Skip to content

Month: April 2021

Lenten Reflections 2021: The Purpose of the Cross and Good Works

Image by Rodnae productions at Pexels

@johnvinod | April 3, 2021

Today’s reading is from Titus 2: 11-15. On this holy or silent Saturday, as we somberly reflect on the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, I am constrained to suggest its implications for us today. This passage is from the Apostle Paul’s brief pastoral letter to young Titus. This young pastor was faced with several challenges in his walk with Christ as well as in his ministry. He met opposition from within and from the outside. The Apostle Paul’s encouragement and instructions to Titus are drawn from the death of Jesus Christ. He instructs us how to live as the followers of Christ today.

Paul writes,

“while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2: 13-14).

Paul unmistakably paints a picture of the purpose of the death of Christ on the cross. Through Jesus’ death, he has not only redeemed us from all our sins, but also purified/sanctified us for himself as a holy people. However, I want us to focus today only on the concluding part of the sentence. What is the purpose of God in achieving this through the death on the cross? The purpose is to make us passionate for good deeds or works!

Yes, the grace saves us, but we are also saved for good works, as Paul said in Ephesian 2: 8-10. We, who claim to know God, understand him from what he has done for us. Through what Jesus did on the cross, he demonstrated his zeal for the Father’s honor and mission on earth.

In the same manner, the cross should inspire us to work in such a way that God would be known to those around us by what we do and not just by what we believe or preach. The purpose of God in saving us through the cross of Christ is not to rush through this life for that “pie in the sky” when we die. Rather, his purpose is to make us workers for his Kingdom. That is why when Jesus called his disciples, he made it clear to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4: 19). The cross must not only provoke the zeal, but may it also inspire us to do good, even though death confront us in the path of doing good works for the Master!

In our contemporary culture of comfort, ease, and outsourcing everything to others, there is little fruit in the vineyard of God in many places. We frequently meet spent ministers and barren churches. The need of the hour is to recognize that Jesus Christ did not die on the cross to make us comfortable in the lofty theology of our individualistic redemption and the holier-than-thou denominationalized purity. Instead, let us refocus our gaze upon the cross to make us fervent for the good works of his Kingdom. Being complacent or becoming “at ease in Zion” or to “feel secure on the mountain of Samaria” (Amos 6:1), are unbecoming of the cross of Christ. Therefore, while you and I still enjoy peace, health, and wealth, let the cross motivate us to go and work with zeal in his vineyard. Amen.

For a paperback, please contact

Leave a Comment

Lenten Reflections 2021: What Can an Unnamed Soldier Teach Us?

Photo by Slices of Light on Flickr

@johnvinod | April 2, 2021

Let us read Matthew 27: 45-54. In the account of the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ, there are so many people, aspects, and incidents in a matter of just a few hours. One could spend a lifetime studying these particulars, meditating, and learning from them. However, for me, one remarkable character who stands out on the Calvary hill is the unnamed Roman centurion. Why so? It is due to his confessional statement, “Truly this man was God’s Son!” (Matthew 27: 54 NRSV), or “Truly this was the Son of God!” (ESV). This extraordinary confession comes under circumstances like no other.

A Roman centurion was in command of about one hundred soldiers. He must have been an experienced soldier, a responsible man with authority, who was well trained and well paid. He appears to be the supervisor of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ along with two other small-time criminals, making sure the job was done right and on time.

Therefore, let us consider how the Roman centurion confessed faith in Jesus Christ. Most of the disciples had abandoned Jesus. They went into hiding for fear of the Romans and the Jewish religious authorities. It was only after the resurrection of Jesus Christ that they begin to gradually come out in the open and trusted his claims. The resurrected messiah appeared to the disciples in his glorious body, defying gravity and the laws of nature, making it easier to put faith and follow him. But the centurion confessed before the resurrection.

The centurion keenly studied everything about Jesus since morning. He must have wondered about everything Jesus said and did; and also, all that he did not say or do even when provoked. He must have witnessed many people die, but none died like Jesus. He must have pondered who was this man on the cross. He must have wondered if the forgiveness Jesus offered before he breathed his last was still available to him, for the centurion truly did not know what he was doing that day. Finally, “when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way [Jesus] breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15: 39 ESV).

Let us consider the scenario:

When on a small hill, where no one ever wanted to be, he noticed a frail man, almost naked, completely bruised and forgiving others, the centurion confessed his divinity.

