On the Palm Sunday weekend, Pastor Kong Hee preached a powerful sermon about Jesus’ perfect and complete work on the Cross.
The first weekend of April (1 and 2 Apr) marked one week to Easter Sunday. Kong Hee, the senior pastor of City Harvest Church, brought the congregation to remembrance of eight “exchanges” that took place on the cross of Christ.
Quoting Philip Melanchthon, Pastor Kong told the church that to know Christ is to know His benefits. “How Jesus saves and blesses tells us how much He loves you and me, and how far He’s willing to go to reconcile us back to God,” he elaborated. “The cross is a symbol of hope, where the Father in Christ, by the Spirit, triumphed over every evil to give us great benefits, in this lifetime and in the next, for all eternity.”
Reading from 1 Corinthians 1:18 and Hebrews 10:14, Pastor Kong explained that with the complete and all-sufficient sacrifice on the cross, Jesus has provided perfectly for every need, for every area of the believers’ lives, for all time and all eternity. He went on to emphasise, however, that salvation is an ongoing process.
“What Jesus has done is once and for all, but our appropriation of it—how we actualise it—is progressive,” he said. “It’s ongoing until we meet Jesus Christ face to face.”
On the cross, Jesus took all the sinfulness of the fallen nature upon Himself. In exchange, He gave His believers all that is good in Him.
Pastor Kong took the church through eight powerful things that took place on the cross during what is known as “the Great Exchange”.
1. JESUS WAS PUNISHED, SO THAT WE MIGHT BE FORGIVEN
Quoting Isaiah 53:6, he taught the congregation that humankind’s rebellion has led to sin, trespass and iniquity. Sin is every wrongdoing against God. When people sin intentionally, it becomes a trespass. If they sin repeatedly, it becomes ingrained in their character and becomes an iniquity.
“On the cross, God, our heavenly Father, laid on Jesus Christ, His only Son, the iniquity of us all,” the pastor explained. “Jesus was punished so that we can have peace with God,” he added. “Peace only comes through forgiveness, and this was the first great exchange.”
Pastor Kong shared the story of Teddy Huang, a former Hong Kong triad leader. Even though he was rich and lived a luxurious life, he could never have a night of peaceful sleep. Only when he invited Jesus into his heart during the Crossover concert in Hong Kong did insomnia stop. He testified that when Jesus forgave his sins, peace came into his heart.
2. JESUS WAS WOUNDED, SO THAT WE MIGHT BE HEALED
According to Isaiah 53:4, Jesus has “borne our griefs” and “carried our sorrows”. In V5, it reads, “And by His stripes, we are healed”. Pastor Kong observed that while the English translation of the Bible is not clear about the words “griefs” and “sorrows”, both the Mandarin and Bahasa Indonesian Bibles translated the words to literally indicate the healing of sickness and bodily pain.
This verse became clearer in the New Testament. In Matthew 8, Jesus was out healing the sick. In V17, the Bible reveals, “This was to fulfil what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: ‘He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.’”
Explaining that “infirmities” refers to one’s physical and mental weaknesses, Pastor Kong declared, “Jesus Christ went to the cross to heal your sicknesses, the physical and mental conditions that you’re struggling with.”
The apostle Peter similarly quoted Isaiah in 1 Peter 2:24. In the Greek text, the word “healed” is the same verb used for medical healing. “When doctors cannot cure, God has a solution,” Pastor Kong said.
He shared the testimony of the cousin-in-law of CHC pastor Lee Yi Lun who had a heart attack. When he collapsed, his heart stopped for 20 to 25 minutes. Even though he was eventually revived, his brain had swelled up and he entered a coma. The doctor told the family that he would not make it and even if he did, his brain would probably be damaged.
Every day, Pastor Yi Lun and her husband Eugene would pray and proclaim the healing of Jesus in the ICU. God did a miracle and their cousin woke up one week later, totally healthy.
3. JESUS WAS MADE SIN SO THAT WE MIGHT BE RIGHTEOUS
On the cross, Jesus was condemned completely, bearing all the guilt of this world (Isa 53:3). In the same way the guilt of the whole nation was transferred to a sacrificial goat in the Old Testament, Jesus became the scapegoat of all humanity. Because of His sacrifice, there is no more condemnation in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:12).
