What Did Jesus Do?
Read Matthew 5 (through chapter 7 if you have time); 25:31-46; Luke 4:16-21; 6:17-49
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” (John 10:37-38)
Who is Jesus Christ? Is he a prophet who lived in Palestine over 2,000 years ago? Is he the messiah as promised throughout the Torah and the prophets in the Hebrew scriptures? Is he the true King of Israel, in the line of David? Is he the Son of God, born of a virgin? Is he the Word of God made flesh, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords? Is Jesus God? These questions and more are answered in various ways by various different Christians, and depending on where you find yourself in your faith, you may or may not find yourself shouting “heresy” at the answers that different Christians might put forth.
What’s more, not only are there questions regarding Jesus’ divine identity; however, there are questions regarding Jesus’ personality and his mission as well. There are those who would claim Jesus to be a peace-loving guy, while others would claim that Jesus was a no-nonsense guy who flung tables around in order to “cleanse” the temple of corruption. There are those who would show that Jesus was compassionate and all-accepting, and others who would show that Jesus had little to no tolerance for those who he saw as opposing God. So, who is this Jesus Christ?
The fact of the matter is that Jesus cannot be easily pinned down. While doctrine states that Jesus was truly divine, it also says that he was truly human as well. And the range of emotions and actions that come from Jesus in the four Gospels alone is enough to be a thorn in the side to anyone who wants Jesus to completely fit their mold. We, as Christians, run into problems when we get caught up in debates about who Jesus is all the while ignoring the mission of Christ that was clearly outlined in the Gospels.
But, perhaps we are asking the wrong questions. Rather than trying to get the edge on who Jesus is, perhaps we should focus our search for answers around the question of what Jesus did. We should be asking ourselves, what did Jesus do? Jesus did teach people, he did heal people, he did accept those who had been rejected. Jesus did stand against religious dogma, he did show compassion to those who were on the fringes of society, and he did preach the imminent arrival of God’s Kingdom, which he saw as being ushered in by God through himself and those who followed him. For Jesus, ushering in the Kingdom of God (through bringing hope, healing, and wholeness) was HIS mission. Nothing shows this more than Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount, Luke’s Sermon on the Plain, Jesus’ mission statement in Luke, and Jesus’ stark illustration given to his disciples (in Matthew 25) of king who separates the sheep from the goats.
When we ask the question of what Jesus did, it gives us a clearer understanding of what we should be doing. If we are to be imitators of Christ, and/or allow Christ to live through us, then we should be engaging and investing in the same mission that Jesus is engaged and invested in. We should be working to usher in the Kingdom of God, bringing hope, healing and wholeness to those of whom God has put all around us. If we invest ourselves in Christ’s mission, then I believe we will find that the answers we have come to through our intellect will fade away and be transcended by the answers that will have risen up out of our faith.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“An ounce of love is worth a pound of knowledge.” – John Wesley
Lord, help me to keep my focus on your mission and use me to usher in your Kingdom to my community. Amen.