"Emmanuel: God With Us"


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 the cross.

Beginning with the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus emphasized heart religion. His actions and words spoke strongly against mechanical observance 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?

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” are 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 12:32-34).

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 Business

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.

After the 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 seasons of 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 7:7).

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 Him.

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 Passover

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 reach them?

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).

Judas took 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.


Endnotes

1. 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. 2:12-14.

2. 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).