The Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Rt. Rev. Prof. Joseph Obiri Yeboah has shared lessons he deems important as Christians across the country celebrate Easter.
Among the lessons he highlights in his Easter message are eschewing greed, forgiveness and embracing sacrifices.
My Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
For us as Christians Easter is a very special season, as we remember and reenact the most significant event in the salvation history of God during this period.
The Easter season itself is divided into four major parts, namely:
The period of identifying with the sufferings of Christ, which goes through the forty days of lent including Passion Week. This is a period of serious reflection and prayer and that is why every Christian must have holy anger against the commercialization of the Passion Week in our country or in any other part of the world. It is a solemn moment for we Christians. To turn the passion week into party events is an insult to the Christian faith;
The period of appreciating the atonement, which happens on Good Friday;
The period of conquering of death and evil forces which happens on Holy Saturday? In the Apostles’ Creed, we call it the Descent into hell; actually, this is also coterminous with the Good Friday event; and
The period of complete triumph and hope which happens on Easter Sunday when we celebrate the actual resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
There are several lessons that we can learn from the Easter event but I wish to draw our attention to a few of them this year:
The Problem of Greed: we all seem to blame Judas for the death of Jesus so much so that most people will not dare name their children as Judas, thinking that Judas is the most wicked person in the world. But we must note that through the story of Judas, God wants to teach us that greed is the number one destroyer of life and of communities in this world. Judas was a disciple, the treasurer of the disciples. Yet he wanted more money than the community of the beloved. So he betrayed his master for money. According to Luke 22:1-6, Judas went to the Chief Priests and Officers and transacted business with the life of Jesus. The people were delighted with the business transaction and agreed to give Judas money. This has been the greatest problem throughout all generations. People always want more money than the beloved community. In as much as money can do good things, greed is a spiritual killer disease. It can make you betray your good friends; greed will destroy any good community. In our Christian growth let us eschew any form of greed. Let us exorcise greed anywhere we find it, whether in the church or in government or at the workplace or in the palace. Greed is a spiritual and moral killer disease.
The Problem of Envy. From a socio-political perspective, Jesus was killed because of envy. Even the Governor Pilate realized this, as it is written in Matt. 27:18, “for he knew that it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him”. Because of his preaching, teaching and healing, several people followed him instead of the people in authority. It got worse when he raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:45-48). Jesus was getting too much attention and was becoming too famous to the dislike of the powers that be. So they had to bring him down. Some of them like Nicodemus knew that Jesus could only do what he did only if God was with him (John 3:2). But for others, although they agreed with Nicodemus, yet Jesus was becoming too famous, more famous than them so they had to get rid of him. That is sad but unfortunately, we have several people in our churches, church leadership and in our societies who are still killing Jesus because of envy. They can really see the hand of God in another person but because of envy they wish that person were not alive. There are people who just do not know how to celebrate other good people. Their modus operandi is either they are the center of attraction or every conversation must halt. So they bring everybody down in their conversation. If they are in one political party, everything that the other political party does must be wrong, even if it is excellent. Once a good idea does not come from them, it must be branded as wrong. This pull him down spirit is an evil spirit that must be exorcised wherever it is found. No nation can progress in an atmosphere of envy. Let’s get rid of that evil spirit from our families, churches, communities and from our nation.
The Question of Sacrifice and Suffering: Easter teaches us that no great thing is achieved without some sacrifice/suffering. If you see any family or community or nation that is enjoying now, it is usually because someone or some people sacrificed and suffered some time ago. For a community or church or nation to progress, somebody or some people must be willing to sacrifice and suffer now. Several church leaders and political leaders must learn this basic principle of life — No Cross no crown. The crown may not just be your heavenly crown in future, but also the glory that your children or community may share in the future.
The Question of Denial: Peter denied Jesus three times, even in front of a young lady. There could be several reasons why Peter denied Jesus but let us never forget the homiletical reasons that he followed Jesus at that time at a distance, and also he was sitting by outside with scoffers (Luke 22:54-56). Let’s be careful how we follow Jesus at a distance and also which group of people we surround ourselves with. To follow Jesus at a distance is to have a lukewarm fellowship with him — Loving him but not too seriously. Watch people who have lost their enthusiasm for Jesus and it is usually because they are walking at a far away distance from Jesus or they are hanging out with the wrong crowd. Psalm 1 tells us to be very careful of the crowd we hang around with. It says: “Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly nor stands in the way of sinners nor sits in the seat of scoffers, but his delight is in the law of the Lord and in His law, he meditates day and night”. St. Paul knew this when he said, “bad company corrupts good morals”.
The Divine Exchange/The Atonement: Good Friday is the greatest event ever in the history of humankind. It is the great day of Atonement for humanity. It teaches us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Christ suffered and died to redeem all of humankind from the penalty and sting of sin. In Christ we are thoroughly forgiven; we are thoroughly washed from the stains of our sin; we are now forever covered by the blood of Calvary. This blood never loses its power. It has saved thousands of people and it can save you too. Don’t let this Easter pass you by. This is the Christian gospel; it is foolishness to the wise but it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes. “Mmobrohunu Nyame gyaa me, …”. Kristo mogya ne ne trenee…” No condemnation now I dread, Jesus and all in Him is mine ..”.
Forgiveness is the greatest medicine: Jesus said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”. Our inability to forgive other people is a destructive force in all relationships. Marriages and communities are tearing apart because of this lack of forgiveness. An unforgiving spirit is a serious bondage from which we must be set free. Let us pray for the grace to forgive others. Let us look at the lives of great people like Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela who really understood the power of forgiveness. Forgiveness is the greatest builder of relationships.
Finally, Easter teaches us about the importance of hope and victory: God is on the side of hope. We should therefore never lose hope in life. No one should ever give up on hope for even in the presence of death, there is the resurrection. Never say die even when the bones are rotten. At the tail end of the tunnel, there is always light. One of the greatest sins as far as the Bible is concerned is to give up on hope. Never ever give up on life. The God of the Bible is the God of hope, the God of second chance, the God who makes dry bones live again. A nation that believes in God, a church that believes in God, a family that believes in God, an individual that believes in God should never give up on hope, nil disperandum. Hope is the force that drives faith. By faith the people of old were able to attain great things. Let us keep believing and keep hoping for it is useless to despair when hope is an option.
May the God of Easter guide all of us through this period and may we know Him better by the time Easter is over. May our Church and our nation continue to hope in God and never give up. So keep moving, my brothers and sisters. If you can’t fly, run; if you can’t run, walk; if you can’t walk, crawl. What you should never do is to just sit there in despair for Easter tells us that it is only when it is dark enough can we see the stars. May the God of Easter who is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, spark and inspire hope and faith in all of us so that we will all live for His glory. Amen and God bless you.
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