SUNDAY | He endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him

Jesus’ visit to Jerusalem was not a social call. When he entered Jerusalem, he was on a mission to fulfil God’s perfect plan – to die in Jerusalem for our sake. Jesus embodies his Father’s love for sinners, and he knew the time had come for him to lay his life down on the cross for us. The walk to Calvary would have been hard, yet Jesus was steadfast as he set his face on Jerusalem. His act reminds us as believers that our Christian-walk may not always be an easy one, but we are called to carry our cross and follow him. Like Jesus, we are to set our eyes on the cross, even if we are buffeted by life’s daily troubles. Staying the course can be difficult, so let us encourage one another as we press our way forward to follow the King of Kings on the road to Calvary.

 

 


 

MAUNDY THURSDAY | Anticipating the return of Jesus

Jesus dined with his disciples on the night before his execution on the cross. This is known as the Last Supper, or Communion, and as his disciples shared on unleavened bread and wine, they were doing it in remembrance of Christ. Jesus then surprised his disciples by washing their feet, thus setting an example of how we are to lead our Christian lives. We are called to serve one another in love and in humility. It is not a command that is always easy to follow, but with Christ as our example, let us find ways to fulfil this commandment.

 

 


 

GOOD FRIDAY | The power of the Cross 

How do we view the cross? Do we see it as an instrument of torture, or as a symbol of hope, love, and redemption? Jesus was crucified for our sins so we can spend eternity with him. It is also at the cross where we can lay bare our brokenness, sin and shame, in exchange for fullness, joy and a cleansed heart –  this is the beauty of the cross. What areas of our lives that we are finding hard to crucify? Whatever it is that you may be struggling with, bring them all to Jesus, call on to him, and he will draw near to you.

 

 


EASTER SUNDAY | Jesus holds our eternity in his hands

Jesus defeated death when he rose again on the third day, and his resurrection is the crux of the Christian faith. Jesus’ resurrection displayed both his power and glory, and with it comes the promise of eternal hope, life, and a glorious inheritance which awaits us at the end of our Christian race. And did you know, the same power that rose Jesus from the dead is also available to us believers? But do we fully understand the power of God, and how aware are we of its working in our lives and the lives of others?

 

 

5 Ways to Prepare for Easter

“Will you Easter with me?”

My daughter had been at my mom’s that day, and I’d heard they had gotten out the Easter decorations. When I arrived to pick her up, she sweetly and eagerly looked up at me, holding her basket full of eggs, and asked, “Will you Easter with me, mom?”

At first, my kiddo’s syntactical error made me giggle. But after a moment, I realized that she’d said something very profound.

Easter is a verb. Or at least it should be. Easter, our annual celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, is a time for intentional and purposeful celebration. But what would it look like “to Easter” in our everyday lives?

 

Welcome Him

When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem the Sunday before His death, the crowd spread their coats and branches on the ground, giving Him quite the welcome. They knew that this was no ordinary man entering their town, and so they cried out “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:8-9).

We call this day Palm Sunday, and often commemorate it in church with praise and exultation. This is not only a time to remember Jesus being welcomed into Jerusalem, but it is also a time to ask for His direction and leadership in our own lives as well. It is a day of welcoming, a day of aligning ourselves with Him.

I recently did this by writing out a list of the roles I play, the key relationships in my life, and the various places I often find myself in. One by one, I went down the list and welcomed Jesus into these roles, relationships, and places. Sure, He was technically already present in these places; He is God, after all. But this was about my willingness to welcome Him in and intentionally acknowledging once again that He’s the one in charge. It is a way of saying, “Not my will, but yours.”

This wasn’t easy. As I welcomed Jesus into my home, my marriage, my role as mother, my classroom, my friendships, my idols and strongholds, I realized that His presence would demand some changes in these areas. Lies, anxiety, and strongholds can no longer rule where He is welcomed. Part of the welcoming is believing in and affirming His worthiness above all. Let’s welcome Christ in this Easter season, no matter the cost.

 

Remember Him

The evening before He died, Jesus celebrated Passover with His disciples—a festival remembering how God had delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. At this meal, Jesus instituted what we know as the Lord’s Supper, or Communion. As He sat around the table with His followers, He broke a loaf of bread, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” He then took the cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:19-20).

Jesus’ words “do this in remembrance of me” are big and bold to my eyes. He has asked us to remember His sacrifice by eating the bread and drinking the cup. This needs to be a part of our “Eastering” this year. When we accept the bread and the cup, we are putting our lot in with His. We are saying, “We want in. We want to be a part of this.” This means we will suffer with Him, but it also means that as His children, our future is secure; we will resurrect with Him.

Remember Christ’s sacrifice in this way as you partake of the Lord’s Supper this Easter Week.

 

Grieve Him

On Friday during that Passover week, Jesus was nailed to the cross. After suffering for several hours, He called out, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46), and then took His last breath. Matthew tells us that there was an earthquake when Jesus died (Matthew 27:51), and we read that there was darkness from noon until three that day (Luke 23:44-45).

Can you imagine how oppressive it would have felt to stand there at the foot of the cross? To experience that earthquake, in the darkness? To see with your own eyes the havoc that sin and shame had wreaked on the world? All of this speaks to the somber weight of that day’s events. The Son of God crucified. God the Father turning His back on His Son. This seems like the worst day in all of history.

