What Is Passion Week? (Y1.T2.D42)
Updated: Apr 17
Passion Week begins with Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and continues through to his crucifixion and resurrection.
While Jesus ministered for two to three years and lived about thirty, an unequal portion of the Gospels is spent on his last week. In fact, we read about Palm Sunday over five posts ago, and we will not finish reading through Passion Week by the end of this trimester.
Based on a quote from Being Reformed: Faith Seeking Understanding, by James D. Miller and Donald K. McKim listed on WikiPreacher:
Approximately 40 percent of the first three (synoptic) Gospels focus on the last week of Jesus’ life. That percentage increases to about 66 percent when we come to the Gospel of John. If the Gospels were simply biographies of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we would expect a more balanced treatment of the various seasons of his life. But that is not what we find. A vastly disproportionate focus is given over to the last week of Jesus’ life, as if to say, “Whatever else you miss, please, don’t miss this.”
This is especially powerful when we consider the last verse of John's Gospel that dedicated over half of its writing to Jesus' death and resurrection:
There are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they would all be written, I suppose that even the world itself wouldn’t have room for the books that would be written. (v. 21:25)
Jesus did a lot while on this earth. We've read of his healing and teaching but nothing was more important than fulfilling his purpose—to die for our sins.
You might be wondering why such a painful time is called Passion Week?
Merriam Webster provides the following essential meanings to the word "passion":
a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something
a strong feeling (such as anger) that causes you to act in a dangerous way
a strong sexual or romantic feeling for someone
None of these describe what happened to Jesus during the week of his crucifixion. To understand the label, we have to understand what happens to a living language (a language still being used and spoken by people). As generations full of new experiences impact a language, some of the words within them change in meaning. Some—like the word passion—become almost unrecognizable.
Using the same Merriam Webster link for the definition of passion, we can scroll down to the history or etymology and find the origin of the word:
Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin passion-, passio suffering, being acted upon, from Latin pati to suffer — more at PATIENT
This makes more sense. The Latin passio or pati, which indicate the kind of suffering we feel when forced to be “patient,” more closely resembles what Christ accomplished during Holy Week than the current means of “passion.”
The Middle English definition refers to the ancient Passion Plays or modern movies like “The Passion of the Christ.” And as we read these accounts for ourselves, let us not miss the sense of urgency Jesus must have felt knowing he'd soon be leaving those he loved.
Let's pay close attention to what he felt was important enough to emphasize.
Lessons from Your Suffering
20a They watched him and sent out spies, who pretended to be righteous, (Luke 20:20a)
9 “‘If it is an animal of which men offer an offering to Yahweh, all that any man gives of such to Yahweh becomes holy. 10 He shall not alter it, nor exchange it, a good for a bad, or a bad for a good. If he shall at all exchange animal for animal, then both it and that for which it is exchanged shall be holy. 11 If it is any unclean animal, of which they do not offer as an offering to Yahweh, then he shall set the animal before the priest; 12 and the priest shall evaluate it, whether it is good or bad. As the priest evaluates it, so it shall be. 13 But if he will indeed redeem it, then he shall add the fifth part of it to its valuation.
14 “‘When a man dedicates his house to be holy to Yahweh, then the priest shall evaluate it, whether it is good or bad. As the priest evaluates it, so it shall stand. 15 If he who dedicates it will redeem his house, then he shall add the fifth part of the money of your valuation to it, and it shall be his.
16 “‘If a man dedicates to Yahweh part of the field of his possession, then your valuation shall be according to the seed for it. The sowing of a homer of barley shall be valued at fifty shekels of silver. 17 If he dedicates his field from the Year of Jubilee, according to your valuation it shall stand. 18 But if he dedicates his field after the Jubilee, then the priest shall reckon to him the money according to the years that remain to the Year of Jubilee; and an abatement shall be made from your valuation. 19 If he who dedicated the field will indeed redeem it, then he shall add the fifth part of the money of your valuation to it, and it shall remain his. 20 If he will not redeem the field, or if he has sold the field to another man, it shall not be redeemed any more; 21 but the field, when it goes out in the Jubilee, shall be holy to Yahweh, as a devoted field. It shall be owned by the priests.
22 “‘If he dedicates a field to Yahweh which he has bought, which is not of the field of his possession, 23 then the priest shall reckon to him the worth of your valuation up to the Year of Jubilee; and he shall give your valuation on that day, as a holy thing to Yahweh. 24 In the Year of Jubilee the field shall return to him from whom it was bought, even to him to whom the possession of the land belongs. 25 All your valuations shall be according to the shekel of the sanctuary: twenty gerahs to the shekel.
26 “‘However the firstborn among animals, which belongs to Yahweh as a firstborn, no man may dedicate, whether an ox or a sheep. It is Yahweh’s. 27 If it is an unclean animal, then he shall buy it back according to your valuation, and shall add to it the fifth part of it; or if it isn’t redeemed, then it shall be sold according to your valuation.
28 “‘Notwithstanding, no devoted thing that a man devotes to Yahweh of all that he has, whether of man or animal, or of the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed. Everything that is permanently devoted is most holy to Yahweh.
29 “‘No one devoted to destruction, who shall be devoted from among men, shall be ransomed. He shall surely be put to death. (Leviticus 27:9–29)
22a When they [Jesus' accusers] heard it, (Matthew 22:22a)
26a They weren’t able to trap him in his words before the people. (Luke 20:26a)
22c and left him and went away. (Matthew 22:22c)
Thank You for suffering so I could have eternal life. And even when I find myself walking through the valley of the shadow of death, I can fear no evil because You are with me. Your rod and staff comfort me (Psalm 23:4). I know whoever believes in You will never die (John 11:26). Help me fight the good fight, finish the course, and keep the faith (2 Timothy 4:7).
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