The 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 belong!”

 

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 the Crucified!”

 

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!”