Sadly, COVID 19 has afflicted some of us, but our nation’s response has impacted all of us. Schedules and activities, commerce and social interactions have all been radically altered. Thankfully, the Lord Jesus Christ remains the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. (Hebrews 13:8) How might we, like Jesus, remain faithful and constant?
If you think about it, Jesus endured radical changes during his life on this earth. Although acclaimed as a king at his birth, he grew up the son of a humble, obscure carpenter. As an adult, Jesus was again publicly commended by John the Baptist, a voice out of Heaven, and throngs who witnessed his miracles. Within a few years, however, his popularity earned him persecution, and he was brutally, publicly executed. In spite of these extreme swings in his ratings, Jesus was absolutely consistent in his teachings, in his loyalties, and in his purpose. Jesus was ON MISSION. The sometimes startling realization is—so are we. Whether we are retired, employed, or furloughed, we are on mission. What might we learn about faithfulness in the midst of all this far-reaching change by observing Jesus’ ministry mode?
- Jesus worked out his mission in listening prayer. He was not doing his own thing but guided by obedience. Because his life was saturated in prayer, Jesus only did what he saw the Father doing. (John 14:9 b)
- Jesus knew the boundaries of his earthly mission. The world was full of hurting people, but he only healed a few. Jesus did not take on more than was given to him to do. The King of Kings was on mission and under the authority of Father God. Jesus could sleep in the middle of the storm and go to certain death on the cross because he knew his Father was sovereign and working all things together for good. (Romans 8:28)
- Jesus was moved with compassion and motivated by pure love. Status, wealth, education, or appearances did not impress him. Jesus did not network. He did not gather an impressive entourage but hung out with sinners. He came to seek and save the lost. (John 13:1 b)
- Jesus did not impose his ministry upon people. Throughout the gospels we see him responding to the request of a seeker. Jesus consistently asked questions and offered choices. He even let some go as evidenced in the stories of the rich young man and the prodigal. (Matthew 19:22)
- Jesus taught with authority. He did not hesitate to upset the self-righteous by speaking the truth. Jesus was a stumbling stone challenging the pompous to choose whom they would serve. (Matthew 7:29) While giving his listeners choices, Jesus acted in the authority given him by the Father.
- Jesus knew the scriptures and lived them. Although he was not legalistic, Jesus was a man of biblical principle. He encapsulated the entire Bible in one theme—love, and two commands—love God, love your neighbor. (Mark 12:29-31)
- Jesus was not in a hurry. He worked intentionally but not in a rushed flurry of self-importance. Jesus walked everywhere. He did not carry a self-assigned burden of stress that left him susceptible to frustration and ill temper. Jesus adhered to his own mission, followed his Father’s timetable, and set his face on Jerusalem whether or not that pleased others or himself. (Luke 9:53)
- Jesus was heaven-bound. His non-profit operation was based on unshakable faith and an eternal perspective. Looking beyond this life, Jesus was not manipulated by mankind or Satan. (John 2:24-25) He was able to resist all temptation. (Luke 4:1-14) Since Jesus was entirely yielded to the will of his Father, he was free to obey in boldness.
- Jesus was accountable to only one, the Father. He did not play to the crowds, his family, his friends, or the religious authorities. Jesus performed for an audience of One. This singular focus enabled him to operate outside the cultural expectations of his time and minister in respect to women and children, tax collectors and prostitutes. Jesus revealed the Father-heart of God. (Matthew 23: 37-38)
- Jesus knew when to pass the baton. Jesus spoke repeatedly to his disciples of his coming death and resurrection. He called, trained and equipped his followers while modeling God’s work ethic of ministry. How might we do the same? Paul suggested a plan to Timothy . . . that sounds much like that of Jesus—train a few good people. (2 Timothy 2:2) And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.
- Jesus finished what he began. Jesus knew his earthly mission was to seek and save the lost as the Lamb of God. From the cross, Jesus declared, It is finished. (John 19:30) Similarly, Paul knew his call was to reach the Gentiles with the Gospel. At the end of his life he could say, I’ve fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (II Timothy 4:7)
- Jesus took care of his people. He tenderly cared for his disciples by washing their feet in the upper room. From the cross, Jesus appointed John to watch over his mother. (John 19:27) He sought out Peter after his three denials. His ministry was not only teaching but also restoration and equipping. Jesus promised and sent the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth to complete his work in each of us. (John 16:13-15, Acts 1:4-5)
How clearly Jesus demonstrates in the gospel accounts that his allegiance, his purpose, and his hope did not change with his popularity nor with persecution. Similarly, the current upheaval need not change whom we serve. Like Jesus, we are on mission. Our assignment may change but not our allegiance, our purpose, or our hope. No matter what disease, economic downturn, or political battle may impact our world, let us continue to encourage one another to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. Thankfully, our Savior, the King of Kings, remains the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is our Rock, our Anchor, in the storms of this life. (Luke 6:48, Hebrews 6:19)