3/7/04 , L2C

“The Passion of Life”
Luke 13: 31-35

s Jesus became aware that his work on Earth was moving rapidly toward a grand finale he fearlessly turned his steps toward Jerusalem and began “wrapping things up” (v. 33, Peterson) with his traveling ministry. Likewise, as we walk through this pre-Easter time we turn our eyes upon Jesus as we mark his every step.

Jesus knew what he faced. He was born to die. All else that he did during his brief life of thirty-three years would have been for naught if he had not marched toward the town that was known for prophet killing. King Herod, puppet of the Roman occupiers, wanted to kill him and he would not have to wait much longer. Evidently many citizens of Jerusalem had become brutalized by the many years of terror and were addicted to their participating in the barbarity of Rome . History informs us that the Roman Empire would soon crumble from within. The decadence and inhumanity of its leadership turned the people into savages and the house of cards would tumble.

One example of Rome 's cruelty was the horrors of capital punishment. Josephus, the historian of that time tells of crosses lining both sides of the roads coming into Jerusalem with crucified men in various stages of dying and decomposition. Jesus possibly walked through this infamy as he drew near to his own Cross. It was not a pretty sight.

Several have asked what I thought of Mel Gibson's recently released motion picture, "THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST". Let me preface my feelings by repeating what our Bishop Lindsey Davis said last Sunday, in all three of our worship services, “Our question is not, ‘Who killed Jesus? But rather, ‘For what purpose did Jesus die?” As Lenten Christians, knowing how the story reads, we must always remember that Jesus sacrificed his life as a way of winning humanity back to friendship with God. He suffered because he loved us. Jesus' love was much like human love when parents willingly risk their lives in heroic efforts to save their children. Jesus died to save all of us.

Having done a study some years ago of how Jesus died, and having preached on the texts many times, I can say that the depiction of the scourge was not over done. The actual event would have been much worse than shown in the movie. I am glad that the movie sanitized these brutal scenes because the real thing would have been too much for most people to view. Fragile persons, sick people and certainly children should avoid the movie. As Jay Leno said, “The movie is so good they are planning to write a book.” So, read it in the Gospels, or watch one of the many prior motion pictures that include the crucifixion of Christ. The first one, “King of Kings,” the 1927 Cecil B. DeMille edition is available on Amazon.com for $29.95. It is a black and white silent movie, but is great. “The Robe,” starring Richard Burton, as a Roman Tribune, who won Jesus seamless robe, and became a believer, is a good movie. But also go see Mel Gibson's edition. Gibson is a man with a passion for Christ and it is evident in his film.

My hope is that most of the millions who are flocking to see this great motion picture will realize that the purpose of Christ's sacrifice is that we can all become persons of great passion for Christ. We can become persons on a mission to do our part in reaching precious souls with the Good News of the Cross. This is the basic message of Christianity and a truth that we all hold in common. However, some of us have heard the story so often that we have become immune to its magnetism and passion. Hopefully, this movie, “The Passion of the Christ,” can re-ignite our passion and fervor. Zealousness in our spiritual lives will embolden our whole lives, and overflow into a purpose driven life.

This buoyed passion will also give us great joy and gusto.

Typically, this passion for Christ will lead to a life focused on others. Many of us can remodel the life we already have into a higher level in which we allow the Spirit to lead us into new ways of helping others and expressing random acts of kindness. It is the, “if everyone lit just one little candle,” effect. One solitary life can sometimes make a big difference. Together, as the Church, we can individually serve in a Mighty Army.

Beginning at home, we need to be the best person we can be. Let your passion for Christ change the way you live at home. Love your family so much that you would make any sacrifice for them. “Husbands, love your wives as much as Christ loved you and gave his life for you.” (Eph. 5:25)

And out beyond our fences is a whole wide world of suffering people, some of whom we will meet this week. Let us begin each conversation with a smile. I am trying to smile more. I am not a natural smiler, but I have noticed that when I walk around Adamson Square that if I smile, most folks will smile back. Once smiles have been exchanged, the conversation flows more easily. We never meet any ordinary people, but people who will one day become extraordinary saints in glory.

And allow your zeal for Christ to show. It's great when folks ask, “Just what gives you so much energy and punch, how do you get so much done?” Most people realize that a person's zest must come from some superhuman force and they naturally want to know how to attain what you have. Zest was the secret of Zeig Zeigler, the famous motivational speaker. I saw him on T.V. once and his enthusiasm was contagious. People would leave his seminars fired up to take on the world. The Spirit will not make us a clone of Jesus or Zeig, but he can modify our own unique personalities in such a way that folks will begin to see Jesus in us.

The mental picture that I carry around in my heart of my friend Jesus is of “The Laughing Christ.” You have seen it, Jesus had his head thrown back and he's laughing with reckless abandon. We can release a lot of pain and bitter feelings through laughter. Christ died to turn our sorrows into smiling, our tears into laughter. His passion in us gives us something to smile about.

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor
3/7/04 , L2C