His Passion For The Hurting
The Passion Of The Christ – part 2
In a chapter in his book, Just Like Jesus, called “The Touch of God,” Max Lucado writes; the story behind a man that we meet in the Gospels.
For 5 years no one touched me. No one. Not one person. Not my wife. Not my child. Not my friends. No one touched me. They saw me. They spoke to me…But I didn’t feel their touch. There was no touch. Not once. No one touched me.
What is common to you, I coveted. Handshakes. Warm embraces. A tap on the shoulder to get my attention. A kiss on the lips to steal a heart. Such moments were taken away from my world. No one touched me. No one bumped into me. What I would have given to be bumped into, to be caught in a crowd, for my shoulder to brush against another’s. But for 5 years it has not happened. How could it? I was not allowed on the streets. Even the rabbis kept their distance from me. I was not permitted in my synagogue. Not even welcome in my own house.
I was untouchable. I was a leper… The priest didn’t touch me. He looked at my hand now wrapped in a rag. He looked at my face, now shadowed in sorrow. I’ve never faulted him for what he said. He was only doing as he was instructed. He covered his mouth and extended his hand, palm forward. “You are unclean” he told me. With one pronouncement I lost my family, my farm, my future, my friends…
Oh, how I repulsed those who saw me. 5 years of leprosy had left my hands gnarled. Tips of my fingers were missing as were portions of an ear and my nose. At the sight of me, fathers grabbed their children. Mothers covered their faces. Children pointed and stared…
Some think I sinned. Some think my parents sinned. I don’t know. All I know is that I grew tried of it all: sleeping in the colony, smelling the stench. I grew so tired of the…bell I as required to wear around my neck to warn people of my presence. As if I needed it. One glance and the announcement began, “Unclean! Unclean! Unclean!
Imagine for a moment what it would be like to be a leper. Imagine for a moment the thought of never being touched again for the rest of your life -- never to feel the hug of a little child, never to feel a friend reach out for your hand, never to have a parent put an arm around your shoulder, never again to know the embrace of your spouse.
YOU SEE - Leprosy was much more than just a physical loss. There was also a moral stigma to it. It was widely believed to involve the curse of God. When people would get other diseases, if they were cured, they were spoken of as healed. A leper had to be cleansed. Do you see? Lepers were not just sick. They were unclean. They were defiled.
This morning is week 2 in our sermon series The Passion Of The Christ. As I said last week the cross, those final 12 hours of His earthly life are the pinnacle, the highpoint, are the culmination of the passion of the Christ… AGAIN - the premise behind this series is that Christ was the most passionate person who ever walked the face of the earth. AND – that His passion did not begin nor end on the cross…
Last week… we about how Christ is passionate for you… We talked about how the focus of his passion is being with you. UNDERSTAND – everything that Christ did ; putting on flesh, to washing dirty feet – to hanging on a cross was just to be with you. AND – the fuel for this passion is his love for you… YES – God is hooked, it’s too late now He is toast, because he is madly in love with you and His love caused him to do, to endure some crazy things…
This morning our message is called, His Passion For The Hurting…
YOU KNOW – there is an awful lot of hurt out in the world today. On Wednesday I picked up the Atlanta Journal Constitution. AND – as I flipped through the pages, I saw a lot of hurt…
In the Metro section;
I saw a picture of 2 ladies who have been fired from their jobs and charged with stealing
I read about a 26 year lady who was assaulted
I saw another picture of a guy who was sentenced to 35 years in prison
And in the Obituaries (I read of people losing their husbands, sons, daughters, wives, parents & grandparents)
THEN – I pulled out the Gwinnett section;
AND - I read about 4 year old Juan Mata, drowning in Suwannee Creek on Tuesday (his 2 year old sister was with him, and was the one to go get help)…
I read about a family having a birthday party – that went real bad.. When the dad got drunk and then got angry when someone hid his car keys. The police had to called in before things settled down and they took him away… (NOT – at all the birthday party that family was hoping for.
