The end of Ramadan, Lebaran, asking for forgiveness

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John 1

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ ”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

John 1:29–34 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

Last night, for the first time in my life, I witnessed the Muslim night of Lebaran. Here is a brief description taken from an expat website:

“At the end of the month of Ramadhan and its special religious observance is the Eid holiday, called Idul Fitri or Lebaran in Indonesia. In Indonesia, this is the time when Muslims visit their family and friends to ask for forgiveness for any wrongs they have committed in the previous year. They express this wish in the phrase “Mohon Maaf Lahir Batin” which means “forgive me from the bottom of my heart/soul for my wrongdoings in the past year”. A traditional Arabic (Muslim) greeting for the Eid celebrations is also commonly used in Indonesia “Minal Aidin Wal Fa Idzin“, which is expressed upon meeting friends and family during the festive days. Traditional foods are consumed, family and friends gather to ask forgiveness and exchange greetings.”

On this night of “Lebaran” the Muslims take time to ask forgiveness for their sins and to pray for power to live faithfully in the coming year. We typically hear the Muslim prayer calls over the loudspeakers four to five times a day, they are relatively short as they call the faithful to prayer. Last night we heard the prayer calls over the loudspeakers continually from 8:00PM to 12:00 midnight. As we stood on our deck we could hear six to eight different mosques crying out, in Arabic, for forgiveness. These calls were mixed with intermittent fireworks of celebration.

As I heard these continual calls for forgiveness, I prayed that these dear people would realize that the only forgiveness of their sin is through Jesus Christ. I cannot fault their sincerity and commitment to their beliefs, but I weep for their efforts of finding forgiveness apart from the only Savior who alone came as the Lamb of God to take away our sin. The difference is that in their teaching, Mohammed and Jesus were prophets; in our Bible we learn that Jesus was God before He came, took on human form but never set aside His deity, prophesied as a prophet and then proved Himself to be the very Son of God, was crucified to bear our judgment and rose from the dead to give us all eternal hope.

Join with us in prayer that our Muslim friends who cried out last night for forgiveness of sin would realize that their system is impotent to remove the sins they so sincerely cry out to have forgiven. Pray that their eyes will be opened to see Jesus, whom John the Apostle and John the Baptist proclaimed was the Son of God who alone can take away our sins.

 

For the first time yesterday, I had a Christian taxi driver. It was a blessing to fellowship with this man as we came home. I also met a man who is trying to get Ravi Zacharias to come to Indonesia. We exchanged information to see if Ravi coming here could be a reality.

This Friday and Saturday I will be bringing the messages at a singles retreat here in Jakarta. Pray for my preparation and for God to use His word to change lives and to shape them into His image.

 Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

One thought on “The end of Ramadan, Lebaran, asking for forgiveness

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