Several years ago Mel Gibson directed a film called The Passion of the Christ. The outpouring of support from Christians was so overwhelming it launched a sort of revival in Hollywood which led to such “religious” movies in 2014 as Noah and Exodus: Gods and Kings. Thanks a lot, guy! Anyway, I was not moved very much by the Gibson movie—it focused too much on the violence of Jesus’ suffering (the word “passion” comes from the Latin word for suffering), and not enough of the grace revealed by his death.
This year I will lead a Lenten Bible study: “The Death of the Messiah.” We will explore each of the four gospel accounts of Jesus’ passion: his betrayal, arrest, trial, and crucifixion, noting their similarities and differences. Studying the different gospel accounts of the Passion always brings up great questions:
Who is the naked guy in Mark 14:51-52?
Why does John include the detail of lanterns and torches in 18:3?
Where exactly is the Garden of Gethsemane?
Did Jesus or Simon of Cyrene carry the cross—and what difference does it make?
Who was Pontius Pilate—and why do we remember him in the Apostle’s Creed?
What is significant about the name Barabbas?
In addition to the gospel texts, at the beginning of each session we will explore an artistic depiction of Jesus’ passion as it relates to that evening’s gospel material. Here’s an outline of the study:
“The Death of the Messiah” Wednesdays during Lent, 7:15-8:45 p.m.
Feb 18 The Entrance into Jerusalem, the Cleansing of the Temple, Passover, and the Institution of the Lord’s Supper
Feb 25 Gethsemane and Trial
Mar 4 Betrayal: Peter and Judas
Mar 11 Pontius Pilate and Barabbas
Mar 18 Crucifixion
Mar 25 The Passion of Jesus according to John
Apr 1 The Farewell Discourse
Hope to see you there!