MAN – there’s a lot of hurt out there… AND – if you don’t believe me, just flip on the TV, Turn on the news, or watch Dr Phil (or some other talk show - and you will see hurt people all over the place.
YES – our world is full of hurting people. AND – do you know what, not only is this world full of hurting people; BUT (I think it’s safe to say) that there’s a lot of hurt, a lot of pain, a lot of wounds (fresh wounds and old wounds) even in this room…
YOU SEE – many times, beneath; the smiles, the laughter, and the “Hi, how are you doing – I’m fines” … is a boat load of hurt…
• Single moms trying to make it work
• Marriages going through some rough waters
• Parents trying hard to blend 2 families or wondering when that wandering child will come home
• Students trying make it, leaving in one home most of the time and another, every other weekend
MAN – there’s a lot of hurt
• Some of us, are still stinging from - harsh or cruel words that pierced our hearts (maybe even many years ago)
• Some are hurting because it seems that in this life they never measure up and always fall short of someone’s expectations..
• Others are tired of always being alone, wondering why the one they loved walked out on them
• AND – still others are battling a physical sickness
LISTEN - the truth is that many times life hurts… MANY TIMES – the road we find ourselves traveling on is a road marked with pain and sorrow… (that’s the bad news)… BUT – the good news is that ; “God Heals…” Life hurts – God heals…
NOW – my objective today like last week is rather simple.. I want everyone who walks through those doors today to UNDERSTAND – without a shadow of a doubt that Christ is not is Christ passionate about the hurting… BUT - that he is passionate about their hurts… Christ – is passionate about your and pain your hurt…
His Passion For The Hurting - Was Natural…
HEY – have you ever noticed that some things, ARE just natural for some people… FOR EXAMPLE…
It’s Natural FOR…
• Ryckie to go crazy when his GT boys make the final four
• Some people to take their shoes off when they walk into their house
• Some people to wake up in the more with tons of energy… AND – for some people to not wake up until noon, after gallons of coffee
• Jake – to strum his guitar and write some awesome songs
• AND – it’s natural for me to rarely sing on key (what are keys anyway, I keep loosing mine)
NOW – let me tell one thing that is extremely NATURAL for the Christ. It is natural for Christ to be passionate about the hurting … AND – let me give you a couple of reasons why…
Because Of Who He was…
QUESTION – who is Jesus? ANSWER - God in the flesh… AND UNDERSTAND - God has always been concerned about the pain, the sorrow and the hurts of His people when they hurt… Our hurts never slip past his caring and watchful eyes. LET ME – share a few passages from the OT that underscore this truth…
The LORD said, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey… - Exodus 3:7,8
CIRCLE - I have indeed seen the misery, I have heard them crying, I am concerned about their suffering
He sees, He hears, He’s cares.. AND – not only that BUT he can do something about your hurts… He can rescue you, He can bring you up out of your hurt and bring you to a new and better place…
QUESTION – have you ever in the midst of your hurt & pain, felt like God didn’t care.. THAT – he didn’t hear your cries or see your pain, THAT – he must have forgotten about you? God’s people in Isaiah’s day felt that way. They were hurting bad, the pain was real, their situation was about to take them under and they felt God had forgotten them… or just didn’t care…
CHECKOUT… what God said to them… in response.
Yet Jerusalem says, "The LORD has deserted us; the Lord has forgotten us."
(ever felt that way – Man, I love God’s answer)
"Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for a child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on my hand. Ever before me is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins. Is 49:14-16
UNDERSTAND - when you flip through the pages of Scripture…ON – nearly every page, in nearly ever chapter and every verse – you see a God who is passionate about the hurting, who is passionate about helping his people, defending those who need Him and rescuing those who are in trouble.
