The previous article, “God’s relationship with man”, identified the relentless, loving pursuit by God of His rebellious people. His desire was to re-establish His conversational relationship with man since the day Adam rebelled. He was keen to re-unite what sin had pulled apart. Before He created the world He had planned the solution, …. the work of Jesus Christ, His Son who was the promised ‘seed of the woman’ (Gen 3:15 NKJV). “… He was chosen before the creation of the world” (1Peter 1:20) as the solution.
The article concluded with the statement, “History demonstrates the truth of Psalm 110:5b ‘His faithfulness continues through all generations’ ”. Indeed, spanning 60 generations of mankind [Adam & Eve through to Joseph & Mary] God reaffirmed His Covenant with man a number of times. Also, He gave many reminders and warnings through prophecies, took subsequent measures of discipline and made numerous displays of miracle working power, demonstrations of forgiveness and enduring love. But the people en masse remained obstinate throughout those 4 millenia.
NB: 1. the family line from Adam & Eve to Jesus is recorded in three parts….:
Adam → Shem (Genesis 5:3-32), [1558 yrs]
Shem → Abram (Genesis 11:10-26), [390 yrs]
Abraham → Jesus (Matthew 1:1-16), [~1500 yrs*]
* it is commonly accepted that generations were 35 years apart and Matthew 1:17 says “… there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah” [3×14 lots of 35 = 1470]
NB: 2. As this is all about Jesus and some of his accomplishments most of the content will be from Scripture. Unless otherwise noted, quotes are from the 1984 NIV on the Pradis medium – see Bibliography. All emphases within the quotes are mine.
Christ, the Eternal Word
Remember from Genesis when God spoke, things happened. His Word was awesome. So, inspired by Holy Spirit, the disciple John, introduces Jesus Christ as the Word of God.
“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it” (John 1:1-5 NLT).
He Knew He Had Special Work
Jesus knew that He had a purpose to fulfil, a work to complete.
Even at the age of 12, Jesus knew … when his parents found him sitting with the teachers in the temple courts, Jesus responded to their wonderings with “Why did you have to look for me? You should have known that I must be where my Father’s work is!” (Luke 2:49 ICB).
John’s Gospel records Jesus talking about His work on three separate occasions …..
- In response to His disciples urging Him to eat “… Jesus explained: ‘My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work’ ” (John 4:34 NLT).
- While speaking to the Jews “Jesus said to them, ‘My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working’ ” (John 5:17) and further … “For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me” (John 5:36)
- Jesus praying to Father God before His arrest said “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4)
In fact, Jesus declared that “… the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (John 5:19).
So What Work Did Jesus Do After His Birth?
Jesus was indeed the Messiah for whom God’s people had been waiting 60 generations, “the seed of Eve” that was going to crush the head of the serpent.
He accomplished many amazing things and none the least was creating a way for humankind to be restored in relationship with God. We could do nothing to save ourselves, to set ourselves free from the clutches of Satan and his kingdom of darkness. Satan had gained rights over us all when Adam submitted himself to Satan’s deception.
But thanks to God’s Loving Mercy and Grace, Jesus came to live as one of us. However, He was free of Satan’s claws because He was not a son of man! Similar to our rebirth available through Jesus, He was “… born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:13). He was never in Satan’s dominion. That meant He was able to set us free.
He faithfully, obediently and successfully fulfilled that ‘mission’ so that now all we need do is accept (believe), repent (change our ways) and receive our freedom in Christ. As Paul wrote …. “ ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’ ” … see Romans 10:13. Paul was quoting what Peter had said to the crowd in Acts 2:21, when he was quoting Joel 2:32
We’ll look in some detail at the Work of Jesus that bought our freedom from Satan, redeemed us, saved us, – maybe in part II of this article. But first, we will note some of the other works of Jesus which included:-
• Bringing Light into the World
John recorded Jesus twice as saying He was light …. “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’ ” (John 8:12).
Again later he said, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness” (John 12:46).
When Jesus was only 8 days old, “… there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, ‘Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!’ ” (Luke 2:25-32)
• Revealing Father God
When Jesus was talking with the disciples in one of their confused moments He assured them …
“If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.’ Jesus answered: ‘Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.’ ” (John 14:7-11)
Earlier on the Pharisees “… asked him, ‘Where is your father?’ ‘You do not know me or my Father,’ Jesus replied. ‘If you knew me, you would know my Father also.’ ” (John 8:19)
Regarding the disciples, Jesus prayed … “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me”
Jesus continued … “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. …. I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them”
(John 17:20-26 NLT).
What was the importance of Jesus’ work revealing the Father?
Common sense says that the nature of the relationship that we have with our earthly father will strongly affect, ‘colour’ our concept of a relationship with our heavenly Father. In order for Jesus to most effectively bring restoration to our relationship with God He had to show us a clear picture of what God is actually like. To help us overcome the deceptions of the enemy who works hard at convincing us we should distrust God and also to amend any possible misconceptions of fatherhood we may observe in family relationships.
The relationship between God and Adam and Eve (and all their descendants including us) was broken because of Adam’s sin. As we saw in Suffering Part I, God is Love (1John 4:16) and God is Holy (1Peter 1:16). In fact, God is holiness personified. His holiness and the sinfulness of man are complete opposite extremes of each other and cannot co-exist.
So it’s no surprise that Adam and Eve had to leave the Garden. Especially because of the risk of them also eating from the tree of life and living forever in this new state of rebellion, sinfulness. “… the LORD God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever’ ” (Genesis 3:22).
God’s Holiness is awesome
In as much as a light destroys darkness, God’s holiness destroys sinfulness. So much so that in our present condition, no one can even look at God’s face in all His fullness and not die.
