Jesus' Passion-Driven Life
Posted by James Hall on
Mel Gibson has "lifted up Jesus" in a world-impacting way through his movie. "The Passion of the Christ" gives us a new depth of appreciation for Jesus' physical and mental anguish that He willingly embraced for our sakes. A stunning message about how deeply He loved us - so He could continually love us and be with us on earth and for eternity.
There is a condition, however, for our relationship with Him to continue. We must allow His presence and influence to bring change to the way we live our daily lives (Luke 9:23). What He is, determines what we become. The story of His life in human flesh among real people gives us a picture of how He wants us to live our lives. Not that we are to wear robes and sandals, and walk wherever we go. What is in our hearts is what is important to Jesus. His life can be lived out in different bodies and genders and cultures and still be recognizable as coming from Him living within us. The word "passion" can be well used to describe Jesus' life, not just a word for His death.
His life was full of passion for God and passion for people. His life in us lived out will produce the same character. Passion for God is communicating and cooperating with Him with the goal of pleasing Him - and depending on His help to do so. Passion for people is to love them with love and ability received from God. A wonderful book that spells out the practical features of passion-driven lives in the twenty-first century is being studied across the nation. It is Forty-Days to a Purpose-Driven Life, by Pastor Rick Warren. My point here is that Jesus' example shows us that a purpose-driven life must also be a passion-driven life. The "Jesus life" is anything but a casual life lived out of convenience and surface feelings.
Jesus' passion in living is first shown for us when He was twelve years of age. His pre-teen appetite for the Scriptures is demonstrated by His spirited discussion and debate with the temple scholars on the family's trip to Jerusalem. Eighteen years later, Jesus comes out of His wilderness test with a focused passion to "preach the Gospel to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, (and) to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord." (Luke 4:18-19) The Gospels are largely a travelogue of Jesus turning His passion into action. His passion in living was a powerful magnet to children, and inspired His prescription of something worse than a millstone necklace under water for anyone who would "offend one of (His) little ones"! (Matthew 18:6)
Of special note is Jesus in the outer courtyard of the Jerusalem temple - designated by God as a place for Gentiles to meet with Him. He boiled with holy rage at the atmosphere of commerce and extortion created by the priests' stooges who were overcharging foreign worshipers for pre-approved animals required for sacrifices. God had planned "a house of prayer for all the nations (Gentiles)" (emphasis added), "but you have made it a robbers' den" (Mark 11:17) Jesus' passion that day resulted in a major house cleaning! And there we are in His-story - Jesus thinking outside the Jewish box in His love for "all the nations" - then and now!
Heated interaction with His disciples forged their character and lit their fires to continue on earth what He "began to do and to teach". (Acts 1:1) Jesus' passion for pleasing and obeying His Father is demonstrated by His disciples after His departure, when they "could not stop speaking what they had seen and heard" - in spite of threats on their lives. (Acts 4:20) May that be true of us today, who have invited His presence into our lives. Can His presence truly be in us, without His passion showing through? Can we actually hide "the passion of the Christ" living in us, from the eyes of the watching world?
Let us feel His passion that continues for us today - also called compassion. If you have not entrusted your life to Him, hear Him pounding at the door of your heart - seeking heavenly friendship with you. The pounding is that of His Good Shepherd's heart for you - one of His many lost sheep He pursues to reclaim. For those of us who have Him already residing on the inside, recognize that He is "pour(ing His) love into our hearts, through the Spirit whom He has given us." (Romans 5:5)
The passion of the Christ that paid for our sins occurred with infinite proportions two thousand years ago. Jesus proclaimed on the cross that it's purpose was "accomplished" - completed, done! However, the passion of the heart of Jesus to make us His own is not over. It continues to this day - for you, for me! Please don't waste Jesus' (com)passion for you by sending Him away. Answer the door! Follow Him and love Him with ALL of your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). It is the only fitting response to His passion that "first loves us"!