Over & over again God is called a shelter, a fortress, a rock and a refuge… Why? Because that is exactly what hurting people need…
LET ME – read just a few more passages that talk about how feels about and what he does for the hurting…
“Sing praises to God and to his name! Sing loud praises to him who rides the clouds. His name is the LORD— rejoice in his presence! Father to the fatherless, defender of widows— this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy. Ps 68:4,5 (NLT)
“Shout praises to the LORD! With all that I am, I will shout his praises. I will sing and praise the LORD God for as long as I live… He gives justice to the poor and food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free and heals blind eyes. He gives a helping hand to everyone who falls. The LORD loves good people and looks after strangers. He defends the rights of orphans and widows…
Ps 146:1,2,6-9 (NLT)
YES – it is natural for God to feel passionate about the hurting He can’t help himself it is who He is… OKAY JUST – one more passage… BUT – it is awesome!!!
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. - Ps 56:8
What a powerful picture…
CHRIST’S – passion for the hurting is natural.. BECAUSE of who He is (God) and
Because Of Why He Came…
QUESTION – why did Jesus come…? ANSWER – to set things right. UNDERSTAND – pain, hurt and suffering were not part of God’s original plan. YOU SEE - pain, sorrow and hurt were not in Eden until after the fall… AND LISTEN - these things will not be a part of our future home either…
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, "Look, the home of God is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever." And the one sitting on the throne said, "Look, I am making all things new!" And then he said to me, "Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true." Rev 21:3-5 (NLT)
Your future which we will talk about in great depth on May 2nd is going to be awesome!!!!
AND LISTEN – 2000 years ago, Christ came to begin the process of setting things straight… of setting things right… Isaiah wrote in chapter 53 of his book;
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows… he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. Is 53:2-4
Christ came to set things straight….
AND - Jeremiah wrote; about how Christ would…make the life of his people;
…like a watered garden, and all their sorrows will be gone. 13The young women will dance for joy, and the men--old and young--will join in the celebration. I will turn their mourning into joy. I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing. Jeremiah 31:12,13 (NLT)
YES – Christ is passionate about the hurting BECAUSE; of who He is and why He came… AND LISTEN – when God the Son steps into human flesh, when he steps into ministry… He left no doubt as to why he came…
FRIENDS – it was time… AFTER – many long centuries of waiting to put on flesh, AFTRE – waiting 30 years to begin his ministry… IT – was time… THE CHRIST – was ready…
“Jesus returned to Galilee powerful in the Spirit. News that he was back spread through the countryside. He taught in their meeting places to everyone’s acclaim and pleasure. He came to Nazareth where he had been reared. As he always did on the Sabbath, he went to the meeting place. When he stood up to read, he was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written, God’s Spirit is on me; he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor, Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, To set the burdened and battered free, to announce, "This is God’s year to act!" He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the place was on him, intent… and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
– Luke 4:14-21 (Msg, NIV)
AFTER THIS – Jesus hung around & taught them for awhile and then He went to work… Reaching out to the hurting… I MEAN – Jesus really hits it, AND – hits it hard…
Tuesday morning I sat down and read through much of the Gospels. AND - let me tell you, as you read them you can just sense the intensity of Jesus ministry to the hurting…
In Mark 1:24; Jesus is in a synagogue in Capernaum. There is man who is hurting, he’s possessed by an evil Spirit. Jesus frees the man casting out the evil Spirit…
THEN – Jesus leaves there and goes over to Peter’s house… Peter’s mother-in law was very ill.. she had a high fever… Jesus takes her by the hand helps her up and the fever suddenly leaves her…
THEN – Mark writes;
That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons.. - Mk 1:32-34
(NOW - Matthew adds here a quote from what we just read in Is 53);
This fulfilled the word of the Lord through Isaiah, who said, "He took our sicknesses and removed our diseases. Mt 8:17
AND – just a few verses down in Mark 1:40 we read of Jesus’ encounter with the leper who we met as we began our study today…
A leper came to him, begging on his knees, "If you want to, you can cleanse me." Deeply moved, Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, "I want to. Be clean." Then and there the leprosy was gone, his skin smooth and healthy.
