WE NEED JESUS’ PERFECT SACRIFICE FOR OUR SALVATION
(A biblical reflection on PASSION SUNDAY [YEAR A], 9 April 2017)
Second Reading: Philippians 2:6-11
First Reading: Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalms: Psalm 22:8-9,17-20,23-24; Gospel Reading: Matthew 26:14-27:66 (Matthew 27:11-54)
Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:6-11 RSV)
If we could have been in the upper room with Jesus during the Last Supper, we would see that Jesus knew. He knew the one who would betray Him. He knew that he would not drink again of the vine. He knew that Simon Peter would deny Him. And yet, when we read the passion, something within us always wishes it had all been different. If only Pilate had known who Jesus was! If only the Pharisees had been more open!
Would we have tried to save Jesus from His fate? Even if all humanity’s blindness could be removed, and we all realized our sinful condition before God, we would still need Jesus’ perfect sacrifice for our salvation. Without the gift of the cross, we would be condemned. Reading the passion can help us to reckon with the desperate condition that humankind was, and still is, in.
Jesus was so close to His Father that, although falsely accused and crucified, He forgave His persecutors and bid others not to weep for Him. We may be repulsed by thoughts of Jesus sweating blood and the imminent sense of death He must have felt in Gethsemane. Yet at the same time, we can be filled with gratitude as we recall that He endured all this for us. As the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to Jesus’ passion, our revulsion will be turned on our own sin, knowing that it was because of the darkness within us that Jesus suffered so greatly.
Let’s spend some time today reading the passion, asking the Lord to show each of us His love. Let’s place ourselves in the upper room, or n Gethsemane, or on Calvary. In faith, let’s gaze upon the One who offered His life to win our release. By placing ourselves with Jesus in the midst of these events, we can experience our redemption in a powerful, life-changing way.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, open to us the mystery of Your cross. Help us to empty ourselves, trusting that one day we will be lifted up with You to share in Your unending glory. Amen.
Jakarta, 8 April 2017
A Christian Pilgrim