Completing the True Work of God

“I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” -Jn. 17.4-5

No man ever bore a more striking and vast vision for the world than the Man Christ Jesus. No man ever carried a heavier responsibility, and no soul’s life was the great pivot point of history as was His. Literally, all things rested upon the shoulders of Christ, and His tender and acute hearing of the Father’s voice was the nexus and centerpiece of His lifelong obedience.

He walked with a remarkable consciousness; namely, that the redemption of Israel and of all humankind depended upon the measure of His own heavenward dependency. He attained the authority to transform and save men to the uttermost chiefly because His trust in the Father was a trust to the uttermost.

He was aware of the vision of Israel’s prophets, that the glory of God would cover the earth as the waters cover the sea, that the wolf would dwell with the lamb, that the Kings of the earth would bow to the Lord, and that the nations would beat their swords into tools for gardening, studying war no more.

He was also aware that it was His own joyful duty to usher that reality into the earth. How painfully contradictory and profound was His soul-ache when at once He understood that this would be accomplished through a despicable and shameful death upon a Roman tree? No man ever carried such a sweeping vision for mankind and for the whole created order, yet having seen so little of it fulfilled, how was He content to go to the cross, being radically misunderstood by the masses?

In verse 4, Jesus moves on to look at what he has done: he has glorified God on earth by finishing the work given him to do. Jesus has a wonderful serenity about him. There were many lepers in Israel who had not been cleansed, many widows whose only sons had died and not been raised to life. There were many poor people still unable to feed themselves, many prisoners yet to be freed. But Jesus has finished the specific work that God gave him. It was not his task to right the world’s wrongs overnight. It was his task to confront evil and defeat it; and he had now accomplished this. All that remained was to finish the accomplishment of that work on the cross. Knowing this, he asks his Father to glorify him with the glory that he had in God’s presence before the world existed.

(N.T. Wright, Reflecting the Glory; Augsburg Press, 1998; p. 138)

“Jesus has a wonderful serenity about him.”

I think one of the greatest schemes of the powers of darkness is to get us distracted by lofty dreams and flighty visions of ministry, while the work that God has definitely given is being neglected because of our unwillingness to trust Him in that which seems mundane or lackluster.

The cross was the most radical antithesis for that which is kingly, esteemed, honorable, and to be desired. And yet, it was the great pivotal point of history, when the full-orbed glory of God clashed with the fallenness of creation and the wickedness of hell. It was that moment when the Light overcame the darkness once and for all, and the reverberations are being felt today, increasing “all the more as we see the day drawing near.”

Jesus did not break His head trying to fulfill the vision, He went down into the death of total surrender to the Father, and because of the utterness of His dying, He has the authority to give life to those whose souls are enjoined with His.

Too many men are chasing after big ministries and lofty titles, more possessions and power, influence and praise from men. Rubbish! It’s all rubbish, friends. What has the Lord set before you today? To wash the feet of your neighbor…. to honor Him in stewardship…. to place others before your own self…. to give yourself to prayer…. to set forth the glorious Gospel of God…. to live humbly and kindly before your children…. to walk circumspectly before the Lord. Whatever it is that He has clearly given you to do, set your soul to doing that thing. For we bring Him glory “on earth by completing the work” He gives us to do.

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