- Pr Herna Kong (ORPC)
'The Glory of the Cross' - 2023 EP Holy Week Convention
2023 EP Holy Week Convention at the EXPO
As the COVID-19 safety measures have been relaxed, we were able to resume our Good Friday service (7 Apr) on site at the Expo! Praise the Lord that all 16 Presbyterian churches under the English Presbytery could gather together as one big family once again, to commemorate the sacrificial death of our Lord, Jesus Christ. The attendance at this service was 3,500.
We thank True Way Presbyterian Church – English Congregation (TWPC-EC) for hosting the first 2 days of the 3-day convention (5 and 6 April). The total attendance for these 2 days combined was 960. In addition, a total of 5,499 people participated in this 3-day convention online.
Our heartfelt thanks also go to the worship teams from All Saints Presbyterian Church (ASPC), Bethany Presbyterian Church (BPC), and TWPC-EC who led us in worship, preparing our hearts to receive God’s Word.
The children attended the Good Friday service together with their parents. Brother Gerard Su delivered a sermonette for the children entitled Why Must Jesus Die on a Cross? The cross was a symbol of shame during the Roman Empire. Jesus had to endure the most shameful of deaths before he could be fully glorified in His resurrection. At the close of his sermonette, Gerard engaged the children by asking them to form a cross from the toy puzzle in the goody bag that had been given to them. Besides this toy puzzle, the goody bag also contained two ODB (Our Daily Bread) devotional booklets Give Us This Day – Our Daily Bread for Family and Kids and Answer Your Big Questions about Good Friday and Easter, as well as a worksheet that was tied to the sermon for the adults.
Rev Dr Edwin Tay, the principal of Trinity Theological College (TTC), delivered a three-sermon series entitled The Glory of the Cross. What glory is there in the cross? The cross was an instrument for execution used by the Romans. In fact, crucifixion was such a horrifying means of execution that no Roman was subject to it. Yet, this symbol of pain, shame and horror has become the key symbol of the Christian faith. John chapters 17 to 19 expound on this clearly.
The Cross Revealed (John 17)
Jesus’ prayer for the Father to glorify Him in John 17 reveals to us what the cross is all about. There are three important points here that warrant our attention:
1. The Hour Has Come.
Jesus said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify You” (v.1). “The hour has come” shows Jesus’ sovereignty—His death on the cross did not catch Him by surprise but He had anticipated it in His life and ministry. God had already appointed Jesus to die as a sacrifice for the sins of the world.
2. The Glory of the Son
“Glorify Your Son that the Son may glorify You.” This astounding statement shows the sharing of an eternal identity between Jesus and God. In His incarnation, Jesus did not give up His deity. Instead, we see His humility! We see someone who was willing to put aside all the trappings of what it means to be God in order to reach out to us. This is glorious.
3. The Love of the Father
“Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, may be with Me where I am, to see My glory that You have given Me because You loved Me before the foundation of the world” (v.24).
This statement of Jesus shows that the love between the Father and the Son is eternal and it is expressed in the language of giving. And this eternal love of the Father does not stop with the Son but overflows to the world through the Son so that those who believe in Jesus may be with where Jesus is as John has mentioned previously in 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” This is the love in which nothing greater can be conceived. It is a love that saves us from sin and death and Satan to make us the children of God.
The Way of the Cross (John 18)
After the cross has been revealed, John proceeds to tell us the crux of Jesus’ mission which is the way of the cross. It was a way of humiliation and suffering; Jesus was despised, betrayed, denied and crucified. Through these, God indeed shows the glory of Christ—He is the light in the darkness. As John puts it at the beginning of his Gospel, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5).
Through Jesus’ suffering and humiliation,
1. Jesus’ identity was revealed.
When Jesus said, “I AM He” (v.5), the soldiers drew back and fell to the ground. “I AM” is the name of God, which means God is without origin or end. He is an everlasting God. On hearing this name, the soldiers fell to the ground in the presence of the great I AM, Jesus Christ. They felt the power of the glory of Christ.
2. God’s Word was fulfilled.
The soldiers obeyed Jesus’ words. Jesus answered, “I told you that I am He. So, if you seek Me, let these men go” (v.8). This was indeed the fulfilment of Jesus’ words: “This was to fulfil the word that He (Jesus) had spoken”—“Of those of whom You gave Me I have lost not one” (v.9, cf, John 17:12). Jesus is the Lord who is in charge.
3. The purpose of the cross was achieved.
Jesus said to Peter, “... shall I not drink the cup the Father has given Me?” (v.11). The cup refers to the judgement of a holy God on the sins of man. Jesus drank this cup so that the judgement of God will not fall on us but on Him. This was the purpose of His suffering—for the salvation of the world.
The Cross Raised (John 19)
Finally, John brings us to the very nerve-centre of sin bearing—the crucifixion.
Jesus said, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to Myself” (John 12:32). The cross raised is not a sign of defeat. It is indeed Jesus’ elevation as King because He has conquered the enemies that prevent people from being drawn into His kingdom. When He cried out, “It is finished!” (v.30), it was not a moan of one who had been defeated. It was not a sigh of resignation. It was a cry of victory, as He had accomplished the plan of God for the salvation of the world! The accomplishments are — the guilt of our sin has been dealt with; Satan has been defeated; and death has been destroyed. Jesus the King, who offered His life as God’s sinless Lamb, has won.
How should we respond? The two characters mentioned in the concluding verses of John 19 give us the answer:
1. We should be loyal to Jesus, like Joseph of Arimathea was.
2. We should believe in Jesus, like Nicodemus did.
Both Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus stood by Jesus, and honoured Him publicly.
If you have yet to believe in Jesus, what is your response, as you survey the cross of Christ? Consider what John says, “but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).
All recordings of the EP Holy Week Convention services held from 5-7 April 2023 can be accessed from the Convention website: