The Father’s Ultimate Purpose

We humans need a sense of purpose and destiny that is within God’s Ultimate Purpose. But sadly, we tend to ask, “what is my purpose and my destiny”?  We see all things from our own viewpoint. And so each one becomes the very centre of his own small universe. We need to see from God’s point of view.
God had a purpose for us and the whole of creation before he made anything. That purpose has not changed. It was and is Jesus. All things were created through him and for him (Colossians 1:15). And by his Spirit God “has made known to us “the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:9-10 NRSV). The whole of the Father purpose is centred in his Son, is done through his Son and is for his Son.
Where do we fit in the Father’s purpose? God’s entire purpose is all about Jesus and Jesus is all about us. For we are in him and he is in us. God wants a large family who share the likeness of his Son (Romans 8:29 NRSV). We are that family of sons and daughters in union with the Son. But we must always remember that it isn’t about us. It is totally about the Father’s Ultimate Purpose in the Son for the Son. However, when the end comes the Son hands it all back to the Father so that God will be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:28).

Total Identification With Us

Jesus is the true God drawing near to humanity. So near he actually becomes one of us. He refuses to hold himself aloof from us. Even though he was always with God as God he does not stand apart from us. He becomes fully human tasting within himself all that it means to be human.

As the true human Jesus identifies with us fully even in our sin yet without sinning. We see this total identification when he was baptised along with sinners in a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Repentance isn’t simply saying sorry. Nor is it just a feeling of sorrow over sin. A person repents when he changes his mind about sin. He no longer excuses sin, but accepts God’s judgement on his sin. He confesses his sin as offensive to God and worthy of his just judgement. Jesus had no sins to repent over nevertheless, he stands with sinners confessing all the wrong.

On the cross the Father’s Son identified fully with us bearing God’s judgement upon us. He bore the full judgment of God upon sin within his innermost being. He accepted it all willingly without protest. At the same time offering himself freely to the Father on our behalf. In this way he entered into the depths of judgement on sin in a way we can never do. And he also entered into his Father’s grief and sorrow over our rebellion and alienation.

God as human identifying fully with us. This is the only God we know.

Relational God with a Relational Goal

Father and Son are so closely bound up with one another in the Spirit that they “indwell” one another. The purpose of this relational God for his creation is also relational. He wants to reach beyond his own shared life as Father, Son and Spirit to include us in love relationship. Furthermore, the way he achieves his purpose is also true to who he is as deeply relational. For God comes as close to his creatures as he can – in becoming human.

But while God wants to turn towards us we want to turn away from him pursuing our own goals. Indeed, we want to be the goal ourselves. So there is a chasm between God and humanity. A gulf that we cannot cross and do not even want to cross. The mutual relation intended between God and humanity needs to be repaired both from the side of God towards humanity and from the side of humanity towards God.

This chasm between God and humanity has now been bridged by God’s himself. He has himself acted in Jesus to reconcile the estranged parties. For Jesus is God drawing near to humankind and humankind brought near to God. In him the two are brought together as one. And so in him the goal of creation is sure “according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ  as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:9). Yes, everything brought together and summed up in him!

Free from The Law and Free for God

The law was God’s gift to his covenant people. By obeying the law’s commands Israel would express their faithfulness within covenant relationship. But the law has been taken captive by the powers of darkness turning it into an oppressive power. Sin and Satan work through the law turning people towards religious self-effort resulting in proud self-righteousness. On the other hand, law also reduces others to crushing bondage in guilt and shame. In these ways the law becomes “the strength of sin”, as Paul puts it.

Jesus was an Israelite “born under law” and as a faithful Israelite he fulfilled all the righteous demands of the law. He did so, not in mere conformity to legal requirements, but rather in love and faithfulness towards his Father. He always lived in trustful obedience to his Father and did so on our behalf so that he is our righteousness. Furthermore, in trustful obedience he was always moving towards the cross with the aim of setting us free from the curse of the law by bearing the curse in himself.

The Spirit of Jesus now lives in us so that the righteous requirements of the law are fulfilled in us who walk according to the Spirit. We now live in a new way as the new humanity free from law and yet free for God. “We are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code” (Romans 7: 6).

Rescued for Relationship

We were created by the God who is love for love relationship within the triune circle of love. Within this circle of love we are to freely accept God’s authority over us in response to his free love. But sadly we live under the anti-God powers of this dark age alienated from the One who is love. Nevertheless, in sheer love the Father sent his Son into the world to rescue us for himself. Yes, Jesus coming is God’s invasion into the domain where evil enslaves us. He came to break the power of darkness delivering us from its captivity.

At the very start of Jesus’ ministry he clashed with the powers of darkness as he was tempted in the wilderness. In one of the temptations Jesus was offered all the kingdoms of this world and their splendour if he would just fall down worshipping the devil. He totally refused this offer pledging himself to worship only his Father serving him all the way to the cross.

Jesus faced another sever temptation in Gethsemane. The choice was real: his will or the Father’s will. The pull to choose his own way was truly powerful. Nevertheless, he chose his Father’s will – the way of the cross. There, in darkness, he would overthrow all the powers of darkness. The Father responded by raising Jesus from death as Son of God in power with all authority in heaven and earth. And we are raised with him sharing in his victory and free to live within the circle of triune love.

