george_hancockstefanIn one of those radio shows that asks all sorts of obscure questions, one person asked, “What was the greatest invention of the Roman Empire?”  A caller answered that it was the two wheeled chariot. While we can debate if the Romans were the first to come up with the wheel, its discovery has revolutionized transportation. Even today, motorized vehicles function because of this invention.

Another important event has been the Hellenization of the world. Although the Greeks were never the largest group of people, Alexander the Great envisioned a world where the intellectuals of the world will become aware of the Greek language, art, philosophy and culture. More than that, the whole world will be infused with Greek culture.

As a European, I have benefitted greatly from the things given to us by the Greek and the Roman world.  However, our greatest benefits came from what God did through a tiny group of people who had little power or influence at that time – the Jews. The world benefitted tremendously from the laws that God has given to us which are known as the Ten Commandments or the Mosaic laws.  More specifically, they can be called God’s laws which He gave to the humanity that He created.

One scholar remarked that after the Noahic flood the new humanity became idolatrous and pagan instead of continuing to stay in close proximity to God. By the time that Jesus Christ came into this world, the people who had the laws and the people without the law had become the enemies of God and of everything that could be called sacred.

The Apostle Paul clearly states, “All have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God” and “the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 3:23, 6:23)  It is into this world that God the Father sends His beloved son, Jesus Christ.

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Jackson Pines and Cranston Dean in residency at Langosta Lounge in Asbury Park
Jackson Pines and Cranston Dean at Langosta

The first benefit of the Holy Week for me is the revelation of the heart of our Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ. In studying other religions, there is no comparison between Zeus the god ruling over from the Pantheon and Jehovah, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, who loves the world so much that He gave his Son for us.

Secondly, the Holy Week reveals the awful consequences of sin. We are brought into a situation in which we see how much God detests sin. Paul again illustrates this when he tells that God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us so that we may become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Thirdly, the resurrection of Jesus has taken away the fear of death. I always find interesting to talk with people who believe in the resurrection of Jesus and those who do not.  Recently, the liberal media was surprised that Arianna Huffington, who was raised in the Eastern Orthodox Church, believes in the resurrection of Jesus and life everlasting.

The last thing that the Holy Week provides for me is the declaration that this is not the end.  In contrast with other philosophies of life, be they circular or annihilationist, Christianity is a one directional progress.  We know where we are coming from, we know what is happening and we know where we are going.

What are the benefits of the Holy Week for you? I hope that as you read these lines, you can agree with some of these conclusions because you have experienced them in your own life.

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George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...