The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ is the center of our Faith. Nothing else is more important. You are not the focus of faith. He is. His Death and Resurrection is what matters. What must always be preached is that Christ Jesus is the one God sent to rescue the world from sin. He is the one we must focus on, and no one else, not even you. He is our God Who loved us so much He gave His life for us.
We’re now preparing for the days of His Passion and Death and Resurrection. So we focus on our sins. We see why He came down from heaven. We see we are wicked at our core, unable to earn eternal life. He saw our miserable state and came down to work salvation for us all by Himself. Since this is the time when He did it, this is the time we ponder what He did for us.
Judas was supposed to be one of Jesus’ disciples. He was trusted enough that he was the treasurer. Yet he was a thief. He was helping himself to the moneybag, and even complained when somebody spent money to beautify Jesus’ Body for burial instead of putting it into his reach in the moneybag. He was always looking for a way to get more cash into his pocket. So when he heard The Jews wanted Jesus, he was happy to oblige. He didn’t think anybody would get hurt. He just figured it would get him some more money. The love of money was his god.
What is your god? The love of money is really love of self. It thinks, “If I have more, I’ll get more of what I want, more of what – I think – I need.” What’s the problem? God’s taken out of the equation. It’s forgotten He gives us all we need. He provides. This is what Adam forgot. He fell in love with the idea of wanting, needing more. That’s why he ate the forbidden fruit. He wanted what was forbidden, what he didn’t need, what he thought he wanted even though God said it wasn’t good for him. He ate and betrayed his God.
So examine yourself to find your sins so you discover what your gods are. But don’t do this so you can worship them better. No, abandon those gods, fast from them and put them away, bury or burn them. Repent of all the things you have loved more than God, be they money or toys or sports or whatever it may be. Repent and desire to do better. If your god is money, give it away. If it’s toys, stop playing with them. If it’s sports, stop watching or playing them. But this won’t save you. It will only help train you to not love them so much. Our Lord’s Passion saves you. His great desire to save you, which you see in His Death, is greater than your love of other things. It forgives you and draws you to Him to love Him as your God.
Jesus’ Death alone is the only thing you will need when the end comes, so it’s the only thing you truly need now. He cares for you. He’s the one Who gives you all good things, including money and toys and sports. So worship Him first and let the rest take care of itself. He provides. That does not mean He’ll give you everything you want. It does mean He cares for you. He has promised it. He keeps all His promises – His Cross is living proof.
Our Lord’s Passion happened at Passover, the highest feast of the Jews. On this night they celebrated the rescue of their people from Egypt. They had been there 430 years, since Jacob and his family joined Joseph there. For much of it they were viciously enslaved by the wicked Pharaohs. God heard their cries, and when the time was fully come, He came to their rescue. He sent Moses to Pharaoh to announce to him what he must do. When Pharaoh refused, God sent 10 plagues. The tenth happened on Passover night. The angel of death ended the lives of all the firstborn in Egypt. But that didn’t happen to the Israelites.
God told them to sacrifice lambs and eat them. Each house took a lamb, a year-old, blemish-free male, slit its throat to drain the blood, and roast it on a spit – formed like a cross. They painted the lamb’s blood on their door frames in a motion that resembled the sign of the cross. Then they ate the lamb, ready to leave Egypt at a moment’s notice. The angel saw the blood and spared them. He passed over them. Death passed over them. They left Egypt, crossed the Red Sea, and 40 years later received their promised inheritance.
St. Luke, in his account of Our Lord’s Transfiguration, reports that Moses and Elijah were talking with Jesus about His Exodus. That’s what we call Israel’s escape from Egypt. Perhaps that’s a clue why Jesus died at Passover. Did you hear some similarities in the description of the lamb? We call Jesus “The Lamb of God, pure and holy, Who on The Cross did suffer.” His Blood is all over us – baptism, communion – and eternal death passes over us.
We’re born enslaved to a wicked Pharaoh, and his name is Satan. He rules all things that are conceived and born in sin. He rules us to bring us down to himself in hell eternally. He wants us to do what is evil in God’s sight, and he loves it when evil ruins our earthly lives too. He killed our father Adam and wants us to stay dead forever, never brought to life by Christ. He wants us to worry more about how much power we have instead of if we’re clean of sin in God’s sight.
Christ came down from heaven to rescue us from that wicked master. He did it by suffering all the torments of hell while He was dying. He was punished for all your sins there. Then He died, because the wages of your sin is death. But He burst forth from the grave alive. Death could not hold Him. Because He bore your sin and chains and death and broke free, sin and death cannot hold you! They must let you go because He’s already destroyed their power over you. You will rise to life again, even though you die. Your grave will not hold you forever. He will return and you will live again. Even now you are alive in His sight, able to serve Him in righteousness, innocence, and blessedness.
The Israelites ate the Old Testament Passover meal once a year, but you eat and drink The New Testament meal at least once a week. They ate the lamb and painted the blood, and physical death passed over them. You eat The Body and drink The Blood of God’s Lamb and eternal death passes over you. They were freed from Pharaoh’s slavery. You are freed from your sins. You are forgiven. God works in you so you can do what is right in His sight.
It is not your eating and drinking which does it, but faith believes His Word: “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sin.” Faith believes it; it takes hold of what He says. That’s how He forgives your sins when you receive His Sacrament. He is physically promising you that eternal death, and in the end, physical death, will pass over you, for you are risen now from spiritual death.
That’s why Christ Jesus endured His Bloody Passion. It was so you would not have to suffer for your sins eternally. It was so death would pass over you. It was so Satan would have to give you up. It was so you would live with your Lord, with Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, into all eternity. He died, and you live. He rose, and you are free from sin.