The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
"Between Two Worlds"
"I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do" (John 17:4).
I have long been intrigued by this statement of the Lord Jesus Christ, uttered during His high priestly prayer recorded in John 17. With the cross and the resurrection looming as the necessary and complete fulfillment of His redeeming work of Divine grace, why would the Lord speak in terms of "finished" beforehand?
The answer lies in a preceding declaration of triumph: "I have glorified Thee on the earth" (John 17:4). Indeed, the Lord Jesus, tempted more than any other, perfectly trusted and obeyed His Father during an earthly lifetime of the most severe challenge: "in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15). His penultimate work of redemption, however, would not be fulfilled on the earth. Rather, He would hang between Heaven and this world as He bore the wrath of man for His righteousness, and even more, as He suffered the wrath of God for our sins. He would die to fulfill His Father's purposes, and to provide eternal salvation to creatures of the sin-cursed realm of time and space. Such a work could only happen when suspended between two worlds, or as the Savior declared, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me" (John 12:32).
The finishing of God's work by the Lamb of God on the cross made possible the finishing of eternal redemption for sinners. The Lord Jesus had no sins of His own for which to suffer, so He could bear the sins of others. The feet that had so beautifully traversed the paths of the world could not complete the task by walking. They must be pierced and fastened to a tree, as were the hands that touched lepers, healed the infirm, and blessed children by His embrace. The heart that so loved along everyday paths of the earth must be lacerated by a sword, and forsaken by a Father to make possible the completion of the Savior's redeeming work. Indeed, remove the cross and the Lamb of God suspended thereon from the narrative of the Gospel and all that remains is an earthly life well lived, no doubt, but with no real Heavenly significance that matters and no salvation that rescues. "Without the shedding of blood is no remission" (Hebrews 9:22).
The Lord would also ascend to Heaven after His resurrection as our great High Priest who "ever liveth to make intercession for us" (Hebrews 7:25). His atoning work, finished by a completely satisfactory death for sin, led to the resurrection and arising to Heaven to fulfill His eternally ongoing office whereby He "is now to appear in the presence of God for us" (Hebrews 9:24). God forever sees all who believe in the light of what His Son has done for us, and who He is for us. We can account this as a finished work also, albeit ongoing, because nothing will ever hinder Christ's intercessory service, and nothing will ever change our Heavenly Father's perfect satisfaction in His Son's Person and work for us.
The Lord of Heaven and earth fulfilled His Father's purposes for both realms. This explains the necessity for His incarnation, and the beauty of a life well lived, a death effectually died, and a resurrection sufficient to provide a living Savior forevermore. The finishing of an earthly work led to the finishing a Heavenly work, carried out between two worlds, and forevermore cherished by both.
"For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into Heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us, nor yet that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others. For then must He often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself."
Weekly Memory Verse
Before honor is humility.