What a beautiful and meaningful series of services we experienced over the past week as we pondered and celebrated Christ’s wondrous gift of redeemed life for us. I was most impressed during the Maundy Thursday service that we were all, each and every one of us, responsible for His pain and suffering as our sins were heaped on Him as He hung on the cross. What a sacrifice for us!
I cannot help but reflect on the obvious question: What was the purpose for which He suffered the agonizing separation from His Father because of our sin? The obvious answer is so that we can be redeemed back to God from Satan’s dark kingdom. But after Jesus proclaimed His work to be finished, where are we? What is God’s ultimate goal, and how does He work in us to bring us to accomplish His purposes?
First, I want to deal with God’s ultimate purpose in sacrificing a part of Himself – His Son – on our behalf.
- God made a beautiful, perfect, and good world at creation and it was horribly polluted by the work of Satan. God wanted it back. A part of getting it back is reverting back to the time when Adam and Eve were given the responsibility of tending and having dominion over the piece of earth where they resided. That work was accomplished when Jesus hung on the cross and proclaimed that “it is finished”. The transfer back to God was done and Jesus had obtained victory over all the damage that Satan had done. He rose and went back to His Father to wait for God’s purposes to be filled out.
- God wanted to work with us, as redeemed Adams and Eves, to bring about Ephesians 1:10 – “to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ”. Quoting from James Paul in What on Earth is Heaven, “The kingdom of heaven is coming to earth not just to redeem ‘church things’ or ‘theological things’ or ‘religious things’ or ‘supernatural things’, but ‘all things’. God’s will is that the kingdom of heaven should bring every area of life on earth under Christ.”
- God wanted relationship with us – His made-in-His-image creation. He did not have His Son die on a cross so that we could come into His kingdom and meander around, doing our own thing. Absolutely not! Think how many times we are called to, “Come”! “Come unto Me”…Matt. 11:28. There are more than six full columns in Strong’s Concordance of the invitation to come.
- God bought us with the blood of Jesus to purchase us as a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. I Corinthians 6:19 tells us, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is within you, whom you [have received as a gift] from God, and that you are not your own [property]? You were bought with a price [you were actually purchased with the precious blood of Jesus and made His own]. So then, honor and glorify God with your body.”
Now I can go back to the more difficult question – how does this happen?
Again, to clarify and summarize from Romans 12:4-18 and to quote again from What on Earth Is Heaven, ”Paul’s point is that we are each to use the gifts, opportunities and passions that we have been given, to bring heaven to every area of earthly life in which we are involved. God’s will is that all of life should be brought under the lordship of Jesus Christ. We cannot save the whole world – we are finite beings with limited time and energy – but we can, with the help of the Holy Spirit, be a part of saving our square inch of the world.” So how does this happen?
As our Sunday School class started studying Philippians last fall, I was struck by a passage that I have heard over and again, but this time I saw something fresh and new. We learn from Philippians 2:5-7 that we are to “have this same attitude in yourselves which was in Christ Jesus [look to Him as your example in selfless humility], who, although He existed in the form and unchanging essence of God [as One with Him, possessing the fullness of all the divine attributes – the entire nature of deity], did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped or asserted [ as if He did not already possess it, or was afraid of losing it]; but emptied Himself [without renouncing or diminishing His deity; but only temporarily giving up the outward expression of divine equality and His rightful dignity] by assuming the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men [He became human but was without sin, being fully God and fully man].“
What did Jesus have available to Him to help Him accomplish His work on earth?
- His Father – we see Jesus spending great amounts of time praying, seeking His Father’s face, desiring to do His will. He may have been asking or been told who was coming on a particular day or where He was to go. He may have been told where to go, what events might be happening.
- Scripture – Jesus knew the scripture and had knowledge that much of it pertained to Him. We can see this as He quoted different pieces that were relevant to Him.
- Holy Spirit – we know that the Holy Spirit came upon Him when He was baptized. We do wonder if Jesus walked on the water, cast out demons, healed people, brought the dead back to life through the power of the Holy Spirit. We know that He was fully human.
It occurs to me that we have all three of those resources available to us as well. What can God do with and in us when we consult Him, consult His Word, and rely on His Holy Spirit to accomplish His purposes in us?
And finally, what does it look like for the area of life that you and I are involved in to be redeemed by the dimension of heaven?