SAN FRANCISCO- Chinese Christians from 13 churches gathered for an ecumenical Good Friday Worship Service, meditating the meaning of Jesus’ death on the cross.
Some 70 attendants are mostly from youth groups or English-speaking ministries. In the First Chinese Baptist Church (FCBC), they united together to pray, sing hymns and listen to the messages to commemorate this most solemn evening in Christian calendar. Organized by the Chinese Christian Union (CCU) of San Francisco, the English worship is designed for the younger generation whereas a Chinese one was held earlier in the afternoon.
The congregation was led to recall the last hours of Jesus’ life through the scripture reading on John 18: 1-40 and John 19: 1-42 by Pastor Lauren Ng and Rev. Chris Otani of FCBC respectively. The scene described Jesus was handed over to Roman soldiers and interrogated by the teachers of the law- those who have hated him and planned to kill him. The passion of Christ was fully unveiled as he endured being flogged, mocked and despised and obeyed God till the point of death.
Following the scripture readings, senior pastor of FCBC Rev. Don Ng delivered the sermon. While all people tend to avoid talking about death and dying, Christians celebrate the day when Jesus died on the cross, Rev. Ng therefore challenged Christians to ask the question "What’s So Good about Good Friday."
Facing the deep pain and suffering on the cross, Jesus has never said a mumbling word, Ng said. All Roman soldiers and teachers of the law have laughed at Jesus on the cross, questioning his identity as the son of God and his power to save himself from death. Yet Jesus was not shaken to avoid death at all.
"Why won’t God act like God?" Ng raised the deep question for believers to mediate.
The act of Jesus at the last point of his death contradicted his divine nature as revealed at his baptism by the river of Jordan, where a voice from heaven testified that "This is my Son, whom I love."
Just as the Satan has tempted Jesus at the wilderness, saying "If you are the son of God", at the brink of death, Ng explained that Jesus has faced the last and the greatest "temptation" - "to admin to himself what he has heard from God was just an illusion." However, Jesus did not do that.
Ng quoted a teaching from the famous author C.S. Lewis, who said the most terrifying thing for the devil is to find a assaulted believer, who sees every trace of God seems have vanished and asks why he has forsaken, but still obeys. Jesus is the one who has overcome the power of Satan.
"While death is a tragedy to most of us, but when it comes to Jesus on the cross, he can avoid it… and there is no evidence that God will go and rescue him… it is the worst form of death and suffering, even so, Jesus obeys. And that is why we call this Friday ‘good’," Ng explained.
Ng illustrated the absolute obedience of Christ Jesus that has made the salvation possible for every mankind as saying, "What is so good about Good Friday? It is good because God didn’t act the way we wanted God to act. He was tempted in every way… but he remained obedient…Into the darkness Jesus not knowing what is going on but he still trusted God and enduring in pain according to God’s will."
"In deep pain and suffering on the cross, Jesus just hung there, saying nothing and doing nothing… on the cross, he did not call out for angels to save him, on the cross, when the pain and suffering are real, he just hung there," he continued.
In concluding the sermon, Ng testified the death of Jesus on the cross is all for gaining a true life, "What is so good about Good Friday? Because God refused to act the way he was expected to act and he emptied himself and threw out his life on the cross, just for us to gain eternal life…What is so good? Because we know that Jesus has risen from death."