We call it the week of the Passion.
Passion – what a word.
For us it invokes a sense of strong emotion, feeling, or concern.
Certainly that is part of what is happening. Jesus, the God-Man, had passion for his people. He saw the world and his heart was moved. He saw our pain and decided something must be done. His passion, for them, for us, moved him into action.
But there is also something peculiar here. The original meaning of this word in Greek is πάσχω (pasxo), which can denote heavy emotion, feeling. But more often pasxo means “to suffer,” “to endure,” “to be acted upon.” (Luke 22:15; Luke 24:46; Acts 1:3)
And so we have something profound indicated by this word.
If God’s passion for his people had led him to action, if he had acted upon the world, then sin might have been wiped out, but we would have been as well. Sin does not stand alone, it cannot just be destroyed. For it is people who are sinful, it us who are the problem. To destroy sin, is to destroy us.
But God’s desire for his people is so deep, so all-consuming, that in his passion he did not act upon us, but rather, willingly he was acted upon. Luther called this the great exchange. Him for us. Him instead of us. That is the meaning of pasxo – to suffer, to feel, to be afflicted. But for a purpose.
In his suffering he takes our sin. He endures so we might be freed. In his pain our sin is swallowed up.
In this Holy Week of Passion, suffering somehow is good, because it leads to our salvation.
O Lord, we thank you for your Passion. You have loved us so deeply you have given yourself, body, emotion, and all in order that we might live. Let us not take this for granted, but rather grant our lives to your work.