Mk 1:40,41 (Msg)
CIRCLE – “deeply moved,” & “I want to”
UNDERSTAND – when Jesus saw the hurting… He was deeply moved… I MEAN – can’t you just hear the passion in voice as He looks at this hurting man, his body rotting away (things were not as they should be) and Jesus says ‘I want to…”
LISTEN – Jesus Christ as he launched out on his ministry saw all kinds of hurt, in the lives of all kinds of people… AND – oh how “he wanted to…”
In Mark 2:1-12; Jesus sees 4 guys carrying their paralyzed friend on a mat and Jesus says, “I want to..”
In Mark 2:13&14; Jesus sees a Tax Collector named Matthew (a lonely man, a hated man, a man from who people turned their heads and walked away) and Jesus says, “I want to”
In Mark 5:21-43; Jesus meets a Man whose daughter is sick and about to die (before Jesus gets to her she actually does), and he also meet a woman who has been sick (hemorrhaging for 12 years; she had spend all her money on doctors and instead of getting better she was getting worse… To make matters even worse this sickness has made her unclean and unable to worship at the temple) Jesus sees this man and this woman and he says, “I want to”
In John 4; Jesus meets a lonely woman by a well in Samaria. For years she has looked for love and found none…. Married 5 times & now living with a man… Jesus sits next to her, looks into her eyes and says, “I want to…
In Luke 7; Jesus meets a woman, an immoral woman, a woman who made her living sleeping with men. She crashes the party Jesus is having with a bunch of Pharisees (you know I don’t really think it was much of a party…) She kneels before him weeping, pours perfume on his feet, dries them with her hair… Jesus looks down at her and says, “I want to…”
AND – in John 11; Jesus is reunited with 2 good friends, 2 sisters who had just lost their brother, Lazarus (he had been dead for 4 days) John writes;
When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. "Where have you laid him?" he asked. "Come and see, Lord," they replied. Jesus wept… Jn 11:32-35
JESUS – saw their hurt, saw their pain, saw how thing are not as the were supposed to be – then he wept and said…. “I want to…”
CHRIST’S – passion for the hurting was natural…
His Passion For The Hurting - Was Needed…
When I was growing up, the most dreaded disease in my world was not measles, mumps or chicken pox. It was a more subtle and mysterious disorder. There was no vaccine for it, no antidote, no known cure. There was no method of inoculation. It was highly contagious. Nobody ever elaborated what would happen to you if you contracted this disease. You never knew exactly what the consequences were.
The mere mention of this particular disease was enough to strike terror in me and my friends. It was a fate worse than death. The only way to be safe was to make sure that any carriers of this disease were strictly quarantined, and that you had no contact with them at all.
Fortunately, it was easy to recognize. This disease was carried by girls. Every girl except my mother was loaded with it. The name of this disease was "cooties" -- the dreaded cooties disease. All a carrier had to do was touch you, breathe on you or look at you real hard, and you would be infected. Nobody was crazy enough to touch somebody with cooties. It was like every carrier wore a big sign that said, "Don’t touch."
FRIENDS - we live in a world where there are a lot untouchable people. A world where a lot of hurting people have been diagnosed with cooties… WHERE – hurting people are at best ignored and at worse ridiculed and attacked… BECAUSE - of their race, their socioeconomic status, their language, their education, or their physical appearance… YES – for many the world points their fingers and says, “ouuu they have cooties”
AND UNDERSTAND – when Christ walked the dusty roads of first century Palestine. Hurting people were not treated too well. Most people and especially the religious leaders;
• Wanted to stone them
• Ignore them
• Quarantine them
• Condemn them
• Ridicule them
• Attack them
• Blame them
Early in his ministry… Right after he found a tax collector with cooties called Matthew, Jesus was in a room full of hurting people… AND – this did not sit too well with the religious leaders of the day…
That night Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to be his dinner guests, along with his fellow tax collectors and many other notorious sinners. (There were many people of this kind among the crowds that followed Jesus.) But when some of the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with people like that, they said to his disciples, "Why does he eat with such scum?"
When Jesus heard this, he told them, "Healthy people don’t need a doctor--sick people do. I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough." Mk 2:15-17 (NLT)
YES – far too often when the spiritual leaders in Jesus’ day, looked at the hurting they saw only the sin, and NOT the person. UNFORTUNATELY – the more spiritual they became, the less approachable they were. (if these guys had any compassion at all, it was only for themselves, for their own kind…BUT
LISTEN – compassion that is not for all is not compassion at all… “if you are only compassionate and only care about your families friends who are hurting what good is that…”)
QUESTION – is Christ’s passion for the hurting still needed today?
ARE – hurting people still at times; ignored, quarantined and condemned…
UNDERSTAND – like the leper many people today suffer from a condition they didn’t create. They ask for those wounds… NO – the pain and heartache they carry were not their own choosing… BUT NEVERTHELESS – they like the leper, they are put outside the village…One author writes;
The divorced know this feeling. So do the handicapped. The unemployed have felt it, as have the less educated. Some shun unmarried moms. We keep our distance from the depressed and avoid the terminally ill.
We have neighborhoods for immigrants, convalescent homes for the elderly, schools for the simple, centers for the addicted and prisons for the criminals.
The rest simply try to get away from it all. Only God knows how many…are in voluntary exile – individuals living quiet lonely lives infected by their fear of rejection and their memories of the last time they tried. They choose not to be touched at all rather than risk being hurt again. Lucado
YES – I am afraid that the hurting, the outcast, the untouchables in the 21st century are not treated much if any better today…
MANY – when they see someone hurting (sadly even churches & Christians); are like the priest & the Levite in Luke 10; they simply look the other way , they choose just walked down the other side of the road… They try not to make eye contact they most defintley try not to make heart contact… They don’t want to be bothered, to get dirty or be caught up in something that may be hard to get out of… AND – besides many times these people only have themselves to blame…
In my studies this week I came across these words from a book in my office called, The Jesus I Never Knew, by Philip Yancey.
As my class in Chicago read the Gospels and watched movies about Jesus’ life, we noticed a striking pattern: the more unsavory the characters, the more at ease they seemed to feel around Jesus.
PEOPLE – like these found Jesus appealing: a Samaritan social outcast, a militant officer of the tyrant Herod, a quisling tax collector, a recent hostess of 7 demons.
In contrast, Jesus got a chilly response from more respectable types. Pious Pharisees thought him uncouth and worldly, a rich young ruler walked away shaking his head, and even the open-minded Nicodemus sought a meeting under the cover of darkness.
I remarked to the class how strange this pattern seemed, since the Christian church now attracts respectable types who closely resemble the people most suspicious of Jesus on earth. What has happened to reverse the pattern of Jesus day? Why don’t sinners like being around us?
I recounted a story told to me by a friend who works with the down and outs in Chicago. A prostitute came to him in wretched sraits, homeless, her health failing, unable to buy food for her 2 year old daughter. Her eyes awash with tears, she confessed that she had been renting out her daughter – 2 years old! – to men.. to support her drug habit. My friend could barely bear hearing the sordid details of her story. He sat in silence not knowing what to say.
At last he asked if she had ever thought of going to a church for help. “I will never forget the look of pure astonishment that crossed her face,” he later told me. “Church!” she cried. “Why would I ever gatherer? They’d just make me feel worse then I already do.”
Somehow we have created a community of respectability in the church, I told my class. The down-and –out who flocked to Jesus when he lived on earth, no longer feel welcome. How did Jesus, the only perfect person in history, manage to attract the notoriously imperfect? And what keeps us from following in His steps today?
