This week, many are eagerly gearing up for Easter Sunday. People who never go to church any other time of the year will show up on Sunday. There will be ham dinners with family afterwards along with colored eggs and Easter baskets for the children. I’m a Christian who doesn’t adhere to any liturgical calendar. Every day in the Lord is the same to me. Millions of people will commemorate Christ’s resurrection on Easter all over the world although the vast majority have not accepted Him as Savior. Jesus and Easter are part of their cultural, religious heritage but they have no saving relationship with Christ. They don’t see themselves as sinners without a plea and haven’t reached out in faith to the Savior who died for them. If pressed they would probably say they’re basically “good” people who deserve to go to Heaven. As Christians, let’s use the opportunity of Easter to tell our friends and family about the resurrection of our Savior and the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
Centuries ago, many Roman Catholics practiced severe forms of self-mortification including self-flagellation, wearing hair shirts and cilices, sleep deprivation, etc. Self-mortification was an act of penance; pain and sufferings were offered up to God as reparations for sin. The cobblestone streets of medieval Europe were often stained with the blood of Catholic flagellant sects. The practice peaked during “Holy Week,” especially on Good Friday. Extreme forms of self-mortification have generally lost favor, although pope John Paul II was known to have whipped himself with a belt regularly as a “spiritual discipline.” Self-flagellation is still very much alive in pockets of Catholic culture. Flagellants stage processions in Mexico and the Philippines during Holy Week. Every year on Good Friday in the Philippines there are Catholic men who have themselves nailed to crosses in imitation of Jesus (see reports below).
God’s Word talks about fasting and denying fleshly desires but nowhere in the Bible are believers instructed to harm themselves. Pain inducing, self-mutilation has its roots in pagan worship:
“At noon Elijah began to taunt (the prophets of Baal). “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely (Baal) is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed.” – 1 Kings 18:27-28
I’m so thankful for my Savior. He paid the COMPLETE penalty for our sins on that cross on Calvary. And He rose from the grave conquering sin and death. All we must do is accept Him as Savior. Inflicting pain upon yourself won’t save. Sacraments and church membership won’t save. Going to church once in a while or even every Sunday won’t save. Only the blood of Jesus Christ, shed once for all time on Calvary, has power to save. Our own blood and efforts are powerless. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith today and ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that preaches God’s Word without compromise.
“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” – John 1: 12-13
Filipinos flagellate, crucify themselves in Holy Week ritual
Acts of love, not pain, make this week holy