Does Jesus do anything for you these days?
Christian people would say that Jesus did lots of saving stuff for us. He died for our sins; while we were still enemies, He suffered to save us; He rose again to give us newness of life. He taught us, gave us an example so that we should walk as He walked. He was born to show us what His Father is like, and He came that we might have life and have an abundant overflow of it.
Past tense. He came, He saw, He died, He conquered.
And He will do a bunch of magnificent things in the future. He will not leave us orphans but said, “I will come to you” (John 14:18). After He finished up on His earthly mission, we confess in the Nicene Creed that He “…ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.” Then we go back to the future tense in that historic statement of faith: “He will come again in glory….”
But what about Jesus today?
Does Jesus just sit there and have fine and wonderful thoughts about what He did and what He will do? Did He do so much while on earth that He just sits there and smiles all day? One of the last things He did on this earth was to pray for His disciples, at that time and in the time to come. Was that prayer, in John 17, so powerful that He’s just waiting around for the next move? Does Jesus still pray?
Many moons ago I had a course at Southeastern Bible College on the Epistle to the Hebrews. The theme of the course was the present priesthood of Jesus.
Really. And this is perhaps one of the most neglected articles of faith in the church today. For we often seem to think that all of Jesus’ work as our Lord and Savior is either past or future. To my memory, the only major confession of faith that mentions the present work of Jesus Christ is the Westminster Confession of Faith which, in Article 8, mentions Jesus’ making intercession for us.
Why does it matter?
It matters because Jesus doesn’t want to just sit; Jesus wants to live. And we need His life with us.
Jesus refers to us as friends (John 15:14-17). Friends do things together, communicate, play, cry, laugh, live in each other’s company. If we’re friends, that means Jesus can be actively present in our activities, our feelings, our difficulties, our hopes and dreams and frustrations and pleasures and sleep and waking and living. And the Bible says we can have confidence in the completion of our salvation because of His intercession, His prayer for us. He speaks of His abiding–present tense–in us and our abiding in Him. The word that is translated “abide” refers to an interactive presence. It’s similar to our thoughts and feelings abiding in our body and brain and soul. The epistles of John refer to our having fellowship–it means doing stuff together–with Jesus Christ. And Paul says in one of our favorite Christian living verses “…Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). Lives, present tense. And Hebrews says Jesus endured the Cross “for the joy that was set before him” (Heb. 12:2). It wasn’t just the joy of playing a harp and eating ambrosia; He wasn’t just looking forward to propping His feet up and fishing in a heavenly lake. Jesus endured the Cross for the joy of living with and in and for us here and now. Today!
My mother, toward the end of her life, very seldom referred to Jesus in either past or future tense. She endured the increasingly difficult aftermath of breast cancer during her last thirteen years on this earth. But she lived those years with grace, courage, even joy because she had a sense of the presence, here and now, of the One she called, simply, “my Friend.”
He died for her, and for you and me; He rose for her, and for you and me; He will come and finish what He began for her, and for you and me. But God invited her, and invites you and me, to live in the heavenly places in Christ today. He doesn’t just want us to ask, “What would Jesus do?” God invites us to ask, “What will Jesus and I do today?”