YES – Christ passion for the hurting is needed
TODAY… because…the world is full of hurting people and because the world and even the church doesn’t do so good… with helping them…
His Passion For The Hurting – Was Near…
UNDERSTAND – compassion is not done ay a distance… Helping is not from far off..BUT – from up close… NO – it’s done the way the Good Samaritan of Luke 10 did it; up close & personal; down & dirty, risky & inconvenient…
I love how Erwin McManus puts it in An Un Stppable Force, daring To be the Church God intended… “You cannot wash the feet of a dirty world if you refuse to touch it…”
[we can’t be afraid of getting cooties…]
Christ passion for the hurting was near…
Of course it was risky. Of course it was reckless. But what did I have to lose? He calls himself God’s Son. Either he will hear my complaint and kill me or accept my demands and heal me. Those were my thoughts. I came to him as a defiant man. Moved not by faith but by a desperate anger. God had wrought this calamity on my body, and he would either fix it or end it.
But then I saw him, and when I saw him I was changed…Before he spoke I knew he cared. Somehow I knew he hated this disease as much as, no – more than I hate it. My rage became trust, and my anger became hope.
From behind a rock, I watched him descend a hill. Throngs of people followed him. I waited until he was only paces from me, then I stepped out.
He stopped & looked in my direction as he did dozens of others. A flood of fear swept across the crowd. Arms flew in front of faces. Children ducked behind parents. “Unclean!” someone shouted. Again, I don’t blame them. I was a huddled mass of death.
BUT I scarcely heard them. I scarcely saw them. Their panic I had seen a 1,000 times. His compassion, however, I’ve never seen. Everyone stepped back except him. He stepped toward me. Toward me…
5 years ago my wife stepped toward me. She was the last to do so. NOW – he did. I did not move. I just spoke. “Lord, you can heal me if you want to..”
Had he healed with a word, I would have been thrilled. Had he cured me with a prayer, I would have rejoiced. But he wasn’t satisfied with speaking to me. He drew near to me. He touched me. 5 years ago my wife had touched me. No one had touched me since. Until today.
“I want to.” His words were as tender as his torch. “be healed!”
Energy flooded my body like water through a plowed field. In an instant in a moment, I felt warmth where there had been numbness. I felt strength where there had been atrophy. My back straighten, and my head lifted. Where I had been eye level with his belt, I now stood eye to eye level with his face. He was smiling…
He cupped his hands on my cheeks and drew me so near that I could feel the warmth of his breathe and see the wetness in his eyes. “Don’t tell anyone about this. But go and show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded for people whoa re made well. This will show the people what I have done.
AND SO – that is where I am going. I will show myself to my priest and embrace him. I will show myself to my wife and I will embrace her. I will pick up my daughter and I will embrace her.
AND I will never forget the one who dared to touch me. He could have healed with a word. But he wanted to do more than heal me. He wanted to honor me…Imagine that unworthy of the touch of man, yet worthy of the touch of God. - Lucado
UNDERSTAND – that Jesus came to set things right, to show that God is near, to powerfully fulfill (Ps 34:18) ….”The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those who are crushed in spirit” Ps 34:18 (NLT).
LISTEN - Jesus came in part to reveal that God, who many people thought was so unapproachable -- so far off -- in fact is "near.." Christ was passionate about the hurting…
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Mt 9:36
• WHEN – Jesus look at the hurting people he saw their needs…
• He felt their pain…
• AND - He came near and help them… he - touched them
Christ passion for the hurting was (and is); natural, needed, and near….
Your Response To His Passion – Is Now
THERE –a re 2 things that I want to say here, FIRST;
Now Go TO Him…
LISTEN - Jesus is waiting for hurting people to approach him. NOW PERHAPS – you have been holding back, because you feel like you don’t deserve to approach him -- you’re not good enough… YOU KNOW - sometimes, I think we don’t approach Jesus when were are hurting (are you hurting?) because we’ve forgotten that we can, we’ve forgotten that he wants us to. We’ve forgotten that when we are hurting his passion for us is; natural, needed and near…
You need to do what the leper did. You have to forget
all the barriers, run to Jesus, fall down before him and ask him to hear you, to cleanse you, to empower you, to touch you. Here’s the amazing thing. The leper comes to Jesus while he is still a leper. He knew he was unworthy. That’s why he begged.
