Jesus' Mission Statements
Dr. A. C. George
The gospels record several statements of Christ which can be regarded as Jesus’ mission statements. When those statements are put together, we get a comprehensive plan of God’s salvation for humanity and the specific purpose of Jesus mission on earth. The focus of this article is an examination of two “I have come” statements of Christ, which I hope will help us understand Jesus heart throb and His passion for His mission.
1. He came to Reveal His Father (Matt.11:27).
God who is basically a spiritual being is invisible and therefore humans cannot grasp him with their senses (1Tim.1:17). The statement in the gospel of John “that no one has ever seen God” (Jn.1:8; cf 1Jn. 4:12; Jn.5:37) is absolutely true. But that may raise a puzzling question to Bible students: what about the several Bible characters who had an encounter with God through which they could say: “we had a glimpse of God or we heard the voice of God?”. It is true that the patriarchs of Israel, Moses and several prophets of Israel had some sort of theophanic experience of God1. Yet none of them saw the essential form of God. Therefore, the assertion” no one has ever seen God” is not a contradiction.
The second half of v.18 completes the statement”but the one and only Son who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father,has made him known”.
Through incarnation, the eternal son of God made a clear revelation of the nature and character of his Father. Let us consider a few aspects of that revelation the Son made.
a. God is love.
That God is love is the central truth of the gospel (1Jn 4:8). His love propelled him to action “ For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16) . The Son showed the same quality of love when he came willingly into the world for the redemption of humanity. He loved all classes of people and earned the name “ a friend of tax collectors and sinners”(Matt.11:19;Lk.7:34). He loved his disciples dearly and consistently (Jn.13:1;17:23). His love was outgoing and practical- He gave his life for the whole human race, but the Church , which is His body can claim a special love ( Eph.2:4; 5:2). Every believer can claim that his love is personal: “He loves me” (Gal.2:20).
Jesus came to reveal that God is a loving Father who loves and cares for His creation. All his actions spoke eloquently that God is love. It is this love that calls sinners to repentance and faith today.
b. God is compassionate.
The Psalmist depicted God as merciful, gracious and showing pity on his children as a “father pitieth his children” (Ps.103:8-17). The literal meaning of compassion is “suffering together”. It means that God’s heart melts and he is moved to action when his people suffer. He is not a mere spectator when tragedy strikes, but his heart is stirred and he reaches out to help those who are struck down. God is “full of compassion “, says the Psalmist (Ps.86:15; 111:4). It was his compassion which brought the captives back to their native land (Jer.12:15). Prophet Jeremiah confessed that God’s compassion never fails (Lam.3:22).
Jesus the son of God displayed the same frame of mind toward the needy and afflicted. The springboard of Jesus’ mission was compassion. When Jesus saw the crowd like “ sheep without a Shepard” he was moved with compassion and ministered to them (Matt.9:36). Jesus’ healing ministry was the result of his compassion (Matt.14:14). His compassionate ministry embraced even the lepers who were ostracized by society (Mk.1:41). The story of the “feeding of the five thousand” - which is recorded in all the four gospels -shows clearly that Jesus taught, healed and fed the multitude out of his compassionate heart ( Matt.15:32-39; Mk.6:34-44; Lk.9:11-17; Jn.6:1-13). Truly the son came to the world to reveal the heart of his Father.
c. God is actively engaged in the work of providence.
A philosophy that originated in the 18th century in Europe pictured God only as transcendent being but not a God who is involved in the affairs of his creation. The analogy used to explain this is that of a “watchmaker”, whose presence or intervention is not needed to keep the watch ticking. Similarly, God created the universe, but his involvement is not necessary for the world to continue. The world will continue to run through the cosmic laws which the Creator set in motion at the time of creation.
The above view of God and creation is contrary to the scriptural understanding of God. The God of the Bible is also the God of providence. He sustains what he has created. He provides for his creation. He feeds the birds of the air ( Matt.6:26). Hr provides for all that he has made- humans, beasts, fish, reptiles etc.(Ps.104: 15-29). “And by him all things consist”(Col.1:17). In a sermon St.Paul preached from a hill at Athens, he spoke eloquently about the God of providence and made this assertion: “For in him we live, and move and have our being ....” (acts 17:28). These are but a few examples to show that God does not distance himself from his creation, but he is actively involved in the affairs of this world and is very much in control of everything that happens.
