Only once in the Scriptures do we find the English word “passion”, Acts 1. 3. It is the translation of the Greek word pathein, to suffer. There it refers to the consummation of the Lord’s suffering at the end of His earthly sojourn, and especially during the last seven days, what writers today term the Passion Week, commencing with His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Matt. 21. 10, and ending with His resurrection, 28. 6.

In the Old Testament the prophets had foretold this passion of the Lord many years before He appeared on earth. Isaiah, in presenting Jehovah’s Righteous Servant, indicated His rejection by the leaders of Israel, and His lamb-like procession to slaughter for the justification of many, Isa. 53. 3, 7, 11. The psalmist David described the future loneliness, the reproach and the physical sufferings of the Lord on the cross at Calvary, Psa. 22. Daniel showed the time of Messiah’s cutting-off as being at the end of 69 weeks, symbolically fixing it as 483 years from the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, Dan. 9. 25-26.

In the New Testament the Lord Jesus Christ spoke early of His Passion. Clearly the beginning of this direct and open teaching was just after Peter’s confession at Caesarea Philippi, Matt. 16. 21. His Passion was described as His suffering many things, being rejected of the elders and of the chief priests of Israel, being killed, buried, and raised again on the third day. But while the term, the Lord’s Passion, is chiefly used of the accentuation of His sufferings towards the end of His sojourn on earth, after His preaching and teaching were finished, it must be remembered that, to a greater or lesser degree, suffering was His lot throughout the thirty-three years of His life. Note particularly the poverty of His Incarnation, when no place could be found for Him to lay His head, save in the manger of the inn at Bethlehem. Note also His suffering as a child at the hand of Herod, when Joseph and Mary were instructed to take Him temporarily into Egypt, Matt. 2. 13. He spent most of His early years in Nazareth, a Galilean city, with a bad reputation, out of which, men said, came no good thing, John 1. 46. There He knew poverty, and since He was the eldest son of the family, it is often inferred that He took care of a widowed mother and fatherless family, maintaining them by carrying on the carpenter’s shop that Joseph had relinquished, Mark 6. 3.

Jesus, as He grew up, taught in the synagogue to the astonishment of the people, who considered Him but the carpenter’s son, whose mother and brethren and sisters they knew. Many were stumbled by His wisdom; they did not believe in Him, so that few miracles were done in that city, Matt. 13. 54-58.

On another occasion, in the synagogue in Nazareth, when the Lord was preaching to the people, their eyes were fastened on Him, and they wondered at the words of grace which He spoke, but when He mentioned God’s blessing for the Gentiles, the people were filled with wrath, and cast Him forth out of the city, brought Him to the brow of the hill on which it was built, and would have thrown Him over headlong, had He not evaded them, Luke 4. 16-30. His relations despised Him, and thought Him a fraud, Mark 3. 21. Jesus’ brethren according to the flesh did not believe on Him before His death, John 7. 5, but His resurrection convinced them, Acts 1. 14.

Jesus, too, was rejected by the Samaritans, because He had set His face to go to Jerusalem, Luke 9. 52, 53. He was constantly criticized by religious teachers during His sojourn on earth. The Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians combined in an attempt to ensnare Him in His talk, Matt. 22. 15-40, but He refuted everyone. All this indicates that Jesus was acquainted with suffering and reproach, even during the early years of His ministry in Galilee and Judaea.


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