The Passion of the King (Jon Fryer)

Its story time again. Last time the story started with ‘In the Beginning…’, but this time the story starts with a much more traditional line:

Once upon a time, in a far distant land, there lived a king.

But nobody knew he was the king. Why?

Because this king was so passionate about his people that he disguised himself so that he could just hang out with the ordinary people without having to bother with all of that tedious bowing and scraping.

And so he spent his time with the people he loved.

In fact, the king was so passionate about all of his people so much that he would even spend time with the people that no one else would.

When someone was so sick that even their family were afraid to go near them, the king would still reach out and touch them.

When someone was so bad that no one else liked them, the traitors, the prostitutes, the thieves, the king would have dinner at their house and talk to them about how his kingdom was supposed to work.

The king was so passionate about his people that he hated to see anyone mistreating them. He got angry about it and stood up to the bullies. He particularly hated it when people lied to them about the laws of his kingdom and made their lives harder, so he always told the truth to them.

This annoyed the officials left in charge of telling the laws to the people – the king was so well disguised that even his own servants couldn’t recognise him. The officials decided to do something about this trouble maker.

… and so one night they sent out soldiers and arrested the disguised king to put him on trial. The king knew that he could show himself at any time, but he also knew that if he did things would only be made worse for the people that he was so passionate about looking after, so he stayed silent.

… and when the trial was over they took him out and executed him.

Except this story doesn’t start with once upon a time. This one also starts ‘In the Beginning’.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shone in the darkness, but the darkness did not recognise it.

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the Only Begotten, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but this Only Begotten God who is at the Father's side, has made him known.

This is the most amazing miracle in the Bible, far more amazing than the Creation or any of the little ones like that – the infinite, omnipotent, immortal Son of God became human... for us. God was so passionate about spending time with you guys that he became a human being. Just think about that for a moment… For us, the Living Word became wordless, a baby with no words. For us, the Voice of the Maker became a hungry voice, hungry for his mother’s milk, hungry in the desert. For us, the Voice which ordered the universe and created gravity cried out for fear of falling. The Voice that made woman was carried by a woman, and cried out for her.

God was so passionate about being able to relate to you guys that He even died in order to it. God was so passionate about saving you guys from yourselves that the Father lost His Son… again, just think about that for a second. The Trinity, who God IS, is defined by relationship. God the Father is only the Father because He has a Son. God the Son is only the Son because He has a Father. When Jesus died on the cross not only was Jesus separated from his Father with whom he had been for all eternity, but God was separated from God for the first time in forever. The Trinity was shattered…. only for a short time of course, but three days is a terribly long time when you’ve been together for all of time. That’s the real sacrifice on the cross, not the crucifixion of an innocent man. For us, the invulnerable God died. For us, the un-woundable God cried.

This was the sacrifice required to redeem our fallen-ness, just as much as his death on a cross. And why did Jesus go through with it? Because he was passionate about you guys. Hebrews 12 says: ‘Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.’ What was the joy set before him? Psalm 22, which Jesus quoted while he was dying makes it clear:

‘My God, My God why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from the words of my groaning?’

…and the Psalm continues with the answer a few verses later…

The poor will eat and be satisfied;
they who seek the LORD will praise him -
All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations will bow down before him,
All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn
Because it is finished.’

That’s about you guys. It wasn’t the Throne of God that motivated Jesus – He already owned that! Jesus went through with the cross and its agony, even though he was so afraid that he sweated blood in the Garden of Gethsemane, because he wanted to make sure that you guys got to meet with God the Father. He was so passionate about putting you into right relationship with God that it not only killed Him, it separated him from His other passion, the Father He loved so much.
So where’s your passion? What are you passionate about? Are you anywhere near as passionate about God as He is about you? Are you as passionate about other people as Jesus is? He gave up everything to meet you, what do you give up to meet with Him? Or do you just turn up when there’s nothing better to do? It cost God everything He is in order to save you, what does that cost you? Or is He just a hobby for Sunday nights?

I believe that God wants to do big things with you guys, but you need to sell yourself out on His vision for your life. If you hang onto your rights, your stuff, your life with clenched fists then how can you ever expect to receive any of the good things that God has in store for you – your hands aren’t open to catch it!

