Scripture: Luke 24:13-21, 28-32
The title for this message is restoring the spiritual passion. Before we go any further, we need to be agreed on what the word “passion” means. When I looked at Merriam Webster’s dictionary online, there are at least three general definitions of the word. What we don’t mean in this message by “passion” is the suffering of our Lord Jesus. We’ve all heard of the movie, “The Passion” – we used clips from it for our recent Maundy Thursday service. Using the word “passion” to refer to suffering is a not a common practice in today’s English language.
When we say “passion” we do not mean a sexual attraction or attractiveness. Some time ago a woman behind the counter of a department store was approached by a customer and asking about a particular brand of perfume. “Do you have Elizabeth Taylor’s Passion?” The salesclerk quickly answered, “If I did, do you think I’d be working here?” The word passion here has nothing to do with sexual chemistry. Merriam Webster’s defines the word passion as we are using it as, “Intense driving or overmastering conviction; ardent affection, a strong devotion…”
As we are using the term here, spiritual passion has to do with the intensity of our devotion to Jesus Christ. God wants us to have a passion, an intensity for everything we undertake in life. Often however, we lose the passion in one way or another. When the passion is lost we find ourselves just existing, just living from one day to the next, from one paycheck to the next. Our existence becomes “blah, ho-hum, boring. “ Sometimes a husband and wife may lose the passion they had for their marriage. It doesn’t just refer to their physical attraction to one another, though that may be part of it. With a passionless marriage the spark is no longer present, the romance has gone, and the specialness has been lost. The worst thing we can do in that situation is to end the marriage because there is no passion, and seek another relationship where there is passion. When we work through the difficult times and stay committed to one another, there is a deeper passion that occurs that cannot be found with newlyweds. God intends for us to be one man, one woman for a lifetime not just because it is an arbitrary standard, but because it is the best possible way for us to experience all He has for us in marriage. Then we can lose our passion for our job. We get bored with it, and it no longer holds the fascination or fulfillment it did when we initially started. Sometimes the solution may be to change jobs, but often the solution is to see our work as service to the Lord, and not just to the boss or to the company. Then we can also lose our passion for the Lord Jesus. When we first became Christians were excited about Him, and we couldn’t get enough of praying, reading our Bibles, coming to church, listening to Christian music, witnessing to others about the change God had brought in us – our hearts were on fire. Then something happens, and we find ourselves just going through the motions. We come to church, but we’re not all that thrilled to be there. We remember when we used to read our Bibles, studying on our own and with other Christians in Sunday School and groups, but now we’re just not into it or we have too many other things to do.
We used to spend time in prayer, but we don’t even think of the Lord much lately, unless we get into trouble and need His help in a jam. By the way, there is no condemnation in these words – all of us who have followed Jesus for any length of time have been at this point. This morning we want to see how the spiritual passion can be restored. God wants it to be restored. In Luke 24:13-17 we find two disciples who had lost their passion for following Jesus. They had loved Jesus, they had seen his miracles, they had faith in Him, they believed He was the Messiah. They had experienced Him doing all sorts of miraculous things, but now Jesus had been crucified and they had lost their passion. “That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad.” This incident takes place after the first Easter. Jesus joins them in their conversation, but they don’t realize it is Him. Maybe their eyes are filled with tears. Maybe they are looking toward the ground. Maybe they are just not expecting to see Jesus with them. Whatever the reason, they don’t recognize His presence with them. Verses 28-32 continue after they explain their conversation to their unknown companion.
So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?
In other words, through this experience, their spiritual passion was restored. One of the greatest needs we often have in our spiritual lives today is to have our spiritual passion renewed or restored. We need our hearts to burn again, to be hungry for God. Behind all great works accomplished for Jesus is spiritual passion. Spiritual passion makes the impossible possible. Spiritual passion energizes our lives as nothing else can do. Spiritual passion draws us closer to one another in the body of Christ. Spiritual passion prevents our lives from becoming dull and boring. Passion is the difference between going through the motions and living with all your heart. So how do we restore the spiritual passion? Before we continue, someone may think, “Well pastor, I’m not a very passionate person.” To which I will respond with love and respect, “that just isn’t so.” How do you feel about your wife? Your husband? Your children or grandchildren? How do you feel about your house or your car? How about your favorite sports team? Every single one of us is passionate about someone or something. What God desires of us is that we be as passionate about Jesus as we are about that other person or thing that is so near and dear to our heart.