So often we think, "I’ve got to get cleaned up first. Then I can come to Jesus. I’ve got to get rid of my leprosy first."
UNDERSTAND - if the leper would have thought that way, he would never have come to Jesus.
We say, "I’ve got to get my spiritual life together first’ or ’I’ve got some problem that I have to take care of’ or ’I’ve got to defeat sin in some area in my life. Then I’ll feel like I can approach him."
LISTEN - the time to approach him is NOW! It is NOW that you need him. It is NOW, precisely when you are aware of the fact that you’re not worthy to approach him. That you need to.
All you have to do is come and fall on your knees. Say, "Here’s the problem’ -- whatever it is. ’I know I’m not worthy – but if you want to……" AND – Jesus will look down at you and say, “I want to”
SOME – of you are hurting and you need to come to Jesus NOW…. HEAR – the passionate one as he says to you…
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls.” - Mt 11:28,29
On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and shouted, "If you are thirsty, come to me and drink! Have faith in me, and you will have life-giving water flowing from deep inside you, just as the Scriptures say." - John 7:37,38
For some of you in this room – your response to Christ passion today… needs to be, NOW COME!
AND – for others your response to Christ passion for the hurting needs to be;l
Now Go FOR Him…
UNDERSTAND - Jesus did not call his followers or his church, to be a quarantine zone. Think of it this way. Imagine a hospital where the one rule in the hospital is no germs are allowed inside. Imagine a hospital where the doctors say, "This has been a successful day. I was not infected. My patients were loaded with filthy germs, but I kept them all outside. They all died, but I didn’t touch any of them. I didn’t get infected."
We’re not called to avoid infection. We’re called to save souls. We are called to tocuh the lives of hurting people… To consider our lives a success if we avoid infection and suffering is to make a mockery of the cross. We live in a world where sin, where suffering and where pain is contagious. We learn to keep our distance. If you get too close to somebody, you may get infected by their pain. It may not be convenient. It may not be comfortable.
BUT ONLY WHEN WE – get close can we touch them…help them…
We need to NOW – go for Him… WE - need to see their needs feel the pain and come near to those who are hurting in this room… AND - to those who are hurting in this world…
[I am so pumped about – ‘ministry 2540’ our new intentional ministry to the least of these.]
WHY? BECAUSE - sin and suffering are not all that are contagious. There are other things that are infectious.
Enthusiasm is infectious. Laughter is infectious. Faith is infectious. The secret to health and spiritual life is not to isolate yourself away from sin and suffering. It is not possible, even if you wanted to do it. NO - the secret is to be so filled with the life of Jesus, to be so filled with the spirit of God that when you touch the world, it doesn’t infect you. You infect it with the passion of Christ…
LISTEN – that is exactly how the kingdom works…
Jesus in his ministry twice used the image of yeast in his teachings… Once to warn his disciples (Mt 16) of how the teachings and the judgmental attitudes of the Pharisees can spread… We know that… BUT Jesus also uses the image of yeast to talk about the kingdom of God… “The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast used by a woman making bread. Even though she used a large amount of flour, the yeast permeated every part of the dough.” Mt 13:33 (NLT)
YOU SEE - the flour doesn’t stand a chance it’s just a matter of time.. SO it is with the kingdom of God it cannot be stopped… The darkness does not stand a chance against the passion of the Christ… It’s infectious.
The deal is you’ve got to go out of this room and start spreading germs -- little germs of joy, little germs of faith, little belief bacteria. Go out there and make people sick. That’s what you’ve got to do. You need to identify who are the hurting people in your world are.
• It might be a neighbor.
• It might be somebody that you work with.
• It might be a person that’s difficult to love.
God longs to make the passion of the Christ a reality in your life, so that you can infect your world. It just involves two things,
Allow Christ to touch you…
And then touch the world for Him
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Cor 1:3,4