This word “passion” – it doesn’t mean what we might at first think. It’s not about strong feeling, as in “I love you passionately”. It stems from the Latin word passiō, meaning to suffer, or to submit. Remember when Jesus says, “Suffer little children … to come unto me” (Matthew 19:14, KJV)? The word “suffer” means permit or allow. “Passion” is associated with this, and with the word “passive”. The passion of Jesus is about when the time came for him to lay aside the inner strength and authority that had kept those who hated him at bay for so long, and permit them to have their way with him so that the will of God in the salvation of the world could be accomplished through his grim and agonizing death.
When we think of the death of Jesus, by which we are saved and the way to heaven is opened for us, it is important to include the passion, because passion is part of our salvation. There’s a German word, Gelassenheit (literally “letting-goness”), which is about allowing things to take their course, submitting to reality and to God, not getting ourselves in the way of the flow of things or obstructing the unfolding of grace. Our salvation was won by Jesus’ death, but also by his passion, his submission and humility, his self-emptying, and his laying-aside of power.
Can you pick out, in our study passages, how the passion of Jesus is woven right in there with the story of his death?
Many people say they fear not death itself but the helplessness and loss of independence that may precede it. Can you think of ways that focusing on the passion of Jesus may comfort us and help us with this?
The passion and death of Jesus brought about our salvation. In what ways do you think that being a saved person therefore includes something of the flavour of sacrifice and “passion”?
When we think of your suffering and death for our sakes, Lord Jesus, words fail us. Let us sit in silence and adore you, and pour out our love and thanksgiving in the silence of our hearts… Thank you, Lord Jesus. We adore you, Lord Jesus. For all you have done for us, for so much love, for our full and free salvation, for the abundant life you have won for us, for the healing and freedom we find in you, we bring our humble and hearty thanks. Give us grace and strength to follow you as you truly deserve, and to remain faithful to you unto our lives’ end. Amen.