Tuesday, April 11, 2017
His Passion, Our Pleasure
We just heard the full account of the days leading up to Jesus’ death. Hearing about everything He went through, we ask ourselves “why.” Why did He allow Judas to betray Him? Why did He allow Himself to be falsely accused, beaten, mocked, and nailed to the cross? Why didn’t He just save Himself? It would’ve been so easy for Him to do….The answer to these “why” questions is the name for this Sunday: Passion. Christ endured and suffered all He did, He died on the cross because of His passion for you.
When we think about passion we think about love. The things we’re passionate about are the things we love, and there are many things that we love. Things like hobbies: cooking, art, hunting and fishing. Many of us love our careers. Some have a passion for volunteering and helping others. We love our family and friends. We’re passionate about our boyfriends and girlfriends, fiancées and spouses.
Often, this is what we think about when we think of passion. We think of those good, warm, and even romantic feelings we have for another person. These feelings can run hot and they’re what tell us we’re in love. These feelings are what drive us to want to always be around that person. These feelings convince us that this is the person we’re supposed to spend the rest of our lives with, and as long as we’re feeling those feelings, those sweet emotions, everything's okay. Life couldn’t be any better.
But there’s a problem with this. When we equate love and passion, when we base our love on emotions, on the good feelings we get, whether it’s when we’re around a certain person or doing that hobby, it won’t last. It won’t last because passion, like all emotions, is fleeting. When we base our love on a fleeting ever changing emotion, our love is fleeting and ever changing.
You see, when we don’t feel that passion anymore, when we don’t have fire in our heart, we decide that we no longer love. When we don’t get joy out of hunting or art, we stop doing it. When we no longer get that good feeling we once did volunteering, we stop helping. When that burning feeling for our spouse dies down, we give up. We get a divorce and we go looking for that feeling somewhere else, in someone else.
When our love is based on emotion, it’s unstable and won’t last. It changes. But true love isn’t changing. True love is more than an emotion, more than a feeling. True love is a commitment, a commitment that is seen in action. True love is Christ Jesus.
Christ’s passion for you isn’t a feeling, it’s an action. His passion is the giving up of His life on the cross for your benefit, in your place. Everything that Jesus endured and suffered is what we deserve because of our sin. Because our love is self-serving and selfish, we deserve to be betrayed. We deserve the accusation of being a sinner, because that’s what we are. We should be mocked and spit upon because in our sin we’ve mocked God. Our hands and our feet should be nailed to the tree because our sin justly deserves the death sentence. But thanks be to God that’s not what you receive.
You receive Christ’s passion. You receive God’s love, a love that’s unchanging, a love that’s strong and steadfast. God’s love doesn’t come and go; it’s not fleeting. It’s the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and nothing can change that. God’s always loved you in this way, even though you’re a sinner and in that sin you’re an enemy of God. God loves you. This is what drove Him to send His Son to take on our flesh and blood and to die in your place. God didn’t want you to suffer the punishing death of sin, so He graciously sent Jesus to suffer it in your place. This is true love, a complete self-giving love, a love that serves others. And because of this love and passion of Christ, you receive the joys of everlasting life!
Christ’s passion is your pleasure. With the God given gift of faith, you receive the forgiveness that Christ won on the cross. This forgiveness is the assurance of God’s grace. It’s the pardoning of your sin. Because Christ died in your place, because He took your sin upon Himself, God frees you from the condemnation of sin. He declares you innocent and He gives you the gift of everlasting life. This life is yours now, a life full of God’s blessings, mercy, and love, a life of complete joy no matter what your emotions and feelings are.
Christ’s passion isn’t the same as ours. Our passion runs hot and cold. Sometimes we feel it, sometimes we don’t. And as our passion goes, so does our love. But not Christ’s. Jesus’ passion and love aren’t emotions. They’re not fleeting feelings. Jesus’ passion and love are action, strong, steadfast, and never changing. Christ’s love for you drove Him to the cross. That’s why He suffered it all. His passion saves you from sin and death. Christ’s passion is your pleasure, giving you the joys of everlasting life. In Jesus’ name...Amen.