Saturday, April 15, 2006
Easter, the holiest festival of Christians, which celebrate tomorrow (April 16). The word Easter signifies the east and thus the rising sun recalling the rising of Jesus from his tomb on the third day after his crucifixion. The news of the Resurrection rocked the city of Jerusalem, the Jewish priests calling it a hoax and the disciples proclaiming it a fact and an endorsement of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The orthodox Jews found a young rabbi, Saul, to assist them in rooting out this sect.
Thirty years later, the same man now called Paul, sat in a Roman prison writing to the Christian communities he had founded all over Asia Minor and Europe. He asserted that although they faced persecution and death, having put their trust in Jesus, they were heirs to eternal life. His famous quote, read at every Christian funeral followed. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is they victory? The white Easter lilies adorning the church altar during Easter proclaims this joy.
How did this persecutor turn into the greatest exponent of Christianity? En route to Damascus to arrest Christians, he was struck by a blinding light and heard a voice, Saul, why are you persecuting me?
"Who are you?" he asked.
I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. It was here that he received the commission to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone. Paul now began to preach the message of Christ wholeheartedly. His genius lay in taking the gospel beyond the world of Jews to the rest of the world, with the only requirement of faith in the risen Christ for eternal salvation. His missionary journeys to Asia Minor, Turkey, Macedonia and Greece were accompanied by stonings, imprisonments and near drowning. He went to Rome as a prisoner where after two years he was martyred. Awaiting trial, he wrote his immortal epistles to his churches. They reveal a man totally consumed by his faith in Jesus. The earliest surviving Christian documents, they form the major part of the New Testament of the Bible.