Responding to the Passion of Jesus (Week 3)

2020: A Year of Celebration!

“Keep Journeying Together!”

Key Verses:  Matthew 21:12-13

Our goal for all of 2020 is to do one thing: LIFT UP THE NAME OF JESUS! Our theme verse for 2020 is John chapter 12, verse 32 (John 12:32, ESV), which proclaims, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” This verse explicitly points to the fact that Jesus would be lifted up on the Cross of Calvary to give His life as a payment for sin, as the very next verse says, “He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.”


The implications of this verse go beyond Jesus’ death and influence every area of our lives: we are called to live our lives in response to Jesus being lifted up on the Cross as the Savior for all the World! In response to His Passion!


Throughout this series, the word “Passion” has a more technical meaning that in Biblical Studies points to the suffering of Jesus Christ, specifically from the historical events of the Garden of Gethsemane to the crucifixion.[1]


The Passion of Jesus cannot remain a once-upon-a-time idea in your head captured in the icon of the Cross, just as our call to follow Jesus and share in His sufferings cannot remain an abstract concept. There are real implications to the Passion of Jesus, not only in what He did to rescue us and give us life, but in how we should live our lives in response to His life, death, and resurrection. As we prepare our hearts and minds for Easter, we are walking toward the Cross in order to hear personally, from the Spirit, how each of us is invited to respond to Jesus’ Passion.


Today, we are going to learn: As the Body of Christ, members of Jesus’ Church, we must keep journeying together, even when we experience disappointment in fellow members of the Body. Jesus experienced deep disappointment through His ministry, with His followers, the clamoring crowds, the religious establishment, the political authorities, His own hometown and family. Even so, Jesus did not let His disappointment or pain stop him from journeying with them and for their good—to the Cross! In the same way, we can’t let our disappointment or pain with one another stop us from journeying together because we are the Body of Christ.[2]


Paul states in Romans 12:4-5, “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”


Jesus experienced significant disappointment during His earthly ministry, but He still gave His body to the Passion so that we can be His Body to proclaim His love! Love is when we keep journeying together even when we face significant disappointments with one another and in the church as a whole—that is a part of our sharing in the fellowship of His suffering that conforms us to His death (Philippians 3:10).


That is why we can’t forsake the gathering (Hebrews 10:24-25)—it short circuits God’s plan to reach the nations: “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”


If you didn’t know this—there is no Plan B—we are Plan A of God’s plan to show the world His love! I bet that sounds pretty crazy to you. But no crazier than the whole Gospel story and that the way God decided to save humanity was through the Passion of Jesus Christ!


If Jesus had to pay such a high cost for our salvation, what cost is His body willing to pay to carry on the work of God in the world?  Reflect on things in your life that are not pleasing to God or are not working in agreement with His Plan A for your life and invite the Holy Spirit into that place. Are you willing to let God work in you and through you?


Honestly, going by what I see in how easily and how quickly people jump ship from the Body of Christ, or remain ineffective because they habitually forsake the gathering of the saints or are unwilling to let anyone do any kind of “stirring up” in their lives, people are not willing to suffer at all for the privilege of being a member of the Body of Christ, nevertheless, doing the necessary work to fulfill God’s plan to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).[3]


Most people I know are too distracted by the world and when they do get involved with the church, they are too preoccupied with their own comfort and preferences to join with Jesus in His Passion as a member of His Body. And I know mostly church people…


You are a member of Jesus’ Body and His Body is God’s chosen vehicle of salvation to the world…for the lost of our community and every community. We must return to a high view of Jesus’ Church.


Allow me a personal illustration. After decades of not doing it or not enjoying it like I did before my military days, I am back to enjoying running. I was a runner a long time ago and I’m back at it. Funny thing though is that one of my toes does not consider itself a runner and it has a black toenail to prove it. Every time I go running, it lets me know that it’s not a runner. Not too loud, but loud enough for me to question whether or not it is really committed to the fellowship of the body. I have not yet gotten to the place of questioning whether or not I should cut it off… J Really, it’s a part of me, a member of the body, even if it’s not quite on board with this whole running thing. Do you know what I do with this toe? I give it more attention. I use my wife’s fancy little stone to rub down the ever-growing callous at the end of it and I make sure my blackened toenail is hanging in there… It must feel beaten and battered, but I keep telling it that it’s doing it to itself if it would just get with the program like the other 90% of my toes. J


That reminds me of Paul’s teaching about the Church—the Body of Christ—in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. Listen to Paul talk about my toe, hidden to you, but trying to take over my whole body:


For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.


Jesus’ Passion gives us the motive to stay together as the body of Christ, whether we are that “toe” or find ourselves disappointed in it because it likes to let us know it’s still there from time to time. Maybe, that toe thinks it’s calling in life is to keep everyone patient and graceful.


