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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Passion for Jesus – Part 1

“Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her” – Mark 14:9


Passion, what is it? The kind of passion we are talking about here is, “an intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction; a strong desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept.”  Passion is a driving force. Passion is a deep emotion in the heart. Passion is a fire in the belly; a heart aflame.


Some people express their passion as a fan of some school, sport or team. Some are passionate about their job or career. Some are passionate about a hobby or activity. And some are passionate about people and the things related to people. We are all passionate about something. But how many people have a passion for Jesus?


In Mark 14:9 Jesus says, “Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” That’s a pretty powerful statement. What was it that led Jesus to say this? What did this woman do that could and would be connected with the gospel? She responded to Jesus with a passion. There is something about the passion of this woman toward Jesus that is linked to the gospel.


Adam Clarke, a 19th century theologian stated, “He who has a religion that costs him nothing, has a religion that is worth nothing: nor will any man esteem the ordinances of God, if those ordinances cost him nothing."


Vance Havner, a past Senate chaplain, once said, “We are not going to move this world by criticism of it, nor conformity to it, but only by the combustion within it of lives ignited by the Spirit of God.”  He’s right about that. What we need is a heart aflame with a passion for Jesus in the power of the Spirit.

Andrew A. Bonar stated, “Revivals begin with God's own people; the Holy Spirit touches their heart anew, and gives them new fervor and compassion, and zeal, new light and life, and when He has thus come to you, He next goes forth to the valley of dry bones…Oh, what responsibility this lays on the Church of God! If you grieve Him away from yourselves, or hinder His visit, then the poor perishing world suffers sorely!” 

Do you have a passion for Jesus? How do you know? What about Jesus sets your heart aflame with passion? That is what we will look at this Holy Week. There are four particular incidents when people, (interestingly they were particularly women), fell at the feet of Jesus in an expression of devotion to Him.


When was the last time you fell at Jesus’ feet to express your passion to Him? Are you too reserved for anything like that? When was the last time you shed a tear in connection with Jesus? We aren’t to let our emotions run wild. But we aren’t to be emotionless either. God gave us emotions. Emotion is part of our human makeup. Passion involves emotion.


But passion is not only emotion. It is also full surrender. It is worship. It is clinging to the Lord.


There are four incidents in scripture that we will consider this Holy Week which give us insight into having A Passion for Jesus. My prayer is that the Spirit would use these passages to fan to a flame a passion for Jesus. Join me in that prayer.


Does Your Passion for Jesus have Staying Power? Passion week in Jesus life, as we celebrate it, begins with the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. This itself is a fulfillment of Daniel’s 483 year old prophecy to the day, of when Messiah would come to the Holy City of Jerusalem (cf. Daniel 9:24-27). This is where we see the height of public passion for Jesus.


Mark 11:7-11 - 7 Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their clothes on it, and He sat on it. 8 And many spread their clothes on the road, and others cut down leafy branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 Then those who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:  “Hosanna!  ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ 10     Blessed is the kingdom of our father David That comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!” 11 And Jesus went into Jerusalem and into the temple. So when He had looked around at all things, as the hour was already late, He went out to Bethany with the twelve.


Hosanna” means “save now.” These verses depict the fame and popularity Jesus was met with upon entering Jerusalem this Passover Week. People were throwing their clothes on the donkey for Jesus to sit on. People were spreading their clothes out on the road for Jesus. Others cut palms branches and laid them out in front of Jesus so that their “King” would not soil his feet on the bare ground. (Hence the title of the day Palm Sunday.)


During the Triumphal Entry, it was obvious these people had a passion for Jesus. They were cheering and shouting praises toward Him. And yet, a few short days from this day, they would be shouting something quite different than Hosanna toward Jesus. They would be shouting, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” (Mark 15:13-14). Their passion for Jesus had no staying power, how come? Does your passion for Jesus have staying power? Will it last? Is it waning? Why did the people go so quickly from shouts of “Hosanna!” to shouts of “Crucify!”


First, their passion for Jesus was based on popularity. Many were simply going along with the crowd. They had no personal relationship with Jesus. They simply went along with the crowd, with the popular flavor of the day in popular figures. A passion built on prestige and popularity will never last. Humanity is fickle; the crowd changes its mind frequently and easily. Is your passion for Jesus based on how popular He is or you are in association with Him?


Second, their passion for Jesus was based on political deliverance. They were looking for someone to save them from the oppression of the Romans, not someone to save them from their sins and bring them closer to God. When Jesus was under arrest and headed toward crucifixion it was clear He was not going to save them from the Romans. So they turned on Him in anger and bitter resentment for not meeting their needs. Is your passion for Jesus based on what He might free you from politically?


Third, their passion for Jesus was based on material provision. They were attracted to the power of Jesus to meet their needs (e.g. feed 4 and 5,000 of them). At one point in His ministry Jesus commented, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled” (John 6:26). Is your passion for Jesus based only on what you might get from Him?


Fourth, their passion for Jesus was based on self-promotion. The disciples frequently argued with each other about their position in Jesus kingdom (e.g. Mark 9:33-34; Luke 9:46-50). The path of Jesus leads to the cross. If your passion for Jesus is based on how you might be promoted, your passion will go up in smoke. Is your passion for Jesus based on how it might promote you?


Fifth, their passion for Jesus was based on pride. It must have been pretty nice to be in the inner circle of followers for a Person as popular as Jesus was at that time. He was the Miracle worker, the great Teacher, the Amazing One who could walk on water. Think of what it must have been like to be a follower of Jesus at first. Think of what it must have felt like to be the inner 12, the inner three! James and John, accompanied by their Mom, asked to sit on either side of Jesus in His kingdom. He responded that they didn’t know what they were asking for. They didn’t understand that authority came through selfless service; through the cross (Mark 10:35-45; Mat. 20:20-28). They wanted the position without the passion.


Is your passion for Jesus based only on the me-myself-and I of pride? So I ask again, does your passion for Jesus have staying power? Or is your passion for Jesus only a Palm Sunday passion?

What is your passion for Jesus based on? None of these reasons for having a passion for Jesus will give you a passion that will last and stand the test. If our passion is going to last there are four ingredients we must include. That is what we will look at in this series, A Passion for Jesus.


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