Summary: Jesus’ ongoing mission, which will be fully accomplished, is to restore us to the Father. Last in the series "Dying was His Reason for Living."
Dying Was His Reason for Living
The Sequel: Where Is Jesus Now?
Landmark Christian Church, Chippewa Falls, WI
It was December 1997, the Christmas season, when a fire started in the home of Luzaida Cuevas. She made it to safety, but she was not able to rescue her 10-day-old daughter, Delimar, from the terrible flames and smoke. As she stood watching the fire consume her home, how she must have wept at the crushing blow of losing the daughter to whom she had just given birth. Strangely, although the authorities pronounced her dead, no remains of Delimar’s tiny body were ever found near her crib.
January 24, 2004, just over 6 years later, Luzaida Cuevas attends a birthday for a child, and there she sees a 6-year-old girl, who looks surprisingly like Luzaida herself. This girl, Aaliyah Hernandez, is said to be the daughter of her former boyfriend’s cousin, but as soon as Luzaida sees her, she is convinced that there, before her marveling eyes, stands her precious daughter. She manages to get a few strands of the girls’ hair, which she brings to her local representative. DNA tests soon confirm her suspicions. Ten-day-old Delimar did not die in that fire. She was kidnapped and the house was set on fire to cover the kidnapping.
On March 2, 2004 Carolyn Correa was arrested and charged with arson, kidnapping and 13 other crimes. On March 8, Luzaida Cuevas’ daughter came home.
When my oldest son, Kyle, was a baby, I had a strong fear that someone would break into our house and take him away from us. Strangely, I lost that fear after having two other boys. And when Kyle is 15, I expect to be offering to pay people to take him away. But when it was just little Kyle, every night I would double check the windows and doors and worry that something might happen to him while we slept.
And if he had been kidnapped, like every other parent in this room, I would have torn apart the city looking for him - would not have rested until I had found him and he was restored to our home, his home.
When you saw Jesus shoulder his cross, you were witnessing a love-desperate father relentlessly pursuing his lost children. We weren’t exactly kidnapped from God; we intentionally walked away from Him. But that doesn’t matter to our Father. He still wants us restored to our rightful home, and from the moment we left Him, He set out to bring us back.
Since sin and death were the major barriers to our return, Jesus eliminated those barriers. Because He paid the price for our sin and rose from the dead, those two enemies no longer stand between us and life forever in our true home with God.
But not everyone is yet at home. Billions still live far away from God, estranged from the Father.
So, Jesus is, at this time, pressing forward with the child-rescue-mission that began as soon as we turned our backs on God. The key victories have been won, but the mission is not yet accomplished. Two more stages have yet to be completed before God’s family is fully restored.
I want to describe today the mission that Jesus is on right now and then describe the final victory that Jesus will achieve.
1. Ongoing Mission - The Restoration to the Father
Jesus is alive and active in our world achieving the mission of God. What is this mission?
[Read Matthew 28:18-20]
Jesus says His mission, which we are His partners in carrying out, is to make disciples. First, I want to be clear about what making disciples is not.
Jesus’ goal is not:
To get a lot of people to go to church
For the world to be a little nicer, or even a lot nicer
To give some rules that help some people.
An Ohio newspaper printed the following news story.
Mr. Jenkins, it is claimed, was driving at a high rate of speed and swerving from side to side. As he approached the crossing he started directly towards it and crashed into Miss Miller’s rear end, which was sticking out into the road about a foot. Luckily she escaped injury and the damage can be easily remedied with a new coat of paint.
(taken from the 365 Stupidest Things Ever Said calendar)
The damage done to us when we rebelled against God cannot be remedied with a coat of paint. Mere surface change won’t cut it. Religious rules and moral regulations are like new coats of paint - they change the exterior but inward flaws remain. We need far more than that. We need transformation from the inside out if we are to be fully functioning children of God.