Ten years ago Mel Gibson released the epic movie The Passion of the Christ. The movie depicts the last 12 hours in Jesus’ life. The story begins in Gethsemane’s garden where Jesus went to pray following the last supper and just prior to the betrayal of Judas.
The expression “The Passion of the Christ,” is a phrase often used by scholars to describe Friday’s events culminating in the crucifixion. Raymond Brown, in his colossal work, The Death of the Messiah, was right when he wrote, “From every point of view the passion is the central narrative in the Christian story.”
All four gospel writers vividly and powerfully communicate the importance of the passion. In them we see Jesus’ sorrow, suffering and sacrifice for our sins. We also see His demeanor, deportment and disposition from the garden to the grave. We’re reminded of the prophetic descriptions of the Messiah from Isaiah 53.
He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…He was despised…He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows…. Smitten by God, and afflicted.
He was wounded for our transgressions…bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him ,And by His stripes we are healed….the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and He was afflicted ,Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth…. For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
The Hebrew writer pictures this period of the passion with these words:
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him” (Heb 5:7-9, ESV)
From Gethsemane to the grave I am reminded of several facts that are life changing.
(1) The Obedience of Jesus. Jesus came to do the Father’s will. He was faithful. True. And committed to his heavenly mission. His submission, subjection and ultimate suffering taught him obedience. And it teaches me obedience, as well. Jesus is my example.
(2) The Humanity of Jesus. Jesus was made flesh. He became a man. He was tempted like I am. In those 12 hours he experienced disappointment, rejection, emotional anguish. He felt pain, agony, and hurt. I know that he knows how I feel.
(3) The Character of Jesus. During the worse possible time in Jesus’ life he exhibited integrity, humility and serenity. In a calm and collective manner Jesus confidently allows himself to be arrested. Tried. And finally crucified.
(4) The Deity of Jesus. There is no doubt Jesus was the Christ. The Messiah. The Son of God. He said so. Others affirmed it. And the Father confirmed it. And Sunday’s resurrection verified it.
(5) The Vicarious death of Jesus. The most amazing thing about the passion of Christ is the nature of it. He died in my place. For my sins. For my lust, greed and pride. And yours. Indeed, he was wounded for me!
(6) The Eternal Salvation in Jesus. Because of what He did, it impacts who I am, what I can be and where I can live eternally. The days of His passion provide the prospects of a better life here: Pardon. Peace. And purpose. But more importantly we anticipate a better home beyond this one. The hope of heaven.
When you come to communion on Sunday, don’t forget Friday. Remember Jesus’ passion. And thank God for His eternal purpose in Him. And for you!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman