2003 issue 51, 22 - 28 Dec 2003

bird - thinking

by Mickey Chiang

Women at Jesus’ Resurrection

Christmas has just been celebrated in many countries all over the world, even in countries like Japan and Wales , where less than 5% of the population are practising Christians.  But while we think Christmas is about the new life represented by the baby Jesus, the Magi [philosopher kings or “wise men”] who came from afar to visit him were thinking of his death.  For the gifts they brought, the frankincense, myrrh and gold, were they not things more often associated with funerals than births at that time?

Jesus came not to live as a human, but to die as one.  He died to save sinners of the world, like us.  Is that why the Bible is silent on how Jesus lived as a boy, a teenager and a young man?  Besides the one record of how he went missing at the age of 12 after a family pilgrimage to Jerusalem , can you think of any other childhood or boyhood story about Jesus in the Bible?  Or about Jesus as an adolescent or young man?

But what really caught my interest this Christmas is Jesus’ resurrection.  Who were on centre stage in the resurrection stories of the Bible?  Who were the first people to arrive at the tomb where Jesus’ body was laid?  Mark 16:1-3 says, “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.  Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb, and they asked each other, ‘Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?’”  

Obviously the large stone blocking the entrance of the tomb needed at least three strong men to move it [Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had moved the stone down an incline to shut the tomb, John 19:38-42, and it would take more than two men to move the stone up the incline].  So where were the men, the disciples of Jesus?  Why were they not there too?  My wife says, half in jest, that it is just like men to sleep late, whereas the women had to wake up early to make breakfast for the men.  But is it not more likely that the men were just too scared of being arrested?  After all, did not the chief priests, Pharisees and Pontius Pilate post guards at the tomb [Luke 23:62-65]?

What courage the women displayed!  They were at the tomb when Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus laid Jesus in the tomb.  Matthew 27:61, Mark 15:47 and Luke 23:55 testify to this.  And now they came back to the tomb bearing spices and perfume to anoint Jesus’ body.  Were women immune from arrest in those days?  Hmmm…

When or by the time the women arrived, there was an earthquake, and an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning [Mat 28:2&3].  . “The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men” [Mat 28:4].  Now this same angel spoke to the women. Though they were alarmed [Mark 16:5], did they faint? Don’t you admire the women’s guts?

They ran back to where the disciples were hiding and told them what had happened.  Now here’s the chance for the disciples to regain centre stage.  But did they?

Sadly, the answer is no, for “they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense” [Luke 24:11].  Only Peter and John acted on the startling news brought by the women, that the tomb was empty and an angel had told them that Jesus had gone ahead to Galilee.  The two men ran to the tomb.  But didn’t Peter and John blow their chance to take centre stage when they saw the burial cloths in the tomb and then went away doing nothing? 

Peter left wondering to himself what had happened [Luke 24:12].  Hey, didn’t the women tell him what had happened?  Was it because he could not believe what the women had told him and wanted some other explanation for what he saw? Only John saw and believed what the women had said.  Then he went back to his home, and did nothing too.

However, the women remained on centre stage.  For Mary Magdalene had run to the tomb with Peter and John!  Hey, how do we know this?  Because John 20:11 tells us, “Mary stood outside the tomb crying”.  Good for her, for “As she wept she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels seated where Jesus body had lain.  And they spoke kindly to her!  Then she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and he spoke to her.  Is that not centre stage, being where Jesus was?

Mary Magdalene went back to the disciples and told them Jesus was alive.  But, wait for this, “they did not believe her” [Mark 16:11]!  Poor, dejected, demoralized, foolish disciples… not wanting to believe, not even wanting to hope that Jesus was alive again.  And yet, in their dejection, demoralization, and foolishness, we ourselves can find hope.  The hope that though we too are like that, God can still make use of us, as He made use of them.  

CHAPEL NOTES

The Christmas Service on 17th December was led by Dr Quek. It was a three-part meditation focussing on "What Christmas Means..." Each meditation began with carols, followed by reading of relevant scriptures and interpretation.

The first meditation was on QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS! Note the attitude of Mary and Zechariah when they questioned Angel Gabriel following his announcement to each of them. The second meditation is on PEACE. We are reminded that one of the most precious gifts we can receive from God is PEACE. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. The last meditation was on JOY AND LOVE because the greatest gift that God has given us is Jesus.

Dr Quek will be our Chapel Speaker next Wednesday (31 Dec).

NEWS BITS

  1. Courses commencing in 2004. Do pray and consider registering for some courses which commence in Term 1:

  • New Testament Foundations I, video class (Dr Quek Swee Hwa/Dr Aquila Lee, commencing Feb 2, Mon)

  • The Christian Faith, video class (Dr Quek Swee Hwa, commencing Feb 9, Mon)

  • Biblical Hebrew Exegesis I (Dr Philip Satterthwaite, commencing Jan 12, Mon)

  • Qualitative Research & the Christian Ministry (Dr Ng Peh Cheng, commencing Feb 10, Tue)

  • The Use of Prayer in Worship (Rev Ng Seng Chuan, commencing Feb 4, Wed)

  • Counselling skills: Dealing with Crisis Situation (Mr Yam Keng Mun, commencing Feb 4, Wed)

  • Vocation, Work & Ministry, video class (Prof Paul Stevens/Dr John Lim, 
    commencing Feb 19, Thu. Note to BGST DipCS students: This is a required course.)

  • Issues in Spiritual Warfare (Rev Dr Mark Chan, commencing Feb 13, Fri)

  • New Testament Greek I, video class (Dr Quek Swee Hwa, commencing Feb 7, Sat)

  • Greek Exegesis I, video class (Dr Quek Swee Hwa, commencing Feb 7, Sat)

Intensive Courses by Rev Dr Douglas Milne:

  • Theological Foundations II, Jan 14-31 (Note to BGST MDiv students: This is a required course.)

  • Apologetics, Jan 16-30

  1. Dr Ng Peh Cheng will be speaking at The Singapore Baptist Church Sunday Service. The focus of the Service is on Christian Education.

  2. Prayer Request. Dr Wong Lea Choung is requesting for prayers for his father who has just been diagnosed with lung cancer.

  3. New Year’s Eve. Operating hours as usual ie. 9am - 6pm for offices and 9am - 9pm for Library.

Building fund on the 6  week is $502,834 as at 23 Dec 2003.

A BLESSED 
BIRTHDAY TO ...

Ms Kelly Kong 22/12

Ms Lim Sio Leng 23/12

Mr Tan Keok Hai 23/12

Ms Adelene Ho 23/12

Mr Beh Soo Yeong 24/12

Dr Chan Shaw Yan 24/12

Mr Jack Lim Choon Haw 24/12

Mrs Christina Ratnam 25/12

Mrs Rina Lai-Teo Wei Fang 26/12

Mrs Alison Ng 26/12

Mr Stephen Yung 26/12

Ms Kuah Leck Ping 28/12

Mr Lim Wei-en 28/12

BGST Council, Faculty & Staff

Wish all of you

A Joyful Christmas

&

A Blessed New Year!

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