Traditional Christian thought has maintained that the mission of Jesus was to go to the Cross and die for the sins of mankind, thereby, providing a way for man to be reconciled to God. John 3:16, states: For God so loved the world that God gave His only Begotten-Son that whosoever believes in Him (the Son) should not perish but have everlasting life. Indeed, the mission of Jesus was one of reconciliation and restoration but I think we have traditionally not realized the full implications of that mission. We have made Jesus and the Cross the end, when according to the Bible, they were not the end but the means to the end! Now, I am in no way attempting to minimize the atoning work of Jesus on the Cross, my point is; I think we have finished the meal, leaving far too much food still on the plate! In other words, I think that traditionally, we have not fully appreciated the extent of what Jesus came to do! Traditionally, we seem to have simplified the mission of Jesus to the simple point of just providing a way for believers to go to Heaven when they die! But, it was so much more than that!
But before we look at the “so much more than that” let’s investigate the idea that Jesus was not the end but the means to the end. Who better to prove the point than Jesus himself? In John 10:7, 9, Jesus said: “I am the door.” Do you know what a door is? A door is a means of access, a thru-way, an entry-way. You don’t stop at the door because the door is not your destination! No! You go through the door to get to where you want to be! Traditionally, we have stopped at Jesus; the Door! But Jesus said; “I’m not it! I’m not your destination; I’m your means of access to get to your destination!” (Millerized Version). He said in John 14:6: “I am the way!” Again; “I’m not where you are going, I’m just the means to get you to where you’re going!” And what is the destination? Jesus is the door and the way to what? The answer is God the Father! The mission of Jesus was to provide the means and the way for us to regain access to the Heavenly Father God! Not just when we die and go to Heaven, but while we yet live everyday! Jesus said to his disciples on one occasion: “In that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. . . At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. (Joh 16:23, 26-27 KJV) Do you see that? Jesus said that at that day (When the Holy Spirit comes) believers would not have to ask him, but would have direct access to God themselves through his name! The mission of Jesus was to provide the means for us to regain an amiable and intimate relationship with God!
In the “preaching circles” I grew up in, the main focal point of the Gospel story was the Cross! But the Cross was not the destination; the Cross provided the means and removed the obstacle to the destination! Jesus paid the penalty for our sin on the Cross so that we might regain access to God via the Kingdom of God! We preach the Cross, but Jesus preached the Kingdom of God! The purpose of the Cross was to deal with sin so that we might have access to the Kingdom! The purpose of the Cross was to provide cleansing and atonement so that we might again have fellowship with God. Again, I am by no means trying to minimize the importance of the Cross, I’m just simply trying to point out the fact that the Cross was not the end-goal, but the means to the end-goal! Just as Jesus was and is the “way” to the Father, the Cross was and is the “way” to gain access to the Kingdom! At this point, I think I need to bring out the point that my reference to the Kingdom is NOT synonymous with Heaven; I am referring to the Kingdom of God in reference to the power, rule, and authority of God. Hence, the mission of Jesus was to provide access to what Adam lost. Adam didn’t lose access to Heaven; Adam lost access to the dominion of the Kingdom!
The mission of Jesus was to provide a model of the Kingdom life! His favorite description of himself was “Son of Man,” indicating that although he was God, during his earthly sojourn, he functioned as a man fully indwelt and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Hence theoretically, whatever Jesus did, we also have the potential of doing! He said in John 14:12: “”Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12 ESV) In Acts 1:1, Luke wrote: “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach. . .” (Act 1:1 ESV) Note that Luke said “all that Jesus ‘began’ to do and teach!” The implication seems to be that Jesus didn’t finish doing and teaching! Indeed, every generation of the church has the awesome responsibility of continuing what Jesus began to do and teach! What did Jesus do and teach? His mighty works were signs and demonstrations of the imminent presence and power of the Kingdom of God among men and much of what he taught was concerning the Kingdom of God! Hence the mission of Jesus was to be the “last Adam!” He came to live, to demonstrate and to empower us to live the life that Adam failed to live.
I don’t want to make this into a thesis on the subject, so I will come to a close at this point! But, I think it would be good for us to re-think some of our limited traditional thinking in regard to the mission of Jesus. He didn’t come to take away our sins just so we might have “pie-in-the-sky-when-we-die-in-the-sweet-by-and-by!” The mission of Jesus was so much greater than that!