Marks of passion.
Jesus had modeled passion for his disciples. That he had expected them to follow his example is a point of clarity throughout their time together. It is a strong theme tracking through the New Testament, the supposition that believers would learn from and follow his example.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and
take up his cross and follow me."
Matthew 16:24, ESV
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will
not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12, ESV
If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If
anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
John 12:26, ESV
For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.
John 13:15, ESV
And, of course there are many more. There is textual evidence that the disciples, however, didn't understand much of his instruction. Not until one of his post-resurrection appearances did Jesus open their eyes and hearts to the truth of Scripture and what was actually happening in the days of his death and resurrection (see Luke 24:45). As a result, the disciples portrayed in Luke Volume 2: The Acts of the Apostles, were different because Jesus had revealed himself to them, had given them a clear and concise mission, and had equipped them with promises to guide and sustain them. Their brave words and hot flash temperament had elevated to genuine passion. They would now be ready, even eager, to die as a fulfillment of that passion.
The marks of their passion were established on their absolute obedience to his expectations of them. This obedient spirit was manifest in them in several notable ways---
1. They experienced suffering for his name sake, and were thankful for it.
The Book of Acts chronicles the suffering they experienced as a result of their obedience. They were jailed on several occasions, flogged by the authorities, ridiculed by their opponents, and subjected to many moments of pain and suffering. James was eventually martyred by Herod. Stephen was stoned, and the Apostle Paul was tortured and jailed numerous times for his ministry of teaching and preaching. One notable event was recorded by Luke, when "They left the presence of the council rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name" (Acts 5:41, ESV). Their post-resurrection passion revealed no escaping and fleeing, no moments of doubt, and no further occasions of fear about their mission. Willingness to suffer was a mark of their passion. Their comfortable days had ended.
2. There was a new boldness in them.
Luke recorded a new boldness in their teaching and preaching.
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were
uneducated, common men, they were astonished.
And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak
your word with all boldness.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with
He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all
boldness and without hindrance!
Before they had been tentative and uncertain in their moments of test and trial. They had slept while Jesus prayed. Christ's trail, suffering, and crucifixion had been observed by them from a distance. But, in the Book of Acts, after having seen the resurrected Christ, they were confident and assured, equipped for the demands of the mission by his presence and promises. Boldness was a mark of their passion.
3. They fulfilled his command to go, to teach, and to baptize.
Jesus had commanded them to make disciples of all nations by going, teaching, and baptizing. The entire Book of Acts records their faithful and obedient movement to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth accomplishing the expectations Jesus had place before them. Thirteen references in Acts detail their passion to teach and preach the Gospel as Jesus had commanded. Fulfilling the commands of the Great Commission was a mark of their passion.
What does passion look like? It looks like these obedient disciples who gladly displayed these marks of passion---their willingness to suffer, the boldness that was so evident in their fulfillment of the mission Jesus had given them, and their focus on fulfilling the commands he had given them.
And, so, here we are, his disciples two thousand years later, possessed by the same elements of faith---the revelation of the risen Christ, the mission to make disciples of all nations, and the promises to guide and sustain us, floundering in our attempts to follow his example. The question that troubles me so is, where is the passion? It's the question I ask of the man in the mirror every morning. That translates, at least for me, to the prayer for Christ to raise that kind of passion in me.
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