The incarnate son of God kept himself busy “ doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil ...”(Acts 10:38). He did miracles even on the Sabbath day. When the Jewish leaders questioned him for violating the Sabbath rules, Jesus answered them: “my Father is always at work to this very day, and I too am working” (Jn:5:17). The Son followed closely in the footsteps of his Father.
Through his love, compassion and active involvement in the redemptive process, the Son of God made his Father known to the sons of men.
2. He came to testify to the truth (Jn.18:37).
When the Roman governor Pilate examined Jesus, as the Jews brought him before Pilate, Jesus stated emphatically, “the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth” (Jn.18:37). In response to that Pilate asked: “what is truth?”(v.38).
Truth has been an object of contemplation and search from ancient times. The wise men of old were eager to discover truth through various ways. The sacred scriptures of Hinduism contain certain thought provoking statements. “satyame jayanthi” (truth will ultimately triumph) is one such maxim.
Socrates and other Greek philosophers were ardent seekers after truth. But the truth that all these men were seeking after, was only an abstract idea or concept. In the more recent times, Mahatma Gandhi, the father of our nation spent all his life time searching for truth. In his autobiography entitled “The story of my Experiment with Truth” Gandhi confessed that he got only some “fleeting glimpses” of truth and that his understanding of the truth was still “imperfect and inadequate”. Gandhi was of the opinion that one could discover truth only through the pathofAhimsa (non violence ). To quote Mahatma Gandhi : “Infact what I have caught is only the faintest glimmer of that mighty effulgence But this much I can say with assurance, as a result of all my experiments, that a perfect vision of Truth can only follow a complete realization of Ahimsa” 2
The search for the truth continues even today even though God who is the source of truth has sent the light of truth to lighten his world . In times past God brought a revelation of Himself in different ways through his word (Heb.1:1). The prophets of God were spokes persons who communicated the truth of the One and only God. His spoken words recorded in the pages of the scriptures testify that God is a reality and that his words, which are also referred to as law, commandments etc (Ps.119:142,151) are true and reliable. The tragedy is that in spite of this revelation of the truth, people chose to walk in darkness. The apostle John speaks of this in his gospel: “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil ... But those who live by the truth come into the light” (Jn.3:19,20).
The fragmentary truth that came to humanity in the Old Testament times reached its climax at the appearing of the Son of God “ in these last days he has spoken to us by his son...”(Heb.1:2). The Son came to declare that he is the “light of the world”(Jn.8:12) and that he is the “way and the truth and the life”(Jn .14:6). The incarnate Son is the embodiment of truth- “full of grace and truth”(Jn .1:14). A careful examination of the Johannine writings shows that the apostle John uses “ light” and “truth” as synonymous. Therefore, “to walk in the light”(1Jn.1:7) is “to walk in the truth” (2Jn.4). Knowledge of the truth should lead to application of the truth in a person’s day today living. Truth obeyed will lead to greater understanding of the truth. And truth will break all shackles and set people free (Jn 8:32).
Like Pilate, the Roman official, many are asking, “what is truth?”. For some it is simply a coverup for not following the light God has already shown them. Many are living with falsehood and deception. There are also those who pervert the truth for personal gain. Living in such a “warped and crooked generation”, the followers of Christ are expected to shine like stars, holding firmly to the truth of God’s word (Phi.2:15,16). Christians should always uphold the truth, even if it means paying a high cost. The apostle Paul’s words to the Corinthian church must inspire us, “For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth” (2Cor.13:8).
Jesus’ mission statements are recorded in the gospels for our benefit. God has placed us here as His mouthpieces, missionaries and ambassadors to execute His mission and impact people that we minister to. Let others see Christ reflected in us through the light of truth that has been entrusted to us. If we can do that, our mission also will be successful.