The Passion of Jesus of Nazareth

 

 

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The Passion of Jesus of Nazareth

Text: Mark 11:1-10, Psalm 22:1-19

Dr. Alex Tang

 

Summary

                         The passion/suffering of Jesus of Nazareth is when by  

                      Jesus’ passive obedience God is glorified.

 

1.                  Palm Sunday and Passion Week.

Palm Sunday is the highpoint of Lent- a time of great celebration and of deep mourning. On this day, Jesus entered Jerusalem as its king and within a week, He is dead and his followers will be confused and scattered. After Palm Sunday is the Passion Week, the 5th week in Lent.

When we use the word passion nowadays, we often associate it with love or lust or romance.  The original meaning of the word passion (derived from the Latin word, passio) means ‘a suffering or enduring, inflicted pain’. The word ‘Passion of Christ’ is applied to the period between the Last Supper, especially in the garden and His death on the cross.

To get a feeling for the events of this week, we shall consider two passages of Scriptures and then try to reconstruct the happenings of the week. The first passage deals with the triumphant and joyful event of the beginning of the week and the second, the horror of the end of the week.

 

Mark 11:1-10

       As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples,  2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here.  3 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’”

4 They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it,  5 some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?”  6 They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go.  7 When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it.  8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields.  9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,

“Hosanna!” 

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” 

10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” 

“Hosanna in the highest!”

 

Psalm 22: 1-19

            Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from saving me,

so far from the words of my groaning?

2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,

by night, and am not silent. 

3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;

you are the praise of Israel.

4 In you our fathers put their trust;

they trusted and you delivered them.

5 They cried to you and were saved;

in you they trusted and were not disappointed. 

6 But I am a worm and not a man,

scorned by men and despised by the people.

7 All who see me mock me;

they hurl insults, shaking their heads:

8 “He trusts in the LORD;

let the LORD rescue him.

Let him deliver him,

since he delights in him.” 

9 Yet you brought me out of the womb;

you made me trust in you

even at my mother’s breast.

10 From birth I was cast upon you;

from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

11 Do not be far from me,

for trouble is near

and there is no one to help. 

12 Many bulls surround me;

strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.

13 Roaring lions tearing their prey

open their mouths wide against me.

14 I am poured out like water,

and all my bones are out of joint.

My heart has turned to wax;

it has melted away within me.

15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,

and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;

you lay me in the dust of death.

16 Dogs have surrounded me;

a band of evil men has encircled me,

they have pierced my hands and my feet.

17 I can count all my bones;

people stare and gloat over me.

18 They divide my garments among them

and cast lots for my clothing. 

19 But you, O LORD, be not far off;

O my Strength, come quickly to help me.

 

2.                  The Chronology of Passion Week

Jesus and His disciples began their trip to Jerusalem from Galilee. They travelled south on the eastern side of the Jordan River. They travelled through the city of Jericho where Zacchaeus met Jesus.

 

Friday Evening ( 8th of Nisan )

q       Six days before the Passover  Jn 12:1

q       Jesus and the disciples arrived at Bethany, a little village east of Jerusalem. They more than likely stayed with His friend, Lazarus, and his two sisters, Mary and Martha. This family not only supported Jesus financially, but their home was His home whenever He
was in the area.

q       The chief priests and Pharisees hoped that Jesus would come to the feast, and had laid plans to arrest Him (Jn. 11:55-12:1). They were apparently offering a reward of 30 pieces of silver for information leading to His arrest.

 

Saturday ( 9th of Nisan )

q       Jesus keeps the Sabbath in the traditional fashion with His friends.

 

Sunday (10th of Nisan)

q       The Triumphal Entry. Mt. 21; Mk. 11; Lk. 19; Jn. 12. Jesus rides triumphantly into Jerusalem on (Zech. 9:9). The people welcome Him with "Hosanna" and the words of Psalm 118:25-26.

q       Jesus, at this moment is officially presenting Himself to the nation as the Messiah.

q       This date according to the Jewish calendar, was Nisan 10, the day pilgrims presented their paschal lambs for examination.

 

Monday (11th of Nisan)

q       On this day Jesus returns to Jerusalem (He spends each night in Bethany). On the way He curses the fig-tree, a highly symbolic act.

q       Cleansing of the Temple. Mt.21; Mk.11; Lk.19. He then enters the Temple and chases out the corrupt money-changers. This shows His Messianic authority ("My Father's House") and fulfills another prophecy that implies the Messiah will appear there suddenly and take possession of it. ( Mal. 3:1).

q       They then return to Bethany. On the way home they see the withered fig-tree.

