Penitensya: God’s Sacrifice and Salvation in Today’s Time

Bleeding backs, sore feet.

People passionately walk kilometers to witness the senakulo. Men roam the streets and flog their own backs until they bleed, while some would even willingly nail themselves on the cross as their penitensya.

It’s a usual scenario you’ve probably witnessed as Filipinos observe the Holy Week, hoping to recreate or experience a portion of the suffering Jesus endured at the Calvary. In this tradition, devotees aim to show their love to God.

But what does penitensya (penance, atonement) really signify?

Why would devotees go as far as hurting themselves in sacrifice?

According to Asian Journal, this tradition dates back to 1955 wherein hooded men cut and whipped their backs, others would carry life-size crosses, and be nailed on that cross as an act of faith, repentance, and appreciation of Jesus’ sacrifice. All because of love for Christ.

As spectators, you can empathize with these spiritual acts.

But now, take a moment to revisit what Jesus endured and accomplished on the Calvary, the very first penitensya in history.

Imagine Jesus, walking humbly to His death. As blood mixes with sweat, the scorching sun burns the Messiah’s skin. The Jews shouting and mocking. Carrying His own cross, He was flogged, slapped, and shamed. At this point, Jesus’ face was beyond recognition.

The sound of the hammer, the wood, and the flesh filled the air. An innocent God was crucified and breathed his last thinking of you. A loving savior died in the most gruesome way – all because of His unfailing love, for you.

But, why?

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23).

Humans’ sinful nature separates you from God’s pure love. Making you deserve nothing but wrath, eternal death, and eternal darkness.

You were under the filth of your transgressions, but God – being rich in mercy, gave His Son, Jesus. He died and served as the ultimate ransom for your sins that you may come to your Father in heaven.

Amazingly, Jesus didn’t just die on the cross, He rose from the dead.

His resurrection destroyed the curse of your sins and breathed hope. When He defeated the grave, He also defeated your sinful past and strongholds.

It is finished. Your victory is won.

All you must do is to believe, accept, and declare that He is Lord and Savior. Accept the eternal life He freely gives.

Then, you would be dead to sin and alive in God (Romans 6:11), because Jesus bore the ultimate penitensya – the greatest sacrifice, declaring the greatest love.

More than 2,000 years have passed, yet God still offers the same love He offered on the cross.

Take a step closer to the love of Christ. He is more than ready to embrace you.

Do you need someone to pray for you this Holy Week?

Just call us at 8-737-0-700 if you are in Metro Manila. If you are outside Metro Manila or the Philippines, send us your prayer requests here or email

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