Bakit Kailangang Mamatay si Hesus?

The Cross and the CrownMaraming Hudeo noong unang siglo ang umaasam sa pagdating ng Mesias. Dahil sa hirap na nararanasan nila sa ilalim ng mga Romanong armi na mapang-aping sumakop sa kanila, sila ay nagdarasal sa Diyos na bigyan sila ng lider—isang lider na magtatagumpay laban sa mga Romanong armi at muling ibalik ang isang bansang Hudeo sa pagiging mayaman, makapangyarihan at isang bansang malaya. Nagdarasal sila na isang Mesias ang mangunguna sa kanila patungo sa kabutihan, dahil nangako ang Diyos na ibabalik ang kanilang kayamanan kapag sila ay bumalik na sa tamang landas.

Ang mga Hebreyong propeta ay inihayag na noon pa man na may lider na ganito ang darating, isang tagapagmana sa trono ng dakilang si Haring David. May mga propesiya pa nga na nagpapahiwatig na ang unang siglo ay siyang takdang panahon ng kanyang pagdating.

Kaya nang marinig ng mga tao si Hesus na nangangaral, at nang makita nila ang mga milagro, inasahan na nila na siya na nga ang katuparan ng propesiya. May taglay siyang banal na kapangyarihan. Siya ang mangangaral ng katuwiran, ang kampeon ng mga mahihirap, at nangangaral siya tungkol sa pagpapalaya ng mga inaapi. Kaya nga ipinagbunyi nila si Hesus bilang tinadhanang anak ni David, at sila ay naglatag ng mga sanga ng palma sa daan nang siya ay pumasok sa Herusalem isang araw ng tagsibol.

Pero sa loob lang ng isang linggo, ang inaasahan nilang lider ay patay na—itinakwil ng kanyang sariling kalahi, at pinatay ng mga Romano, nakalambitin upang bigyan ng kahihiyan at pagkukutya, kagaya ng ibang mga nagpanggap na lider na Mesias. Ang mga pangarap at pag-asa ng mga naniwala sa kanya ay pansamantalang nawasak. Pero nang ikatlong araw, si Hesus ay nabuhay na muli—bumangon sa kaluwalhatian, at umakyat sa langit. Siya talaga ang Pinahiran, ang Matuwid, ang Banal ng Israel, ang Mesias ng Diyos.

Ang kamangha-manghang milagro ng pagkabuhay muli, na nakita ng ilang daang testigo na siya ay buhay, ay nagpapatunay na siya na ngang talaga ang ipinangakong Mesias. Pero meron pa ring bagay na hindi maunawaan—bakit kailangan pang mamatay ang Mesias?

Sigurado, ang kanyang kamatayan ay nagpapatunay na siya ay hindi matuwid—hindi ba? Walang kaduda-duda na hindi pababayaan ng Diyos ang kanyang piniling lider na akusahan ng mali, siraang puri, kutyain hanggang sa patayin ng kaaway! Hindi ba? Ano ang halaga ng lider na namatay, umalis at hindi na masundan?

Ang mga Hebreyong propeta ay inihayag na noon pa man, na ang Mesias ay mamamatay, pero ang kanilang mga propesiya ay hindi naintindihan. Plano nang talaga ng Diyos na ang Mesias ay magdurusa at mamamatay alang-alang sa kanyang mga kababayan. Alam ng Diyos na ang pinakamalaking kaaway ay hindi ang mga Romano—kundi ang kamatayan na siyang resulta ng kasalanan. Ang kasalanan at kamatayan ay hindi nalulupig ng mga espada at mga sibat, kundi sa pamamagitan lamang ng hindi makatarungang kamatayan ng banal na Tagapagligtas. Sa pamamagitan lamang ng pampalubag-loob na kamatayan ni Hesus sa krus ang kasalanan ay mapapatawad; sa pamamagitan niya lamang tayo ay mabibigyan ng buhay na walang hanggan.

Si Hesus ay nagdala ng biyaya para sa buong mundo, hindi lamang para sa isang maliit na bansa sa silangang bahagi ng Romanong imperyo. Ibinigay niya ang regalo ng pagkamatuwid at buhay na walang hanggan. Iyan ang dahilan kung bakit ang Mesias ay kailangang mamatay. “Kung ang pagiging-matuwid ay sa pamamagitan ng kautusan, si Cristo ay namatay ng walang-kabuluhan!” (Galatians 2:21). Ang pagkamatuwid ay hindi nakakamtan sa pamamagitan ng batas. Walang gaano pa man karaming seremonyas o pagtupad sa batas ang makakapagbayad sa katotohanang tayo ay nakalabag na sa batas at nasa ilalim na ng nararapat na parusa.

Si Hesus ay isang mangangaral ng pagkamatuwid, pero hindi niya niligtas ang bansa sa pamamagitan ng kanyang mga pangaral, kahit na siya ay perpekto. Iniligtas niya ang bansa—at mga tao sa lahat ng mga bansa—sa pamamagitan ng kanyang kamatayan at pagkabuhay na muli.Siya ay isinumpa ng batas ng Hudeo at Romano at tinanggap niya ang sumpa ng batas ng bibliya (Galatians 3:13), pero dinala niya ang regalo ng pagkamatuwid at buhay na walang hanggan sa lahat ng mga naniniwala sa kanya.

Ang hukbong sandatahan ng mga Romano ay matagal nang nawala. Sa darating na panahon ang ating mga pagdurusa ay mawawala na rin. Kailangan nating tumanaw sa hinaharap hindi lang sa ngayon at ating unawain na ang ating pinaka-kaaway ay ang kasalanan at kamatayan. Kailangan natin ang Mesias na siyang lumupig sa kaaway, at siyang magbibigay sa atin ng tagumpay laban sa kaaway. Ang Diyos ay nagbigay sa atin ng pinaka-karapatdapat na lider na kailangan natin—si Hesus, ang Mesias na namatay at nabuhay muli para sa buong mundo!

