As we enter the season of Lent, we remember it also as the Passion season. The original meaning for the word passion, and the first still given in my dictionary, is suffering or agony, with special reference to the suffering of our Lord Jesus.
And so it is that His suffering and His death on the cross for our sins lie at the heart of this Passion season. Many of us will be blessed with the opportunity to attend special midweek meditations at our churches across the nation, in which we will be granted the opportunity to focus more closely on one or another special aspect of the Lord’s Passion. Our pastors will lead us in these devout meditations.
There is another meaning to the word passion, and in our usage a much more common meaning. This meaning indicates an intense interest or attraction for a subject or a cause.
We live in a time in which the Passion of our Lord is often taken for granted, or misunderstood as being an unnecessary barbarism that brought no real benefit to the world. Such a conclusion couldn’t be more wrong. Indeed, the events we observe in Lent took place because of an intense interest which Jesus shared with His Father in heaven, a passion for saving lost souls.
We see the evidence of this passion of our Savior in his association with “sinners.” He was often criticized for eating with “sinners,” and even going into the homes of “sinners.” He didn’t go to share their sinful pleasures, but to lead them away from sin to life in Him.
Jesus presented the purpose of His passion in these words: “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk. 19:10).
A Passion For Our Salvation
It was in the pursuit of this passion in accord with the will of His heavenly Father that Jesus went forth to die, to offer Himself as the sacrifice for sin. It was to fulfill this passion for our salvation that Jesus willingly entered the Passion of His suffering and death.
For us Lent is a time when we should cultivate and make known the passion which we possess, as a blessing from the Holy Spirit, for the Passion of our Lord.
Some consider an intense interest in the Lord’s sufferings to be morbid and grim, but our interest is not focused on the gruesome details of our Lord’s physical suffering.
The Spirit does not lead us to a fascination with the grisly details of the abuse which our sinless Savior endured at the hands of sinful men. The Spirit does lead us to the recognition that with His physical suffering a spiritual passion was transpiring that surpasses our understanding, for Jesus was condemned by God for our sin.
This Passion, along with the physical death of our Savior, which satisfied God as a full and just payment for sin, is the focus of our attention.
–Pastor Theodore Barthels