( )

( ) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Passion Week.It’s the most important time of the year in the Christian life, in which we remember and honor the Passion of Jesus on the cross, then celebrate his resurrection.

So, follow me, today, Fellow Word Nerds! We shall explore passion!

Passion comes from the Latin passio/pati, “suffer, endure” (noun and verb forms). It took the French route to the English language, and was specifically about Jesus’ suffering on the cross.

Too often, I diminish the suffering Jesus endured. I’d like to think it’s because the suffering is too much for me to comprehend. But in reality, my very human brain reasons, “Well, He was God. He could handle it, no biggie. Besides He rose again three days later.”

True, but it totally misses the suffering that was inflicted on Jesus’ human body, the suffering he endured.

And minimizes my sin that imposed that suffering on him. Not Roman/Jewish politics of the day, but MY SIN. The sin that, without Jesus’ suffering, keeps me separated from God.

All worthy thoughts to bring me to thankfulness and worship. However, the really interesting stuff started happening when I looked up passion in Noah Webster‘s 1828 Dictionary online.

The first definition in 1828: “The impression or effect of an external agent upon a body; that which is
suffered or received.” Wow. What a perfect description for what Jesus went through. The cross was imposed on His body by the external agent of the Romans, at the behest of Jewish leaders.

Just remember, He ALLOWED it to be imposed on him. In John 6:51, Jesus proclaims, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

In John 10:17, He said, “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life–only to take it up again.”

See it? He GAVE his life.

Webster’s third definition of passion in 1828? “Suffering; emphatically, the last suffering of the Savior.”


That definition is listed as “archaic” in the 2006 Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition.

I have no words to say how passionate I feel about that fact.



WORD NERD CHALLENGE OF THE WEEK: Take a trip over to the Online Etymology Dictionary and discover the Greek root for suffering and think of three words that use that Greek root. (NOT the Latin passio/pati where we get passion, but the Greek root.) Hint: It is not the word path, as in a bike path. But it’s nearby in the dictionary. Very near. Very, very near.

I can also recommend (for adults and older children only) a viewing of Mel Gibson’s movie Passion of the Christ.