Liberating Lamb

In the gospel story we often see Jesus casting out demons to set free oppressed people. He said that he did so by the finger of God. However, through his dying and rising Jesus frees people out of their bondage to sin, death and all the powers that enslave. All these powers have wrongly claimed authority over those whom God created for himself. They have attempted to displace God by grabbing his authority for themselves. They want us to serve them rather than God. In this way they have twisted, distorted and enslaved human life. However, Jesus dying and rising brings these powers to nothing. Stripping them of their claims over us he opens up an entirely new situation. The old order is brought to an end and a new order of freedom in the Spirit arrives.

We must never lose sight of how much this triumphant liberation cost Jesus himself. During the Passover meal Jesus spoke to his friends about his blood poured out for them. For he is himself the Passover lamb whose life poured out in blood sets us free from all the powers that enslave. That same blood also seals a new covenant in which we are free to share in Jesus’ relationship with his Father in the Spirit. Now with Jesus we give joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.  For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves. (Colossians 1:12-14).

Our Passover Lamb

During Passover the Jews recalled the time when their God acted dramatically breaking the power of Egypt and setting free his enslaved people. The people were liberated from the oppressive power of Egypt so that they were free for covenant relationship with their God. Later in their history the people were in bondage under Babylon rule and the Prophets spoke of a future redemption out of Babylon exile. However, the prophetic vision reached beyond the immediate rescue out of Babylonian bondage into a new covenant relationship with God in the messianic kingdom of peace and joy.

This prophetic vision was fulfilled in Jesus, the Father’s servant-son. And he chose Passover as the moment when he would accomplish the new exodus., He acted at Passover because he is God giving himself as THE Passover lamb through whom those under the oppression of alien powers are liberated into newness of life in joyful freedom. He moves to offer himself as the lamb slain to reclaim the world lost in utter distortion and foolishness under bondage to alien powers. That liberation was accomplished in his dying and rising and yet it also set in motion a battle that will end finally in the triumph of God over all God’s enemies. Ultimately it is rescue out of the power of death as the last enemy. And rescue into fullness of life in God with Jesus by the Spirit.

New and Surprising

Israel’s God was always free to act in new and surprising ways. He was always consistent with himself and yet free to act in unexpected ways. The biggest surprise of all was Jesus. He is the God of Israel moving downward as lowly servant to accomplish a new exodus for the whole world. That was so very new! God takes all by surprise!

The people of Israel would never imagine such a thing. Nevertheless, God’s Spirit enabled the early Jewish believers to read the story backwards through Jesus’ resurrection into his death and then his life as fulfilment of the Israel story. Without the Spirit the early Jewish believers would remain blind to who Jesus actually was and is. But the exalted Jesus poured out the Spirit of Truth to open blind eyes enabling them to see the truth of this new and unexpected happening in Jesus.

So it is with us. The same Spirit of Truth opens the eyes of our hearts to see the newness of God’s action in Jesus. He does so in such a way that our eyes are open to the future horizon when this same God will make all things new in the new exodus still to come. Then we, and all creation, will be liberated into the newness of life that God has planned for us. We will be fully free to enjoy “what no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has imagined,  the things God has prepared for those who love him – these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit”
(1 Corinthians 2:9)

New Order

The Jesus story unfolds as the breaking in of the kingdom of God liberating those bound by disease, demons and even death. But eventually death seemed to have the last word as Jesus was brutally executed. Nevertheless, death was not the end of the Jesus story. For by the Spirit the Father raised Jesus from death declaring him to be Son of God in power.

As the followers of Jesus looked back at the cross through the resurrection and by the Spirit they saw that the cross marks the end of one era and the start of another. They were now sure that in Jesus dying and rising the God of Israel has acted to accomplish a new exodus for the whole world.

By the Spirit, we now participate in this new exodus. For us, the old has gone and the new has come as we live in the freedom of the children of God. We are free from all the powers of the old order. We are free in the Spirit to draw near with Jesus crying Abba Father. For by the Spirit we share in Jesus’ relationship with his Father enjoying life with him in God now and forever!

Yes, we are new exodus people living in the freedom of what the Triune God has done, is doing and will do to make all things new.

Free Indeed!

Jesus spoke very little about his suffering and death for us. However, the nearer his ‘hour’ (as he called it) approached the more he was ready to speak little by little about his death and the resurrection to follow. One way he spoke about his dying and rising was as his exodus.

The early believers experienced this new exodus. They actually lived in the freedom of the new exodus even as they looked forward to the future liberation of all things. Within this experience of new exodus a new narrative of God’s saving acts identifies who God is. Israel pointed to their God as the One who brought Israel out of bondage in Egypt. The early Jesus community singled out their God as the One who raised the crucified Jesus by the Spirit. They identified God in this new way by telling the story of Jesus’ dying and rising as the new exodus that sets us all free from the bondage of sin and death.

Just like the early believers, we now share in the freedom of the children of God in union with Jesus by his Spirit. We are free from sin and death and free for God. We live freely in him and he lives freely in us as our life is hidden with Christ in God. And now we await the liberation in fullness. Then the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. This is the new exodus already accomplished, already experienced and already anticipated with sure expectation. “So if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed”.