The Passion of God
Text: Mark 16:1-8
Proposition: The great passion of God is that we would know what He knows, especially all things that regard His Son Jesus Christ.
Introduction: What is it you are passionate about? Is it your family, is it the wonder of nature, is it the riches of faith, is it life itself and the way that beauty is seen? Larry Crabb in his book, ‘Finding God’ says, “The core problem is not that we are too passionate about bad things, but that we are not passionate enough about good things.” Perhaps as you consider this you see that in fact you have many passions of various degree, but what is it you are most passionate about? If we follow the line of thought that we have been made in the image of God, a central teaching of the Scriptures from Genesis 2, then it would stand to reason that God also is passionate about a number of things and is most passionate about one thing in particular. Is it possible that what He is most passionate about is the very thing we are meant to be the most passionate about? This morning we’re going to test that theory as we examine the account of the resurrection. Have a look at the account of this in Mark 16:1-8.
I. A Passion Occurs as a Result of Unfinished Work.
You see a person doesn’t have a passion for something that is finished. If it’s a passion for chocolate it’s because there’s more chocolate out there! If it’s a passion for old cars, for collecting stamps, for playing hockey or for helping the helpless… it’s because there is more out there. A passion occurs because there is yet more to be done, there is unfinished work, even if it’s the unfinished work of another game of golf, the unfinished work of sewing another dress or painting another picture.
So when we consider the passage before us this morning, what was it that impelled these women to rise so early in the morning that first day of the week? Was it just the unfinished work of burial? No, there was something much deeper here, there was the unfinished work of being close to Jesus, of seeing Him, of somehow wanting to hear from Him yet one more time again. Though the resurrection was an unknown truth to them at this moment I believe that God had stirred their hearts with just such a passion. It was His desire that they be exactly where they were that damp early dawn and that as they responded to that passion He would bring a blessing to their lives that would resound through the pages of history. The passion that occurs as a result of the unfinished work of God has a number of effects:
- It makes planning imperative. In the case of these women their passion for Jesus made it imperative they purchase the spices to anoint Him. It was just after sunset that marked the end of the Sabbath that Saturday night. They had quickly rushed out to purchase what they needed for the next Sunday morning. If they were going to the tomb early Sunday morning the shops would not be open yet. What they needed to do then meant planning for it now. You know the same is true with you, in order for you to pursue your passion it always demands some degree of planning. It would be a small step to say the same thing goes with God the Father for that which is His passion.
- It makes going imperative. Though they had made plans and purchased what was needed, God was about to use that momentum to ignite the rest of the disciples. They are so intent on getting to the tomb that they get up before sunrise and head to the tomb. It’s as we move that God can show us things we would never have seen otherwise. We have our plans yet God often overrules them once we begin to go. What happened to the spices for burial that they had purchased and carried to the tomb…likely they were left strewn around the open mouth of the tomb. In their going they had discovered something much greater than they could ever have known, they discovered the news of the risen Christ! But that only happened as they make going an imperative.
- It makes faith imperative. The women had left Jerusalem that early morning knowing that the stone which blocked the tomb was greater than they could manage. Passion will impel a faith that is not put off by obstacles that seem immovable. It acknowledges the obstacle but it keeps moving towards it. This is not a “Yes we can” kind of thinking, the stone was greater than them, death was greater than them. Rather it is a “Yes, we hope” response. There was the unfinished work of burying Jesus, the unfinished work of just being close to Him one more time and that fueled the passion that made these women the first people on earth to hear the news that Christ is risen from the dead.
II. A Passion Pursues the Joy of Completion.
This is true of any passion, it’s the positive experience of joy, the hope of attaining what is pursued. Joy does have a variety of expressions, it is not just the bubbly emotions of a birthday party. Joy can be experienced as relief, as a deep inner satisfaction and even as the completion of bitter task. It was this kind of joy that was fueling their passion as they trudged up the slopes towards the tomb. The completion that they had in mind was a body anointed in death, there would be a resolved sense of joy and this was their passion. Again God reroutes their desire, He leads them gently into a joy that was greater than they could ever have imagined, the joy of death overcome, even the eventual understanding of the joy of eternal life because of this resurrection. Consider how this happens:
- They must move past fear in order to experience joy. The fear of an open grave, the stone unexpectedly rolled away, the fear to step into the tomb, the fear of seeing intruders or robbers. They must move past the fear of what to say, who to say it to. The message had now been put into their hands, even the message of Peter’s restoration as a disciple. Christ is risen from the dead was their message and they needed to move past fear in order to experience the joy designed into it. There can be no joy in any passion that you pursue until you move past the fear that seems to bar the way. I think that the disciples saw this time and again with Jesus, they followed Him as He set out to do. Don’t you think there was a fear when they followed Him to Lazarus’s tomb or to room where a little girl lay dead and her father and mother were in despair? Is it possible that as you follow Jesus knowing joy that comes from obeying Him that sometimes the task or call is barred by fear? You have to move past fear to experience the joy of Christ, it’s where we trust Him, knowing His love that casts out fear, that’s the path to the joy of the Lord.
- They must move past unbelief in order to experience joy. The angel simply tells them what he has been instructed to say, “He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.” That “they” the angel referred to was them, they had just put His body there. Clearly He is not here, but the here referred to is not just to the rocky ledge in the tomb, it referred to death itself. It was as invitation to stop believing one way and to start believing in something so incredible it would take your speech away. “He is risen!” I’m thinking that phrase ran over and over in their minds. It was their hope against hope and now it was being stated as a truth. It is amazing how God takes one passion and replaces it with an even greater passion that has a consuming joy unimaginable as its fuel. There is now a new pursuit, a new unfinished task of bringing this great news into the hearts and minds of many.
III. The Great Passion of God is That We Would Know What He Knows. This statement is particularly true in regards to what God knows about His Son Jesus Christ. The resurrection of Jesus is known by God as the turning point of His plans for all of humanity. God knows that the resurrection is His signal to man, a very understandable signal, that there is now a new way past death. It is His signal that since death occurs as a result of sin, there is now a new way past sin. Since sin requires a sacrifice for forgiveness to occur, there is now a new and living sacrifice that forever accomplishes forgiveness of sin, the sacrifice of the Son of God on the cross at Calvary. The resurrection of Jesus is to God a thing of great joy, it is a course to a new unfinished work as people are yet to be invited into this understanding. It is for God His greatest passion that we would know all that He knows about Jesus Christ.
You see this thing called evangelism is nothing more than the excitement of God wanting you know what He knows. When that truth captures our hearts we are no longer slow to get going, no longer afraid, no longer hindered with unbelief. Now the great passion of God Himself lives in us through His Holy Spirit. His passion, the resurrected Son of God, the King of all kings, has now become our greatest passion. This is the passion of God for us to ever discover Him more and more and more, forever.