David Case - March 28, 2021
Jesus is on a Cross
From Series: "Jesus Is "
We often don't recognize some of the simple ideals that describes Jesus. This series looks at scripture to explain who Jesus is in the ways that often get overlooked.
More From "Jesus Is "
JESUS IS PASSIONATE
A MESSAGE IN THE JESUS IS SERIES - MARCH 14, 2021
In this series called “Jesus is”, I hope we can see a clear picture of some of the unique characteristics of Jesus. Last week, Roy Lawson did a great job kicking off this series by talking about Jesus as our friend , and today we will talk about how “Jesus is…Passionate”.
Jesus isn’t boring:
Personally, I believe one of the greatest misconceptions is that Jesus is…boring, vanilla, always soft spoken, or He lacked intensity and passion. You see, Jesus was passionate, to the point that it might catch you off guard. In my freshman year of Bible college, we were assigned the task of reading through the stories of Jesus and to note the times in which Jesus surprised you. Almost every student came back with some variation of Jesus not being as nice as they expected. On multiple occasions Jesus got a bit fired up. Of course, there’s the infamous scene in where in the temple when he created quite a ruckus by flipping over some tables, he called one of his closest friends Satan, he called a roman politician a “fox”, which by that, he meant “coward”, not someone who is attractive. He killed a herd of 2000 pigs with no sign of compensating the owner, he killed an innocent fig tree to make a point about faith. He name-called with the best of them calling some religious people “whitewashed tombs”, snakes, brood of vipers, sons of the devil, liar, ignorant, dull, and faithless. Excuse my language.
Yeah, Jesus said all of that. It’s important to know why he said that, though. Most of those insults can be found in Matthew 23, and in that chapter, he says this to the religious teachers of the law in verse 13, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces, you yourselves will not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”
Jesus had some passionate outbursts because of his compassion for people. His passion and his intensity always had a recipient, and ultimately that recipient is us.
In order to illustrate this sort of compassion we are going to look at a passage in John’s biography of the life of Jesus, John chapter 8. We are going to see how Jesus’ passion for those wanting to enter the kingdom of God took center stage. It says this, starting in verse 1, “Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them.” A little context, Jesus has been in Jerusalem celebrating the Feat of Tabernacle , which means that for an entire week the Nation of Israel has been sleeping in tents, reminding themselves of how God had provided for their ancestors during the exodus dessert experience. So, picture this, you have thousands upon thousands of people sleeping in tight spaces. One commentator I read put it this way, “close proximity, leads to high promiscuity”. It has the potential to be relational disaster, and that’s exactly what happened.
Jesus asks a question:
In Verse 3, As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” Now, back then they would stone people as a way to punish someone, they would throw them in a hole, and someone in the crowd would be designated to drop a few heavy rocks on top of them.
And if those heavy rocks didn’t kill them then the rest of the mob would pile on and start throwing the rocks down at the person. It’s important to note where the woman is in relation to the men are, and then I want you to notice the direction that Jesus is going to move in. Then it says this in verse 6, “Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger.” So, Jesus is now on the same level as the woman and he begins to write in the sand, and the Greek word that John uses for this is “Katagrapho”. And it literally means, “to write against”. So, Jesus is writing for the woman down here and against the men up there, he’s literally and physically putting himself between a rock and hard place. Between a sinful woman and some self-righteous men.
John writes in Verse 7, “They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
So, there’s three-character groups that we can potentially emulate in this story.
(1) There’s the passionate mob, bent on following the letter of the law
(2) there is the woman who is experiencing the consequences for her crime of passion
(3) and there’s Jesus, who’s passion for the broken lead to a demonstration of compassion.
I love how that story ends, “until only Jesus was left…with the woman still standing there”. This is exactly where I hope we all land in our spiritual journeys, alone with Jesus. It’s a difficult place to end up because it means we are confronting our mistakes, our sin, but it’s also the place where we will understand what the Apostle Paul went on to write to the Roman church, in chapter 5:8 of Romans “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He didn’t wait for us to reach a certain status, at our lowest moment, at the bottom of the pit with rocks in the hands of the mob that has formed around us, he died for us. Does that ignite a passion in your life? I hope so. If you answered yes, where will that passion lead you?
