Summary: Learn God’s reasons for the sufferings of Jesus christ
THE PASSION OF CHRIST
How many people have already seen The Passion of the Christ? I went to see the movie this past Thursday. I had one thought during the movie and one though after the movie. As tears filled my eyes, my first thought was, “I should be the one punished. I sinned, not Christ.”
My second thought came after the movie. The thought was this, “How would people who are not familiar with the Bible interpret this movie?” Would they interpret the final hours of Jesus’ life as a tragedy produced by the religious and political powers of his day? Would they understand why Jesus purposed himself to suffer and die? And if they understood why Jesus had to die, would they know how Jesus’ death on the cross could make a difference in their lives today?
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a movie may be worth 10,000 words. But many words do not guarantee accurate interpretation of the painting. Two people looking at the same panting can have very different interpretations. Two people watching The Passion of the Christ can have very different interpretations of the movie, especially if they are not familiar with the biblical context of the final 12 hours of Jesus life.
So I want to bring biblical context to the suffering of Jesus’ life. Some of you will go see the movie and others of you will invite non-Christian friends to go with you. When they ask, “Why did Jesus have to suffer?” how will you answer that question? And will you be able to connect the passion or suffering of Jesus Christ to their lives today?
Before we continue, let me clarify the terms, “Messiah” and “Christ.” Both words refer to God’s chosen One to rescue us from our sins. “Messiah” is a Hebrew word, while “Christ” is a Greek word. The Old Testament was written in the Hebrew language, while the New Testament was written in the Greek language. The Bibles we use today are translations from these original languages.
Our text this morning comes from Isaiah 53:1-12.
Isaiah, the Prophet, foretells of God’s servant as a suffering Savior. More than 700 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, Isaiah saw the sufferings of Christ and the purposes for his sufferings. If you read Isaiah 53 before watching The Passion of the Christ, you will understand the suffering of Christ was not a tragedy but a triumph for God and mankind. Let’s look together.
First, the suffering of Christ reveals to us the power of God. Verses 1-3
We think God only uses the wealthy, the celebrity, the powerful and the educated. But Isaiah saw 720 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, how God chose One who contradicted our worldly values. None of us would recognize God’s chosen One, if God had not revealed him through prophecy.
And that is why Jesus was overlooked by the authorities of his time and by many today. He was an outcast in the eyes of others. He was called an illegitimate child, whose mother was Mary and whose father was unknown. Those who followed him were sinners, rebels, prostitutes and social outcasts. Jesus said he came not for the healthy and righteous but for the sick and sinful.
But those who followed Jesus eventually rejected him. Even his disciples fled when he was arrested. His birth was ridiculed and his death was tragic, a good man sentenced to death on a cross. But God’s power to rescue mankind from sin would come through the person of Jesus Christ.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:
‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’
Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”
This is good to note: “God’s wisdom and power are not the same as the world’s wisdom and power.” If God chose an educated, wealthy and respected individual, we might think the wisdom and power came from the person’s education, wealth and respectability rather than from God. God’s power is not dependent on the one He chooses to use. The suffering of Christ reveals to us the power of God.