“Passion” conveys a strong emotion, a powerful feeling for something that leads to action. A teacher with a passion for his students spends long hours preparing lesson plans, pays for supplies out of his own salary, and because some of the children regularly come to school hungry, he makes sure he has food available for them every day. An artist passionate about art and community-building organizes joint art projects that bring together women on the street, the university women’s club, and other women in the community.
In his earthly life, Jesus had such passion for God that he gave his life to preaching, teaching, and healing, which eventually led to his arrest, suffering, and death. That’s one way of understanding Jesus’ passion—as a powerful, God-given inner drive that compelled him to action and caused his opponents to have him executed.
But the word “passion” comes from the Latin word passio, which means suffering or enduring. So the “passion” of Christ speaks more specifically of his suffering, especially the final events of his life. In that sense, our Gospel text for today is Matthew’s retelling of Jesus’ passion, from his trial and sentence before Pilate to his death on the cross. Jesus suffered and endured until the end.
April Yamasaki is a pastor and the author of several books, including Christ Is for Us. Learn more at AprilYamasaki.com. Excerpted from Christ Is for Us © 2016 by Abingdon Press, an imprint of The United Methodist Publishing House. (All Scripture quotations within these excerpts are drawn from the Common English Bible © 2011.) Used by permission. All rights reserved.