Coronation and Crucifixion

During our visit to the Coptic Museum in old Cairo, we came across an 18th century Akhmim style coptic painting that was displayed. It was the painting of Jesus entering Jerusalem as a king, but what caught my attention was that in the description of the artifact, it was written, “On the reverse: the Crucifixion”. The artist had painted the coronation of Jesus Christ as king as he entered Jerusalem and in the reverse painted the Crucifixion, which I first felt amusing. But a little ponderance over this painting quickly surfaced to mind a hidden truth in this art piece.

Jesus entered as a king into the earthly Jerusalem (John 12:12-13) but he entered into the heavenly Jerusalem (Revelation 21) as KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS (Revelation 19:16) because He willingly offered to die a death on the Cross to pay our ransom and redeem us from death. The Coronation and Crucifixion of Jesus go hand in hand, like two sides of the same coin (or should I say, the same painting).

Points to ponder:
In order for Jesus to be the King of your life, you must first recognize him as your King who was Crucified and raised from the dead by the commandment of God, to be the King of kings and Lord of lords over all.

I can’t wait to die … said my son!

After our visit to the churches of various martyrs in old Cairo in Egypt, on our way back to the hotel, our beloved five year old son Reuben, engaged us in conversation, as my loving wife explained to him that some of these Christians chose to deny their life for their faith.

Reuben had a plethora of questions such as,  “What happens after death?”, “Does one become an angel?”, “Can angels appear and disappear on earth at will?”, and many more. Trying to explain the concept of being absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8) in glorified heavenly bodies to a five year old was a little challenging, but using scriptural texts, my wife and I struggled to quench Reuben’s inquisitiveness. I said, when one dies before the coming of Jesus Christ, at his coming, the dead shall rise and those who are still alive, who believe in Him as their Lord and Savior, will be caught up and transformed (1 Corinthians 15:40-44, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). For simplicity sake, I answered that I am not sure if they will be transformed to angels, but in the glorified bodies, one can say that we would be heavenly beings like angels are. Regarding the appearing and disappearing on earth at will, if God wills, then they can, as was envisioned by Jacob in the dream (Genesis 28), or Joseph (Matthew 1), or Mary (Luke 1), or Daniel (Daniel) who all saw and some even communicated with angels.

Then Reuben asked me, “Dada, if you die, what will happen to you?” to which I responded, “Since I believe in Jesus Christ, I would go to be with Jesus as well, but when I get to meet him, I will request him to make me your angel for the Bible says that the little ones have angels in heaven who behold the face of God the Father (Matthew 18:10). Then Reuben asked, “Is your dad [who went to be with the Lord on September 30, 1986] an angel?” and questioned “What kind of angel is he; is he a warrior angel in Michael’s troops or a messenger angel in Gabriel’s troop?” to which I responded, I don’t know as my wife shared with him the life and sacrifices of his grandfather (Dr. R.A.C. Paul) for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the tribal hills of Orissa, India.

Then suddenly, Reuben said, “I can’t wait to die!” His expression first caught me off-guard and it brought in me a sense of sadness, but I quickly realized that Reuben was expressing in his own words, the very desire of Apostle Paul from Philippians 1:23. His expression taught me that I must also be like Reuben in my attitude of life. We must live with an expectation of being transformed into glorified bodies to be with Christ Jesus.

Renowned minister, Charles Spurgeon is attributed to have said, “There is an essential difference between the decease of the godly and the death of the ungodly. Death comes to the ungodly man as a penal infliction, but to the righteous as a summons to his Father’s palace. To the sinner it is an execution, to the saint an undressing from his sins and infirmities. Death to the wicked is the King of terrors. Death to the saint is the end of terrors, the commencement of glory.

To die as a saint (which comes solely by believing in Jesus Christ), either naturally or as a martyr, is the commencement of glory and as our son sagely put it, I chose to live life, each day, with an expectation of being with Jesus in a glorified state. I can’t wait to die! How about you?

