I must be about My Father’s business (Luke 2:49)At the age of twelve, when Jesus was found in the temple, Joseph and Mary asked why he left the group returning home to Nazareth. “I must be about My Father’s business,” said Jesus. What was the Father’s business?
It is finished
Those seven spoken words by the young Messiah were the first recorded in the Bible (Luke 2:49). Then, nearly two decades later, Jesus spoke his last words from the cross, and his mother Mary heard, “It is finished” (John 19:30).
The phrase “it is finished” comes from the Greek tetelestai, a term meaning “paid in full.” The work of the cross was complete: that divine moment in time when God’s wrath and love merged to provide the only way for men to be forgiven, set free from the power of sin, and given a pathway to glory (John 14:6; Romans 6:23).
From the Jordan River to Gethsemane, Jesus now stood before a wood-splintered cross, the one he carried and now laid out before him. The apostle Paul wrote, “For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all…” (1 Timothy 2:5–6).
Jesus would become the object of God’s wrath, the ransom lifted up between two thieves for all men to despise. Looking forward in time to this moment, from around 700 BC, the prophet Isaiah was inspired to write:
He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely He has borne our grief and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:3–5).
There is no need to describe the awfulness of a crucifixion during the time of Roman rule. If you saw the movie The Passion of the Christ, directed by Mel Gibson, little was left to the imagination. You sensed the wrath of God poured out upon His only begotten Son for the remission of sin (Romans 5:9).
Why the wrath – where’s the love?
God is repulsed by sin much in the same way a surgeon loathes cancer. Sin is cancer to the soul and, unless sin is removed, the soul has no place in the kingdom of God (Colossians 1:21–22).
If unruly cancer cells in a patient could think and reason they might look upon the surgeon in the operating room as “unfair” with no thought for their survival. Of course, they would be right to think the surgeon intends their destruction. The surgeon’s righteous resolve and virtuous duty would be to judge cancerous cells unworthy of life.
The surgeon would have no love and no compassion for these diseased cells. With invasive precision, the surgeon would remove all of them with one cut and dispose them in a sealed container for incineration, saving the patient from their grasp.
Love is paralleled in what the surgeon does to save the patient. Jesus was lifted up between two thieves, becoming the surgical instrument of God’s choice to deal with the sin of man. One thief jeered, telling Jesus to save himself. The other defended Jesus and then turned to him saying, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom” (Luke 23:42).
The penitent thief called upon Jesus for salvation, which is an expression of faith (Romans 10:13). The apostle Paul wrote, “For faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Jesus, the living Word of God crucified, opened the thief’s mind, giving him power to become a child of God (John 1:12).
In response to thief’s confession of faith Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). The words of Christ cut away all defilement from the thief, even while he was yet nailed to the cross. This is the power of the gospel to save all who believe (Romans 1:16).
It is Finished
The Holy Spirit led the thief to godly sorrow, resulting in a broken heart and contrite spirit; he acknowledged his offense to a holy God (2 Corinthians 7:8-12). He repented by turning from self to the mercy of the Savior. His turning to Christ led to salvation that day, given by a compassionate Christ. Had the thief been the only living soul on earth, Jesus would have died for him.
The other thief turned away to absorb his worldly woe.
Throughout the Bible are stories and parables of men and women recognizing and agonizing over their great offenses against a holy God. Upon those agonizing over offending a holy God, Jesus will have mercy and justify the broken heart and contrite spirit (Psalm 34:18; Luke 18:9–14).
The Lord Jesus is a beautiful Savior, a true wonder and a treasure to possess. He is our Living Tabernacle, given freely as we believe (trust) in him moment-by-moment (1 John 4:15–16). His earthly walk took him to Calvary and then upward to glory to the Throne of God. Of his ascended glory the author of Hebrews writes:
…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2 ESV).
In closing, the Father’s business is the plan of salvation and it includes the work of the cross. While the work of the risen Lord is a finished work, the Great Commission is our work and continues until we appear with him in glory at the end of the age (Matthew 28:18–20; Colossians 3:1–4).
Next Part 5 – The Pardon*
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*The benefits of the cross are worthy of our most earnest regard. More about the finished work of the cross appears in Part 5 – The Pardon, which explores the benefits of the cross within the context of the blood atonement and salvation. Note: All Bible references are New King James Version unless noted otherwise.
Note: All Bible references are New King James Version unless noted otherwise.