Weekly Teachings by Erik Momsen
The Passion of the Christ
by Erik Momsen
Followers of Jesus have been celebrating and mourning the Passion of Jesus for close on two thousand years. The Passion is the focus or pivotal point of Christian thinking and from the time of the first believers has been a point of controversy. Paul, emphasizing the centrality of the cross, writes, "For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." 1Corinthians 2:2
It is thus not surprising that the motion picture caused so much debate when it was released a number of years ago. The cross of Jesus was designed by the Father to be the defining and dividing moment in all of history.
From day one we see this divide. Paul writes; "Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles," (1Corinthians 1:22, 23)
The Jews of the day could not accept Jesus as Christ, or supreme King of heaven and earth, because he did not deliver the political kingdom and liberation from Rome that they desired. For the gentiles the issue was also one of earthly power and comparison to a myriad of other gods. This Jesus did not even have the power of a demigod like Caesar and had to compete with all the gods of Rome and Greece.
In the motion picture "The Passion of the Christ" we see the religious power and the political powers of the day working together to rid itself of the "threat" of the truth of the Son of God. It is ludicrous for any to believe that the issue was Jesus against the Romans and the Jews. These two sub-sets of humanity represent all human attempts to wield power. Both religious and political.
HOW COULD A GOD SUFFER SO?
The word passion is derived from the Greek "pasxo" meaning 'to be affected by a thing, to suffer, endure evil' ... Jesus knew the path he was taking when he says, "In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer (pasxein) at their hands." (Matthew 17:12)
The early church regarded the Old Testament as prophecy about the Christ.
Acts 3:18 - "But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer."
Hebrews 2:10 - "In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering."
The Old Testament passages that most affect our thinking are Isaiah 52 & 53:
Isaiah 52:14,15 - "Just as there were many who were appalled at him -- his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness-- so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him."
53:2-11 - "He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the Lord's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities."
Isaiah prophesies the following:
- His suffering and abuse was enormous - 52:14, 53:3,7.
- He has the ability to forgive and cleanse even nations - 52:15, 53:4,5.
- It was not his natural human attributes and charisma that gave him power - 53:2.
- He was punished for our sin, not his own - 53:6.
- It was the Father who laid the suffering and punishment on him - 53:10.
- His suffering was beyond physical - but emotional and spiritual - 53:11.
- He will however live again and see the reward for his suffering - 53:11.
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THE PASSION (SUFFERING)?
- The suffering of the world is shared and in fact taken by God on the cross - He is not separate.
- The depth and magnitude of Christ's suffering was beyond measure as it covered of all the suffering and sin of human history.
- God's death and suffering brought us forgiveness and life.
- God does not work by domination, but by justice - He paid what was due on our behalf.
- The Cross which looks like a defeat is the greatest victory.
- It is a victory of heart and faith that cannot be reversed by earthly setbacks.
- The victory of Christ inaugurates a Kingdom that has no end or limit. (Isaiah 9:7)
Date Added: 2011-09-02
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