(anchor text these next 3 points to their respected sections of the page.
There are three simple observations I want to take from that story.
- When your passion leads to compassion you will give grace and truth
- When your passion leads to compassion you will stoop down.
- When passion leads to compassion, we are refreshed each day.
The First Observation:
When your passion leads to compassion you will give grace and truth. That’s exactly what Jesus did for this woman, he leads with grace and lands with truth, while others wanted to dish out condemnation. Jesus did this by saying these two seemingly contrasting statements, “I don’t condemn you”, which is a statement of grace, and “sin no more”, which is a statement of truth. He’s providing comfort and counsel in this closing interaction. There’s no condemnation for this woman, but there has been a new standard that has been set. This is a life changing experience for her and there’s no doubt she will live life differently because of it. Paul says it this way in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” She experienced grace and now because of truth, she lives by faith. Same is true for us, we desperately need grace, and we also need truth so that with wisdom we can discern the will of God, we can know the next right step. Without God’s truth we only have how we feel, and it be very easy to be taken in a direction that we never intended on going. It’s possible for us all to be swept up in the passionate enthusiasm of others and find ourselves in a tough spot.
Maybe you’ve been there, where you look back and think, I shouldn’t have invested in that, I shouldn’t have let some people influence my decisions. In the world we live in it’s so easy to get swept up in the excitement, the passions of others, and then if there’s a lack of discernment that is rooted in truth, we might find ourselves in a situation that we have no business being in. I use the word discernment because that’s what Paul uses in Romans 12:2 when he says this, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
What would it look like if we were passionate about demonstrating grace and truth to others and living according to that ourselves? How would your life be different?
The Second Observation:
Author and pastor Tim Keller talks about passion this way, he says, “Passion means suffering- If you live a life of passion that means you are living a life that is for something bigger than yourself.” Jesus understands this better than anyone, his passion for people leads him to places that no one else would dare to go. For us, maybe it doesn’t have to lead us to places no one would dare to go…. but maybe it does lead somewhere. Maybe it does lead somewhere in which you are doing something for God’s kingdom here on this earth. Serving God and truly being a part of His church will most likely lead to places in which you will have to stoop down and be a servant to someone that is in need. If you’re not serving regularly in some way right now, I would encourage you to pray for God’s leading in that. Listen for where he might be asking you to stoop down.
The Final Observation:
when passion leads to compassion, we are refreshed each day. Even though Jesus leaves this conversation with this woman by saying “Go and sin no more”, we all know that’s not going to happen. Arguably, even the most spiritual man in the post- Jesus first century, the apostle Paul, said he was “the chief of sinners”, like as he was writing his epistles. So, what was Jesus really expecting? basically, “Your old life keeps you from being who God meant you to be. It hurts other people. So, go now and start over. Start worshipping the one who is in control and loves you completely.
Standing amongst the rubble:
Lately I feel like I’ve been pointed to the book of Lamentations, where the prophet Jeremiah finds himself standing in the rubble of Jerusalem. Everything has been upended and destroyed, his livelihood is gone, his friends and family members have died, and with tears in his eyes he chooses the only option he knows, to worship God, the God he still loves and the God who still trusts. So, he sings this in chapter 3:22-23, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions NEVER fail. They are new EVERY morning; great is your faithfulness.”
We worship a God who’s love never fails, it’s available to us every single morning. And the woman caught in the act of adultery, some day we’ll probably meet her, she can sing those lyrics herself with confidence. The question is, can we? Can we live a passionate life because of the grace we have been given? Personally, I believe that all of us should be the most passionate people alive because we have a passionate savior in Jesus, someone that would rather draw in the sand, than pick up a rock.