Posted by: District Elder Edgar Damonze
A glance in the rear-view mirror and for some Christmas is still fairly close. Just ahead of us, we can already see Easter; another blessed time in our Christian life. Before that though, we will experience the time of Passiontide. A time when we are reminded of the Passion (suffering) of Christ. A time that ended with His death on the cross on what we know as Good Friday. All this before His wonderful victory over death and resurrection on Easter.
Being reminded of His suffering is one thing. However deep reflection can yield greater benefits. It underlines, even more, the significance of this great part of salvation history. It can lead to a greater understanding of His sacrifice, generate gratitude for His sacrifice, and also draw us closer to God and His Son. We also gain the strength to continue to carry our own “cross” in life.
This short article barely scratches the surface. It cannot do justice to the extent and significance of Christ’s suffering, or His conduct through all this nor the ultimate sacrifice that He made for humankind. Hopefully, this article prompts all of us to spend some time during this upcoming Passiontide to do in-depth research and reflection on our own.
Jesus was betrayed by the people welcoming Him into Jerusalem and by one of His disciples - Judas. He was falsely accused by the scribes and Pharisees who were threatened by Him. He was treated like a guilty criminal, humiliated, beaten, made to carry His cross, and finally crucified. All of this suffering and He was innocent. What He did was teach the gospel and offer salvation to humankind. He suffered all of this and so much more not covered here, and He reached moments of despair. Yet He humbly remained obedient to the will of God, continued to trust God, forgave those who made Him suffer and ultimately gave His life for our salvation.
When we reflect on this and His ultimate victory on Easter, may it also strengthen us to continue in our fight to achieve the salvation offered to us. Our suffering cannot be elevated to a level of comparison to Christ’s; even though it may feel as bad to us. We also experience betrayal, false accusations, being poorly treated, and many other forms of suffering. Remember that there are still Christians losing their life today because of their faith. In part, we cannot blame others for our suffering. It is part of life, and we need to bear it. Yet it hurts, and we could despair. We can learn from Christ to continue to trust God and not lose hope even it brings us to our knees. Then there is the part where we want to and can blame others. Do we hold it against them?
Our research and reflection can help solidify for us the fact that He was prepared to “become like us” – Human - lived and suffered as we do. For our salvation’s sake we are called upon to strive to “become like Him”. Give it all we have. No matter how difficult, do not give up trying. God sees and blesses our effort to become like Christ, to love our enemies as Christ did. He did not see evil people but people who were “victims” of evil and He forgave them. Can we do the same, especially when others are the reason for our suffering?
God’s richest blessing be with you for the upcoming Passiontide. It may awaken somber feelings given the suffering of Christ. Our suffering can bring with it even worse emotions and reactions. Let us learn from Christ. Let it not merely be about pain and suffering, but let it also include drawing strength from His victory on Easter, embracing our freedom because of and through Christ, and looking forward to our salvation and eternal life with Him. We are thankful that He sacrificed His life for us and that He was victorious.