When everyone laughed shaking their head reading the plaque with an indictment placed above the head of Jesus’ cross, the centurion confessed his divinity.

When Jesus cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”, the centurion confessed his divinity.

When Jesus died on the cross, as a helpless man rejected and condemned by everyone, the centurion confessed his divinity.

When Jesus truly was a picture-perfect representation of a prophecy of the Prophet Isaiah; knowing not of this prophecy, the centurion confessed his divinity.

He had no form or majesty that we should look at him,

    and no beauty that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by men,

    a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;

and as one from whom men hide their faces

    he was despised, and we esteemed him not (Isaiah 53: 2b -3 ESV).

When Jesus Christ had just breathed his last, right in front of the centurion, with a prayer on his parched lips, the centurion confessed his divinity.

When almost naked, listless body of Jesus was dangling from the cross, a symbol of shame and curse, the centurion confessed his divinity.

When he saw the midday sky turn dark, and witnessed his world enveloped in thickening gloom, the centurion confessed Jesus’ divinity.  

When he did not know any claims about his resurrection, the centurion confessed Jesus’ divinity.

When the resurrection had not yet occurred, the centurion confessed Jesus’ divinity.

In the contemporary culture, where people like and follow the rising stars, popular preachers, celebrity pastors, published authors, tenured professors, narcissistic politicians, and suchlike; Jesus Christ counters it all by his barbaric death on the cross. However, the centurion advises us today to examine our motives, faith, confessions, creeds, and the spiritual inclinations. May we stand in rapt silence contemplating the mystery of the death of Jesus Christ, as the centurion did over 2000 years ago. And may we, too, follow the humble, humiliated, suffering, crucified Son of God; even when it goes against the trends of our culture. Amen.

For a paperback contact:

Leave a Comment

Lenten Reflections 2021: Your Gethsemane Does Not Define You

Image ny JuiMagicman from Pixabay

@johnvinod | April 1, 2021

Our reading today is Mark 14: 32-42. After spending a significant time with his disciples, eating the Passover meal, teaching, and demonstrating by his actions what it means to follow him, Jesus leaves for the Mount of Olives. He leaves the familiarity, comfort, and warmth of the upper room behind him and walks into the specters of a dark, uncertain, fateful night where he will fight his last battle in Gethsemane. In doing so he once again symbolized what he had done initially: “who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross” (Philippians 2: 6-8).

Jesus wrestled alone in Gethsemane. These are some of the words the gospels writers use attempting to describe Jesus’ inner struggle that night:

“distressed and agitated”

“grieved and agitated”

“greatly distressed and troubled”

“deeply distressed and horrified”

“sore amazed, and to be very heavy”

“deeply grieved, even to death”

“very sorrowful, even to death”

“overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death”

“exceedingly sorrowful, even to death”

These terms do not even begin to express what Jesus endured that night, as he was filled with distress and horror and felt very heavy with the burden that he had to carry all alone. There is actually more involved here than we would ever come to know, because of the limitations of our language in expressing the experience of our Saviour.

Jesus got up several times from the cold, grassy ground and looked for his disciples to share his agony. However, when he much needed their companionship, comfort, and prayers, the disciples were found sleeping. So, he went back again to wrestling alone with his “Abba Father” (Mark 14: 36) being anguished from what was to unfold in the next few hours. Receiving no answer from God for his request, Jesus prayed saying, “Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14: 36). In this, Jesus taught us the difference between a request and a prayer. Being fully human, Jesus’ request was: “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me.” But his prayer was: “Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14: 36 ESV).

Do you recall a time when you thought you were going to fail a test or succumb to a temptation? Are you in a situation where you think you are shrinking from your faith and wish to give up everything and walk away from God? Well, you are not alone. Jesus endured what you may be facing now and more. Jesus Christ was never more human than in Gethsemane. However, that was not the end of his story.

Your current experience does not mean you are too weak to overcome. Your temptations and even your failures do not mean there is anything wrong with you. Your Gethsemane does not define you as it did not define our Lord Jesus Christ. Keep walking in the faith, following, trusting, and surrendering to his will. Amen.

For a paperback, please contact:

Leave a Comment

You have successfully subscribed to our blog. Thank you!

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

You agree to receive posts and updates from this site through the above email Id.