Summary: The completed work of Christ is work for the unworthy. We’re worse than we think we are, but God’s grace is far greater than we think it is.
“The Finished Work of Christ” -Pastor Bob Leroe, Cliftondale Congregational Church, Saugus, Massachusetts
“I have brought glory to You here on earth by completing the work You gave Me to do. And now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence with the glory I had with You before the world began.” (verses 4-5)
We live in an age of uncertainty. Sometimes it seems uncertainty is the only thing we can count on. Yet in this unstable world we have something that we can count on: prayer. God changes the lives of praying people. We need to visit with the Lord before facing the world.
Our Lord’s prayer in John 17 gives us something firm to stand upon. He prayed so that we might know that the security of our eternal condition is based on His completed work.
As I was preparing my message I couldn’t help but notice all the unfinished business on my desk, along with my “to do” list. I suspect you probably have a similar situation. Someone said, “God has given me a specific number of things to accomplish on this earth; at the rate I’m going, I’ll live forever!” For those of us whose work seems never done, we can take comfort in the work of Christ--He set out to accomplish our salvation, and He finished the job!
The word “completed” in verse 4 literally means, “perfected”. No one else could make this claim. By a life of perfect obedience Christ revealed and glorified the Father. Jesus saw His mission from His divine prospective, as though it were already past. The cross was a foregone conclusion; so we see no doubt, no wavering in this prayer.
God Law requires one of two things--obedience, or atonement. Jesus met the Law in both ways. He obeyed it perfectly, and paid the penalty for those who had transgressed it. “Every other person came into this world to live. Jesus came here to die” (Sheen).
In Hebrews 10 we’re told that “we have been made holy through the offering of Jesus Christ, once for all…every priest offers time after time the same sacrifices which can never permanently take away sin; but Jesus offered Himself as one sacrifice for sins for all time, then sat down at the right hand of God.”
If we lived in 1st Century Israel, and if allowed to enter the Holy Place of the Temple, we would see a table, basin, lampstand, two altars, but no chair. The priests never sat down; their work was never done. But after Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice for sin, He “sat down”; His work was complete. He fully satisfied the justice of God. And the benefits of His death will last forever. It’s important to start right, but it’s imperative to finish well. Jesus could truthfully cry from the cross, “It is finished.”
Jesus points out in John 12, “I came not to judge the world.” Why? The world was already condemned. Jesus came to offer sin’s remedy. He completed a work that was essential for our forgiveness. Without His death we have no hope for mercy. Without His gift we are without life. How much of our penalty, our guilt, has been put on Jesus? All of it. Those who refuse this gift remain under the wrath of God.
The finished work of Christ is work for the unworthy. We’re worse than we think we are, but God’s grace is far greater than we think it is. Grace is something we can never get but only be given. We can take no credit--our salvation is entirely the work of Christ on our behalf. The cross was provided in God’s providence even before original sin, from eternity past. Our salvation has been achieved once and forever. Grace is love that pays a price.
In verse 4 Jesus states that He has added to the Father’s glory. He glorified the Father in all His activity, in simply being Who He was. In Hebrews 1:3 we’re told that, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being.” He alone has the right to ask the Father to glorify Him; but at an awful cost…
Imagine you get a call from your boss. Your company has a special job just for you. No one else will do. The only hitch is this: you’ll need to take a demotion in order to fill the position. I heard of an Army General who dropped a star in order to take on a certain assignment, along with a cut in pay. That’s not much of an incentive…yet that’s exactly what our Lord Jesus Christ did. He humbled Himself and took the form of flesh. The King became a servant. The Son left His glory to bring the Father glory.