The church started to celebrate Passion Week 2022 from Palm Sunday, April 10 to April 17, Easter Sunday. From April 11 to 16, a church in China's southern-coastal Guangdong Province hosted a sermon series during the whole period.
On April 11, Holy Monday, Rev. Wu Lijuan of Guangzhou Zion Church broadcasted live a sermon titled "Cleansing the Temple". Citing Mark 11:15-17, the pastor shared on "Jesus cleansed the visible temple in Jerusalem" and "cleansed the temple of heart".
After entering the Holy City, Jesus did two important things. One was to curse the fig tree and the other was to cleanse the temple, which were closely related. Because the belief at that time only had the appearance of religious rites but not the essence of worship, just like a fig tree which only had leaves but no fruits.
Why was Jesus so angry? Rev. Wu shared that the temple was originally a holy house where the people of God gathered to worship Him. Passover commemorated the historic moment when God led the Israelites out of Egypt. However, the Jews turned the holy temple into a marketplace for buying and selling animals, which completely deprived the temple of its holiness. Therefore, Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers and stopped the trading. "Through Jesus' ‘cleansing’, it also allows us to contemplate whether there is something in us that is not in line with God's will," the pastor added.
Purifying the visible temple also reminded believers to sanctify their spiritual temple.
On April 12, Holy Tuesday, Rev. Wu’s sermon was themed "Being a Faithful Servant of God". Based on Matthew 24:45-51, she shared on "being faithful" and "being wise".
The pastor said that being faithful to God meant that we remained the same before and behind God. Everything we did should be for the glory of God and to be faithful with what He had entrusted to us, but not to show off ourselves or to save our own “face”. Rev. Wu mentioned a few points, such as nurturing Christians, educating the children, and taking care of ourselves. All of these were being faithful to God for the sake of the gospel. Being loyal to God was not to expect any reward, for God himself was worthy of our love.
In addition to being faithful, Jesus reminded us to be wise. Because the master had put us in charge of the servants in his household to provide spiritual food at the proper time. The pastor advised, “Although we can’t meet face to face now, we can spend time memorizing God’s words instead of online chatting or swiping TikTok when we feel bored. By sharing what you have learned with those around you, those who listen and who share will both benefit.“
On April 15, Rev. Yang Yongchun preached an virtual sermon on Good Friday, citing Matthew 27:45-46.
"Today is the day to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus. On this day more than 2,000 years ago, the Lord Jesus faced a long trial and extremely cruel punishment, whipping, torture, ridicule, and insult. Being exhausted, he carried a heavy cross to Golgotha."
When Jesus Christ was crucified, he suffered the most extreme physical pain and was forsaken by God the Father. The reason why Jesus suffered, shed blood and sacrificed was to bear our sins and pains, so that we could be freed from the bondage of sins and chosen by God to live in Him precisely because of what Jesus had paid for us on the cross.
"Now that Jesus has died for me, who am I living for now? What is the purpose of hustling every day? Is it really meaningful to work hard in Christ?" Rev. Yang asked.
On April 16, the seventh day of the Holy Week, Pastor Guo Jinfeng shared a sermon with the title Practice of Observing Sabbath, citing Matthew 27:57-66.
Guo stated that two important events happened on Holy Sabbath were the burial of Jesus and the guard at the tomb. He introduced that the key figures and even the disciples of Jesus Christ did not believe in His resurrection. Today we are different from the Jews of that time since we have a biblical record of what happened. "Today do we believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and His last words on the cross?"
Guo mentioned two things that believers should believe. The first was what had happened 2000 years ago. The second was whether we would have eternal life. If we chose to believe, then we chose to do what pleased God. For this reason, the pastor reminded us that "every day of our current life should be a preparation day, during which we should be full of confidence to welcome Christ's resurrection".
On April 17, the church hosted three online services to commemorate the Resurrection of the Lord on Easter Sunday. Rev. Yang Yongchun led the third service in the evening with the title The Power of Resurrection. Based on Matthew 28:1-9, he shared about that the power of Christ's resurrection gave people a living hope, love, redemption and eternal life.
"That Jesus was risen from the dead tells us that there will never be despair in Jesus Christ. Even when human beings see it as hopeless, the resurrected Lord still gives people hope of victory in the darkness of death." Rev. Yang shared that Jesus has not only been risen but also was walking with each of His children who believed in him.
Easter told us that as long as we were willing to come to Jesus to repent, we could be forgiven and saved by Him, which brought us no hatred or punishment, but peace of mind and eternal life. We also needed to love those around us, to forgive those who had been or were offending us.
Yang declared that the first patriarchs Adam and Eve sinned, for which the chains of sins and the judgment in death closely followed our lives. The difficult situations, wars, jealousy and disputes we faced today were all caused by people's sins which would result in death. Death was not just end of life, but also referred to the separation of man from the Lord of eternal peace. The pastor said, "The real victory is not over one specific sin, but Jesus has freed us from curse of sin and death. In him, we can rely on the protection of His grace so that we no longer live under the curse of sin or death."
This day, we are living under the shroud of the COVID-19 pandemic, which people fear. Yet, the power of Christ's resurrection would be the ultimate support for people's lives. Despite death that everyone would finally face, it would not a painful and hopeless end for Christians. "The end of our flesh is a new beginning. It is a door that opens not to the terrible judgment and infernal torment, but to the heavenly home that Jesus has already prepared for us."
- Translated by Shuya Wang