How do we enter into this grief? How do we experience the heaviness of what went down that day? I think the obvious answer is one we don’t necessarily like—that we need to sit with this; we need to not rush past it, to not skip ahead to Sunday. We need to sit in Friday for a while, and we need to grieve not only Jesus’ death, but our sin that put Him there.

We need to ask God to help us understand, the best we can, the weight of His sacrifice, the weight of the loss and the shame that the world experienced that Friday. And so we grieve. We grieve the sin and shame that has infected and infiltrated our world. We grieve our part in it, and thus our separation from God. Rest assured, though, that the story doesn’t end here. . .

 

Wait for Him

Can you imagine what that Saturday was like, when Jesus lay lifeless in the tomb? The disciples—did they feel hopeless, thinking they had it all wrong? Or did a few, through understanding from the Spirit, begin to put all of Jesus’ teachings together and wait hopefully for His return?

This tension of Saturday—between Jesus’ death on Friday and His resurrection on Sunday—is not to be skipped over. Jesus was dead, and some of His followers felt hopeless. Yet we know that Sunday was coming and Jesus would rise again. The interim is a hard place to be. A willingness to wait, to sit in the tension, demonstrates an understanding that we’re not in charge. Just like the grieving, let’s not rush past this. The joy of Sunday won’t make sense without the restlessness of Saturday.

What does it look like to wait for Christ today? Yes, in the Easter season, but also in the seasons of our lives. Maybe we’re “in-between” in our circumstances right now. Where and in what way are we being asked to wait, to live in the not-quite-yet? How do we cling to Christ in this time of waiting? And what exactly are we waiting for?

As Christians, ultimately we wait for the fullness of God’s Kingdom. We wait for when Jesus will return and set all things right, when sin will no longer have dominion over the world. And so, in our waiting, we set our eyes on Sunday. . .

 

Rejoice in Him

On Sunday morning, the Resurrected Jesus appears before His friends, family, and disciples. The grave could not hold Him. He stared death in the face and overcame it. He took on the wrath against our sin and shame, and atoned for us completely.

Can you imagine this day? All the sadness and hopelessness being undone? Our worst nightmare proving not true? The disciples missed and longed for Jesus, and now He stood in front of them, in the flesh again. He is indeed who He said He was. He is the long-promised Rescuer, come to save His people from their sin and for His glory! A debt we could not pay, paid in full! He has made a way for you and me to know Him and to live with Him forever! Sin no longer separates us from our King, and so Sunday is the best day in all of history!

This year on Easter, let us drink deeply the joy that abounds because of the risen Christ. Let’s sing our praise to Him loud and proud. Let’s open our arms wide and receive His forgiveness, grace, and goodness. Let’s hug our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and announce with the worldwide Church that He has risen! He has risen, indeed! Augustine said it best in his discourse on the Psalms: “We are an Easter people, and Allelujah is our song!”

My friend, will you Easter with me this year?

Remembering Easter And The Day I Lost My Dad

Written By Amanda Lim, Singapore 

“You must have wished this was just a cruel April Fool’s joke,” my father’s friend finally said to me, still in disbelief at the sight of the white coffin lying serenely in front of him, with a photograph of my father in front of it.

He was the first to pay his respects at the wake, though it was purely by coincidence: he had just happened to pass by my block of flats while on his way home. Struggling to string his sentences together, he expressed shock and bewilderment at my father’s sudden passing, sharing how he had just seen my father running in the park just a week or two ago.

He was not the only one to have been taken unawares; none of us had seen it coming.

It was Good Friday, a few years ago. My church mates and I had just finished distributing evangelistic tracts and were headed for lunch when my handphone rang. It was my sister. “Amanda, can you take a cab down to the hospital? We think Daddy’s got a mild stroke, he’s very weak and his speech is slurred.”

But we soon discovered that it was no mild stroke. My dad had suffered a massive brain haemorrhage.

What followed was a whirlwind of events: my father slipping into a coma and being rushed for an operation, sombre and tear-stained faces arriving at the hospital one after another, and doctors on duty taking turns to repeat the same thing to my family as sensitively as they could: He isn’t going to make it.

A day later, nothing had changed. Aware of the significance of the next day, Easter, one of my uncles tried to raise some hope, saying, “Maybe he’d be like Jesus and wake up tomorrow.” Though it seemed humanly impossible that that might happen, I secretly hoped he was right and prayed with all my might that God would perform a miracle.

But my uncle was wrong. Though my father made it through Easter Sunday, he didn’t wake up.

On Monday, my family was gently reminded for the umpteeth time that we had the option to take him off the ventilator (only if we wanted to) and of the need to get an undertaker to prepare for a funeral service. Our prayers had changed. God, please take him home on Your own.

God answered our prayers that night. That evening, my dad passed away peacefully. The date was 1 April.

Today marks my father’s death anniversary. The irony has not been lost on me that it falls on Easter Sunday this year. And to be honest, I cannot be more glad.

Because the significance of Jesus’ resurrection is the biggest comfort I can ever ask for on a day like this.

As I look back on the timing of my dad’s passing, it seems as though God was giving my family a taste of the grief and sorrow He felt when Jesus died on the cross on Good Friday—and, at the same time, the certainty and comfort that just as Jesus rose from the dead on Easter, so would my father.

My uncle was not wrong at all. Precisely because of Jesus’ resurrection, my dad would “wake up” and live again. (John 11:25-26)

I can’t put it better than evangelist Billy Graham, who passed away recently and who once said, Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.”

Today, my father is more alive than ever because of Easter. And I live each day with hope and joy, knowing that I’d see him again.