Today’s post is by my sister-in-law, Mallory Patrick!
“Behold, I cast out demons, and I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected” (Luke 13:32)
Many believers focus on Jesus’ pre-Cross ministry, which included visible, miraculous healings and miracles. But in this verse, Jesus says that His coming was not to perform miracles and healings, but to “be perfected”, or to be made complete. Jesus was made complete on the third day at the resurrection. His purpose, then, was not to minister to those in need around him, but to lay down his life to bring forth the new creation, of which we believers are a part.
How sad it is that Israel clamored after Jesus as long as He remained a bare grain (Jn. 12:24) whose ministry they could draw upon for their own gain, and yet rejected Him in His completion at the resurrection! Israel did not want a spiritual kingdom, but an earthly one. They did not perceive that there was a need for such a spiritual kingdom that Jesus brought about by the Cross; their darkened perception could not see past their uncomfortable, earthly existence that needed a touch from Him.
Even the disciples missed the purpose of Jesus’ incarnation at first. They were caught up in the ministry as well, not from the receiving end as were the multitudes, but because they were the appointed to be a part the new and most exciting move of God in 400 years. The disciples found their purpose in the ministry which Jesus said was only occurring while He was not yet complete! It is no wonder, then, that the twelve forsook Jesus at His darkest hour; their value and stability had been rooted in something that was passing away.
And what about the church today? What about the multitudes of believers who chase after miracle-working ministries, whose reason for their faith in Christ Jesus rests solely in the ministry, healing, and deliverance they can receive at the hands of such ministries? What will the Lord’s people do when the Cross is presented to them? Will they be like natural Israel of the past, who sought Jesus out for bread when their bodily hunger dictated their motives and shout “Crucify Him!” when He is shown to be the Lamb that He truly is? It is a sobering thought.
This train of thought must logically bring us to the ministries of our day. How do they view themselves? If they believe their purpose is in the ministry that Jesus left behind at His death and resurrection, what will they do when the Cross is presented to them? Will they run away in confusion as did the first ministers? And what of those many precious souls who love the Lord so much and have been taught that their purpose in the body of Christ is to have a ministry? If Jesus’ purpose is no different now from what it was when He walked the earth, and I believe it is not, then ministry as many of us see it is not the primary goal of our Lord for His church. And yet the direction of the Spirit-filled churches of our day is to place every believer in their own personal ministry.
What am I saying? Am I saying that there should be no ministry, or that there should be no miracles or healings for those in need? Of course not. The Lord has graciously worked among His people in this way ever since Jesus walked the earth, and He will continue to do so. The problem lies in our lack of understanding at the place these things should take in light of the resurrected Son. The modern church has made the same mistake as Israel, I believe, in assuming that the earthly ministry of Jesus was the purpose for which He came. Most believers run after Jesus with their hands outstretched, hoping for a touch that will make their life a little better. A few believers have the desire to be a blessing themselves and minister to others. But either way, to find one’s purpose in these things is to minister, and to be ministered to, by an incomplete Jesus.
What of this completion? It was the purpose of the incarnation to begin with, and it can only be found in the Resurrection where not only He is made complete, but we are, too. The resurrection is where we find ourselves in Him and Him in us. It is where the work is finished, and where our heavenly high priest has sat down. It is where we find the New Creation, and it is where Christ Jesus has been made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. This is the completion of which Jesus spoke. This is what motivated Him to set aside His rights as the Son of God for awhile and live as a person like ourselves. It is what was in His heart all along.
The pressing need, then, and what is urgent at this moment, is for the church to understand the completion that is found only in the third day. Our hearts must move from that which is passing away to that which remains. Our identity – the understanding we have about ourselves as a people – will only be found in this completion, as will our understanding of who the Son really is. Let us leave behind the incomplete-ness of today and tomorrow, and follow the One whose sole purpose is found in the third day.