Grief is sometimes hard to cope with
Passion means suffering—enduring suffering. These days, more than ever, it seems that people have a sense of what it means to suffer. Grief and sorrow and a yearning for better times has taken hold of us. Join us for a look forward.
Christians believe in Christ, which is why they are called Christians. They believe in Him who was born, who died, was crucified, and resurrected. And that is why Christians across the world are preparing for the most important feast in the Church calendar, namely Easter—despite the Coronavirus. Easter is just around the corner, but there is still no trace of joy. For before we can celebrate Easter there is the Passion of Christ. And it is tangibly near right now.
Suffering is not the end of the world
The Corona crisis is making it incredibly difficult to direct one’s thoughts to the course of the Church calendar. Even if we are far away from a normal everyday life right now and some are preaching doom and regularly insist on interpreting the Corona outbreak as a divine punishment: Easter is not cancelled! This will not undermine the Christian belief that Jesus Christ died for man and resurrected. The Passion, the time of suffering, bearing with the inevitable—all of this is closer to us than ever before. And yet the Christian faith does not end on the cross, but in heaven.
Against all reason
We believe “in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds (æons), Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the virgin Mary, and was made man; He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried, and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven”, it says in the Creed of Nicaea-Constantinople. And this belief must not diminish or even fade away altogether, simply because reason wants to forbid it to man. Faith is more than knowledge. There is no rational reason to believe that faith in the resurrection is unjustified.
Passion, a life long
The days before Jesus’ arrest were very peculiar—they were hard and lonely, days of desolation and despair. The man Jesus of Nazareth had to suffer pain and fear, and fight against dark thoughts. He wept, suffered, and shivered from loneliness. Deep distress was His daily bread. And yet He looked ahead: “See, I have told you beforehand.” We find this in Scripture more than once. Jesus Christ foresaw heaven and spoke about it, even though His immediate listeners did not understand Him. They also did not understand the meaning of Good Friday or Easter. And how could they?
His time of suffering already began at His birth. Right from the very beginning there were those who rejected Him, who mocked and ridiculed Him, who doubted Him. There were those who wanted to hold on to the existing values of their faith, others wanted to finally be freed from their political shackles. Between these two poles, faith in Jesus Christ was practically crushed.
And then there was the temptation in the wilderness: evil pulled out all the stops. Wealth, food, power … who could wish for more! But Jesus continues to suffer hunger and resists the unrealistic promises. He endures all the mocking and says no three times.
Golgotha is not the end
Jesus continues to preach the glad tidings, He heals and cares for the poor, the abandoned, and the disabled. He sets new standards in terms of loving one’s neighbour and glorifying God. He continues His pilgrimage and visits the needy, thereby steering towards His inevitable end: “Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!” is what the people cried in front of Pilate’s official residence, where He was tried. They dealt with Him swiftly: it was quick, merciless, loud. But those who shout the loudest are not always necessarily right. Jesus endures this suffering because He knows where His journey is leading Him. Not to Golgotha, that is only a stopover, but to heaven, to the resurrection. First there is suffering, then the cross, and ultimately heaven.
The blows of the soldiers hurt Him, but Peter’s denial hurt Him even more. “And a little later those who stood by said to Peter again, ‘Surely you are one of them; for you are a Galilean, and your speech shows it.’ Then he began to curse and swear, ‘I do not know this man of whom you speak!’ A second time the rooster crowed. Then Peter called to mind the word that Jesus had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.’ And when he thought about it, he wept” (Mark 14: 70b–72).
“Then the soldiers led Him away into the hall called Praetorium, and they called together the whole garrison. And they clothed Him with purple; and they twisted a crown of thorns, put it on His head, and began to salute Him, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ Then they struck Him on the head with a reed and spat on Him; and bowing the knee, they worshipped Him. And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him” (Mark 15: 16–20).
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