A Filipino traslation of “Why the Messiah Had to Die.”

Turning Around the Local Church

leadingbookWhy are some churches declining in attendance? Why are some churches about to close shop? Why do some church members resist the changes being implemented by their pastors? These are current realities which pastors and church leaders face today. I attended a seminar in Cagayan de Oro back in December 2003 conducted by Gene Wood, author of the book Leading Turnaround Churches and he gave some interesting observations. His book discusses issues in the local church setting especially dealing with congregations which are declining, decaying or about to “die a natural death,” as some would say.

Becoming A Healthy Local Church

In his research in the United States, he observed that many local churches have either plateaued or are declining in attendance and are in danger of closing shop altogether. During his seminar, he gave principles and ideas on turning around the local church to become healthy and vibrant back again. In my personal observation here in the Philippines, I would say that there are also local churches that have plateaued or are declining in attendance. I could be wrong but that’s just my own observation.

Pastors: Targets of Criticism

In his book, Gene Wood discussed what the turnaround leader ought to do, things to avoid, and other ideas in leading the church back to good health. He warned turnaround leaders that as a “change agent” in the local church, they are like lightning rods—they are very attractive targets for criticism, blame, ridicule and intense antagonism. “People are not against you. They are for themselves,” he said.

Power Struggle in the Local Church

genelenGene Wood also discusses in chapter 4 of his book that “95% of all serious problems in the church stem from power struggle.” “The question in a power struggle is, who will lead and who will leave?” Each local church is different from one another. Intense conflict and resistance are sometimes to be expected if you want to implement change in the local church.

Who will Lead the Local Church?

Who will determine the direction of the church? This is the underlying issue in power struggles, Gene Wood wrote. “Almost every struggling church has at least one dysfunctional bully…” and the senior pastor frequently finds himself pitted against this church bully, Gene Wood adds. Instead of moving forward, the pastor finds himself busy with putting out little fires and mending fences. Progress comes to a halt. “The ‘issues’ are never the issue. The underlying question is, who will lead.” That is the crux of the problem. Being a change agent, a turnaround leader/pastor can sometimes move church members away from their comfort zones and they will resist the senior pastor/turnaround leader.

These are just a few thoughts found in the book. You can get a copy of this book by clicking this link.

Distorting Scripture

old veteran

Talking about the Apostle Paul who was a very educated man, the Apostle Peter said that some uninformed people during their days were distorting Paul’s letters in the same way that they were distorting Scripture (2 Peter 3:16). So it is today. People today continue to distort what the Bible is truly saying. Here is one example of how people are distorting Scripture today.

Example of Distorting Scripture: 3 John 2

Some people quote 3 John 2 which says in the King James Version: “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”

Many believers claim this as a sure guaranteea promise from God for Christians to be always prosperous and to be always in good health for the rest of their lives. “Just have faith and you will have it,” they would say. “Name it and claim it,” some would say. Or, “declare it” and it’s yours—it will happen. But what does 3 John 2 really mean?

Getting the Context

Well, let us get the context. As a piece of literature, what is 3 John 2? What is its literary context? What kind of literature is it? Did the Apostle John write a song like Psalms? Did he write a historical narrative like maybe the Chronicles, Matthew or Acts? Or did he write a poem or a letter? Well, some do not know it but 3rd John is actually a letter—an epistle—just like most of the Apostle Paul’s writings are letters!

As a piece of literature, it is obviously a letter—definitely not a song, a poem or a historical narrative—and that has a lot to do with how this part of Scripture should be interpreted! By just figuring out that its literary context is that of a letter, we are able to interpret more properly and more accurately.

Greetings Not Promise!

While there maybe some slight differences in the way letters are written today compared to centuries ago, but don’t we begin our letters with some kind of greetings? And what is 3 John 2 in a letter? Of course a greeting! The elderly apostle John was writing to a certain Gaius and he began with some greetings! With this literary context and background in mind—that 3 John 2 is the introductory part (a greeting) of the Apostle John’s letter to a certain Gaius—a more accurate interpretation should come out which should be most faithful to Scripture. We should not therefore interpret this part of a letter as a sure promise from God. It is simply a greeting!

Elisha the prophet died of sickness

Let’s not forget that some righteous men of God were allowed by God to die from sickness even though they themselves healed others (2 Kings 13:14, 20-21). Others were allowed by God to die a martyr’s death. Yes, it true—it is God’s desire (as John also wrote) that we will prosper and be in health but in God’s infinite wisdom, sometimes he allows us to get sick and die of it too.

To be faithful to this part of Scripture in 3 John 2—following its literary context—it should be interpreted as a mere greeting and not a promise from God. Let us not preach false hopes and misuse this part of Scripture in 3 John 2.

More Accurate Interpretation

To interpret 3 John 2 as saying that God guarantees good health and prosperity (“health and wealth gospel” or “prosperity gospel”) for believers throughout their lives, all of the time, is to distort Scripture.

That’s not what it says if we follow its context. People who misuse this part of Scripture need to find some other proof text but not this one. They need to find other parts of Scripture because they cannot in all honesty and with faithfulness to this part of 3 John, use it to support their belief.

A Text Without Context is Pretext

It is therefore important for us to learn something about the various contexts in the Bible like: historical, grammatical, literary, cultural and other contexts. With Jesus Christ as our lens, our criterion and our basis in interpreting Scripture, through the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit (John 16:13), and learning something about the various contexts in the Bible, we will hopefully be led to a better understanding and appreciation of God’s Word, the Bible.