Uniqueness of Jesus’ On-Going Ministry
One author made this observation: “We have now come to the end
of the story [about Jesus]. But
the end of the story of Christ is [really] a beginning.
The four evangelists to whom we owe the story were fully
conscious of this, and it never occurred to them to write [‘The
End’] when the last page was completed.
As each of them laid down his pen and closed his book, he felt
that what he had written was only volume one, the first installment of a
story which still was being enacted and was destined to continue through
unborn generations ... For while the gospel is surely and solidly rooted
in history …, the Christ of the gospel is more than a mere figure of
history..... The fact of the matter is that the first volume of the life
of Christ [our recorded gospels] has been followed by a hundred others;
and one is actually being written at the present hour wherever down the
crowded streets of life the Master moves … The story had not ended
when Calvary and Easter were past. It
had only just begun” (Stewart). In
previous sermons, the uniqueness of Jesus in several areas has been
emphasized. We have seen how
His birth, His teachings, His ministry, His Death, His Resurrection, and
His Ascension all had unique qualities about them, which set Him apart
from every other religious leader throughout history!
But we cannot close this series without talking also about the
uniqueness of Jesus’ on-going ministry both in heaven and on earth and
in the new heavens and earth to come because He is alive and is
continuing to minister to this present day!
Let’s look quickly at several ways that He is doing it.
What is His present ministry in heaven?
First of all, He is the Forerunner who is the firstfruit of the
resurrected. Hebrews 6:19-20
states: “This hope we have as an anchor of
the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence
behind the veil, where the Forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus,
having become High Priest forever according to the order of
Melchizedek.” The word
“forerunner” in the ancient world could refer to: heralds sent in
advance to announce the coming of a king, scouts who guided an army over
rugged terrain, and small ships that would lead larger ships into a
difficult harbor. In all
these cases, we see that someone or something would go first in order to
make it safe for others to follow (Barclay).
Jesus has already entered into heaven, and He has made it safe
for us to follow! Paul tells
us that “flesh and blood cannot enter inherit the kingdom of God,”
so Jesus did not enter heaven as a human being but as a transformed
being with a glorified body. Listen
to what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:20-21: “But now Christ is
risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have
fallen asleep. For since by
man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.”
The firstfruits from the harvest were the proof that more crops
were to follow. Jesus, in
His resurrected state, was the forerunner who has entered into heaven,
and His new existence with God is the proof that more produce will
follow when all the transformed saints will enter into God’s presence!
“Praise Him, praise Him, Jesus our blessed Redeemer!”
Next, He is the High Priest who is interceding for man before
God! Hebrews 7:24-25
affirms: “But Jesus, because He continues forever, has an
unchangeable priesthood. Therefore,
He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him,
since He always lives to make intercession for them.”
Did we catch all that? Jesus
continues forever, He continues to minister, and His priesthood is
perpetual! He is able to do
what the old law could not do—to save completely and for all the ages
all who want to come near to God. He
continues to live, not for Himself, but to help others, to pray and pled
to God on our behalf, just as He prayed for God to strengthen Peter and
the apostles while here on the earth in Luke 22:32-33 and John 17:6-26!
Brothers and sisters, our Great High Priest is not only thinking
about us, but He’s pulling for us so that we will remain faithful!
“Praise Him, praise Him, tell of His excellent greatness!”
Next, Jesus is the Advocate who is mediating and continually
cleansing us! 1 Timothy
2:5-6 declares: “For there is one God and one Mediator between God
and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all.”
Remember in the Old Testament how God appointed prophets to
communicate His will to His people and how He appointed priests to
communicate the people’s needs to God?
In Jesus, we now have both roles of the prophets and priest
combined. For as both man
and God, Jesus is the perfect go-between!
In fact, He is so perfect that we need not approach God through
any other man (such as a priest), or woman (such a Mary), or saint (such
as St. Francis)! Notice how
the passage says that Jesus is the one and only Mediator between God and
man! As a mediator, Jesus
will do whatever is necessary to secure the welfare of His children and
to be sure that when they ask God for help, and for forgiveness, and for
grace in their time of need, they will not be disappointed (Packer)!
Now notice, 1 John 2:1ff: “My little children, these things
I write to you, so that you may not sin.
But if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus
Christ the righteous. And He
Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also
for the whole world.” When
Satan accuses us before God, Jesus represents us to plead our cause in
heaven’s court (NSB)! “Crown
Him, Crown Him, Prophet, and Priest, and King!”
