Easter marks the sacrifice that opened the way for all of us to be reconciled to God. Why did Jesus choose to stay on the Cross? Pastor Kong Hee gave us three reasons.
Over the weekend of Apr 2 to 4—Good Friday through Easter Sunday—City Harvest Church gathered on-site and online to celebrate the most important day in the Christian calendar. This was a welcome change from last year, when CHC’s Easter service had to be held online during the Circuit Breaker.
Last weekend’s worship service began with a short but meaningful time of praise and worship, followed by the Easter production, which was performed by a small cast on stage and involved video segments.
There were no live productions in 2020, so church members were excited to experience the creative retelling of the Easter story on stage once again. In line with safe management measures set out by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, this year’s production featured a pared down set and no more than four performers on stage at any one point in time.
This year’s production, The One, told the story of Jamie Seow, an obnoxious high-flyer who died in a car accident, along with her Grab driver. Entering the beautiful Happy Place, Jamie saw roads paved with gold, a sea made of glass and huge mansions. Along the way, those whom she had helped in her lifetime came up to her to express their gratitude. Her angel guide led her to a mansion that would be her heavenly home.
However, things took a turn when Jesus met them along the way and the angel discovered that he had been welcoming the wrong Jamie! The mansion was meant for Jamie, the Grab driver, the other victim in the car accident. Unlike Jamie Seow, this Jamie recognised Jesus and thanked Him for His sacrifice on the Cross. Jesus welcomed him home with open arms.
Unhappy that her mansion was taken away from her, Jamie Seow lashed out at Jesus. Unfazed by her reaction, Jesus revealed that Jamie only helped others because it benefitted her. Because of her difficult childhood, Jamie believed that she had to depend on herself to survive in this dog-eat-dog-world. That day, Jesus showed her a better way—to trust in Him and let Him be the Lord of her life.
The production concluded with Jamie giving her heart to Jesus and receiving a second chance in life.
WHY JESUS STAYED ON THE CROSS
CHC’s senior pastor, Kong Hee, took the stage to share the Easter message. He started with a true story he heard from his mentor Dr Yonggi Cho, founder of Yoido Full Gospel Church. An American missionary couple found and adopted a baby boy during the Korean War. His mother had gone into labour while making her escape in the harsh winter, and knowing that chances of them both surviving were next to zero, she had removed all her clothing and wrapped her baby to keep him warm. She froze to death, but she had given her child a chance to live.
Why did this child’s birth mother willingly lay down her life for him, asked the pastor, noting that same question could be asked of Jesus: why did He stay on the Cross and willingly die for this world’s sins?
Pastor Kong shared three reasons.
1. Jesus Stayed On The Cross To Forgive Our Sins
“Sin is every form of pride and rebellion and wickedness of heart,” he explained. “The Bible says that no one is righteous (Rom 3:10; 12).” Every person is born in sin and the wages of sin is death.
“Jesus couldn’t come down. If he did, our sins would never be forgiven,” the pastor continued. Jesus took the punishment of all the sins in this world upon Himself so those who believe in Him could spend eternity with Him in His presence. Because of that, “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom 10:13).
2. Jesus Stayed On The Cross To Heal Our Sicknesses
“For those of you who are sick, there’s hope for you,” Pastor Kong said. “Twenty per cent of all the stories in the four Gospels have to do with Jesus healing the sick.” Matthew 8:17 records that Jesus “Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.”
Pastor Kong then shared the testimony of Thomas Lam, a chef who shared his testimony of God healing from a rare disease, multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDRT-TB) 10 years ago. Back then, Thomas almost died from a heart attack six months after he was diagnosed. God did a miracle and brought him back to life.
Even though he had recovered, Thomas’ physical constitution was affected. By 2019, he had lost 50 per cent of his vision in his right eye and 30 per cent in his left eye. During a service in October 2019, when Pastor Kong prayed for healing over those who were sick in the church’s anniversary service, Thomas put his hands on his eyes and prayed together, believing in faith for his healing. Miraculously, his vision cleared, and the doctors confirmed that he had regained perfect vision. Thomas had received full healing for his eyes.
“Jesus healed him and I’m here to tell you today: Jesus is here to heal you too,” Pastor Kong declared.
3. Jesus Stayed On The Cross To Free Us From Every Curse
Pastor Kong defined a curse as a failure. Without God, every human being is cursed because they are under the oppression of Satan. The good news is, Satan has been rendered powerless by the Cross.
He shared the testimony of Martin and Paulynn, a couple that has been serving in CHC since its early days. As a young couple, they were drinking and partying every weekend. Martin had serious temper problems which almost led to a divorce. At that time, his family business went through a tough patch and Martin’s future seemed very bleak.
They came to CHC one day at the invitation of a friend. They were overwhelmed by God’s love and received Jesus into their hearts. Their lives turned around dramatically—Martin even quit smoking after praying. Today, they are cell group leaders helping married couples navigate crises and failures, and they have seen many miraculous transformations in their family.
“Experts say that the main cause of unhappiness is living in the past,” the pastor said. “Are you stuck in the past or a failure in life? Humanly speaking, how can we forget a past hurt? But with God, all things are possible! When we have Jesus, everything changes.”
Pastor Kong encouraged the congregation that there is always hope in Jesus. At the end of the service, he prayed for those who needed Jesus, and those who needed healing.
Behavioural therapist Lim Wen Ying, 25, was part of a cell group that organised two watch parties for members and friends to watch the Easter service together at home. She shared, “I really enjoyed the drama, as much as all the previous productions. We all had a great laugh and we experienced the presence of God together even though there were just eight of us in the house due to the safe-distancing measures. Easter always reminds me of how great our God is to pour out His love for someone like me.”
Her fellow cell group member Ban Jin Hong, 26, agreed. “It was enjoyable to have a watch party together! Being able to worship and pray together (in person) makes me feel like a step closer to church. It’s much better compared to me watching service on my phone at home alone.”