INTRODUCTIONWhen we began our “Finishing Well” series last week I concentrated on “the love of the Father” (1 John 2:15 ESV) as the only power greater than the “love of the world”. In the fullest sense, the Father’s love can only be his Son.
When the scripture says, “God is love” (1 John 4:8 ESV), it isn’t making a statement about the whole Trinity, but about the Father.
The Father is love because he has always loved his Son in the power of the Holy Spirit. The ability to finish well against “the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16 ESV) can only be found in Jesus.
As Jesus knows he is fully loved by God he shares this intimate knowledge with us (John 17:3 ESV). Since God’s love for the world is real in what it does to save us it’s important to be grasped by Christ’s own consciousness1)See Biblical References 1 Cor 2:16 ESV; Phil 2:5 ESV of being giving by the Father as the Saviour of the world (John 3:16 ESV). This is not always well understood.
As a younger Christian, I remember teaching that says God calls you to ministry and give gifts so you might complete his task.
I accepted this teaching at the time, but now I believe significantly responsible for the failure of many believers in our time to finish well.
What some people have called the professionalisation of ministry has corrupted the spiritual culture of many contemporary churches. Where pastors are paid for a service according to a contract such ministry always has boundaries/limits.
Such contractual ministries cannot produce disciples whose fruit has no limits.
Loving relationships have no limits so that fulfilling a relationship is infinitely more glorious that finishing a “task”.
We can’t possibly imagine that Jesus thought of his relationship with the Father as a mere task or job to be completed.
There was something quite different from task orientation at the centre of Jesus’ understanding himself to be the Son of God.
Jesus was profoundly impacted by knowing he was the Gift of God to the world. The words of John 3:16 ESV, “ vs.16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.vs.17… in order that the world might be saved through him.” ” (John 3:16-17 ESV), reveal that Christ’s whole consciousness was filled with the knowledge of himself as a gift.
This is crucial to Christ’s identity. As such he can say to the woman at the well in John chapter 4, “ “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” ” (John 4:10 ESV).
The word translated “gift” (dorea cf. Isa 9:6 ESV) here carries a sense of bounty and grace.
Jesus sensed himself to be in the fountain of God’s overflowing grace for the world2)See Biblical References cf. John 4:14 ESV; John 7:37-39 ESV.
This is why Paul, overwhelmed by God’s giving Christ to us exclaims, “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” (2 Cor 9:15 ESV).
Jesus is the Gift in which all God’s gifts are freely offered. Jesus knew he was the dearest thing in his Father’s heart so that his being given to the world impressed upon him that there were no limits to the Father’s love for the lost.
Taken up into the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit’s constant giving to the world through his words and works it was impossible for Christ’s walk with God to become dry, routine, boring or tiresome. Unlike us.
I remember being rather worn out and going to see a senior Christian brother for counsel. He wasn’t surprised at my emotional depletion because “You’re giving out all the time.”
There’s a truth in that diagnosis, but what he didn’t teach me was that Jesus knew he was a Gift to whom all was given before he gave out to others. He could say, “For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for God gives him the Spirit without limit.” (John 3:34 ESV).
Jesus, “the only Son”, is given to so that he might give to others. This is particularly clear in relation to his baptism.
As Jesus is being baptised “the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you, I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22 ESV).
The Spirit-filled joy of being a son is the gift which will enable Jesus to keep on giving. This is a picture of unlimited relational intensity which is unconquerable.
In this joy, the Spirit led him into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Luke 4:1-2 ESV). Some commentators interpret this story in terms of Jesus’ victory over the worldly powers we looked at last week.
The refusal to turn stones into bread overcomes “the lust of the flesh”, the refusal to spectacularly escape death through throwing himself off the temple, defeats “the lust of the eyes”, and denying the enticement to rule the nations, negates “the pride of life” (Luke 4:3-12 ESV).
In never doubting he was “ “the Son of God…” ” (Luke 4:3 ESV) Jesus remained in the Father’s joy and the power of the Spirit.
Things crash whenever we move aside from ou