Littlewell
Christ Centered Church Resource Site

The Passion of Our Lord

Matthew 26:14 - 27:66
Mark 14 - 15
Mark 11:1-11
Sun, April 16, 2000
Rev. Ed Searcy
(reflections upon a Cantata for Holy Week entitled 'The Passion of our Lord' by Eugene Butler)

'The Passion of our Lord'.
That is what the story of Holy Week is called.
The Passion of our Lord.
The Suffering of our God.
That is what it means.
In Latin "passion" means "to suffer" ...
a lover’s suffering for the Beloved one.
And Holy Week is a descent into such suffering ...
a long walk down the 'via dolorosa',
the way of sorrows.

All the gospels agree that this is the crux of the matter ...
the good news cannot be found by detouring around the awful grief.
That is, of course, what we would rather do.
We would rather have a cheery story to tell ...
a promise of a pain-free life to offer the world.

Why can't it be like it used to be?
Remember?
When Palm Sunday was Palm Sunday -
‘Hosanna, loud hosanna' and all that ...
when Easter Sunday spoke of springtime joy
and of a painless rebirth ...
‘Hallelujahs’ that cost nothing.

But we don't walk down the 'via dolorosa'
because we have a morbid interest in suffering.
We go down this way because Jesus goes this way.
And Jesus goes this way
because the God of Abraham and Sarah takes him here.

The God who delivers the Israelites from bondage in Egypt
does not abandon the world
to its suffering and sorrow.
This God enters the world
to bear its pain and to redeem its life.

This is good news.
The passionate suffering of our Lord
is God’s passionate embrace of this world.

In the awful suffering of Jesus ...
in his stark death on a cross ...
on a day that is as dark as night ...
in that instant the curtain that separates us from God
is torn apart and we see what God is doing in the world -
that God alone is bearing the suffering of the world
on behalf of the world.

Here is the reason that we read and sing this story.
Here is the reason that the church is intended to live this story.
Like its Lord, the church is meant
to enter into the world's pain, not to flee from it ...
to bear the suffering of others, not to avoid it.
Only then can the world receive the testimony
of this hope-filled chorus of witnesses ...
a people whose life tells the truth
about the purposes of the passionate God met in a suffering Lord.

We can hardly believe that the 'way of sorrows'
is the 'way of God'.
But it is.
God's passion for the world,
God's great love for the world
is revealed in this:
the compassionate suffering of our Lord.