The Passion of God For Discovery
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 through the way people can love others? 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 in Mark 16: 1-8. Let’s read these eight verses as we conclude the gospel of Mark.
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 quilt 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 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:
1. It makes planning imperative. In the case of these women their passion for Jesus made it imperative they purchase the spices to anoint Him well before they would use them. It was just before sunset on that Friday night of His death that they had quickly rushed out to purchase what they needed for Sunday morning. (Lk.23:56). 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.
2. It makes going imperative. Though they had made plans and purchased what was needed God is about to use that momentum to ignite the rest of the disciples. 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. God can quickly change the course of our going but it doesn’t alter the imperative that we go. It’s as we move that God can show us things we would never have seen otherwise.
3. It makes faith imperative. The women had left Jerusalem knowing that 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.
II. A Passion Pursues the Joy of Completion. This is true of any passion, it’s the positive experience of joy that fuels passion as 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:
1. 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. Forgiveness and grace and life was their message and they needed to move past fear in order to experience the joy designed into it.
2. 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 resurrection of Jesus is to God a thing of great joy, it is a course of 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 the 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 afraid, saying nothing to anyone, but instead 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 discover Him more and more and more.