Philippians 1:23 (KJV)
23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:

King Tutankhamun vs. King Jesus Christ

During our visit to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt, we spent hours looking at the ancient Pharonic antiquities and artifacts on display. One section of the museum is dedicated to housing the varied treasures of the boy king Tutankhamun aka king Tut. King Tut’s artifacts came from his tomb and included over 3500 treasures and affluent items that he supposedly used throughout his life. These artifacts ranged in items made of gold, silver, precious gems, calcite, alabaster, etc., such as golden perfume bottles and amulets, the Wadjet or eye of Horus, canonic chests and shrine, statue of an one horned Oryx, golden scarab necklace, golden buckle depicting a chariot drawn by horses, the gilded throne and statutes, including life-size statues (1 meter 73 cm) of King Tut. Additionally, two of the three sarcophagi in which king Tut was laid to rest as a mummy are on display, with the third outermost (not on display), made of complete gold and weighing 450 kilograms (over 990 pounds), resting today in the Valley of the Kings housing his mummy still. But the highlight of the museum (a must see to all who visit) is king Tut’s funerary mask, which was found placed over the mummified head of the king. It is made of gold and inlaid with precious stones (lapis lazuli, turquoise, and carnelian), weighing 11 kilograms (nearly 25 pounds) and is believed to represent what the king really look like. Suffice it to say, that the king certainly lived an extremely affluent life and an inscription on his tomb door declares the king had “spent his life in fashioning the images of the gods”.

After being flabbergasted by such opulence, my loving wife Sangeetha in levity remarked, “This king must have been a brat (given he was only about 19 when he died), for who in life (or death) really needs such luxuries. Such wealth seems to indicate that the king had subjects who served him and a good king is one who serves his subjects, not the other way round!” To this our beloved five year old son, Reuben questioned, “We must be nice to him, because he is a king, correct?” seeking my support.

Later on, as I pondered over this conversation, it struck me that I personally know of another king, The KING, King Jesus Christ, who in his birth and death was affirmed of his kingship. In his birth, the question was “Where is he who is born THE KING of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:2) and even in his death, a promulgation with an inscription on the Titulus, placed over of his head, on the Cross affirmed, that Jesus is King, King of the Jews as it read IESVS·NAZARENVS·REX·IVDÆORVM meaning Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews. (Mathew 27:37; Mark 15:26; Luke 23:38; John 19:19). But unlike king Tut, King Jesus Christ, gave up the riches of his glory (Philippians 4:19) to spend his life fashioning the image of his creation, and took the form of a servant in the likeness of man, making himself of no reputation (Philippians 2:6-8). Not only that, King Jesus Christ expressed that as a king, he had not come to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:28) and give his life as a ransom for many, and that my dear friends, makes not only a good King, but a GREAT King. Jesus Christ is the King of kings and the Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16) and I will leave you to ponder on the same question that our son asked, “We must be nice to him (Jesus), because he is a KING, correct?

Philippians 2:5-11 (KJV)
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Matthew 20:28 (NKJV)
28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” 

Revelation 19:16 (KJV)
16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS

A pyramidical mystery revealed

On our visit to the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, on December 20th, 2011, we were not only awe-struck by the sheer size of the pyramids but also spellbound at the thought that the most prized of all of God’s creation, man, could build such colossal and magnificient structures. On our camel and horse ride to the pyramids, our beloved five year old son, Reuben, asked our guide, Mahmoud, as to how the pyramids were built. Our guide’s response was “No one knows, it is a mystery.” I explained to Reuben that there are several theories that are said regarding the building of the pyramids, ranging from the more plausible Egyptians having techniques and technologies that are now lost to the modern world to the more speculative supernatural extraterrestrials who came to earth and built the pyramids, but no one knows for sure, it is a mystery. However, though the building of the pyramids is a mystery, the fact that remains is that it was built, because you can tangible see the engineering prowess of man.

As I reminisced on the inquisitiveness of my child, I realized that an even far greater (pyramidical) mystery is the one of the Son of God (Jesus Christ) becoming the Son of man so that the sons and daughters of men could become the sons and daughters of God. The Bible in the letter to the church at Ephesus records that God has blessed us with spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, for before the foundation of the world, he chose us to be holy and blameless before him in love (Ephesians 1:3-4). He not only chose us but predestinated us to be his children by adopting us (Ephesians 1:5). But with the fall of man from grace, on account of his own sinfulness, man rendered himself to be an unacceptable offering for adoption and made himself an enemy of God (James 4:4). But God in his bountiful mercy and abounding love, mysteriously sent forth to us Jesus, his only begotten Son,  (John 3:16) to be born of a virgin, conceived by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18), who died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). In the blood of Jesus is the mysterious redemption of God and forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of his grace (Ephesians 1:7). This is the mystery of God’s will made known (revealed) to man in Christ Jesus; a pyramidical mystery indeed (Ephesians 1:9).

