As Jesus’ death drew near, he began to tell his friends that he was returning to his Father to share the glory he always had with his Father. How would Jesus feel about his friends when he was exalted in splendour?
Jesus is glad to return to his Father, for he is always close to the Father’s heart. Nevertheless, he will never stop caring for his friends. He tells us that he will prepare a place for us in his Father’s house (John 14:1). Furthermore, he says, “I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also (John 14:3).” Jesus is now with his Father, but he still wants us to be with him. He wants to take us to himself so that we are with him where he is. Even though he is full of joy in the Father’s presence he still wants us to be with him never to be parted again. And that’s also what his Father wants for us and for his Son.
It sounds like Jesus is saying, “The truth is, I never want to live without you. That’s why I’m coming back to get you. I want you in my Father’s presence with me. That’s how much my heart is set on you. All the glory of my Father’s house will never cause me to forget you. Indeed, you will share in all the glory I have with my Father. For when I appear in my full glory, you will appear with me sharing in my glory.
Jesus is now exalted to the highest place and given the name above every name. How does Jesus feel about us as he reigns supremely on high? Does he really care about us from his lofty position over all? We may feel that since Jesus is now exalted to such an infinitely high place we cannot really count on him in our struggles. Surely, he cannot be fully focused on me!
Well, Jesus is now exalted as royal PRIEST. And as Hebrews 4: 15 says, “We do not have a high priest who is unable to feel sympathy for our weaknesses”. The heart of Jesus is open to us with real feelings for us. He understands how we feel because he actually shares our feelings. He feels in his heart just as we feel as we struggle with our weaknesses. So, we can always draw near with boldness, through him, to receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need.
Because Jesus shared our humanity, he knows human weakness from the inside even the weakness of being tempted. And so, though he is highly exalted over all, he tenderly feels for us in all our weaknesses. Yes, the King is high and lifted up and yet he has a tender heart towards us and so is always ready to move towards us in our needs. More positively, we can be sure that he is always ready to include us in the communion he enjoys with his Father.
God the Father raised Jesus by his Spirit. Now, Jesus is reigning at his Father’s right hand. As the risen and reigning one, Jesus continues his work in and for us. He also continues his work through us for the sake of the world. So the risen and reigning Jesus must always be the centre of our vision. He is now seated at the right hand of God occupying the place of power to bring his people and all of creation to the final goal.
Because we are in union with Jesus, we share in his life and all he is doing. We do not stand as spectators looking passively at what Jesus is doing. Nor do we move in and do all the actions ourselves. Jesus is the main mover. And by his Spirit we get to participate in what he is doing
So our focus must never be on something that we must do, but rather on Someone. Our eyes are fixed on Jesus who reigns supremely over all and in us. We are attentive to who he is and what he is doing. And we always aim to move with him participating in all that he is doing. We pay constant attention to what he continuing to do in and through us. And when we fail to keep our attention on him, we can be fully assured that he is constantly attentive to us. We never lose him in the midst of doing “Christian work”. That’s the way he wants us to live in him by his Spirit.
Jesus came among us as the Lord who serves his Father and us in deep lowliness. He did so to the point of death on the cross. Therefore, the Father raised Jesus from the dead as the new man in a new creation and God’s Spirit joins us to Jesus to share in his life. As those alive in Jesus, we actually share in his communion with the Father by the Spirit. And we walk with him in newness of life. A newness marked by joy and hope.
If Jesus is not raised and we are not joined to him then all we seek to do is in vain. And we will never live and move in joy and hope, but rather in weariness and despair. However, Jesus is the risen and reigning one and we are now in living union with him. Jesus lives! He lives in me. Now I no longer live but the risen Jesus lives in me by his Spirit. Jesus loves! He loves in me. In the past, he loved me and gave himself for me and now he continues loving me and giving himself to me as he loves in and through me. And he does so now as the Lord who reigns supreme over all.
All this means that our daily living and serving is not about us. It’s all about Jesus. We have been raised with Jesus and our lives are hidden with him in God. And now we simply get in on what he is doing as risen and reigning Lord.
When we focus on Jesus, our minds may shift first to what he once did for us in the past. He loved me and gave himself for me. He reconciled me to God by dying for me on the cross. So we may think of him more for his work in the past than for his activity with us and for us now. And with our attention on the past, we are not really enjoying his presence with us now. Nor are we anticipating his future with us in the age to come.
Jesus is alive and present with us by his Spirit. Attentive to this Jesus, we must always be asking ‘Who is Jesus for us today and what is he doing here and now? We don’t try hard to live his way asking what he would do if he were here. He has promised to be with us. And Paul says, “I no longer live but Christ lives in me,” Because he is always here, we now ask what is he now doing in me and through me for others? He is our living Lord reigning over us as he lives in us.
When we ourselves have no idea what our next step might be we recall that Jesus is right here with us and for us. So often we find ourselves unclear, uncertain, and anxious about our lives. That’s because we feel that we are left alone to work out what the next step might be. And once we know, to make the effort to do what should be done. We must rather be attentive to what Jesus is doing seeking to get in on what he is doing in and through us.
You are not alone!
The resurrection of Jesus takes place in space-time, but it isn’t merely a great event within human history. It is the good news that God has broken into history with the powers of another world. He has done so, decisively shattering the powers of darkness that ruled over us. Now Jesus reigns supreme over all other powers in heaven and earth visible and invisible. So, the resurrection is the good news that God is creating a new humanity in a new creation enjoying new freedom under the reign of the risen Lord.