 

Tuesday (12th of Nisan)

q       The discovery of the withered fig tree. Mk 11:20-26.

q       Jesus teaches and debates in the Temple. On this day Jesus personally confronts the authorities and defends His claims to be the Messiah. The occasion for their questions was His violent action the previous day. Mk. 11:27-13:37. The day ends with Jesus pronouncing a curse on the city and announcing that the Kingdom will be taken away from the nation. Matt. 23.

q       On the return to Bethany the Disciples are loaded with questions. Jesus stops at the Mount of Olives overlooking the temple, and gives the Olivet Discourse. See Matt. 24,25; Lk.21:5ff. The Olivet Discourse is a detailed prophecy largely about the destruction of Jerusalem.

q       At Bethany, Mary anointed Jesus. Mt. 26:6-13; Mk. 14:3-9; Jn 12:2-11

 

Wednesday (13th of Nisan)

q       The Silent Day. After an exhausting day of controversy, Jesus more than likely spends this day resting and visiting with His intimate friends.

q       Jesus predicts His Passion. Mt 26:2. 2 "As you know, the Passover is two days away--and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified."

 

Thursday (14th of Nisan)

q       Day of Preparation and Passover. On this day (and perhaps on the previous day) preparation is made for the Passover.

q       Judas may have also utilized this time for his betrayal. Matt. 26:1-5; 14-16; 17-19.

q       The Passover is celebrated on Thursday evening in an upper room. At the end of the Jewish feast Jesus institutes the Last Supper. Mt 26:20-30

q       The Last Supper is followed by the Upper Room Discourse.

q       Sometime in the evening after the Passover, Jesus and His disciples leave the Upper Room and go to Gethsemane, a place near the Mt. of Olives where it was a custom for Jesus to Pray. Matt. 26:36- 46.

q       While in the Garden Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested by Roman soldiers and Temple guards. Jn. 18:2-12.

q       The Trials begin. Before dawn Jesus is tried twice before Annas and then Caiaphas. Everything about these trials is illegal.

 

Friday (15th of Nissan)

q       Trials, Crucifixion, Death, and Burial.

q       Jesus' third trial is held early in the morning before the Sanhedrin. The first three trials were before the religious authorities where He is found guilty.

q       Jesus is then taken before Pilate (the fourth trial) where He is found innocent. He is
subsequently taken to Herod who also finds Him innocent (the fifth), and then back to Pilate who again finds Him innocent (the sixth) but relents under pressure. Barrabas was freed.

q       About 9:00 AM. Jesus is crucified on a hill called "The Skull" outside the city.

q       At noon (sixth hour), the sky becomes dark.

q       At 3:00 PM Jesus cried out “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani”-My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

q       He then utters the most important words to believers "It is finished". John 19:30. The phrase literally means "Paid in full". The spotless Son of God became sin for us! Isa. 53:5,6. Jesus gives up His life and fulfills the typology of the Passover Lamb at exactly the time the lambs were being slaughtered in the Temple. The curtain is rent in the Temple Mk. 15:38.

q       Before 6:00 PM Jesus is laid in Joseph's tomb (the Sabbath begins after 6:00 PM).

 

Saturday (16th of Nissan)

q       Jesus' body lies in the tomb.

q       After 6:00 PM the Sabbath is over and His body is treated with
spices. Mk. 16:1.

 

Sunday (17th of Nissan)

q       Before sunrise, Jesus rises from the dead. Matt. 28:1-15.

 

3.                  The Passion of Jesus of Nazareth

3.1              Betrayal by His friends.

q       Judas Iscariot

Luke 22:47,48 47 While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him,  48 but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

 

q       Peter

Mark 14:29,31 29 Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” 

30 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”

31 But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.

q       The rest of the disciples

Mark 14:27            27 “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written: ”‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’

                       

Betrayal by beloved friends is the hardest to take. It is most heart rendering. People, whom you have trusted, given your love, shared your secrets and secret recipes. When they betray you, it is very hard to endure.

 

3.2              Betrayal by His religious leaders and His people.

q       High Priest, the Sanhedrin and the Elders.

The trials of Jesus.

