I plan on running the same lectures again, perhaps in the of May or early June.
In less than 36 hours, I have to close the registration to this public lecture as we received overwhelming response.
I plan on running the same lectures again, perhaps in the of May or early June.
Christ is risen. He is risen indeed, hallelujah!
Good Friday ends in darkness and despair. But Easter is glorious. It gives us new hope. It gives us new meaning to our existence. It speaks of the victory of Christ against sin and death. Yet, Easter is different this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. For many of us who may be accustomed to Easter celebration, drama production, large-scale evangelistic campaigns, this year’s celebration certainly seems less triumphal, celebratory, and glorious.
However, if we go back to the first Easter, things seem less glorious too. In John 20 there seems to be no sense of rejoicing. No one shouted: “Christ is Risen!”, and no one replied: “He is risen indeed.” All the disciples were in hiding. They had their own Movement Control Order (MCO), practised social distancing, and locked the door for the fear of the Jewish leaders (John 20:19). They imposed on themselves some measure of self-quarantine. They were full of fear, anxiety, and worry.
It was not until the first Easter evening when Jesus appeared to the disciples in the place where they were staying that they were overjoyed. Yet, one of the disciples, Thomas, was not present and doubted the resurrection of Christ. The following week, the disciples were still under MCO, and continued to practise social distancing and self-quarantine. Jesus appeared the second time to the disciples, and Thomas had his doubt removed.
There was hardly any victorious celebration on the first two Easter Sundays according to the narrative in John 20. Although Jesus had already appeared twice to the disciples, there was fear, anxiety, worry, and doubt. All they did was to go into hiding for a whole week. They had their self-imposed lockdown. No one proclaimed, “Jesus is risen” despite Jesus appearing twice to them.
To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. (1 Peter 5:1-4)
In exhorting the leaders of persecuted Church in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, Peter reminds them the the words of Jesus to him: “Follow me. Feed my lambs. Tend my sheep. Feed my sheep.”
Peter remained faithful to his calling till his martyrdom in the 60s CE. According to the early church tradition, Peter was crucified on the cross upside-down with his head down on the ground and feet raised on high, asserting that he was not worthy to be crucified in the same manner as his Lord.
For the disciples, Easter is a new beginning for them. While there may not be much celebration on that first Easter, the impact of the resurrection of Christ changed them. The narrative of the restoration of Peter is an inspiration and encouragement to us today. If we feel that we are not worthy to serve the Lord because of our past failures, this passage reminds us that Jesus is not finished with us yet. Jesus called Peter again for the third time, “Follow me” after his resurrection. He was patient with Peter, and he gave Peter all the time and space for him to ponder, reflect, and respond. Jesus is calling us again today. Our current situation may also offer us the time and space needed for us to pause, reflect, and respond to the resurrected Lord. Easter is a new beginning.
Like the disciples, we may be at the crossroads of our lives, feeling lost and not knowing the next step we should take. We may be confused by recent events we have encountered. We may be worried about the post-COVID-19 aftermath. Some of us may be concerned with our business, employment, and our financial cash flow. In moments of frustration, disappointment, and discouragement, we may choose to go our own way and do things according to our own strength and effort. Some of us may have gone back “fishing” because it is the only thing we know what to do. Despite our failures, Jesus wants to reinstate and restore us to serve him. Easter gives us hope.
Like the disciples, in moments like these, it is time to accept the invitation of our Lord to have breakfast with him (John 21:12). It is time to renew our strength in his presence. It is time to sit at his feet again to hear his voice and guidance so that we can be his effective servants: “Feed my lambs… Tend my sheep… Feed my sheep… Follow me” (John 21:15, 16, 17, 19).
This year’s Easter may be a bit quiet, and is certainly very different from what we may have been used to. Nevertheless, as we remember the confusion, the sense of loss, and the anxiety and fear of the disciples on the first Easter, may we be reminded that Easter is a new beginning and it gives us hope. May we be renewed on this Easter day. May we be reminded afresh why we follow Jesus. May we hear afresh his calling once again: “Follow me.” And most importantly, let us not forget to have breakfast with the resurrected Jesus – he is waiting for us.
Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Hallelujah.
Over the past few months, I have been busy conducting several Christian education seminars in a number of churches. A few things amazed and surprised me.
First of all, the response to these seminars had been overwhelming. For example, more than 200 people filled the hall at the Klang Chinese Methodist Church for the session on the the History of the Bible held on March 6, 2019.
Secondly, there is great hunger in wanting to delve into reading the Bible. There were many great questions raised in all the sessions, and some of them I do not even have any answer. Through these questions, I was able to reflect further and think through many issues as well.
Finally, the level of commitment shown by those who came for the classes is very commendable. I taught a consecutive 5-nightly sessions from 730-1030pm in early April at Sidang Injil Borneo Kuala Lumpur. About 90 people signed up for the class and they braved the massive traffic jam to the classes every night after a long day at work. This level of dedication brought much encouragement to me.
Below are some photographs taken at some of the sessions I taught over the past couple of months.
