25 Jesus’ Mission
by Hubert F. Sturges, www.everlastingcovenant.com, December 2013
For the Son of man is come to seek and to save
that which was lost Luke 19:10
Jesus confirmed the everlasting
covenant of God by His sacrifice on the cross. His sacrifice was the
realization of the pledge of the animal sacrifices of Old Testament
times. It was His sacrifice that made possible His blessings to the
human family. Calvary was not the end of an old covenant or the
beginning of a new covenant. It was the confirmation of the everlasting
covenant of God, given to Adam and Eve and to all His people through
history. As Psalm 136 emphasizes, the covenant of God is more than a
promise, it is God’s commitment to humankind through what Jesus did on
Beginning with the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus
emphasized heart religion. His actions and words spoke strongly against
of the law, the sacrifices, and the Temple rituals
when love for God and humankind was missing. Through His sacrifice on
the cross, Jesus gave human beings grace and power to keep the law with
love. He came to establish the kingdom of grace, to prepare the way for
the kingdom of glory!Who Was Jesus Christ?
came as a man, a human being in every respect. Yet, He was also God,
though He laid aside the prerogatives of His divinity to live as a human
being (Phil. 2:5-8). The exact nature of His being will always remain a
mystery. As God, in His perfect divinity, He is our Redeemer and our
substitute in the judgment. As a human being, He lived as all human
beings must live (Rom. 8:3; Phil. 2:7; Heb. 2:16). In His perfect,
sinless life, depending on the Father, He is our example.
Covenant language was common and emphasized in the Old Testament, but
less common in the New Testament. The words “faith” and “grace”
covenant terms emphasized in the New Testament. Paul’s primary goal was
that people accept Jesus for who He is and that they center their hope
for salvation on the person of Christ. Paul also emphasized doctrinal
beliefs, but always accompanied by a heart changed by grace.
Could People Recognize Jesus for Who He Was?
John the Baptist was
born into a priestly family and grew up to be a man of God. The families
of John the Baptist and Jesus were among those few families committed to
God and knowledgeable in the Scriptures. Thus, John the Baptist knew
that Jesus was the Lamb of God who would die for the sins of the world.
He knew the prophecies (Isa. 53; Dan. 9:24-27). He recognized Jesus, not
just from his study, but also by the Spirit’s revelation, as Peter had
done, when Jesus said, “Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee,
but my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 16:17). Saving truth comes to
the heart by the Spirit of God.1
Jesus came into a family
carefully chosen by God. Mary and Joseph were both willing to listen to
what the angel had to say. When guided by the Holy Spirit, they obeyed
promptly. Mary and Joseph knew that Jesus was unique. They knew that He
was the Messiah, even though their concept of the Messiah, like the
Jews, was faulty. They raised Jesus to the best of their ability in the
truths of the “law and the prophets.”
How did Jesus know that He
was to suffer and die for the sins of humankind? Did He retain His
divine consciousness so that He knew already? No, He did not! This would
make Him more than human and not subject to the human experience. We do
know that Jesus studied the prophecies enough to ask, as a child, hard
questions of the learned doctors in the Temple (Luke 2:46, 47).
The Jews believed that the Messiah would take the throne of David and
restore Israel to her former glory. There are also prophecies in the Old
Testament that the kingdom of Christ should last forever. Thus, the Jews
could not comprehend why Jesus would say that He would die (John
Many of the Jewish leaders did not believe that the
Messiah would die. To believe that the Messiah came to die for them and
become the substitute for their guilt and condemnation was a new concept
for them. They trusted for theirG
salvation in their lineage from Abraham
and in their scrupulous observance of the laws of Moses. John the
Baptist’s call for repentance from sin was also new. They looked for
salvation from observance of the law, from living a moral life, and from
sacrifices and performance of ceremonies.My Father's
Jesus’ family went to the Passover in Jerusalem every year. When
Jesus was about twelve, He accompanied them there. New thoughts came
into His mind while watching the ceremonies and sacrifices. He thought
about the sacrifice of the Passover lamb, the blood sprinkled on the
doorposts, and the salvation of the firstborn as the destroying angel
passed over the houses marked by the blood of the lamb. He began to
comprehend what His mission was. The Lamb of God came to die! He did not
flinch, but determined to do the will of His Father.
services, He lingered to talk to the learned doctors of the law. Jesus
had resolutely refused to attend the schools of the rabbis. Yet, He had
knowledge that far surpassed theirs. “And the Jews marvelled, saying,
How knoweth this man letters, having never learned” (John 7:15)?