Jesus had some “toe-pain” over 3 years of journeying with His disciples for 3 years. We think that the only suffering Jesus had was during His Passion. To capture this, I walked through the Gospel of Matthew, just took my Bible out during my morning quiet time, and read through it seeing the places Jesus experienced moments with people who are the people Jesus was inviting to become members of His body and instead might have felt some “toe-pain”:


  • But what about how painfully disappointing the whole state of affairs were with the Jewish religious leaders: Matthew 9:3, 11; 12:2, 14, 24; 15:12; 19:3; 21:12-19 and throughout the rest of His time in Jerusalem until He is crucified He is in constant conflict with the religious elite. Talking about toe-pain! I’m sure I would have cut these people off, but Jesus didn’t. On the Cross He forgave them (Luke 23:34). What an example!
  • How painfully disappointing His chosen followers—the future church leaders—were: Matthew 8:26; 14:31; 16:8, 23; 18:1 and that is just through His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem and doesn’t cover their abandonment and betrayals up to His crucifixion. But upon His resurrection, He spends 40 days with them and forgives them. Empowering them at Pentecost with the Holy Spirit to be His Church—the Body of Christ.
  • He experienced disappointment and pain with the crowds: Matthew 8:34; 9:24; 17:17; 19:23-24. With the cities and the generation as a whole: Matthew 11:16-24; 12:38-39; 16:1-4, 5-6, 11-12.
  • Maybe most acutely, He experienced “toe-pain” with His hometown: Matthew 13:55-58.


So often, in the life of Christ, we are called to love people who have been hurt by so many others. And you have heard me say it: “hurt people hurt people!” It’s true! Part of responding to the Passion of Jesus is being a healing person in those hurt people’s lives, not adding church hurt to an already long list of offenders.


A pastor once said to me, there are people in the church who are EGRs—Extra Grace Required! They are in every church and if you leave a church because of them, you will just find them eventually in your next church. And if you don’t know who the EGR is, then you are probably the one and everyone else knows it! I laughed… I cried… I am the EGR…


Jesus was constantly surrounded by EGRs! I guess, when we view it from His point of view on the Cross, we are all extra grace required folks. Starting with me…


Do your daily behaviors reflect and point to Jesus? Are we pausing in difficult decisions? When dealing with difficult people are we submitting our emotions to the Lord and waiting on the Lord to guide us? Love flows out of patience and meekness…


Do we love others as God first loved us? As Paul taught in Romans 5:8, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”


Hurt people may hurt people, but Forgiven people forgive people!


Which are you? Have you been forgiven?


Do we know that our love for one another is a primary way we lift up the Name of Jesus as His disciples (John 13:34-35)? Are we willing to suffer with the members of the Body so that we may persevere in belonging to the Body?


To practically know how to do this, read Romans 12:9-21.



We are God’s Plan A! There is no other plan to reach the nations with the Gospel of Jesus.


What’s your Plan A?


My plan, although I still need to get over myself from time to time (alright, all the time!), is to not only not cut my toe off because it disappoints me from time to time, or hurts me, but to give it some special attention so that it knows it belongs. Love it even more. And the rest of my body is going to be happy with that, because you know the old saying: Happy Toe, Happy Body!

Listen to the Message here:


To watch the video click HERE




[1] For a short article that explains the technical usage of “Passion” in Biblical Studies, please check out: (accessed February 20, 2020).


[2] A colleague wrote back to me in response to this paragraph, “This really puts into perspective of how long-term care for people is so hard. Addictions, rebellious lifestyles etc.…  The fleshly reaction is to cut that person out of your life, so you don’t have to deal with their brokenness. Please help me Jesus to love others and see others how you see them with Kingdom eyes not worldly eyes.”

[3] A friend who read this sermon earlier this week wrote about this point, “The truth of this whole paragraph really highlights how much the world’s culture affects church culture. There are generational and geographical examples I can think of. Generationally, 60-70 years ago, we lived in a world where neighbors coordinated what they planted in their gardens so they could share, and everyone knew and cared for each other’s children because it was what they did. Church attendance at that time was also considered much less “optional”. Now, we live in a “every man for himself” culture. If you begin to feel threatened, you bail. End of story. You have to have a meet and greet with other kids parents before you even think about maybe letting your kid spend time at a friend’s house. You certainly can’t trust people who want to give you something. They have an ulterior motive. And people generally feel the same mistrust about church and therefore do not commit. But, geographically, particularly in countries where being a Christ-follower is illegal or heavily policed, church congregations still gather every day of the week! They spend nearly every evening together. They are desperate to preserve the gathering of the saints!”