by David Browder
“Passion” is a word that has definite associations in 21st Century America. “What is your passion?” “Follow your passion.” This is the advice we often hear at our graduation ceremonies and these are the ideas that make us wistful during movies. “Passion” in this context is deeply and intensely held commitment and drive. It is a burning desire for whatever the object of desire is. (As an aside, how feasible is it to maintain passion throughout one’s life? I’ll let you answer that).
But, the popular definition of “passion” is not what we are speaking of when we think upon the Passion of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ during Holy Week. What we are remembering this week is Christ’s enduring of suffering. “Compassion” is concern for another in their suffering. “Impassible” is the inability to suffer. You see where the word “passion” comes from and why it is so important this week: it means “suffering”.
Let’s take this a step further and apply it to you and me. “With all due respect, what does this week mean to my family and to me? Why are we remembering this suffering?” We remember it and are grateful for it because Christ’s Passion was for you and for me. It is part of the substance of the Good News called the Gospel. He suffered FOR ME. His Passion was borne out of His great love FOR YOU — even when you wanted it the least.
Due to His perfect life and substitutionary death on the cross, He reconciled us to God. We are His in that we are recipients of “passive righteousness”. In other words, He has given us an alien righteousness (Christ’s) as a gift that is not our own but belongs to Another. In our passive righteousness, we “suffer” the work of God in that He claims us as His own without any deserving on our part. We “suffer” the work of God in that He sends the Holy Spirit to make us new creatures.
This wonderful Gospel — this passive righteousness — is won for us mostly because of the Passion of Our Lord that we recount this Holy Week. It’s not just an observance, although it is that as well. It is a remembering that the Passion of Jesus Christ has powerful, eternal implications for you and for me.