First of all, to restore your spiritual passion, remember God’s plan. Often we get God’s plan confused with our own plans. When our own plans fall flat, then we become discouraged or bitter. These disciples on the road to Emmaus didn’t really grasp God’s plan – His plan was for Jesus to die in their place then to rise on the third day. They thought Jesus was to be a Savior from Rome, not a Savior from sin. In Luke 24:26 Jesus says to them, “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” These disciples completely misread the circumstances around them. Their plans for a political Messiah were shattered. God’s plan for a spiritual Messiah however, were moving full speed ahead. Friends, God’s plan is never sidetracked, it is never defeated. Regardless of the way the circumstances may look to You, God is on the throne. His plan will prevail. Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” You want to have spiritual passion again? You want to find it for the first time? Remember then that God has a plan for you, better than anything you are able to conceive. Why does He have a plan for you? Because He loves you. Jeremiah 29:11 says to us, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Even though you may not be able to see it now, realize that God’s plan for you is the best, and that His plan will prevail.
Then to restore your spiritual passion, return to God’s promises. Luke 24:27 tells us, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” Jesus loved the Bible – he discussed it with the Jewish leaders in the temple when he was 12 years old. He quoted it to Satan when He was tempted in the wilderness – He could quote it because He had memorized it. He memorized it because He loved it. Jesus preached from the Bible in his first sermon in Nazareth in the synagogue. He quoted it again and again in His ministry. He even quoted it on the cross when He said, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” Jesus loved God’s Word, he knew God’s Word, He used God’s Word in His life and in His ministry. The disciples in our passage had their spiritual passion restored because Jesus took them back to God’s promises. If you want to restore your spiritual passion today, get back into God’s Word. Attend Sunday School and study it. Listen to sermons from it in church. Find Christian music that is filled with it and put it on your iPod. Sit down and read your Bible. Read books that explain God’s Word. Whatever it takes, return to the Word, return to God’s promises.
Then to restore your spiritual passion, recognize God’s presence. Here is where we often miss it. We may remember God’s plan and we may return to God’s promises, but if we don’t recognize God’s presence, then we are unable to live a life of celebration. Our passion becomes nothing more than a cold zeal, an obsession with theology and Biblical truth, but absent of compassion, grace and warmth. The Apostle Paul was this way before his conversion – he knew a portion of God’s plan, he had memorized most of God’s law, but he missed completely the presence of God in Jesus Christ. When Jesus the Son of God appeared to him on the road to Damascus, then everything changed. The cold zeal for religion became a blaze of compassion and grace through his new life in Jesus. Verse 31 of our passage says, “And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him…” Why were their eyes open? Because as they listened and learned about Jesus, they hungered to know more. Verses 28-29 say, “So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them.” These disciples reached at the point at which they were willing to put everything else on hold. Any plans they had, any ambitions they possessed, any other goals they were seeking, all became secondary to learning more about Jesus. They were hungry for God. They desired Jesus more than religion, more than the Law, more than their own comfort, more than their own notions of a political Messiah. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” God is present all around us, He is working all around us. One of main reasons we lose our spiritual passion and get discouraged or disgusted is that we miss seeing Him. He is here, we just don’t see Him. We get so enamored with our own thoughts and our own ideals and our own desires that we just don’t see that He is with us. If you don’t know Jesus himself is with you and at work around you, you can’t possess spiritual passion. Your life will be drudgery, it will be a chore, it will be dull, boring, frustrating, etc., all because Jesus was with you and you never realized it.
If you don’t know Jesus, if you don’t have a transforming relationship with Him, He is offering it to you right now. He loves you, He died to take the punishment you deserve for all the wrong things you have done, He came back to life so that you can live for Him. All you have to do is to invite him into your life, just as these men invited Him to stay with them. Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him…” If you’re a disciple of Jesus but somewhere along the way you’ve lost your spiritual passion, you don’t have to continue this way. Will you invite God to breathe new life into your heart, your mind, and your day-to-day living?