March 8, 2019: Klang Chinese Methodist Church. Session: History of the Bible
March 16: St Paul's Church, Petaling Jaya. Session on the Origins of the New Testament.
April 1-5: Sidang Injil Borneo Kuala Lumpur (SIBKL). Session: The Gospel of John
Finally, Porter believes that my book "will undoubtedly provoke further investigation of metaphor use in identity formation in the Corinthian correspondence and elsewhere. This work is a valuable resource for anyone considering the social-scientific analysis of metaphors and their use in the Corinthian correspondence."
Overall, the review by Porter on my work is generous and encouraging, his critique on the weaknesses of the book is fair and courteous, and his comment on my methodological framework for analysis on metaphor is positive and welcoming.
Please click on the file below to read the review.
More than 90 people filled the hall at Bangunan Yin, the venue for the course on the Parables of Jesus organised by Sidang Borneo Injil Kuala Lumpur, one of the fastest growing churches in the Klang Valley.
Held nightly from 7.30-9.30pm over a period of 5 days (9th to 13th April 2018), this course was part of the well-executed Christian Education programme of the church.
Committing themselves to a total of 15 hours of lectures and discussion for 5 consecutive evenings clearly demonstrated the dedication of all who registered for the course. As an instructor, I was humbled by their deep desire to learn and understand the Bible, and the efforts they put in to dig deeper into the Scripture.
This is probably the 6th year I have been privileged to teach at this church. I am constantly amazed at the response of the people and their commitment to their continuous Christian development and growth. A number of those who have taken some of these classes have gone on to further theological studies at local seminaries. As an instructor, it was truly my joy to see the positive growth of the people in the church.
Image: Associated Press. The newly renovated library
After 3 years of renovations, the ancient library of St Catherine Monastery located at Sinai has reopened its doors to the public. This is good news indeed as the library houses the world's second largest collection of early codices and manuscripts. It is claimed that the collection of ancient manuscripts at St Catherine Monastery is outnumbered only by the Vatican Library!
One of the highlights of the collection is Codex Sinaiticus, the earliest complete New Testament dated back to the 4th Century.
I hope to visit St Catherine Monastery again in the future!
Oil lamps have been in used for thousands of years across cultures. The decorative elements also changed overtime to reflect the religious and cultural practices of the day.
At the Centre for Bible Engagement, we have in our small collection a number of replicas of oil lamps dated from the 1st century to the 5th century, with the latter period depicting clear Christian symbols such as a cross and christogram in the form of "Chi-Rho" after Christianity was declared as recognised religion in the Roman Empire, as seen in the photographs below. This is one example where Christianity deeply influenced the way of life and daily practices of the Christ-followers.
All the replicas were acquired during our biblical study tours or personal trips. I would like to acknowledge the gift of the oil lamp replica with the symbol of the cross by one of the pilgrims in our study tour to Greece in May 2017.
Over the past few months, the Centre for Bible Engagement, Seminari Theoloji Malaysia, has been acquiring a number of significant archaeological replicas and biblical exhibits as teaching aids for our biblical studies courses. Students in the coming academic year will greatly benefit from these exhibits. We hope that the teaching of the Bible will come alive with these replicas helping us understand the historical and cultural background of both the OT and NT worlds.
The photo galleries below are just a small sample of what we have at CBE. Our aim is to make all these available for public viewing as well. In the near future, we hope to be able to conduct tours and lectures based on these exhibits for the benefits of Christians in the country. More information will be forthcoming in the weeks to come.
We also wish to thank all those who have generously donated some of these items for our educational purpose.
A new Greek New Testament produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge, has finally been published by Crossway. A labour or more than 10 years, this edition of New Testament Greek "seeks to make a distinctive contribution by providing a text of the Greek New Testament that is based on the most recent scholarship and is rooted in the earliest manuscript witnesses, dating primarily from the fourth and fifth centuries and earlier." Edited by Dr. Dirk Jongkind (St. Edmund's College, University of Cambridge) and Dr. Peter Williams (Tyndale House, Cambridge) and their team of scholars, they adopt a philological approach to reevaluating the manuscripts available by reexamining spelling and paragraph decisions, and scribal habits to inform editorial decisions.
Why is there a need for another Greek New Testament? Aren't the NA-28 and SBL Greek New Testament sufficient for scholarly work? Click on this link to find out why there is yet a need for this edition.
The good news is that this edition of Greek New Testament published by Tyndale House is not only available in the print edition but also available FREELY FOR EVERYONE digitally. Click on this link to start reading the Greek text immediately. There are a number of options of reading this text - in Greek, in original language interlinear, and in reverse English interlinear.
There is no reason not to read the Bible in its original language and the Greek New Testament published by Tyndale House is a welcome addition to the tools already available for students and scholars.
I am a Lecturer in New Testament Studies, Director of Postgraduate Studies, and the founding Director of the Centre of Bible Engagement at Seminari Theoloji Malaysia. You can find out more about me by clicking here.
My engagement in conversation with issues, reflections, and concerns related to my vocation as a seminary lecturer and theological education in general. Opinions expressed in this blog are strictly my personal views and do not represent the official position of the seminary