Christmas is behind us. What a wonderful celebration of God's greatest gift --His only beloved Son, Jesus Christ. As we move forward in the year it is appropriate to also move from the birth of Christ to his life and his death. Last Easter as I was preparing my sermons for that season I came across an excellent book on Christ' Sacrifice --"Passion" by Mike McKinley. Easter is about 11 weeks away, why not begin meditating early on the ultimate purpose for Jesus coming to the earth. This review of the book is from The Shepherds' Conference website. -- Kevin
"Passion by Mike McKinley is a creative, insightful look at the final day of Jesus’ life on earth and what it means practically for the Christian. He draws from Luke’s account, using events including Jesus’ betrayal, long walk to Calvary, and forgiveness of the thief to teach us biblical principles for our perspective, goals, passions, and behavior.
After laying out the scene of Jesus praying fervently on Gethsemane, McKinley takes a look at the cause of His distress: God’s wrath. But why would Jesus, sinless and holy, drink this bitter cup? We return to the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve were given the opportunity for a life of perfection if they would obey God. “For Adam, obedience to God meant that he would experience blessing and peace. For Jesus, choosing to obey God means that He will be cursed and crushed.” Jesus’ obedience to God to the point of death is an example of how we should respond to God’s authority. Not only that, it is evidence of how much Jesus loves us. “What is going to happen, what is going to change that would make Jesus stop loving you? If the fury of God’s holy wrath doesn’t do it, what will?”
As we approach the mockery of Jesus, McKinley discusses our questions about where God is in the midst of trials. “Jesus’ suffering at the hands of soldiers is, in a sense, God’s answer to those heart-felt questions.” He goes on to say that this answer “doesn’t only comfort me in my suffering; it transforms my response to my suffering.”
When Jesus moves on to stand before Pilot and Herod, McKinley draws an interesting application from the dispute over whether Jesus was the King of the Jews. Jesus was not the conqueror of Rome that the Jews had envisioned, but “We need to realize that the reason that Jesus was not after a political kingdom was not because it was too big a thing for Him, but because it was far too small.” McKinley uses the Jews’ misconception of Jesus’ royalty to offer a timely reminder that political reform is not the point of Jesus’ mission or the Christian life.
In Chapter 5, our own lives are held up against what we know of Pilate, the crowd, and Barabbas. The implications are convicting yet encouraging, as we see that the power to overcome our cowardice and sin rests entirely in the gospel of Christ.
Chapter 8 addresses the thieves crucified on either side of Jesus. One mocks Jesus, asking Him to save all three of them, while the other begs to be remembered by Him. McKinley explains that “God is far more interested in the state of your soul than He is in delivering you from your present circumstances.” Jesus promises that the humble thief will “be with me in paradise” (emphasis added). McKinley says, “The thing that makes paradise paradise—is the presence of Jesus…The first [thief] wants Jesus to do things for him. The second just wants Jesus.” The application here is obvious: do we treasure Jesus and Who He is far above our love for secondary blessings and earthly pleasures?
The Passion concludes on a profoundly uplifting note as we examine three basic implications of Jesus’ resurrection. “First… you are saved from eternal death, for eternal life…Second, Christians don’t live merely for the moment…The third implication for our lives is that…we have an ever-present Savior.” In short, Jesus’ death and resurrection has provided a way for us to experience the joy of eternal life in His presence, the perspective to live for more than the momentary pleasures of this earth, and the privilege of a relationship with a God who is alive and near, every second of every day. Hallelujah, what a Savior!
The Passion brings alive some often forgotten aspects of Jesus’ final day and draws from His example in insightful and inspiring ways. Anyone looking for a unique angle on Jesus’ death and resurrection should pick up McKinley’s work and prepare to be encouraged, convicted, and blessed."