The record of our Lord’s passion is among the many events concerning Christ and Christendom that the entire world never misses to notice. Such events, though rejected by many and perceived as fantasy by some, still remains to be one of the world’s most celebrated event, and each year more are joining in this celebration. I think it is fair to suggest to those that reject the claim of Easter and Christ to at least consider investigating the legitimacy of this Jesus and what he went through. If Christ and Christianity are fantasies for moral control, we know the end of all fantasy. Yet, this remains today! As we prepare for the passion event, I would like us to meet Jesus and consider his state before Friday.
The Gospel accounts are unique in presenting Jesus, and they emphasize his suffering. He is presented essentially as a man of sorrow. Matthew, in the account of the agony in Gethsemane before the central event of the Passion Week, brings that fact into sharp focus: Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane…And…he began to be sorrowful and troubled (Matthew 26:36-37).
AFTER THE FEAST
The statement in Matthew 26:36, 37 is significant. Christ has known sorrow before this, but the assertion that in Gethsemane he begun to be sorrowful and troubled indicated a sudden steep descent into the billows of distress. Now, as never before, all God’s waves and billows began to sweep over him. What a contrast to the sweet calm and peace of the upper room! The holy peace is no more and an awful anguish suddenly grips the soul of Jesus as he begins to be ‘sore amazed, and to be very heavy’ (Mark 14:33). The feast is over. The sacrifice it symbolized is imminent. The language used indicates torment of soul, a state of intense anguish. ‘My soul’, he said, ‘is very sorrowful even to death.’ This is no ordinary distress.
As he faces death, his feelings or emotions are on full display that his death is real and the punishment of the wrath of God is real. Yes, Jesus died for sinners, and he willingly offered himself, yet, sorrow engulfed his state of being because this was not going to be funfair but he is going to face the sword of God that sinners deserved. Not only is he going to experience physical death, but also he must taste eternal death—damnation—separation from God! This is clear before him, and his soul is in deep anguish.
ENTERING THE DARKNESS
Jesus senses the approach of Satan who after the temptation in the wilderness ‘departed from him until an opportune time’ (Luke 4:13). It is also the case that he anticipated the approaching wrath of a holy God. Every minute that passes by knows the garment of sin is approaching nearer and darkness shall be his state. The state that he never knew, nor is it fitting. He will not only be in darkness but he shall be stained with darkness.
Jesus, the man of sorrow, is in such a state because he was about to be the great exchange for all sinners, in order that all sinners receive forgiveness and redemption through him by faith alone. Yet, such a state should not leave us in despair or make us wonder what sort of justice is in God. Here is a fitting conclusion: “It pleased our heavenly Father, of his infinite mercy, without any our desert or deserving, to prepare for us the most precious jewels of Christ’s body and blood, whereby our ransom might be fully paid, the law fulfilled, and his justice fully satisfied”. Enjoy Passion Week by accepting the precious jewel of God, Jesus Christ, your Saviour from all sins.
 The structure is adapted from Frederick Leahy’s, The Cross He Bore, chapter 1, (Edinburgh, 2007).
 Thomas Cranmer, First Book of Homilies, (SPCK, 1914), p. 130.