Persistent guilt and condemnation can paralyse a person, making them feel worthless. On the cross, Jesus performed an exchange. 2 Corinthians 5:21 reads, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
“When you put your faith in Christ, right at that moment, God the Father declares you righteous,” Pastor Kong said. “The Creator of the whole universe doesn’t condemn you. Rather, he cleanses you, liberates you, and sets you free! The Holy Spirit is empowering you to live an actual righteous life, to become more and more like Jesus.”
4. JESUS BECAME A CURSE SO THAT WE MIGHT BE BLESSED
On the cross, Jesus was made a curse (Gal 3:13). Pastor Kong defined a curse as a repeated failure towards destruction. One can fail in their business, their marriage or their health repeatedly until they suffer a mental breakdown. The effects of a curse can sometimes affect generation after generation.
“The good news of Good Friday is this: Jesus became a curse for you and I!” the pastor proclaimed. Referencing Galatians 3:14, he shared, “On the cross, Jesus took all the curses upon Himself so that we can now have the blessing of the Holy Spirit, from whom more blessings flow.”
When believers learn to live and walk in the Spirit every day, they will receive continual favour from the Lord.
5. JESUS BECAME POOR SO THAT WE MIGHT SHARE IN HIS ABUNDANCE
2 Corinthians 8:9 reads, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake, he became poor so that you through his poverty might become rich.”
Pastor Kong first taught that it is dangerous to become fixated on making money. Reading 1 Timothy 6:10, he warned the congregation against turning money into their god. “Money is a good tool, but a bad master,” he cautioned.
He followed up with 2 Corinthians 9:8 and explained that while not every Christian will become a millionaire, every child of God should live in abundance. “That is, in all things, at all times, to have more than enough to abound in every good work for the Kingdom,” he explained.
While Jesus was not a rich person, He was not a poor preacher either. His robe was so valuable that, at His crucifixion, the soldiers did not want to divide it. When He sent His disciples out into the mission field, they lacked nothing because He was always there to provide for them in abundance. “This must be the story of your life,” the pastor encouraged the church.
6. JESUS ENDURED MY SHAME SO THAT WE MIGHT SHARE HIS GLORY
On the cross, Jesus experienced shame (Heb 12:2) when He was stripped of His clothes. He was ridiculed by the crowd and publicly humiliated.
Many believers struggle with shame due to their past. Some were abused as children and grew up feeling ashamed of themselves. To this, Pastor Kong directed the congregation to Hebrews 2:10, and said, “Jesus endured the sufferings of our shame so that we might share His glory and His honour. Because of the cross, God removes that shame, and He elevates us as sons and daughters.”
7. JESUS BORE OUR REJECTION SO THAT WE MIGHT HAVE ACCEPTANCE
“Rejection is another deep wound that our heart cannot bear,” Pastor Kong shared. A person who has been rejected always feels like someone looking in from the outside, unable to get in.
On the cross, Jesus cried out to God, but received no answer (Mt 27:46). God could not look at Him because of the sins He bore. The wages of sin is the eternal alienation from God, but because Jesus bore our sins on the cross, believers are reconciled to God.
“You and I are not accepted as sons and daughters of God,” he said, reading Ephesians 1:5-6.
8. JESUS TASTED DEATH, SO THAT WE MAY HAVE ETERNAL LIFE
Jesus died on the cross so that His believers can have eternal life (2 Cor 5:15). “This life is called zoë—it is the breath of the Holy Spirit Himself,” Pastor Kong said.
He shared a story that Terry Law, an evangelist and humanitarian for Christ, shared many years ago. Dr Law’s had a friend who was involved in a mission project. However, he was shorthanded and running out of time. While he was on his knees, praying for God to help him, he suddenly saw two angels plugging a pump into his side and “heavenly fuel” was pumped into him. They told him that this was the zoë life of God.
For the next few days, the missionary gained supernatural strength and completed his project in three days when it would have taken another human being three months. It was then that realised that was what life in the new heaven would be like.
Because of sin, believers are not able to experience abundant life to its fullest yet. But they can have a foretaste of His grace, joy and love when they make room for the Holy Spirit in their life.
“This zoë life is the substance of love,” the pastor said. “The more you have this life of the Spirit, the more loving you will become, and the more Christlike you will become.”
To conclude his sermon, Pastor Kong reiterated the eight exchanges on the Cross and emphasised that the work of Jesus is perfect and complete, its benefits touching every aspect of life. He then closed the service with an altar call for members who needed miracles in healing, finances, overcoming shame, or for people who needed a fresh impartation of the zoë life of the Holy Spirit.