I have to say right off, that I’m passionate about The Passion.
It all began for me at the age of nine. Our family was part of a new church plant in Miami, FL back in the 50’s. The church had invited a special speaker who was also a chalk artist. On one particular evening he spoke about the cross and Christ’s substitutionary death for us. It wasn’t just the words he spoke that penetrated the heart of a 9-year-old boy, but the drawing he made that so powerfully displayed the sufferings of Christ in this amazing demonstration of love and grace.
My Passion journey continued as this church, throughout my youth, would charter a bus each Spring and take us to the Lake Wales Passion Play in Lake Wales, Florida. This was the same organization that put on the Black Hills Passion Play in South Dakota. I’ll never forget the sights, sounds, and smells of that outdoor amphitheater as once again, in dramatic fashion, I saw and felt the impact of that demonstration of God’s love and grace. The re-enactment of the last week of the life of Christ, his mock trial, his crucifixion, and His resurrection, made an indelible and lasting mark on the life of this teenage boy.
As I grew older, I had the opportunity to participate in church and college choirs where we would perform Easter Cantatas or sing Handel's Messiah with a community choir, and once again the majesty and splendor of The Passion would overwhelm me.
One experience I will never forget was attending an Easter musical at a huge church in Orlando. Our family was ushered in and seated on a center aisle. As we took in the music and pageantry, we could not be prepared for what happened. The procession of Jesus carrying the cross, surrounded by Roman soldiers, came right down the aisle where we were seated. Tears ran down my face as I once again, was enraptured by God’s great love.
So how was it that Jesus could have suffered such agony. Yes, we know that God so loved the world and sent Him… that He bore our sins on that cross… but I continued to contemplate His sacrifice. That’s when I thought about this scripture:
“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:12 NASB
I began to ponder that phrase, “... who for the joy set before Him endured the cross…” Then I realized that the joy set before Him was you and I… knowing that we would place our faith in His finished work on the cross and become part of God’s forever family!
I then thought about the joy set before me… Heaven… streets of gold and that face-to-face presence with Jesus.
I asked myself the question, “What is it that I can endure… what struggle is it that I’m working through, that I can overcome by the joy that is set before me?”
I began to press in even deeper and thought about this scripture:
“But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.” Matthew 9:36 KJV
“Who is it I see? What situation am I aware of that I can be moved passionately, like Jesus, to meet a need, to show love, to encourage?” You see, Jesus endured the cross because of what He saw and had compassion. And it wasn’t just an emotional feeling or an expression of sympathy. He was MOVED to act… to do something… and He did.
I’m convicted that this Easter, this Passion Week, we should take the opportunity, or better yet, make the opportunity to passionately serve others the way Jesus did… to make an eternal difference in someone else, who can be raised from death, to walk in a brand new life. May God help us to be passionate for others in the same way our Savior was and is for us
Submitted by: Pastor Bruce Turner has been a part of Christian Care Ministry for 13 years (14 in June), serving as a Development Manager for 12 of those years. He current works remotely from his home in Lynchburg, Virginia.