Points to ponder:
Just as the physical presence of the Great Pyramids is a testament to the fact that these supersize structures were made, even though, how it was made remains a mystery, the Spiritual presence of the Great Providence in Jesus Christ is a testament to the fact that a supernatural provision of a Savior was made by God, even though how His righteousness is imputed on us by mere belief continues to remain a mystery. You and I were made to be holy and blameless and to have fellowship with God; all we have to do is put our trust in Jesus and BELIEVE in Him. Only in Jesus you see the tangible expression of God’s love.

Ephesians 1:3-9 (KJV)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:


True meaning of Christmas – You can sacrifice me!

As a family, my beloved wife Sangeetha, cherished son Reuben and I, got to spend 2011 Christmas in Egypt and were blessed to visit the colossal and spellbinding Pyramids of Giza, the magnificent Egyptian museum, the Citadel and its museums, sail the Nile and visit Old Cairo with its beautiful Coptic museum, the Babylon Fortress, the Hanging Church and various churches of early Christian martyrs. During our visit to the Coptic museum, on December 23, 2011, amongst many ancient artifacts, in the Christian painting section of the museum, was an incomplete ancient Coptic painting that depicted the faithful act of Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac.

As we were describing the artifacts to our five year old, Reuben, my wife and I explained to Reuben the story of Abraham and his test of faith by God. I told Reuben, “Abraham was a friend of God, but God wanted to test Abraham and see if he loved God more than he loved his son, Isaac, his only son (whom he loved a lot). So God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son as a test. Abraham believed God and passed the test, and God provided a ram to be sacrificed in the place of his son.” Reuben listened to that account, attentively and carefully and after I had finished telling him the account, he inquisitively asked, “Dada, if God asked you to sacrifice me, what would you do?” The question caught me off-guard and succumbed me into an emotional roller coaster, as I pondered as to what life would be without our son; it would break my heart and it would be unbearable, to say the least. So I responded, by saying, “I would plead and cry and ask God to take my life instead of requiring yours; I would sacrifice myself for you. In this matter I would disobey God.” To this, Reuben responded, “Dada, you can say okay to God” and as I was being surprised by his expression, his next statement struck me in awestruck wonder and left me spellbound, for he said “You can sacrifice me, for even if you do, God can raise me up from the dead.” My wife and I were touched at such a simple yet profound faith. To obey is better than sacrifice.

As we waited in the Mar Girgis metro station to board the train to the Sofitel hotel in Gezirah (Opera metro), I realized that the true meaning of Christmas had been implicitly communicated to me, through our beloved son. While we think of Christmas, mostly as the birth of Jesus Christ, on his created earth, and wish one another “Merry Christmas”, I wondered if the conversation in the tribunal in heaven, prior to Jesus’ birth, was similar to the conversation, my son and I had, where Jesus willingly offered to be sacrificed. I wondered if the conversation in heaven was as follows:
Father God: What can I do, for man, our most precious created being, has sinned and fallen short of our glory? (Romans 3:23) What can I do to bring man back to me?
Holy Spirit: The perfect sacrifice, not made of human hands! (Hebrews 9:11-12, Hebrews 10:14)
Father God: Now where can I get the perfect sacrifice, one who is without blemish; sinless and guileless! (1 Peter 2:22)
Holy Spirit: Only in your Only begotten Son! (John 3:16)
Father God: Oh no, that would break my heart and it would be unbearable.
Holy Spirit: But there is no other way – for only Jesus is The Way, and that is The Truth and only in him is The Life! (John 14:6)
God the Son: Father God, You can sacrifice me, for even if you do, you can raise me up from the dead. I willingly offer my life to be the sacrificial lamb of God, for the redemption of mankind. (John 10:16-17)
Father God: I wish there was another way, my beloved son, but since there is none, when the fullness of time comes (Galatians 4:4), you shall be conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of a virgin, in a manger, in the town of Bethlehem, and be named Jesus, for you shall save our people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).
This day shall they call Christmas, in memory of your birth, but in essence, it was the manifestation of your offer to be sacrificed, for you said, “You can sacrifice me!

Points to ponder:
Merry Christmas everyone or should we say, “God, we lay our lives to you as a living sacrifice as did your Son Jesus” and that I have learned from my five year old son, is the true meaning of Christmas.

Galatians 4:4-5 (KJV)
4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

Matthew 1:20-21 (KJV)
20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

John 10:15-18 (KJV)
15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.