Dean's List: Jesus Ain't Done Yet
Aaron T. Fenker
Jesus ain't done yet. He's not. Sometimes we think He is, though. We think: Jesus died, Jesus rose, and Jesus ascended. Done deal. Work completed. He does say, "It is finished" on the Cross, after all. With that comes this follow up thought: Now it's your turn. Jesus did His thing, and now He expects you to do your part: live out the plan He has for you, get your life in order, get your sins under control, get better, get holier, do more.
May the Force Be With You?
Sometimes we add churchy words to help us talk that way even more, to make it sound more Christian-y, and it's true that lots of Christians speak this way. Words like "power" and "grace" come up quite a bit. You end up being talked about like the battery that's in your smartphone. You need to be recharged, have more grace put into you. As if you need some more spiritual go-juice, or a shot of "the force" (the Spirit), treating Him like nothing other than an energy source that you need to keep yourself going on the path of the Christian life.
But that's not who the Holy Spirit is. He's not some force or energy. He's God Himself, and He's at work, just like Jesus is. The Holy Spirit's at work for you. That's why Jesus sends Him to you. And what sort of working does the Spirit do? Well, He delivers Jesus and His salvation to you. Jesus repeats this again and again in John 15:26 and 16:8,13,15.
The Holy Spirit at Work
You see, Jesus isn't done. Yes, He accomplished your salvation by His birth, death, resurrection, and ascension, but He's still working for your sake right now. He not only sends the Spirit, but He's at work, too. That's what Luke tells us at the start of the book of Acts, the second volume in his series. (It's also hinted at in the final words of Mark 16:20.) Luke says, "In my first book, O Theophilus, I wrote of all that Jesus began to do and to teach" (Acts 1:1).
Where's the Lord’s doing and teaching? "Go, make disciples of all nations by baptizing them into the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to cherish all that I've commanded you, and look, I'm with you always even until the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20). You're baptized. There Jesus worked on you to make you His disciple, that is, He saved you (1 Peter 3:21). Jesus still does that for you now through the Word—the Spirit does, too.
The Spirit is in the water and Word of Baptism. He shares in the Name, and Baptism is the washing of rebirth from above (Titus 3:5; John 3:3). He's in the Word, too. He caused it to be written down for you (2 Timothy 3:15). I don't have nearly the room here to talk about all the other Words and Gifts of Jesus that the Spirit and Jesus work through now: preaching of repentance and forgiveness, the forgiveness you speak to others, the Absolution your pastor speaks to you, and the Supper of Jesus' Body and Blood. Needless to say, His Gifts are showered upon us in abundance.
The Trinity for You
But Jesus ain't done yet. Neither is the Holy Spirit. In fact, neither is God the Father! The Triune God has caught you up into His plan—His plan to save you, to make you His child, His brother, His holy one. He wants you to be His, so much so that the Son died for you! But there are more gifts from the Lord for you. He's given you the gift of being His tool, His instrument for the blessing and love and care of others. He works not just for you but through you!
"God is at work in you both to will and to do according to His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). For you really are "God’s work, created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand." What's the result of His creating, of His preparing beforehand? What's the result of your being God's work, His baptized-in-Christ child? We walk in those results (Ephesians 2:10). As the Lord promises, I will gift My Spirit among you, and I am working this: that you will walk in my rubrics, guard My judgments, and do them (Ezekiel 36:27).
You, for Others
You're in the particular place you are, right now, with all the people that are around you, as a gift from God. It's His gift to you as He gifts you to others. He's chosen you (yes, you!) from before the foundation of the world in His Son, Jesus. He's chosen you (yes, you!) to be His child and co-heir with His Son and a new creation in Holy Baptism. He's chosen you (yes, you!) to be His instrument for the sake of those He's given to you.
That's your baptismal vocation or calling from God. It doesn't matter if you're a parent, spouse, child, sibling, boss, worker, citizen, student, teacher, friend, or enemy. It doesn't matter if you're some of those things or all of those things. God is using you—what a gift! You're the gift! From the foundation of the world God had you planned out, not only your salvation from sin, death, and the power of the devil, but also the love you'd show the people you see everyday. He gave you to be the hands serving them, the voice speaking Jesus' forgiveness, the shoulder to cry on, the back to put into the work needing to be accomplished.
God made you just the way you are, with all your talents and quirks, so that He would have a hand-picked instrument in place for the loving, serving, and good-working to take place. In fact, He's given you your time, place, and people for the same reason! And in His sight, you're just what He created you to be: holy, spotless, pure, without blemish. This isn't because of what you do, but because of what His Son did for you on Calvary and Easter. You are His—you're baptized!
Jesus ain't done with you yet. Neither is the Holy Spirit. Neither is your heavenly Father. Jesus died and rose for you. He's baptized you and continues to work on you through His Word and Gifts. The Holy Spirit does, too! As you move throughout your life, your heavenly Father is using you as His baptized child to love, serve, and care for those around you. He's doing it through you!
Any talk of power makes it all about you, rather than God for you and God through you. Your flesh loves that. Repent of that. Repent of your working. You are forgiven. You are baptized. You are in Christ. The Spirit is yours. Jesus' Father is your Father. All are His gifts to you. He makes you holy, so that you would be holy for others. That's His gift to you as you are His Gift to others, working His gifting to others through you.
Now, the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, He will also do it (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
Rev. Aaron T. Fenker is the pastor of Bethlehem and Immanuel Lutheran churches in Bremen, Kansas. He also is the Dean of Theology for Higher Things.
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