Next, Jesus is the
King who is governing over all the nations!
Revelation 17:12-14 says: “The ten horns which you saw are
kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority
for one hour as kings with the beast.
These are of one mind, and they will give their power and
authority to the beast. These
will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is
Lord of Lords and King of Kings, and those who are with Him are called,
chosen, and faithful.” After
His earthly ministry, Jesus was exalted to God’s right hand (Acts 2:33
and Hebrews 2:9). The ten
kings could represent the totality of all the powers of the nations on
the earth (Beckwith in Mounce). Jesus
is the king over all kings; He rules now over all the nations!
Because Jesus reigns supreme, the hosts of the beast are in a
hopeless position, and the saints will be victorious (Morris)!
“Praise Him, praise Him, power and glory unto the Lord
Next, Jesus is the Groom who is preparing a place for His bride
to be or those who are saved! Just
as the young Jewish man who returned to add on a room to his father’s
house for his bride to be in preparation for their marriage, Jesus is
preparing a place called heaven for His bride to be or for all those who
are saved: “In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were
not so, I would have told you. I
go to prepare a place for you. And
if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to
Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3)!
One preacher put it this way: “The Bible pictures heaven not
[only] as a reward but [also] as a relationship. … Seeing [Jesus’]
face must be like looking into your mother’s [smiling] face when you
graduated from high school. Or
like seeing the tear in your dad’s eye when you made him proud of
you” (Hazelip). “Praise
Him, Praise Him, Love unbounded, wonderful, deep, and strong!”
What is Jesus present ministry in the earth?
First of all, He is the Lamb who rules over all history!
In Revelation 5:1-7, we see the scroll of history with seven
seals upon it, and no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth
can open it until we see a slain Lamb with seven horns and seven eyes
who comes to God and takes the scroll from His right hand!
He is the one worthy to break the scrolls and advance all
history, and because He is worthy, heavens multitudes break out in
praise! One commentator
noted: “The Lamb stands for us in a world cursed by the power of the
atomic bomb and by human inventions more potent for destruction by far
than were the legions of ancient Rome.
But the power of the cross has not been destroyed, and the cross
cannot be removed from history. It
is still the wellspring of regenerative, healing, redemptive love.
The Lamb is [still] alive (McDowell)!
History is really His story (Bright)!
Another commentator said that the readers of the letter could
rest assured that whatever might happen in the future “—all is well,
for the world is under control of the Creator … and the all-powerful,
all-wise Lamb. To these and
these alone must worship be directed” (McGuiggan).
“Praise Him, praise Him! Heavenly
portals loud with hosannas ring!”
Next, Jesus is the Word who reconciles men to God through the
Gospel! 1 John 5:7 says that
there are three witnesses who are one: the Father, the Word, and the
Holy Spirit. Jesus is the
Word, and through the preaching of the Gospel, people are reconciled to
God. We share in that
glorious mission for Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:18ff: “Now all
things are of God who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ,
and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was
in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their
trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were
pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled
to God. For He made Him who
knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of
God in Him.” One
writer correctly states: “Reconciliation means the ending of enmity
and the making of peace and friendship between persons previously
opposed. God and men were at
enmity with each other by reason of men’s sins; but God has acted in
Christ to reconcile sinners to Himself through the cross.
The achieving of reconciliation was a task which Christ completed
at Calvary. In virtue of
Christ’s finished work of atonement, God now invites sinners
everywhere to receive the reconciliation and so be reconciled to
Himself” (Packer). No
longer God’s foes, but now God’s friends through repentance and
baptism into Christ, the Word of the Gospel that we joyously proclaim to
all people of all nations! “Praise
Him, Praise Him, He, our rock, our hope of eternal salvation!”
Next, He is the Leader who unites people through the church.
Ephesians 1:22-23 tells us that God has put all things under
Jesus’ feet “and gave Him to be the head over all things to the
church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”
So God has made Jesus the head or leader over His church!
And through that church, Jesus brings all ages, races, classes,
and sexes together. In fact,
Paul explains further in Ephesians in 2:14ff: “For He Himself is
our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of
separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law
of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one
new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile
them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death
the enmity. And He came and
preached peace to you who were afar off [i.e. to the Gentiles] and to
those who were near [the Jews]. For
through Him, we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.” At
the foot of the cross and in the redeemed community, all ages, races,
classes, and sexes can be untied under the leadership of Jesus!