There isn’t a clearer example than Moses. When “the Lord would speak to Moses face-to-face as a man speaks with his friend” (Exodus 33:11), Moses realised that God was taking on human form and not appearing in the fullness of His Glory. Moses became rather brazen and said to God “Now show me your glory” (Exodus 33:18). Pretty bold move I reckon.
Even so, God agreed “ ‘I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence … But,’ he said, ‘you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live’ ” (Exodus 33:19-20).
So Jesus was rekindling our knowledge and understanding of God, His character, His Compassion, His Holiness. He was about to restore our relationship with a God. Since we had been separated from God for over 60 generations it was necessary and vital for Jesus to rekindle our faith and trust in God.
• Showing us the Way to the Father
Thomas asked Jesus about where He was going because he didn’t understand that Jesus had been talking about His impending sacrifice. Jesus had told the disciples … “You know the way to the place where I am going.” (John 14:4). So Jesus answered Thomas… “… ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ ” (John 14:6).
• Laying Down His Life For Many
As Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).
He emphasised the fact that He had full control of His life. He was not under the authority/dominion of Satan. “…… I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. …..” (John 10:17-18).
• Destroying the Works of the Devil
John makes this point clearly. “…. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life [seed, i.e. Jesus] is in them” (1 John 3:8b-9a NLT)
And Paul declared the victory of Christ over death and sin which Satan introduced back in the Garden of Eden. When Paul referred to the end of this age and our bodies being transformed he wrote … “Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:
‘Death is swallowed up in victory. (Isaiah 25:8);
O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ (Hosea 13:14)
For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:54-56).
In John’s Revelation Jesus proclaimed …“I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave [hades, hell]” (Revelation 1:18 NLT).
• Saving us from the Kingdom of Darkness
As Paul declared, ultimately Jesus’ success meant God “… rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14).
“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Colossians 1:19-20).
• Making Atonement for us all
Atonement is the formal word that best describes the main work of Jesus. It means to reconcile, reunite after a separation of two parties. However, those words are too “everydayish” for the kind of reconciliation that Jesus accomplished for us. They don’t even imply the magnitude and weight of Jesus’ actions.
Whereas, ‘atonement’, used extensively in the Old Testament, is a much more powerful word. It conveys the idea of it being a matter of life and death. That the current state of man was terrible (spiritually dead, scourged by the authority of the evil one). ‘Atonement’ came from the Hebrew word which meant to purge the problem. Not just make things better but to deal with the issue once and forever so the solution would be permanent. The restoration by an atonement was forever.
So how could Jesus ‘put things right’, restore the relationship between God and mankind within the bounds of pure Justice? Of course, from the onset He could have taken control and forcefully rescued humanity but that would not be just, would not be right. Satan had lured Adam and Eve ‘fair and square’ – Adam and Eve willingly rejected God and followed Satan’s lead – nothing illegal in any of it. The undoing of this had to be eternally legal, righteous (right) and Just. Holy God can’t act any other way.
This is the focal work of Jesus and was accomplished via the Cross. The Cross is the centre of history and our timeline, the central point of the Bible and the centre of our faith. So much so we will consider solely the work of the Cross in the next post.
• Providing us with Life, Real Life
After describing people as sheep and himself as the shepherd Jesus warned that thieves come to steal and destroy but he declared “… I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). In other words, “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” as the NLT records it.
• Setting Us An Example of How We Should Live
As Paul encourages the Ephesians, “… We will speak the truth with love. We will grow up in every way to be like Christ”
(Ephesians 4:15). Furthermore, he reminds them, “You were taught to leave your old self — to stop living the evil way you lived before. That old self becomes worse and worse because people are fooled by the evil things they want to do. But you were taught to be made new in your hearts. You were taught to become a new person. That new person is made to be like God—made to be truly good and holy” (Ephesians 4:22-24 NLT).
Paul provides us with eight verses of advice/instruction on how we should live and closes the section with … “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God….” (Ephesians 4:32-5:1).
After mentioning some of the deeds of the disobedient, Paul then urges the Ephesians (and us) …. “Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:7-11).
Jesus himself, included us in His work, doing what He was doing. As He said to His disciples, “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4).
See the earlier post, “how then should we live?” for a more comprehensive look at this particular aspect of Christ’s work.
In terms of re-establishing a relationship with mankind after we have wandered so far away from God the Father knew we needed to be reminded of just who He was and what He was like.
Our sinfulness could not withstand God revealing Himself in all His Holiness so Jesus came. “No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us” (John 1:18 NLT).
The Heartlight Devotional for Nov 4, 2018 sums it up nicely …..
“Jesus is the one who reveals the Father to us. If we want to know what the Father is like, all we have to do is look at Jesus, if we want to know how the Father cares for people, we can look at how Jesus ministered to them. If we want to know the Father’s will for our lives, we can listen to Jesus’ words and know they reveal the Father’s truth. Jesus revealed the nature of the Father in his actions and his words. And, Jesus continues to reveal the Father to us. He is the one through whom the fullest revelation of the Father comes. Let’s look to Jesus if we really want to know the Father”.
Conclusion – the impact of Jesus’ work
“For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds” (Titus 2:11-14 NLT).
… just sayin’
- The Holy Bible, New International Version®. Pradis CD-ROM Grand Rapids: The Zondervan Corporation, © 1973, 1978, 1984
- ICB – The Holy Bible, International Children’s Bible® Copyright© 1986, 1988, 1999, 2015 by Tommy Nelson™, a division of Thomas Nelson.
- NLT – Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation
- TPT – The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017 by BroadStreet Publishing® Group, LLC
- Heartlight Devotional by Phil Ware: heartlight.org
- Image: “Light of the World”, Ministry-To-Children.com
- Photo: “Storm Clouds”, nicebynise.com