A Decision for Passion

Every time we feel pain, we could choose to think of making a decision, as this: “What will I do with this?” Jesus faced this question in Gethsemane. But his ‘passion’ really began when he was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted 40 days, Mt. 1-11, Mk.1:12-13, Lk. 4:1-13. The question He answered when experiencing pain was not “Why Me?”, but perhaps he asked himself this: “How can I use this pain to show my faith in God’s purpose, virtues or word?”

Even John’s unique gospel without the temptation record, still introduces Jesus as “rejected” by his own people he came to, 1:11, and later records both incidences of rejection in the Temple grounds after His rebuke at the beginning of his ministry and the end, 2:13-22 & Mt. 21:12-13. Jesus lived his whole life here as a “Man of Sorrows”, Isa. 53:3.

The suffering Christ endured through his 3 year ministry on earth was not common as we all suffer, and it worsened when he approached Gethsemane. There for the first time, he suffered emotional and physical trauma like he had never experienced in all eternity. “He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities, punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds” (Isa. 53:5.) None of us have felt this, but we all have dealt with some kind of agonizing pain.

What exactly began at Gethsemane? That is where the decision was made. Before Gethsemane, he accepted the teaching, prophecies, warnings, but AT Gethsemane he decided! Jesus formed and sealed an inseparable bond with His Father by prayer. A bond which was threatened by Satan’s sinful presence. When His prayer in Gethsemane was finished, the whole act of His agonizing death was as good as done. That is why there was blood in His sweat. “Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him, for he was in such agony of spirit that he broke into a sweat of blood, with great drops falling to the ground as he prayed more and more earnestly. At last he stood up again and returned to the disciples-only to find them asleep…”. Lk 22:41-45 (TLB)

It took intense physical and emotional strength to overcome the terrifying consequence of His first personal acquaintance with sin. “He bore our sins” (Mt. 8:17 & 1st Pt. 2:24).

Our Pattern, His Purpose in the Passion

The passion of Christ was directed by the Father’s will and resulted in a life whose purpose was the cross (Jn 12:27). Jesus was dedicated to accomplish the requirements foretold by prophecies and the will of the Father. Jesus expected to accomplish the exact plan of the Father. In John 6:14-15, a crowd tried to make Jesus a king by force, but he rejected their attempt because it would have deviated from the cross. The final words of Jesus from the cross were a triumphant proclamation. Like a runner crossing the finish line in agony, yet with great emotion in overcoming obstacles, Jesus says “It is finished!” (Jn 19:30) The passion of Christ originated in love, was directed by the purpose of God and was lived in dependence on the presence of God. Jesus declared that every word that he said was given to him by the Father who commanded him what to say and how to say it (Jn 12:49). In order for this to happen, Jesus lived every moment in the presence of the Father. Every thought, word and action of Jesus was given to him by the Father (Jn 14:31).

The life of Christ has set a pattern of self-sacrifice for living a passionate life for God. Believers in Jesus experience a spiritual birth that results in the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit (Jn 3:3; 1 Cor. 6:19). Therefore, believers have everything needed to live a passionate life for Christ. Why then are there so few passionate Christians? The answer is in the fact that few Christians really follow the pattern of Christ’s self-sacrificial life. Above everything else is the importance of building a relationship in love with Jesus. Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” This is a lofty command but one that is critical for believers to attain. The love of Jesus is the most precious, personal and intense of relationships. Believers must learn to live in daily dependence on Jesus, seeking his will and experiencing his presence. This begins with setting thoughts on God. Proverbs 23:7 says that what we think about defines us. God says that we believers are to set our minds on what is pure, lovely, excellent and praiseworthy and God will be with us (Php. 4:8-9). It may not be possible to do this at all times, but the key is to find the places, ways and times where God is presently experienced and build on these. The more God is experienced, the more our mind will dwell on him and with him. This produces ever increasing praise, worship and thoughts of God that translate into actions that express love for Him and produce works of thankfulness towards Him and indeed honors Him.

The Source of Christ’s Passion

What was the source of the passion of Christ? (Ac. 1:3) It was his intense love for our relationship to be alive with God. The love of Jesus resulted in his extreme commitment to walk a very narrow path to redeem humanity. For the sake of restoring us to fellowship with God, he made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant by being made in human likeness (Php. 2:6-7). His passionate love caused him to leave the glory of heaven and live an obedient life of self-sacrifice required by the holiness of God. Only such a sacrificial life could produce the pure and innocent blood sacrifice, required to cover the sins of those who put their faith in him (Jn. 3:16-17; Eph. 1:7). The passion of Christ was energized by the power of God. Jesus worked many phenomenal miracles through the power of God. Even when he was handed over to the mob led by Judas, he spoke and they fell backwards onto the ground (Jn 18:6). Jesus was always in control of his life. He said that more than twelve legions, or as many as sixty thousand angels, would respond to his commands (Mt. 26:53). Jesus was not just a good man who fell victim to evil circumstances. On the contrary, he predicted the manner of his death, the time and place chosen by the Father (Mt. 26:2). Jesus was not a powerless victim. He grappled & took death on, so that He could accomplish our redemption. Then He rose from the dead in power and majesty!