The Passion of Christ is at the heart of the life of anyone who would claim to be a follower of Jesus. Christ Jesus was brutally beaten and tortured to death on top of a hill called Golgotha for all the world to see. This is fitting since He also died at that time for every sin ever committed on Earth (past, present, and future).
The reason that a believer such as myself can make such a claim is the that Jesus is God. Only God could die for every one of my sins much less the sins of every human that has ever lived and ever will. That is why the divinity of Christ is the heart of Christianity. Praise God for his mercy and grace.
But, thankfully, His work did not end up on that hill. There are those who would follow Jesus who stand transfixed by His blood on that tree. They worship and praise His holy name and thank Him for His mercy and His grace. But their feet never leave the proverbial foot of the cross.
You see, on the first day of the week, Jesus was raised, the door of the tomb was opened and He left death behind. Jesus lived again so that He might lead us out of our spiritually dead and dark lives into lives of life in His service in the light. That’s His Command to us for our lives on earth, after all; serving/loving others.
He died a gruesome death for every sin committed by every person who ever lived and ever will live. If He did that, did He not rise to offer those same people life? He did all of that for you and for me so we need to follow God’s will by loving/serving those whom He also died and lived for. That’s “all” He asks of us: Love Him and Love others. We, as believers, tend to be pretty good at the first, but not as good at the second. We are not nearly as passionate about Jesus as He is about us for one thing. We are too focused on the lifestyle and not on the life. We are too quick to judge others who have sins for which Jesus already paid the ultimate price.
Jesus did all of this so that believers could do better. If you claim to follow Christ, I’m talking about You. Yes. I’m also talking about myself. I have no illusions about that. It’s hard. Living by faith is a difficult thing. Jesus doesn’t compare it to carrying one’s cross for nothing. He demands commitment to Him and all He is and stands for. The Good News is that Jesus did not just rise from the dead. He also ascended into Heaven. This, of course. speaks to His divinity as well as His ability to empower His believers to perform the work He has commanded.
Rising from death is uncommon to be sure, but decidedly not a unique occurrence even in the Bible but we don’t worship anyone else who is raised from the dead. For instance, we don’t worship Lazarus or the little girl. They were both dead and then came back to the living. The difference being Jesus’ divinity and His steadfast love for all humanity.
Jesus’s ultimate love food each of us is demonstrated beautifully in the story of Jesus and Mary at the Tomb. Not only does this story demonstrate Jesus’s love and passion for humanity it also shows us His need to ascend to Heaven in order to complete His ministry. Remember what Jesus said:
No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
(John 3:13-15 ESV)
Here is where it gets even more interesting. The aspect of all of this that is often missed is that, in context, Jesus is not talking about being lifted up on the cross. He’s speaking about ascending into heaven so that those who believe in Him may have eternal life.
Living lives of love and Christ-like passion, I believe, will also fill believers with such a passion for Christ and everyone He loves that His light will shine through His followers. Such passionate lives will be infectious and people will be drawn to this holy light like moths to a flame.
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This article was originally published on this blog April 6, 2012.