The Unparalleled Passion of Jesus Christ
- Monday, March 05, 2007
If Christians were not so familiar with these things because of 2000 years of tradition and liturgy, they might feel how utterly unlikely it was that this death would be the basis of a world-transforming faith. How could it be that a convicted, condemned, executed pretender to the throne of
The Christian answer is that the passion of Jesus Christ was absolutely unique, and his resurrection from the dead three days later was an act of God to vindicate what his death achieved. The uniqueness is not necessarily in the length or intensity of the physical pain. That was unspeakably terrible. But I would not want to minimize the horrors of others who died gruesomely. The uniqueness lies elsewhere.
The passion of Jesus Christ was unique because he was one of a kind. When asked, "Are you the Christ [=Messiah], the Son of the Blessed [=God]?" Jesus said, "I am." It was an almost incredible claim. The Messiah was expected to be powerful and glorious. But here was Jesus about to be crucified, saying openly what he had pointed toward so often during his ministry: I am the Messiah, the king of
He was more than a mere human. Not less. He was, as the ancient Nicene Creed says, "very God of very God." Christ existed before creation. He is co-eternal with God the Father. He was not created. There was no point when he did not exist. Forever and ever in the past God has existed with one divine essence in three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is the testimony of those who knew and were inspired by him to explain who he is.
For example, the apostle John referred to Christ as the "Word" and wrote:
This is what his words and deeds pointed toward. Once he said, "I and the Father are one," which almost got him stoned on the spot (John 10:30-31). Another time he said, "Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58). The words "I am" not only signaled his existence before Abraham, who lived 2000 years earlier, but was also a reference to the name that God gave himself in the Old Testament. "God said to Moses, ‘ I Am Who I Am .' And he said, ‘Say this to the people of
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