We are fast approaching the season when we celebrate Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself on behalf of all of us when He took all of our sin upon Himself as He hung on the cross, separated from His Father, and shed His blood for us. We are approaching the season when we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection and victory over death on our behalf so that we can be redeemed into God’s image and into His family to live with Him forever.
Throughout the Old Testament the writers pointed to and foretold of a Savior who would be coming to set the captives free and to proclaim the day when salvation and the favor of God would abound greatly. Jesus was identified through Zacharias, through Simeon, and through Anna as the One who had long been looked for. John the Baptist identified Him as, “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!“
Jesus proclaimed as He began His public ministry that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. He said that He had come to seek and to save the lost. He said that He had come to bring life abundantly.
There are two things that I would like to focus on this week as we look at the life of Jesus here on earth:
- Jesus knew why He had come. He did many things while He was here. He taught, He called disciples, He healed, He drove out demons, He told stories, He spent time with people, He loved. But most of all He set His face toward Jerusalem to accomplish the task that He came to do. He struggled before God that night in Gethsemane as He was faced with separation from His Father while covered with our sin. This, He had to do, or His time here would be for nothing. This was the pinnacle of His obedience to His Father. In John 17:4 Jesus prayed, “I have glorified You [down here] on the earth by completing the work that You gave Me to do.” And then, as He hung on the cross, He proclaimed, “It is finished!” He had accomplished His mission.
- Jesus acted in utter dependence upon His Father. Throughout the book of John, we see Jesus telling His disciples that He could do nothing without seeing what His Father is doing, nothing apart from the will of Him who sent Him, nothing but the things that His Father had taught Him. Jesus regularly spent time with His Father so that He would know the mind of His Father.
Jesus modeled for us the relationship that He describes in John 15:4-5:
Remain in Me, and I [will remain] in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself without remaining in the vine, neither can you [bear fruit, producing evidence of your faith] unless you remain in Me. I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit, for [otherwise] apart from Me [that is, cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.
He knew how important that dependence is to accomplish His purposes in us. He had experienced it Himself with His Father, but had never failed to come for consultation and abiding with the Father.
So, and I save this to the end because we must be clear about it in our own minds, what is our purpose in being here? Upon what are we to be singularly focused?
- Is it to make disciples?
- Is it to glorify God and enjoy Him forever?
- Is it to love God with all our being and to love our neighbor?
- Is it to show God’s love to the world by loving our brothers and sisters in Christ?
You see, I believe that until we know what that singular thing is, as we vacillate through the peaks and valleys of our circumstances, we do not have what will carry us strongly to the end when we can say I have glorified you down here by completing the work you gave me to do. When we can identify that one thing, Jesus gives us the means by which it can be accomplished….abiding in Him.
What is it….that thing that is to be our singular focus?