In the last segment we discussed how Jesus was working at Creation and then through the Old Testament. In the New Testament we are introduced to the incarnation. Jesus, born of a virgin and under the law, came to live a sinless life and die on the cross– our punishment– so that we might live. Then He arose, appeared to the disciples, and then ascended on high.
The rest of the New Testament chronicles His disciples’ work at carrying out the mission He gave them– go into all the world and make disciples. He appears a couple of more times in visions, and then the Bible ends.
However, His work did not finish there, or even finish on the cross. Jesus is still active and working today!
He is Building
Jesus told His disciples that He needed to go because He needed to prepare a place for us (John 14:2). This is pretty remarkable when you figure that first He built a whole world for us, and now He is preparing a new world for us. If you can imagine all the beautiful things about this world, can you imagine what that next one will be like? The one without sin?
Jesus states that when it is complete, He will return for us (John 14:3).
He is Interceding
Interceding means going between. Jesus is a go between for us and the Father. Hebrews 8:1-6 tells us that He is our High Priest. The High Priest was one in the Old Testament that would be able to enter the holy of holies to present a sacrifice once a year to atone and cover the nation’s sin. Jesus, having lived a perfect life and paid for our sins, does this in our behalf. His blood pleads for us, even as we are unrighteous.
Jesus’ position as priest is better than any Old Testament priest, for you need to compare where His temple is versus where the human priests’ temple was– Jesus ministers in Heaven, in the very presence of God, whereas the human temple was made by hands.
He is Guiding Through His Word
Prior to completion of the Canon of Scripture, there was prophecy and Theophonies. We no longer need these because we have the entire and complete Word of God. This is the vehicle that God uses to speak to us today– to show us His will, to give us His commandments. Many would say that they would believe if they could have just seen God, yet many saw God in the person of Jesus Christ, and yet people still did not believe. God has given us all we need for life and godliness in His Word.
The greatest source of information as to what God wants from us and what we are to do rests in His Word. He left the Holy Spirit to bring all things to remembrance, and that was what helped the disciples and New Testament writers to record all that we have of the time that He was with them. The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God on our hearts to convict us of sin and to encourage us in the truth. If we are neglecting this source of strength, then we are not attempting to hear the voice of God for this day.
He is Guiding Through Prayer
The other part of John 14:6 is that Jesus promises to do anything that is requested of Him so that the Father may be glorified. So why does it seem that this doesn’t happen all the time?
Part of it may have to do with the time period. Who is Christ’s audience here? It was the disciples around the first century AD. Are we still living in the time of miracles to authenticate Christ’s physical presence? No. That doesn’t mean that miracles do not happen, or that God ceased working, but just that it is not the same as the time when Jesus was here.
I like to think back that at the time that Jesus was doing his many miracles, He did get recognition in the records of the times, but not much. All of the miracles were happening in Israel and without the Internet. So when the disciples spread to Rome and parts beyond, they were telling about things that no one had already heard.
Still, part of it has to do with the fact that we do not pray as we ought to. James 4:1-4 – states that we can pray amiss to spend it on ourselves. How much of what we pray and ask for has to do with something that we will benefit from versus how much of our prayer is taken up on glorifying God? Most of the prayer requests that I see are about someone that we love or care about that’s sick and we want them to get better. Many ask for things to go well for themselves, that we’ll pass that test or that we’ll find that person that we will marry. Many of these things are fine, and yet aren’t praying in the right direction.
Along with bringing the petition before God, prayer changes the person asking. Prayer is an acknowledgement by the petitioner that they are not able to do it on their own, and it thereby demonstrates a submissive heart before God. It puts the order correctly in focus and allows us to indicate our dependence on Him. Jesus changes our hearts and guides us through prayer to be more like Him.
In John 17 (Jesus’ prayer to the Father) we see that the thing foremost on the mind of Christ is that the Father was glorified. It is plain in the introduction as well as why He requests that the disciples will remain strong. The focus of the prayer is on spiritual things, and strengthening the inner man. It is a petition to someone that can make a difference– God. God is the only one that can change the heart of man. We may try to influence it, and we can effect some control of outward behavior, but it is God that changes the hearts.
In Matthew 6:9-13. Jesus teaches His disciples how to pray and emphasizes God, forgiveness, and protection from temptation. Our prayer lives emphasize food, health and shelter. Where is the focus in our prayer lives?