Meanwhile, His parents, not finding Jesus in the crowd of people
returning to Galilee, rushed back to Jerusalem. After three days,
finally they found Him, sitting among the doctors of the law in the
Temple, asking questions:
And it came to pass, that after three
days, they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors,
both hearing them and asking them questions. And all Jesus’ Mission 137
that heard him were astonished at His understanding and answers. And
when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son,
why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought
thee sorrowing. "And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist
ye not that I must be about my Father’s business." (Luke 2:46-49)
How much information did God the Father tell Him directly? The Father
gave Jesus strength, wisdom, and information during His many
prayer. Jesus faced difficult situations every day. He could rely on
information from the Father and support from the Holy Spirit. Today, we
need to experience and know what God will do for us in answer to prayer
(James 1:5; 5:15). We must learn to pray and listen as Jesus did.
Recognizing Jesus as Messsiah
The circumstances and timing
of His birth, His patience under duress, and the works He did were all
signs of who He was. The common people saw this clearly. However, the
leading Jews could not put aside their preconceived opinions and
recognize what was taking place before their eyes.
Jesus lived a
sinless life even as a child. Because of His kindness, His willingness
to stand for what was right, and His desire to study the Bible and
nature, He was different from His childhood companions. Children do not
understand when other children are so different. Jesus early learned to
face opposition and ridicule. “The world cannot hate you, but me it
hateth, because I testify of it that the works thereof are evil” (John
Jesus was selfless in His ministry, working with the
multitudes, teaching, healing and comforting. People loved to be in His
presence, even the little children. On occasion, He hardly had time to
eat. In all this, there was the constant presence of the Pharisees,
closely following everything He said or did to find occasion against
By His sinless life and His sacrificial death, Jesus
confirmed the covenant and brought to fruition the promise of all the
sacrifices of centuries past (Heb. 9:15). He was the real Lamb of God.
This was a new idea for the Jews of that day. They were diligent in
doing sacrifices and ceremonies, but had lost sight of the Redeemer
typified in the sacrifices.
When people demanded a sign (Matt.
12:38; 16:1; Luke 11:29; John 6:30), why did Jesus not comply? He knew
that a sign would intensify their opinion of Him as just a miracle
worker. He was quite willing to invoke the power of God to help and to
heal, but never just to satisfy curiosity.
They often asked Him
if He were the Messiah. Jesus knew this question was a trap, and He
always responded that His works testified to who He was (John 5:36). In
the course of His ministry, He raised to life the daughter of Jairus and
the son of the widow of Nain. Jesus raised these two in small towns a
distance from Jerusalem. Then the day came when He raised Lazarus, who
lived in Bethany, near Jerusalem. Many of the leading Jews witnessed
this miracle. Now they had their sign!2
Rapid Events Before
As Jesus’ ministry neared its climax, momentous events
came in rapid succession. He raised Lazarus from the dead-four days
after he died! Lazarus was undeniably dead!2 Yet, instead of believing,
the Pharisees and the chief priests united to plot Jesus’ death-and
Lazarus’ death as well (John 11:47-53; 12:10). What more could God do to
Simon the Pharisee made a feast for Jesus and the
disciples. At that feast, Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with spikenard,
extravagant in quantity and cost! Judas objected at the extravagance,
whispering to the others that she should have given the money to the
poor. But Jesus commended Mary: “Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against
the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have
with you, but me, ye have not always” (John 12:7, 8).
offense at Jesus’ rebuke (Matt. 26:14, 15). He went to the Jewish
leaders and arranged a secret betrayal for thirty pieces of silver. The
Jewish leaders were afraid to arrest Jesus openly because of the people.
They needed what Judas would provide.
Five days before Passover,
Jesus made a triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He cleansed the Temple but
did not leave immediately as He had the first time. He continued to
teach “daily” in the court (Luke 19:45-47). He stood vigilant, not
allowing any activity that was not in accordance with Mosaic law and the
dignity of His Father’s house (Mark 11:16, 17).
For several days,
He held control of the Temple. The Jewish leaders expected Him to take
the throne of David, but Jesus had other plans. Finally, the time came
when Jesus, “the light of the world” would leave the Temple in darkness!
“Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (Luke 13:35), He said.
We must be willing to believe in order for the
Holy Spirit to reveal truth to us (Matt. 16:16, 17; John 14:26; 1 Cor.
Jesus raised three people to life: the son of the
widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-14), Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:54, 55), and
Lazarus, after Lazarus had been dead four days (John 11:39-44, 53). The
resurrection of Lazarus was a public event. Many people were witnesses
to it. The Jewish leaders had asked for a sign that they might believe
(John 6:30). With Lazarus’ resurrection, they had their sign. However,
instead of believing on Jesus, they intensified their plans to put Him
to death-as well as Lazarus (John 12:9, 10).