Doing the Work

Did Jesus leave a work for us to do? If so, What is it? Well, as we think about this question and start to look for the answer, we can begin in John 20 and see the examples that Christ has given us. Here we are looking at the time period between Christís resurrection and the Day of Pentecost, which is a fifty day time frame.

When we start to look at this, we need to keep in mind that the time period before Christís death was a time when Christ himself was on the earth in the flesh, teaching His disciples and demonstrating to them the right examples.

Letís begin by looking at John 1: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. {2} He was in the beginning with God. {3} All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made." The "Word" in this passage is referring to Jesus Christ. Letís continue in verse 14: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:1-3,14).

Jesus taught His disciples (Mark 6:34, Acts 1:1) and He told them that He must suffer many things and be killed, and after three days rise again (Mark 8:31).

Jesus set a right example for His disciples and they were to follow in His foot steps: "For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps" (1 Peter 2:21).

After Jesus was crucified on Passover (Luke 22-23) and resurrected three days and three nights later (Matthew 12:39-40), He ascended to heaven on Sunday morning, fulfilling the "wave sheaf" offering (Leviticus 23:9-14) and becoming an approved sacrifice for us to God (Ephesians 5:2).

Pentecost means fifty and the fifty day time frame between Christís resurrection and the Feast of Pentecost is calculated by beginning the count of the fifty days from the weekly Sabbath during the Days of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:4-8, Luke 22:1) and this counting always ends on a Sunday, thus Pentecost is always on a Sunday.

Now, during forty days of this fifty day time frame (Acts 1:3), after Jesusí ascension and before Pentecost, He was with His disciples from time to time (John 21:14). This time period was not only a time of rejoicing, but also a time of learning from Jesus who was the Word of God.

Christ gave them 40 days before His ascension and 10 days more before Pentecost to learn and to grow and to make this transition from being a disciple to being a full fledged apostle, who was one sent out to preach repentance and the gospel of the kingdom of God.

So, as we look at these examples, letís see one of the first lessons in verse 19 of John 20: "Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and said unto them, PEACE BE UNTO YOU." So the first thing that Jesus did was to convince the disciples that he was really alive. Well, actually, there was no question that this man standing in front of the door was alive. The question was, Was it really Jesus? Jesus did convince them of who He really was. Now here they are, a day ago they were devastated, discouraged and really sad that Jesus was dead. Their whole world had fallen apart, and now suddenly, Jesus was standing there alive in their midst and they were overjoyed.

As they continued to talk, Jesus had some instructions for them. In verse 21 Jesus said to them: "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." He was going to send them out on a mission of their own. They, at this time, didnít know the magnitude of this mission they were on, but they were going to go out and turn the world upside down. They were going to go out and preach and teach the scriptures to the world and even write some of their own. This was going to be a big undertaking. This was a job that they couldnít do on their own. They would need Godís intervention in their lives. They would need Godís Holy Spirit. They would need Christ Himself living and dwelling in them (Colossians 1:27), to motivate, to change, and to strengthen them and to help them to overcome (Romans 12:21). So as we move on, we see in verse 22 of John 20 that He breathed on them and told them to RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT. On the Feast of Pentecost the disciples were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:4). The disciples needed Godís Holy spirit to do the work that Jesus gave them to do.

Now, as we continue, we notice that Thomas was not with them at the time that Jesus came. When the others told him about Jesus, He doubted them. He said "Unless I See the nail marks in his hands and put my fingers where the nails were, and put my hands into his side, I will not believe it. So about a week later Thomas had the opportunity to do just that. Verses 26-28 gives the account of when Jesus went back to the house and confronted Thomas. So doubting Thomas became believing Thomas.

Notice verse 29 of John 20: "Jesus said unto him, Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed." So who is Jesus talking about here? Well, heís talking about people like us, the saints, the Church. None of us have actually seen Jesus in the flesh but the writers of the Bible have documented these facts and experiences for us so that we can believe.

And this is a part of the mission that Jesus gave to His disciples: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20).

So if we keep reading on we can see another example. In the first 13 verses of John 21, we see the story of some of the disciples deciding to go fishing.

They didnít do so well until Jesus came and helped them. Jesusí plan for them was not to return to the occupation of fishing, but to do the job he sent them to do, to become fishers of men (Matthew 4:19). So Jesus sat and ate with them. This was the third time that He had appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead (John 21:14).

After this is the events of how Jesus asked Peter three times, Do you love me? And Peter says, of course I do, and Jesus gives Peter three instructions: to feed my lambs, tend my sheep and to feed my sheep. Peter was being decommissioned from being a fisherman to being commissioned as a shepherd of Jesusí flock. Peter and the other apostles were to take care of Jesusí sheep which represented the Church. Peter and the other apostles were to continue the job that Jesus had begun.

So here we see a different side of the work that Jesus commissioned his followers to do. There is the work of being sent out, of going into all the world and preaching the gospel (Matthew 28:19-20), and there is the work of taking care of the lambs, taking care of the flock, the Church. We have to do both kinds of work.

After Jesus had rebuked Peter, He told Peter to: "FOLLOW ME!" (John 21:19). Jesus gives this instruction to all of His disciples: "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Matthew 16:24).

The last time that Jesus met with His disciples He gave them the following command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 1:4-5).

Jesusí last instructions to His disciples before He ascended to heaven was: "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8).

We, as the body of Christ, are to do the work of Christ, as the Father sent Jesus, so Jesus sends us. We have a work to do. We are to tell people about Jesus and the message that He delivered of the good news of the kingdom of God. We are to teach people about love, repentance, forgiveness of sin and keeping the commandments. We are to continue the work that He had begun. Jesus promised His disciples the gift of Godsí Holy Spirit which would give His people the power and strength that they would need to go into all the world to preach the gospel. And as we know, the disciples did not finish the job. They passed it on to the next generation, and the next, and so on. The work is still waiting and we have inherited it. We as the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:27), the Church of God, have the work or job of sharing the good news of the soon coming Kingdom of God. We do this individually as well as a church community.

The day of Pentecost pictures the disciples receiving Godís Holy Spirit. As Christians we already have a portion of that supernatural power from God living in us now. Because of that, thereís no need to wait, we must do the work now.