Sunday, April 20, 2014

If the "Work of Jesus" is "Finished," Then He Failed on the Cross! #JesusFollowers

For millions of Christians, the sole purpose of the life of Jesus is for him to have died as a bloody sacrifice on the cross. It is this "finished work" of Jesus many ministers are praising this Easter Sunday.

Yet, the very blood that he shed on that cross was the same blood that coursed through his veins and pumped through his heart during his life, when he called us to obey God in spirit and in truth, and to, “be perfect, as your Father in Heaven is perfect,” (John 4:24; Matt. 5:48.)

This “Jesus” of theirs makes no real demands upon us and calls us to do no Good Works. Their “Jesus” speaks few words Christian pastors deem worthy of repeating, and his teachings are mocked as unattainable by mere humans.

That version of Jesus is not the one we find in the Gospels. Instead, the true Jesus – chosen and anointed by God to be His spokesman – showed us how to suffer and die, and also how to love and obey.

The true Jesus calls us to repent of our sins and turn to God, which did not require a sacrifice of blood. He taught, like the Hebrew Prophets before him, that we could find forgiveness in God's merciful and all-loving arms (Psalm 86:5; Matt 6:14-15; Psalm 40:6; Hosea 6:6.)

This true Jesus also taught that we are capable of following his moral example. “He who DOES the will of my Father,” shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, he said. “Everyone who hears my words and DOES them, shall be like a wise man.” Jesus assures us we can achieve what he achieved (Matt. 7:21; 24; John 14:12.)

This amazing message was not received well even in Jesus’ time, either.

Jesus said that Jerusalem always killed the prophets, and that he foresaw that this, too, would happen to him, since he was also a prophet of God who challenged the religious leaders of his day and their practices (Mark 6:4; Luke 13:33.)

Jesus said that to die for one's friends was the greatest love, and if his followers obeyed him, they were his friends. He died, therefore, as an example for his sheep, those who followed and obeyed him (John 15:13; John 10:11.)

If we aren't seeking to live as Jesus lived - and honoring the words of teaching that he gave the world during his life - then we may simply ignore his death on the cross. It becomes meaningless to us, because then we aren't even the friends of Jesus, let alone part of his flock.

The death of Jesus was a continuation of his life – his message of extreme self-sacrifice and love for others.

Jesus' death was the ultimate fulfillment of his ministry of love, compassion and self-sacrifice. When Jesus says "It is finished," on the cross (John 19:30) it cannot mean that our requirement to do Good Works is finished, or that our need to go to God to seek forgiveness is finished, or that our duties to serve others is finished. It cannot ever mean any of those things, or Jesus' ministry was in vain.

The "work" of Jesus on the cross and during his life is never finished, as long as his friends and disciples serve God in his name and according to his worthy example.

By the example of the ministry, life and death of Jesus, we are saved from our sins. But if we fail to act upon those lessons, we slide back into our sinful behaviors, and have made Jesus' life, teachings and death meaningless.

Let Jesus be resurrected in our actions, and in our continued obedience to his loving words and teachings!

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