“Hail Him! Hail Him! Jesus
Next, Jesus is the Husband who continually sanctifies His bride,
the church! In Ephesians
5:25-27, Paul explains: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ
also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify
and cleanse her with the washing of water by the
word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not
have spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and
without blemish.” Through
Jesus' sacrifice, which was without blemish, the church has been
sanctified, cleansed, and made holy without blemish!
Because He was spotless, now we can be spotless in God’s eyes!
But that cleaning does not stop with His death, He continues to
cleanse the church. 1 John
1:7-8 teaches that Jesus' blood continues to cleanse us from all sin as
we confess them! Jesus as
the church's Husband bespeaks a relationship that full of fidelity,
intimacy, loyalty, and longevity. In
fact, unlike a marriage, this close relationship can even last an
eternity! “Praise Him,
praise Him. Sing, O Earth,
His wonderful love proclaim!”
Next, Jesus is the Good Shepherd who provides care and strength
for His sheep! In John
10:7-10, Jesus said: “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door
of the sheep. All who ever
came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.
I am the door. If
anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find
pasture. The thief does not
come except to steal and to kill and to destroy.
I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it
more abundantly.” Jesus
saves us, leads us to pastures for nourishment, and offers us an
abundant life (or as one version put “life to the fullest”)!
But in addition to these blessings, Jesus sustains us, just as a
vine sustains its branches (John 15:5).
Without Jesus, we can do nothing.
With Jesus, we can do all things (Phil. 4:13).
“Praise Him, praise Him, like a shepherd, Jesus will guard His
children; in His arms He carries them all day long!”
What will be Jesus' ministry in the new heavens and earth?
First of all, Jesus is the Amen who is the guarantee that all
God's promises will be fulfilled! 2
Corinthians 1:19-20 affirms: “For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who
was preached among you by us—by me, Silvanus, and Timothy—was not
Yes and No, but in Him was Yes. For
all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen to the glory of
God through us.” Jesus
is the “Yes!” to all God's promises both present and future.
So when we hear those promises read or expressed, we can also say
“Amen” or “Let it be so!” “To
say that Jesus is the Amen is to say that He is the unshakeable
affirmation and guarantee of the promises of God” (Barclay).
“Praise Him, praise Him! Highest
archangels in glory, strength and honor give to His holy name!”
Lastly, Jesus is the Conqueror who will come again to judge
mankind, punish evil, and inaugurate a new era of existence.
Revelation 11:15-19 proclaims: “And the seventh angel
sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, 'The kingdoms of
this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and
He shall reign forever and ever!' And
the 24 elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces
and worshiped God saying, 'We give thanks, O Lord God Almighty, The One
who is and who was and who is to come because You have taken Your great
power and reigned. The
nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead,
that they should be judged, and that You should reward Your servants the
prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great,
and should destroy the earth.' Then
the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of the covenant was
seen in His temple. And
there were lightenings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and hail.”
A teacher said, “One day the present task of our Lord will
climax in what from our perspective is His yet future ministry.
At the consummation of history, the one who at the ascension was
installed as Lord of the cosmos will visibly act as the universal Lord.
On that great ... day, the Son will complete His work on behalf
of the reign of the triune God [and a new era will be inaugurated]” (Grenz).
Jesus will conclude our present history and initiate a totally
new chapter in the His story. “Praise
Him, praise Him! Jesus,
Savior, reigneth forever and ever!”
One preacher wrote a book entitled: What If Jesus Had Never
Been Born?, and here is the gist of his work.
Remove Jesus Christ from the history of the world, and much would
be radically changed. The
value of life would be cheapened, the world's health services would be
greatly diminished, the poor and the needy would remain oppressed, many
schools would disappear, many laws would need to be rewritten, many
civil liberties would no longer exists, scientific discovery would
suffer, free-enterprise would need to be replaced, sexual diseases would
sky-rocket, cannibalism would increase, the arts would have no bright
colors or warmth, music would become chaotic and discordant, more human
cruelty would be unleashed, and men's hearts would never see the light.
The author did write, “From transforming the value of human
life to transforming individual lives, the positive impact of Jesus
Christ is felt around the globe” (Kennedy).
Yes, the gospels' story continues because it is really His story!
All God's promises in Jesus are Yes!
He is the great Amen! Jesus
is alive and is continuing to minister to this present day!
If He is calling you, won't you come to Him?
Let His continuing power and influence transform you!
“Praise Him, praise Him, Jesus our blessed Redeemer!”