In these uncommon times if is good to remember that nearly 2,000 years ago, within 60 days, events occurred that literally changed everything. From Christ’s Triumphal Entry to His crucifixion, to His resurrection, to His ascension, and on to Pentecost, this period brought hope to a fallen world. The word hope in English often conveys doubt. For instance, “I hope it will not rain tomorrow.” Further, the word hope is usually followed by the word so. This is the answer some may give when asked if they think they will go to heaven when they die. They say, “I hope so.” However, that is not the meaning of the words usually translated “hope” in the Bible. Biblical hope carries no doubt. One of the verses in which we find the word hope is Hebrews 11:1. “Faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.” This verse carries with it all the confidence that comes with knowing for sure, with no question, what we have been promised by God in His Word and made available to all of us through the salvific work of Jesus Christ. Biblical hope is a reality and not a mere feeling because it is founded upon the Rock of our salvation, our Lord Jesus Christ.
We receive hope when we look at the events that took place during Passion Week. This is the time from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday. It is a week that begins with Christ’s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem and comprises of Maundy Thursday, and of course, Christ’s finished work on the cross on Good Friday. Passion Week speaks of hope loving. Passion week speaks of Christ, who is our Hope, as well as the One in whom we place our hope, showing sacrificial love for each and every one of us.
Passion Week is described in all four Gospels and contained several memorable events (Matt 21-27; Mk 11-15; Lk 19-23; and Jn 12-19). Jesus cleansed the temple for the second time. Jesus disputed with the Pharisees regarding His authority. Jesus gave His Olivet Discourse where He spoke of the end times and taught many other things, including the signs of His second coming. Jesus meets with His disciples in an upper room where He washes His Disciples’ feet and institutes the New Covenant in His blood. He gives His disciples last-minute instructions and encouragement. He prays His “high priestly prayer” over His disciples as well as over all of His disciples at all times. Jesus goes to the garden of Gethsemane to pray as He waited for His hour to come. It is here that He, being betrayed by Judas, was arrested and taken to several sham trials before the chief priests, Pontius Pilate, and Herod (see: Lk 22:54-23:25). Following the trials, Jesus was viciously beaten beyond recognition at the hands of Roman soldiers, then was forced to carry His own instrument of execution, His cross, through the streets of Jerusalem along what is known as the Via Dolorosa (way of suffering). Jesus was then crucified at Golgotha on the day before the Sabbath, was buried and remained in the tomb until Sunday, the day after the Sabbath, and then gloriously resurrected.
We call this week Passion Week because, in this time, Jesus Christ truly revealed His passion for us in the suffering He willingly went through on our behalf and, in doing so, provides each of us with hope. The word passion is from the Latin pati, which means “to endure” or “to suffer.” Scripture often points to the suffering of Christ, indeed, the crucifixion of Christ as the apex of Human History and the grand theme of the apostles’ teaching (see: 1 Cor 2:2). It’s through the passion of Christ that we are made right with God.
We discover in Isaiah 53 hope loving. This prophecy speaks of the work of God’s suffering servant, fulfilled in Christ, our Hope, that is nothing short of exhibiting extreme love. Isaiah 53 foretells of Christ’s sacrifice, the witnesses’ initial reaction, and His truly salvific work. Through this prophecy, we receive hope from how others saw Him, how He bore our sins, from how Jesus suffered and died for us, His satisfaction, and salvific work and reward. Jesus’ passion was due to a settled purpose and love.
What is our response going to be to Christ’s passion? I would propose that we should be passionate in our worship of Jesus with our very lives. We ought to be moved to receive Christ as Lord and Savior and proclaim the good news to others of the salvation found in Christ. As Christ suffered for us, we should be willing to follow Him, no matter what suffering we may endure. In the passion of Christ, we see hope loving, as Jesus, out of love for us, endured suffering unto death, to save all who place their faith in Him as Savior and Lord.
I pray that this time of the year, where we celebrate the life, sacrifice, and resurrection of Christ, will bring you hope. I ask God to allow the hope we have in Him bear fruit as we worship Him with our lives by sharing His love and message with others. In Christ, we discover hope loving. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!