Many look forward to retirement. The idea is attractive: having no kids to shuttle around to various activities, having no day-to-day job to wake up and report to, having no responsibilities except improving one’s golf swing. I personally hope I never experience that kind of retirement, but that’s another story!
Is that how you think of Jesus? That He accomplished all there was to accomplish upon the cross, He was resurrected, He ascended to God in order to … retire and do nothing?
If this is our notion of Jesus’ work, we miss out on what the Bible teaches about His continuing ministry. We talk about how important it is that we serve a living Savior, but often conceive of Him as little more than a portrait hanging on a wall—a good man long gone who did good things long ago.
He is risen! He is alive! He is busy! Let’s see what He is doing on our behalf right now.
He Made Atonement
When Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption (Heb. 9:11-12).
What the blood of millions of animals slain over thousands of years couldn’t accomplish, what blood daubed on a golden box could only symbolize, Christ accomplished perfectly with His one sacrifice. When He ascended to heaven, He brought His blood with Him, into the actual presence of God.
Now, believers are actually reconciled to God through the atoning blood of Jesus. Now, Christians can enter the throne room of God with our prayers. Now, we have the confidence that we too can see God face to face one day, and bask in His presence.
When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Heb. 1:8).
This kind of sitting down doesn’t suggest relaxation. It’s not a lawn chair, it’s a throne! Jesus began to reign in His rightful place of power, promised by the Father, “far above all rule and authority,” with “all things in subjection under His feet” (Eph. 1:20-21). Stephen caught a glimpse of Jesus in Heaven (Acts 7:56)—not in the tomb where His enemies claimed He was, but at the right hand of God where Jesus promised He would be—and found the courage to maintain his testimony despite the hail of stones.
All authority is given to King Jesus (Matt. 28:18). He is the head and Christians are the members of His body (Eph. 1:23). The church’s headquarters are in heaven. We obey Jesus, and look to Him alone for the commandments of our faith.
There is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all (1 Tim. 2:5-6).
The Old Testament priests were inadequate for many reasons, not least of which was the fact that every so often they died. Jesus however “holds His priesthood permanently” and therefore is always available to make intercession and to save (Heb. 7:23).
John describes Him as “an Advocate with the Father” who rushes to our side to plead our case when we sin (1 John 2:1). Jesus’ advocacy ought not encourage us to sin flippantly. May it never be! But when we inevitably stumble, Jesus provides help to cleanse our sin, and to get us back on the straight and narrow path again. In fact, Jesus experienced life on earth as a human being, “so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest… Since He Himself was tempted … He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted” (Heb. 2:18).
He Prepares for Judgment
Having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead (Acts 17:30-31).
Jesus has a job coming up soon. He will serve as Judge of all the world. It is an appointment we cannot escape, when “He will appear a second time for salvation, without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him” (Heb. 9:28). I wonder if this event is as much in our minds as it is in His mind? —John Guzzetta