I believe that God wants to use you guys to do something amazing in this place that will change many people lives. God has been trying to do something for years but His people have always let Him down. Are you ready to do what needs to be done? Are you sold out on doing whatever God asks you to introduce Him to other people? Are you as passionate about that as He is? Are you as passionate about THEM as he is?

In Old Testament times God called a special bunch of people to serve Him called the Nazirites. They were supposed to be wild men for God – crazy prophets who lived in the desert and never cut their hair. They were there to remind people that being friends with God is about passion – they did crazy things, dreamed dreams, saw visions and performed miracles. Some of you guys are called to be like the Nazirites. You’re going to evangelise, and preach, and even lead churches someday soon. God gives you pictures, and prophecies and visions. He asks you to dream big dreams and then make them happen. He gives you a passionate desire to tell people about Him so that they can meet Him too. If that’s you, if you are that kind of extrovert, passionate person, then God is calling you to be His adverts in the world, people who go to others and point and say ‘Hey, God wants to talk to you.’ Are you on board with God’s program? Are you serious about sharing God’s love with other people? Are you passionate about it to the point where it’s your main priority? Are you going to be able to cope when the job falls to you? Or are other things are important to you? Can you even be bothered? I’m not making any accusations here, but you need to be honest with yourself and God on that one, and assess your priorities. Are you going to be ready? For all of you guys called to be like the Nazirites, you need to get passionate about God and passionate about the people out there. You need to get serious and you need to get loud, or God will find someone else to do the job for Him – Rev 3 says ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the church."

Ok, at least half of you are probably sitting there saying, ‘But I can’t do that stuff – I’m quiet and reserved – it’s just not me’. You’re right. But in the Old Testament God called another type of person to serve Him, and they were the Levites. The Levites were God’s servants in his Temple day and night. They had no other job than to make the House of God run properly, and to assist the people who turned up at the Temple to worship. If you are the quiet type of person who still wants to serve God, then this is you. God still calls you to be passionate about Him and about people, but your focus needs to be on looking after people once they are inside, rather than the other guys whose focus is outside. You are still called to be just as passionate, but in your own way. In St Georges there is a group called the altar guild – they make sure that the altar cloth is brilliant white, and that the silver is polished ready for communion, and get very upset if the vicar spills the communion wine. These people are passionate about making sure that God is worshipped with the best that we have available, and every church runs because people quietly get on with jobs in the background, not because they want praise but because they are passionate about serving God and serving others in whichever way they can manage. The church won’t have enough people to do half the jobs that need doing unless you guys get involved. Don’t say ‘someone else will do it’ if God is asking you to do something, because it may just be left undone. What is God asking you to do? God has something for everyone to do – we are all privileged that He wants to share the job with us – don’t miss the opportunity, ‘cos you guys who are called to be like the Levites are just as called to serve as the loud guys up front… and God notices quiet passion just as much as the noisy stuff – the Bible says that ‘Your Father will see the good that you do in secret and reward you. Matthew six verse three. In quietness and trust are your strength.’

This challenge is for all of you. All of you are called to be passionate for God in one way or the other. All of you are called to be passionate about caring for each other in one way or another. All of you are called to be passionate about sharing God with others, in one way or another. You are all people chosen by God, but some of you choose to be frozen instead. Don’t choose not to be chosen. Some of you put the majority of your passion into earthly things, into football, into computer games, into music, instead of into God. Jesus said: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your passion will be also.

No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be passionate about one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. You cannot put your passion into the world and still have room for God … but the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope - the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority and do not let anyone despise you. (Titus 2)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12)

HarvestJesus is passionate about you to the point of death. So again I say, where is your passion? What is your passion? What are you passionate about? I tell you the truth, God is calling each and every one of you to serve Him in some way, and to be His friends, and He is calling you now. He’s calling you today, this hour. The fields are white unto harvest, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest therefore to send out workers into his harvest field. Now is the hour, now is the time, now is the day of salvation. Now is the time to rise up with a vision of God, now is the time to shake off every sin that entangles, to shake off every passion that is not from God, to run with passion that God gives you, give your time, give your money, give your lives, give your passion, give whatever he asks because He loves you so much more than you can even understand, and then, when we finally see Him face to face, we will not be ashamed in that day, yes?

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