(1)   Annas (father-in-law of Caiaphas) - guilty

(2)   Caiaphas (high priest), teachers of the law and elders - guilty

(3)   Sanhedrin - guilty

(4)   Pilate – innocent. Pontius Pilate was procurator of Judea. This meant that he had full control of the province and in charge of the army of occupation, which was stationed in Caesarea. He had full powers of life and death and could reverse sentences of death imposed by the Sanhedrin, which has to have his approval. He also appointed high priests and controls the Temple and its funds. The vestments worn by the high priest was in his custody and was brought out only for special festivals.

(5)   Herod –innocent

(6)   Pilate- innocent

 

These are the religious leaders, the custodian of the faith. These are the people who are to teach Israel to have a special relationship with Yahweh. Yet, they are so blinded by their own ambitions and carnality that they did not recognise the Messiah or Christ they have been waiting for so long. All they are concerned is to get rid of a troublemaker who poses a threat to their power as religious leaders.

 

q       Choice of Barrabas

Luke 23:23-25       23 But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed.  24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand.  25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.

This is the Jewish people. God’s chosen people. People with whom God has a special relationship and with whom God has made a special covenant. Yet they prefer to release a terrorist and a murderer instead of an innocent man.

 

3.3              Physical, mental and emotional humiliation and pain.

q       Scourging, Mockery and Crown of Thorns

John 19:1-3            Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged.  2 The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe  3 and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they struck him in the face.

q       Death on the cross like a common criminal.

 

3.4              Separation from God.

The most difficult sacrifice for Jesus is separation from God. Hence the heart rendering cry: Eloi, eloi, sama sabathanni. Jesus has always felt God’s presence. His whole life is infused by the presence of God. To be separated from the is the worst nightmare of Jesus. That is His greatest fear and what He struggled with in the garden of Gethsemane. It is difficult to comprehend this separation from God for Jesus.

 

4.                  Lessons for us

4.1              Motivation for His Passion: Obedience

Matt. 26:29-42             39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter.  41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

It is Jesus’ desire to serve the will of the Father that motivates Him in His passion/suffering. He does it because He is obedient to His Father. He wants to glorify His Father. He knew how terrible this passion is. He struggled with the cost of what He had to do. Yet in the end, He made the decision to submit.

Jesus has taught us about the cost of being His disciple. To one He said  ‘sell all that you have’, to another He said ‘can you live with no home’,   to another there is ‘no time to bury your father’, yet another you leave ‘’your family immediately, no time to say goodbye’. I often wonder by what right did Jesus did He has to demand that of His disciples. He earned that right by His passion.

 

4.2              Mode of His Passion: Passive.

Notice that Jesus was very busy the first part of the week. Yet after He has made the decision to follow God’s will in the garden in Gethsemane, Jesus is passive and to flow with the events. What Jesus said to Peter also applied to Himself. John 21:18 18 I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go."  The lesson for us is that there are times when we must ‘let go and let God’. There are times when we must be passive and allow God to work. God is a sovereign God and is in control of all events. We must trust Him enough to allow Him to take control of our lives and lead us to where He wants us to go.

4.3              Result of His Passion: God’s Glory

John 17:1-4      After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: 

“Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.  2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.  3 Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.  4 I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.  

By His passion, Jesus made it possible for God’s justice is satisfied and for our redemption from our sins. It is possible for us to have eternal life because of Jesus’ passion.

 

Closing Remarks

Micheal Card wrote a song named “Why” which summarised what we have been meditating upon.

Why did it have to be a friend who chose to betray the Lord?

And why did he use a kiss to show them?

That’s not what a kiss is for.

Only a friend can betray a friend, a stranger has nothing to gain,

Only a friend comes close enough to ever cause so much pain.

 

Why did there have to be a thorny crown pressed upon his head?

It should be a royal one made of jewels and gold instead.

It had to be a crown of thorn for in this life we live,

For all who can see to love, thorns is all the world has to give.

 

Why did there have to be a heavy cross he was made to bear?

And why did they nailed his feet and hands?

 His love would have held him there.

It was a cross for all our crosses that we are supposed to pay,

Jesus have come into the world to steal every heart away.

Jesus have come into the world to steal every heart away.

 

            Palm Sunday started the week with the joyful and triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. It ended with the passion of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus knew how terrible is the cost of this passion. It will means intense suffering, betrayals, humiliation, pain and finally death. But what is more terrible price is that He will be separated from God. Yet Jesus chose to submit to God’s will and to His passion. This is the Jesus we follow. This is our Lord and Saviour.

 

                              Soli Deo Gloria

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