Mat’s March Letter

The English language is odd. Two words, spelt the same can apparently mean entirely different things. Take the word ‘passion’ for example. It can mean a strong, intense emotion or desire for something or someone. For example, ‘I have a passion for that’ or ‘I feel passionately about this’. But that isn’t the intended meaning when we speak of the St Matthew’s passion play. That ‘passion’ is about Jesus’ physical, emotional and mental suffering in the days leading up to, and including his death on the cross. The root of this word is from the Greek verb paschō (πάσχω), to suffer. It is these passion events that we will be acting out on Good Friday in Kingsdown. I’m really excited about doing this as a church. Not only is it good to tell the story, it’s also powerful to take part in that story. I’m sure that all involved will be struck afresh by something as we tell it together.

As I’ve begun to prepare for Easter it has struck me again that Jesus chose to endure this passion, this suffering. Why? It is clear in the gospels that he has a way out if he wanted to take it. He need not have gone to Jerusalem in the first place, he need not have gone to Gethsemane knowing that Judas would betray him there (John 13:21Open Link in New Windowff), he could have passed on the cup given him (Matt 26:39Open Link in New Window) he could have called on a legion of angels to defend him (Matt 26:53Open Link in New Window), or have answered one of Pilate’s questions to secure release (Matt 27:14Open Link in New Window), or called for help to release him from the cross (Matt 27:42Open Link in New Window). But he didn’t. He followed his Father’s will and surrendered to death on the cross. Why?

Well I guess a simple answer is passion (the other meaning)—a strong intense desire—to see us released from the power of sin and death. ‘Love’ would be a better word. Love for us; me and you.

As we prepare for Easter let’s reflect on and wonder at the passion of Jesus for us as we travel through his passion. And let’s pray that we might try to express an honest and worshipful response to him. Jesus really chose to really die for me and for you. Surely that passion deserves our passion in response.

Mat

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