“What was Jesus’ purpose on earth?”
If you have been around church for a little while or have done some Bible study before, you may give a short answer to that question that sounds something like “to save sinners,” “die for our sins,” or “reconcile us to God.”
But what if someone asked you “What was Jesus’ calling on earth?”
Maybe you would answer differently or maybe you have never thought of purpose and calling as different, especially when it involves Jesus. In last week’s article Carrie Williams defined our purpose as to know God and make him known. I think this is a simple and profound definition. To know the Creator of the Universe and live our lives for him is one heck of a purpose and we get to see it lived out perfectly by Jesus. Jesus came to earth as God in the flesh and was intimately connected to God the Father. We see this shown in verses like John 10:27-30…
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
And John 6:38-39
“For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.”
What I want to focus on is that Jesus’ purpose of knowing God and making him known was lived out through a specific calling.
I think of a calling as a very intentional and practical pursuit that puts running shoes on the feet of a purpose.
Jesus’ purpose on earth was accomplished through a calling set in a specific time in history, in a specific role, with a specific group of people.
Jesus was born into a time of chaos and division. He was a rabbi spreading the one true message of salvation in the midst of a hostile Roman empire. He called ordinary, uneducated men to follow him and ministered to the marginalized, poor, and hated. Every hardship, every environment, every detail was intentionally part of Jesus’ journey to the cross and empty tomb.
I love how Scripture captures Jesus’ humanity as he walked out his calling. He was betrayed and accused. He cried over the death of his friend. He ate with the people he loved and the people who were “unlovable.” He felt immeasurable pain and anguish. Jesus did not shy away from the practicality of life. He experienced the changing seasons and waves of emotions that life brings AND remained focused on why he was there and what he was supposed to do.
The skills Jesus learned, the teaching methods he used, the people he hung out with all were seemingly ordinary. Jesus was born Jewish and lived and taught as a Jewish rabbi. He was fulfilling his prophetic, world shifting, eternal purpose by serving others, teaching the Scriptures, and laying down his life.
I think Jesus is showing us in Scripture how we should view OUR calling.
Think about the lives of the twelve disciples. They were fisherman, tax collectors, thiefs! When he calls these ordinary men to drop what they are doing he is initially calling them to follow him but essentially calling them to die. Die to their desires, die to their comfort, die to their old self. This act of dying is really an act of surrendering; to cease resistance and submit to the only source of abundant and eternal life. The disciples learned how to live out their calling from Jesus. Just like him, they too served others, taught the Scriptures, and laid down their lives so the gospel could be spread to the ends of the earth.
As Jesus called his disciples to surrender, he is calling us to do the same. When we first surrender our lives to Jesus there is a moment in time when we cross from spiritual death to spiritual life. This does not necessarily mean our outward circumstances change, but as new creations we have a new calling. We are given the Holy Spirit and set on a discipleship journey that involves a daily act of surrender, one of detaching from the world and following Jesus.
In John 12:23-28 Jesus points towards his death and reminds the people of why he is there; his purpose of glorifying God and his calling of fulfilling his Suffering Servant death to bring abundant and eternal life.
Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”
How do you need to embrace the ordinary and mundane in your life to use it to know God and make him known?
What pain or hardship has God allowed in your life to be part of your calling?
What do you need to surrender to Jesus to pursue what he has called you to do?
The Church of Eleven22, Equipping Minister
The Truth Republic, Content Manager