Jesus is raised as the New Man who is head over God’s New Creation. However, Jesus isn’t raised simply as an individual, for we are raised with him as New Humanity in him (Eph. 2:5, 6; Col. 2: 12, 13). Now, we, as new humanity in Jesus, look towards God’s new world to come. At the same time, we know that the future has already begun. Already there is new creation: the old has gone; the new has come. The resurrection of Jesus opens an entirely new age in which the future resurrection has already happened. For with the resurrection of Jesus God’s new creation has already broken into the midst of the old.
In the Spirit, we look backward to God’s decisive act in raising Jesus as the new man. And in the Spirit, we also look towards the future horizon of Jesus coming again in ultimate triumph over all the powers of darkness. We do so in the sure expectation that when he is revealed we shall appear with him in glory as the New Humanity in New Creation.
All things were created through the Father’s Son. Furthermore, all things were created for him (Colossians 1: 16). The final goal of all things is that all will be gathered up and united in Jesus (Ephesians 1: 9-11). God’s ultimate intention is Jesus.
However, the powers of darkness invaded God’s creation so that all things came under the reign of sin and death. Under this domain of darkness, all appears to be ruined. But when the fullness of time had come, God invaded this dark realm under this dark rule. He did so through the One who is the final goal of all things – Jesus. He is the ultimate purpose and he is also the one who liberates and puts all things right.
Jesus died and in that death, he ended the reign of sin and death, and then he was raised as the new man in the new creation. The resurrection of Jesus is not simply the raising of someone from the dead but the undoing of sin and death itself in a new creation. The powers of darkness still seem to have the upper hand, but it is Jesus who now reigns supreme as he acts patiently to bring all things to their final destiny in himself. And as those raised with him, we share in his resurrection life and all he is doing to bring all things to the final end in him. Now, as we live and move in union with the risen Jesus, our eyes are fixed on the future horizon of God’s new world. The new world in which all things will be united in Jesus and in which God will make His home with us.
In the Jesus’ story we see God as human encountering people personally and dramatically. In doing so, Jesus communicates who God is and what he is like. He encounters one person revealing God as the holy one. He encounters another opening his compassionate heart. He encounters still another demonstrating God’s awesome power.
We are inclined to put these qualities into separate boxes so that they may even be in tension with one another. We put the justice of the Lord in one box and his mercy in another. We may distinguish these qualities from each other, but they must never be separated. His justice is merciful and his mercy is just. His love is holy love. His power is compassionate power. He is the One God who communicates his varied qualities as the one who IS Love. And these varied expressions of Love are opened to us through the One Lord Jesus in his one Spirit.
As we indwell the drama attentive to the One God, he encounters us personally in his Spirit. And we find ourselves standing in the presence of this living Lord. In this way, he opens himself to us in all the richness of his own personal qualities in ongoing personal encounters. So to know him is to know him again and again in ever new ways. For each encounter in the Spirit is new in its own way. And he encounters us again and again in the wealth of his ways simply because he wants to be with us opening himself to us .
God wants to make himself known to us as he is within himself. And he shows us who he is through an unfolding drama. That means we don’t try to grasp who God is by trying to get our heads around abstract ideas about the Perfect Being. We focus on what God does within his unfolding Drama. As we are attentive to God’s personal and dynamic action, we see something of who he is within his own inner life.
Dramatically, the Father sent his own Son as the lowly servant. The Son came in deep humility making himself nothing as he served his Father in the power of the Spirit even to death on the cross. And as he did so, he was always the Father’s delight, his beloved Son with whom he is well pleased. In the lowly Son, God reconciled the alienated world to himself. And having accomplished this reconciliation through his Son God brings it to completion in us by His Spirit. So now, through the Son and by the Spirit we enjoy real togetherness with our Father.
Dramatically, the Father raised Jesus exalting him as the Son of God in power. As exalted Son, Jesus received from the Father the promised Spirit pouring out that same Spirit on us so that we might participate in the drama. We don’t look at the drama as an audience merely to be entertained. No! We actually take part in the drama. The Spirit brings us inside the Triune Life so that we share in the Son’s relationship with his Father in the Spirit and become real players in the ongoing drama as partners with God in mission.
The Triune God is a communion of joyful love. Within this communion there is a purpose that the three share in together. The purpose is to include others within the communion. The three want others to share in the joyful communication within the communion of love. This purpose is worked out in a great drama that reaches its goal in the new creation with God and humanity together in God’s new world.
We don’t just look at the unfolding drama like an audience at the theatre. No! The Triune God of the drama brings us into the drama for the sake of communion. He wants us to enjoy ongoing communion with him within the drama.
This begins for us as the Living Word speaks to us personally through the drama portrayed in the written word. As the Living Word speaks to us, we respond with the Yes of faith. This is itself drama. Your experience of it may not have felt so dramatic, but the communication that brought you to faith was dramatic. And it was part of the ongoing Triune Drama today. In this way, we participate in the great drama of Father, Son and Spirit.
But this is only the start. The Living Word continues to encounter us personally today through the drama portrayed in the written word. As we indwell the drama, the Living Word shows us more and more of the Triune God himself so that we might grow in our communion with him. This ongoing encounter with the Living Word is a big part of the ongoing drama.