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Holy Passion Week

Passion Week is celebrated in Holy Church in the observation of the sufferings of the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; it is the week is the week of praises. The path of Lord Jesus’ suffering started since His birth. The prophet Isaiah said, “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3) Lord Jesus was born in a manger because Saint Joseph the righteous and the Holy Virgin Mary were unable to find room on their way to the registration of Census. (Luke 2: 7)

On the day of His birth, He suffered from the bitter winter cold. Then He endured Herod’s chase and escaped to Egypt as a child. He lived as a poor man and had no place to lay His head (Matthew 8: 20). He endured weariness (John 4: 6), hunger (Matthew 4: 2), and thirst (John 4: 7 & John 19:28). He faced the Jews’ rejection, “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” (John 1: 11), thus fulfilling the prophecy which said, “I am, the beloved, rejected as a despised dead man.” (Psalm 27:21) He endured criticism and insults; they said of Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” (John 8: 48) They accused Him that by Beelzebub, the ruler of demons, He casts out demons (Matthew 12: 24), that He broke the Sabbath (John 5: 16), that He was a glutton and winebibber (Luke 7: 34), a friend of tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 11: 19), that He blasphemes (Matt. 9: 3), that He stirs up the people and perverts the nation (Luke 23: 5, 2), and that He forbids paying taxes to Caesar (Luke 23: 2). Even after His crucifixion, they said that He was “a deceiver” (Matthew 27: 63-64). Christ endured being striped, beaten, slapped, and spit on, as well as ridiculed. Finally, He endured the cross and they crucified Him with two thieves.

It was a long journey, full of different forms of suffering, characterized by the following:

1.Lord Jesus Christ endured suffering by His own will

He was not forced to endure suffering; He did that of His own will. When our Lord talked about giving Himself up for us, His children, He said, “I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.” (John 10:18)

2.He endured suffering because of His love for us

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3: 16) “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4: 10)

3.He endured sufferings with joy

Lord Jesus Christ our Lord accepted suffering by His own will and because of His love for us. By His life-giving sufferings, He saved us and gave us life. For Christ, the Cross was the cause of happiness and joy, “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrew 12: 2)

4.By His suffering, Lord Jesus Christ changed the meaning of suffering

The Passion of Lord Jesus Christ made us see our suffering with Christ as a gift given to us, “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” (Philippians 1: 29) The road of suffering became for us the road to glory, “if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” (Romans 8: 17) Lord Jesus Christ suffered for our sake and granted us the opportunity to suffer with Him so we may be glorified with Him.

As we follow the journey of Lord Jesus Christ’s Passion, we see Him suffering not because of weakness, but we see Him powerful and stronger than those who crucified and tormented Him. As a proof of this fact, let us look at Christ’s power through the events of the crucifixion:

  1. Lord Jesus Christ knew the hour at which He will be captured and told His disciples, “The hour has come; behold the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”(Mark 14: 41-42) Although He knew the hour of His capture, He did not flee. Instead, He went to meet those coming to detain Him, “Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, ‘Whom are you seeking?’ They answered Him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am He.’ And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. Now when He said to them, ‘I am He’, they drew back and fell to the ground. Then He asked them again, ‘Whom are you seeking?’ And they said, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus answered, ‘I have told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way.’ That the saying might be fulfilled which He spoke, ‘Of those whom You gave Me I have lost none.” (John 18: 4-9)

Lord Jesus Christ, went out to the troops and officers carrying weapons (John 18: 3). He went to them by Himself, fully aware all what was to happen. Although they brought along Judas to identify Him, Lord Jesus Christ revealed His identity to them. So, what happened? They drew back and fell to the ground. In front of the power of Christ, the soldiers carrying the weapons fell. Lord Jesus Christ neither escaped nor punished them. Instead, by the power of His meekness and humility, He allowed them to capture Him.

Lord Jesus Christ was strong at the moment of His capture and protected His disciples so none of them would be lost. He refused the protection of the disciples for Him. When Peter, who was full of zeal, struck and cut off the right ear of the

, Lord Jesus Christ told him, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given me?” (Luke 22: 51) The Lord did not ask for fire from heaven to come down and destroy His enemies, nor did He ask for twelve legions of angels to protect Him, but He has trodden the winepress alone.

Lord Jesus Christ was strong during His trial: He remained silent in front of the chief priests, the elders and all the council who were seeking false testimony against Him in order to kill Him (Matthew 26: 63). The high priest asked Him if He was Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The Lord answered saying, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! What do you think? They answered and said, ‘He is deserving death.” (Matthew 26: 63-66)

Lord Jesus Christ remained silent and when He spoke, He witnessed to His glory and might, telling the high priest, “hereafter, you will see the Son of Man.” Indeed, Lord Jesus Christ’s power was revealed at the time of His crucifixion. In front of Pilate, He remained silent and did not respond to what the chief priests were accusing Him of, so that Pilate was amazed (Mark 15: 3-5). When Pilate asked Lord Jesus Christ, “Are you the King of the Jews?” (John 18:33), the Lord answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” (John 18: 37). When Pilate told Lord Jesus Christ, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” Lord Jesus Christ answered saying, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above.” (John 19: 10-11)

  1. Lord Jesus Christ revealed His power on the Cross when He forgave those who crucified Him; He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23: 34) He led the thief on His right hand to believe in Him (Luke 23: 39-43) and He was concerned with the care of His mother, the Holy Virgin Saint Mary (John 19: 26-27). When Lord Jesus Christ yielded His spirit, the veil of the temple was torn, the earth quaked, the rocks were split, the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised (Matthew 27: 51-52) This caused the centurion and those with him to believe in Christ, “So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that happened, they feared greatly, saying, ‘Truly this was the Son of God.” (Matthew 27: 54)

  1. The death of Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross freed mankind from bondage to Satan, released those captives in Hades who remained on hope (Ephesians 4: 9-10) and opened the gates of Paradise to mankind.

During the journey of Holy Passion Week, we praise our suffering of our savior Lord Jesus Christ and glorify Him!

May the power of the Holy Cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be upon us, Amen!

Source: Coptic Orthodox Church Homily

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