Opinions on faith and life

What Jesus Came To Do

2007-03-01

There is a popular fad today, where people invent Jesus in their own images. We paint a picture from our imagination, creating a “Jesus” that suits our particular tastes. It’s no different from the ancients creating idols out of wood or metal or rock. We shape it, mold it, decorate it, then bow down to it. This is exactly what people do today with Jesus. But what is he really like, and what was his mission here on earth?

I’ve already written about the fact that Jesus did claim to be God, so I won’t repeat that here. But let’s look at some scripture about what Jesus said concerning his reason for coming to earth.

Matthew 5:17 Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

Matthew 10:34 Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn ’a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— 36 your enemies will be the members of your own household.’ (note that Jesus is talking about the fact that the gospel would separate people, believers from unbelievers, even dividing between children and parents; it has nothing to do with destroying the family unit, which is God-ordained)

Matthew 10:37 Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves a son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

John 10:7 Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep... 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life— only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.

Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”

Galatians 3:14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Titus 2:14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

So Jesus came to do the following:

  1. fulfill the law and all the prophecies about him
  2. divide people by whether or not they have faith in him
  3. test and refine his followers by persecution and hardship
  4. redeem mankind from the curse of the law
  5. offer life to all who trust in him

He voluntarily laid down his life for all mankind, in order to “buy us back” from the condemnation of sin, making it “legal” to offer eternal life strictly on the basis of faith alone. What he did NOT come to do was to right all social wrongs, overthrow evil governments, or issue final judgment— yet. That will come later.

As we can see in the Gospels, Jesus was no wilting flower who never raised his voice or stood strong against evil. Yet to the humble he was a gentle lamb and a healer. Yet the Day will come when he is a lion, “ruling with a rod of iron” and squelching all dissent. In the meantime, we have the “teachings of the apostles” (the New Testament) for instructions on how to conduct ourselves as Christians.

So let’s view Jesus as he really is, as God who became a man in order to redeem us and offer us eternal life. He is kind to the humble but harsh to the proud and defiant. He is God, and we’re not.