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What is the passion of the Christ?

While we commonly think of the word passion as belonging within the realm of emotional romantic love or passionate feelings for a specific activity or profession, the word passion has a different etymological root. It comes from the Latin word pati, meaning "to suffer" or "to endure." When the term "passion of Christ" is used, it refers to Jesus' endurance through His suffering, both in the time leading up to His crucifixion and His actual crucifixion.

Generally, within the world of theology, the term passion of Christ has taken on the more specific meaning of referring to the timeframe of Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane to the moment of His death on the cross. This was the range of His most profound suffering and required incredible endurance. Around Easter, many churches will produce "passion plays" that depict these last hours of Jesus' life. Each Gospel records the story of the passion of Christ: Matthew 26:36—27:56, Mark 14:32—15:41, Luke 22:39—23:49, and John 18:1—19:37.

The suffering that Jesus endured was completely real. The passion of Christ is not merely a metaphorical description; Jesus suffered and died a physical death as well as suffered spiritually. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed to see if there was a way around the suffering He was about to endure: "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup pass from me" (Matthew 26:39). His agony was so profound that His sweat "became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Luke 22:44). The beating, mocking, whipping, placing of the crown of thorns on His head, being nailed to a cross, and suffocating while hanging there were all indescribably painful things that Jesus willingly chose to endure for the sake of our salvation. But His suffering was not only physical, or even mostly physical, Jesus endured spiritual suffering we can only begin to fathom. He bore the weight of the sin of the world on the cross and the wrath of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus' anguish when He cried out "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46) was very real.

The passion of the Christ was prophesied by Isaiah in the Old Testament (Isaiah 53:4—12). Christ's crucifixion is so powerful because without it, we would not have a way to be saved and at peace with God. The apostle Paul said, "For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2). Isaiah 53:5 explains: "But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed." Through Christ's crucifixion, we have the open door to be made right in God's sight. Once we are saved, Christ's crucifixion serves as a metaphor of our daily life as believers (Romans 6:6—8; Galatians 2:20; Romans 12:1–2): when we place our faith in Christ for salvation, we die to our old selves every day so that we may live in Christ and "put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:24).


Related Truth:

Why did Jesus have to suffer so badly? What is the reason for Jesus' suffering?

What happened in the last hours before Jesus' death?

What legal trials of Jesus led to His crucifixion?

Who is responsible for Jesus Christ's death?

Is the death of Jesus Christ or His resurrection more important?


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