The Passion of Christ
By Warren Mueller
What is the passion of Christ? Many would say it is the period of intense suffering in the life of Jesus from the Garden of Gethsemane to the crucifixion. To others the passion of Christ evokes images of gruesome punishment depicted in movies such as Mel Gibson’s “The Passion.” Certainly these views are correct but I have discovered that there is much more than this to the passion of Christ.
What does it mean to be passionate? Webster’s Dictionary defines passion as extreme, compelling emotion or intense emotional drive. What was the source of the passion of Christ? It was His intense love for mankind. The great love of Jesus resulted in his extreme commitment to walk a very precise and narrow path to redeem mankind. For the sake of restoring humans to fellowship with God, he made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant by being made in human likeness (Philippians 2:6-7). His passionate love caused Him to leave the glory of heaven to take human form and live an obedient life of self-sacrifice required by the holiness of God. Only such a selfless life could produce the pure and innocent blood sacrifice required to cover the sins of those who put their faith in Him (John 3:16; Ephesians 1:7).
The passion of Christ was directed by the Father’s will and resulted in a life whose purpose was the cross (John 12:27). Jesus was dedicated to accomplish the requirements foretold by prophecies and the will of the Father. In Matthew 4:8-9, the devil offered Jesus the kingdoms of the world in exchange for his worship. This offer represented a way for Jesus to establish his kingdom on earth without the cross. It may have seemed like an easy short cut but Jesus was passionate to accomplish the exact plan of the Father and so rejected it. In John 6:14-15, a crowd tried to make Jesus a king by force but he again rejected their attempt because it would have deviated from the cross. The final words of Jesus from the cross were a triumphant proclamation. Like a runner crossing the finish line in agony yet with great emotion in overcoming obstacles Jesus says “It is finished!” (John 19:30)
The passion of Christ originated in love, was directed by the purpose of God, and was lived in dependence on the presence of God. Jesus declared that every word that he said was given to him by the Father who commanded him what to say and how to say it (John 12:49). In order for this to happen, Jesus lived every moment in the presence of the Father. Every thought, word and action of Jesus was given to him by the Father (John 14:31).
The passion of Christ was energized by the power of God. Jesus healed the sick, restored the paralyzed, calmed the sea, fed the multitudes and raised the dead through the power of God. Even when he was handed over to the mob led by Judas, he spoke and they fell backwards onto the ground (John 18:6). Jesus was always in control of his life. He said that more than twelve legions or in excess of thirty-six thousand angels would respond to his commands (Matthew 26:53). Jesus was not just a good man who fell victim to evil circumstances; on the contrary, he predicted the manner of his death and the time and place chosen by the Father (Matthew 26:2). Jesus was not a powerless victim; He embraced death to accomplish our redemption and rose from the dead in power and majesty!
The life of Christ has set a pattern for living a passionate life for him. Believers in Jesus experience a spiritual birth that results in the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3; 1 Corinthians 6:19). Therefore, believers have everything needed to live a passionate life for Christ. Why then are there so few passionate Christians? I believe the answer lies in following the pattern of Christ’s life.
First and foundational to everything else is the importance of building a love relationship with Jesus. Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” This is a lofty command but one that is critical for believers to strive to attain. The love of Jesus is the most precious, personal and intense of relationships. Believers must learn to live in daily if not momentary dependence on Jesus seeking his will and experiencing his presence. This begins with setting thoughts on God. Proverbs 23:7 says that what we think about defines us. Paul says that believers are to set their minds on what is pure, lovely, excellent and praiseworthy and God will be with you (Philippians 4:8-9). It may not be possible to do this at all times but the key is to find the places, ways and times where God is presently experienced and build on these. The more God is experienced, the more your mind will dwell on him and with him. This produces ever increasing praise, worship and thoughts of God that translate into actions that express love and seek to honor him.
In practicing the presence of God, the purpose of God is discovered. This is summed up in the great commission where Jesus commands his disciples to go and tell others everything that he has revealed to them (Matthew 28:19-20). This is a key to understanding and following God’s plan for our lives. The knowledge and experiences that God gives us will help us discover his purpose for our lives. Sharing personal encounters with God makes for passionate expressions of teaching, praise and worship!
Finally, the power of God is manifest in actions stemming from the love, purpose, and presence of God. God energizes us resulting in heightened joy and boldness to do his will. Evidence of the power of God revealed through believers includes unexpected insights and blessings. An example that I have experienced in teaching is feedback I have received in which I have been told of some idea or insight attributed to my teaching that I did not intend. In such cases, I have been blessed by the fact that God took my ideas and expanded them beyond what I intended resulting in blessings that I could not have predicted. Other evidence of the power of God flowing through believers includes changed lives and spiritual growth based on increased faith, wisdom and knowledge. Ever present with the power of God is his love that transforms our lives inspiring us to be passionate in our pursuit of Christ!