Summary: A CHURCH OF THE NAZARENE Pastor preaches the passion we should have to know Jesus, to follow Him, to love Him.
"Passion for Jesus"
Author: Dr. Neal Gray
Passage: John 10:19-31, KJV
Purpose: It is an eternal surprise to me. Jesus wants to know me. And the Son of God allows me to know Him. Jesus gives me eternal life, never perishing, never separated from Him. My passion is to know Him, to follow Him, to love Him.
This past week, (i.e., February, 2002), the Lord impressed upon me His greatness. God was not "bragging" to me; He was just reminding me of who He is and who I am. I think about that old television show where the man used to say, "No brag. Just fact." For my Lord, "No brag. Just TRUTH."
==> The truth is that "MY GOD IS AN AWESOME GOD!" Amen? Amen!
My Heart Stirred by the Lord
Anyway, my heart really melted last week. I suppose that it has been awhile since I have really been moved, either by something or someone.
But God moved me. HE STIRRED UP IN ME THE EMBERS LYING NEARLY COLD IN MY HEART. And the fire of holy love for God and mankind sparked bright again! In the light of His fire, I also saw the current condition of my soul.
This whole episode has shaken me in a strangely wonderful way. And I can find no other word to describe how I feel, and no other phrase to put rightly what God wants from me--and from you.
==> That word is, "passion," and that phrase is, "passion for Jesus."
All week long I have been thinking and meditating and praying about this word, "passion." The word is not foreign to any of us. But perhaps the idea of using it in a godly way and in a holy context, that might be a strange and new usage.
Wondering more about the exact meaning, I looked up the word, "passion," in my dictionary. Unfortunately, it can describe feelings and attitudes that are nothing less than "the lust of the flesh," (see Galatians 5:16ff.). But it also said that "passion" is "any powerful emotion, such as love or joy." And the dictionary also gave this: "Passion is ardent adoring love, and the object of such love." (It also listed "Passion," as the sufferings of Christ after the Last Supper. Is this because He cares passionately for lost souls?)
Really, I didn’t learn anything new from my dictionary. You and I all know what I mean when I say that I have a "passion for Jesus."
==> For me, "passion" is the only English word that describes the feeling, and the only word that describes the conviction that God sent upon me. It SPEAKS TO ME ABOUT BEING FOCUSED WITH SINCERE DESIRE...
* Toward Jesus,
* Toward my relationship with Him, and,
* Toward His cause.
I like this word, along with all of its synonyms: passion, zeal, enthusiasm, fervor. It is truly A GOOD AND HOLY PASSION THAT GOD HAS STIRRED UP INSIDE ME.
Now, the word "passion" does not appear in the Scripture--not even once. So, I prayed about the Scripture focus for this message.
I thought, "Well, the Great Commandment, ’Love your God and your neighbor,’ would be a good passage." Or even, "Go, teach, baptize, make disciples in the world, and I will be with you always," i.e., the Great Commission, would be a good theme to wrap passion around.
But, the Lord led me to this passage, John 10:19-31. Let’s see why.
DIVISIONS AMONG PEOPLE
Two things that became clear to me immediately upon reading this passage:
1. There were Jesus and two groups, and everybody was passionate about their cause.
2. Not everyone’s passions went in the same direction. These two large groups were divided among themselves.
Jesus Has Passion for His Cause
There was Jesus, the carpenter, the Son of Mary, the Son of God, the Prophet, the Healer, the Teacher. AND JESUS HAD PASSION FOR HIS CAUSE.
Jesus knew who He was: He was (and is) "the Christ." He knew what His mission in life was all about: "I give eternal life to My followers." And nobody, but nobody, was going to keep Him from accomplishing that mission: "no man is able to pluck them out of My hand."
==> Jesus’ powerful emotion is to bring love, joy, and life to people!
Passionate People On His Side
Then there was the group that believed in this Prophet; they believed that He must be the Christ. Arguing against the other group, they proclaimed, "These are not the words of him that hath a devil."
My sense is that this group spoke those words with passion. They longed for the Messiah. They sought the Eternal King. And everything that they had seen in Jesus pointed toward Him being the Christ. Like debaters in parliament, they yelled out their position: