1. Strong and barely controllable emotion
2. The suffering and death of Jesus
These are the first two definitions I found for the word “passion” and I think they represent well. When I think of “passion” I also think of drive, determination, focus, emotional investment, desire, intensity and dedication, all fitting words as we come to this day of Lent that is commonly referred to as Good Friday, Holy Friday or the Passion. The whole of Jesus’ life – his birth, his growth, his ministry and his eventual betrayal and arrest have led him to this day….a day that is indeed filled with all sorts of passion.
His friends and followers who just last night had been solidly behind him in passionate solidarity were even now beginning to flee and scatter in passionate fear of reprisal. Crucifixions were always gruesome occurrences, and I imagine that then, as in now, it brought out the best and the worst of those who were exposed to its horror. Were there passersby who kept their heads down and walked through as quickly as possible, not wanting to connect in any way to what was happening that day? Probably. Were there gawkers and rubber-neckers who thrilled at the spectacle? Most likely. Were there profiteers (gamblers) who chose to ignore the injustice for their own paltry gain? Yes. Were there some there who were gratified to see that Jesus had been stopped so that their power and traditions could resume as before? I can see that. And finally, were there those whose hearts were torn apart by grief and anguish, first at the physical suffering of one they loved deeply, and then also at the thought of his death and separation from them? Absolutely!
So much passion. But the one who, without a doubt, owned the most passion that day was Jesus himself. It always strikes me, whether it’s in recall of the crucifixion or as I receive communion each week that Jesus could have rallied a host of heavenly angels, freed himself from the cross and wiped out every single person who stood there in opposition to the message he was giving his life to bring. Remember, he had already raised several people from the dead – he had cast out demons, healed the sick, fed thousands with a few baskets of food……miracles were what he was known for – saving himself would have been done in an instant, if it hadn’t been for his selfless……passion.
How can we imagine a love so deep and so strong that would not only take the Son of God all the way to the cross, but keep him there as well? I don’t think we can, but if we think of those we love the very most and would do anything, give anything to save their lives, then magnify that by thousands….we may get a glimpse into the love that Jesus has for us. With so much I don’t understand…..I certainly do understand passion for those I love. It was his passion for US, and his desire to save us from this broken world of sin and pain that kept him on the cross, taking it all for us, so we can have life beyond those we are blessed with on this earth.
Tradition tells us that the majority of the twelve disciples, while spreading out to promote the gospel of Jesus, ended up dying as martyrs themselves. It was their passion for the good news of Jesus Christ that propelled them to continue preaching it, even as it threatened their own lives. It makes no sense to the unbeliever, but to those who believed then, and who believe today, it was the act of Jesus’ death that offers us new life, not just in the resurrection, but in the here and now. I don’t have to be a slave to my own sin – he gives me power to overcome. I don’t have to carry the worry of tomorrow – he holds my future securely in his hands. I don’t have to fear death…..because for me, it is the doorway to new life!
There was something else that happened on the cross this day so long ago….Jesus bore my grief, and he carried my sorrows. Jesus didn’t take all feelings of grief or sadness away – those are emotions that belong to humanity just the same as joy or peace, but he experienced them just the same. He took them to the cross and robbed them of the power they can have over us as we look to him for healing. My heart testifies to the truth in this. <3
Scripture tells us that this eternal life is a “free gift” that is offered to all who believe. And it’s true, that this gift of love cost us nothing….but today we remember that it cost Jesus everything. He loves us with a sacrificial love that is more high and deep and wide and strong than anything we can imagine, and that’s something to feel passionate about!