The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Passion for Jesus – Part 6

“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 is a driving force, a deep emotion in the heart, a fire in the belly, a heart aflame. Do you have a passion for Jesus? Such a passion is rooted in Jesus’ forgiveness for our sins, living hope, His atoning passion on the cross, the resurrection. Thus far we have spoken only about our passion for Jesus. But did you know Jesus has a passion for us? He does. In John 20:19-31 Jesus passion for us is laid out. Let’s see what Jesus’ passion for us is all about.

 19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

Jesus didn’t come with condemnation to those who had forsaken Him. Jesus came with a word of peace. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1ff.).

20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

In verse 20 of chapter 20 of John, the Thomas and the disciples received 20/20 vision as they “saw” (Greek eido) or understood; “I see and know now.” Have you seen Jesus in this way? Do you know Him as your risen Lord?

21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

To “Receive the Holy Spirit” is equivalent to them being born again. They have all the evidence now. They have seen the risen Lord Jesus. Jesus said, “You must be born again” if you are to enter His kingdom (John 3). Before you are born again of the Spirit you are spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1-9). That is one reason why if you try to read and understand the Bible before being born again you can’t understand it properly; you don’t have the Holy Spirit within to help you understand (cf. 1 Cor. 2:9-14). You can’t have a passion for Jesus without the Holy Spirit within you. It is the Holy Spirit who fires up our heart with a passion for Jesus. With the Spirit they are on their way toward a passion for Jesus. Have you been born again?

23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

If we don’t tell people about Jesus, they won’t hear the gospel? Faith comes by hearing God’s word and how will people hear if no one tells them? (cf. Romans 10:14-17).

A commentator explains: “In Mark 2, when Jesus pronounced forgiveness to a paralyzed man, the Pharisees were aghast. “Only God has the right to forgive sin,” they said (see verse 7). And they were right. What, then, does this verse mean? It means we as His ambassadors don’t provide forgiveness, but we do proclaim it. Therefore, to the one who says, “I don’t feel forgiven,” it is our responsibility to say, “According to the Word of God, if you open your heart to Jesus Christ and believe in His work on the Cross, your sin is gone.” Conversely, to the one who says, “I don’t need Jesus Christ. I’m into meditation,”—it is our responsibility to say, “Your sin remains because only the blood of Jesus can wash it away.”[1]

As followers of Jesus entrusted with the gospel of forgiveness we have a great opportunity as well as a great responsibility. This is the gospel preached according to scripture. We are witnesses to sinful humanities’ need to turn from their sin and to receive forgiveness for their sin through faith in Jesus (Acts 5:30-32). Forgiveness comes through Christ Acts 13:38-39). Our mission and message to the lost is, “to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’”  (Acts 26:18). “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7; cf. also Col. 1:9-14). Have you received forgiveness for your sins offered as a gift of God’s grace on the basis of acceptance of Jesus atoning death on the cross?

 24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

Thomas missed out on what would strengthen his faith because he was not with his brothers in fellowship. Pastor teacher Jon Courson comments, I suppose one of the saddest things I see as a pastor are disciples who miss the meeting. They’re out there struggling, while at a Sunday evening service, for example, at some point Jesus begins to appear through the Word or in worship, through prophecy or the washing of feet. “I can worship at home,” they say. But Jesus didn’t go to Thomas’s house. He went where the saints were meeting together. “Don’t forsake assembling together,” Paul would say (see Hebrews 10:25)—because Jesus shows up in the midst of the congregation.[2] That is so true my friends.

 26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” 28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

Some need convincing more than others. Jesus is patient and will meet us where we are.  Jesus in His resurrection body was physically touchable. Jesus was not a mere apparition or ghost. Jesus was bodily raised from the dead. Jesus is approachable and touchable, all the more reason to have a passion for Him.

29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Can’t you simply take Jesus at His word?

30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

Do you have a passion for Jesus? The world needs people with a passion for Jesus. Without such passionate people for Jesus the world is lost. Leonard Ravenhill expressed this well when he wrote:

“For this midnight hour, incandescent men are needed. On the day of Pentecost, the flame of the living God became the flame of the human heart to that glorious company. The Church began with these men in the ‘upper room’ agonizing – and today is ending with men in the supper room organizing. The Church began in revival; we are ending in ritual. We started virile; we are ending sterile. Charter members of the Church were men of heat and no degrees; today many hold degrees, but have no heat! Ah, brethren, flame-hearted men are the crying need of the hour!

Men need to be a pillar of fire – God-guided men to lead a misguided people; passionate Pauls to stir timid Timothys; men of flame to outshine and out-burn men of name! We need knights of prayer to lead nights of prayer. We need true prophets to warn of false profits, ‘for what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?’ (Mark 8:36). [3]

As the Church goes, so goes the world! If the watchmen sleep, the enemy takes the city! . . . . Life begets life by its very nature. By the same token, inspired men inspire.” [4]

How is your passion for Jesus? Do you have any? You need a passion for Jesus. The world needs people with a passion for Jesus. Jesus wants you to have a passion for Him. Jesus has a passion for you? Do you have a passion for Jesus?

[1]Courson, Jon: Jon Courson's Application Commentary. Nashville, TN : Thomas Nelson, 2003, S. 596
[2]Courson, Jon: Jon Courson's Application Commentary. Nashville, TN : Thomas Nelson, 2003, S. 596
[3] Leonard Ravenhill, Why Revival Tarries, (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1959, 1987) pgs. 155
[4] Leonard Ravenhill, Why Revival Tarries, (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1959, 1987) pgs. 156-157

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