Jesus, having been tortured and sentenced to death, now lay broken… bleeding… exhausted…. on the ground next to the cross, with his own blood staining the rough terrain of His pending execution.
The original Greek language gives the definition of a crucifix as the action of “…placing the person’s body on the cross.” However, in this heart-wrenching scene, we see Jesus who moments earlier was unable to physically carry the instrument of his execution, having collapsed at the guards’ feet, now physically inching His mangled flesh onto the coarse wood of the cross without the assistance of any other hands. The guards did not lift the arms and legs of Jesus. Nor did they have to hold his outstretched limbs to the wood. Think about that for a moment. You or I would have instinctively flinched our wrists at the instant touch of the nails to our skin. But Jesus did not.
What was the source of such heroic strength? Was it really the passion of Christ that drove such intentional sacrifice? No. I submit it was His compassion.
Compassion is what drove Jesus to the most intentional selfless act of love in human history. Passion just wouldn't be enough. Passion doesn't come anywhere close to encompassing the kind of attributes needed by Jesus to fulfill His plight for you and me. This revelation - if you will- speaks to why passionate Christians fail and fall consistently.
What is the difference between passion and compassion?
There is a distinct difference between how we live passionate lives and how we live compassionate lives. Sadly, the Christian community at-large, does not always decipher between the two. If you don’t believe me, walk around any Christian College campus and ask students what they are passionate about and you’ll get endless self-absorbed answers, “I’m passionate about singing.” “I’m passionate about sports.” “I’m passionate about science.” “I’m passionate about my boyfriend/girlfriend.” “I’m passionate about being the best I can be.”
However, ask these same emerging adults, “What are you compassionate about?” and you’ll get an often puzzled, and open-ended, non-specific responses.
Jesus Himself said, I didn't come to be served but to serve others. True Christianity is not about serving Jesus. It’s about serving others, in the name of Jesus. Somehow we've missed the mark, we've missed the application of the greatest example of love in human history.
Even we who are in the ministry have been trained to be passionate about our faith and our work and yet we miss the very example that Jesus set.
Here's the point. You cannot be passionate about Jesus unless you are compassionate about others. Jesus said, “Whatever you do for the least of these you do unto Me.”
Here's the the final analysis. Passion is energized by personal motive. Compassion springs up from God-inspired, altruistic conviction.