I was struck this morning by Jesus’ words in John 17:4 – ‘I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do’.
I got to thinking about Jesus’ work – the job that God gave him to do. On the one hand, it was a grand and glorious job – the redemption of the world. No greater job in the universe! The most important, most significant job in the history of the world! If Jesus had refused his mission, the course of history would have been very, very different. But he answered the call, accepted his mission, and became the Saviour of the world. And he did it gladly – he was a man characterised by joy. What an exciting mission he had! What job fulfilment there would have been – or would there?
What did the job entail? What was his job description? What did a typical day look like for Jesus as he pursued his mission?
He didn’t have many perks as we would think of them – he actually had ‘nowhere to lay his head’, often eating in the homes of friends and sometimes sleeping outdoors. He had to borrow a coin and after he died, he was buried in a borrowed tomb.
His family didn’t understand his mission – they thought he was ‘out of his mind’. He couldn’t rely on their support. They just didn’t ‘get it’.
His friends and neighbours criticised him – who did he think he was? he was just the carpenter’s son from Nazareth. He should come back home!
Ah! But what of those he came to serve? Surely they understood? They must have accepted him with open arms and been so grateful for the sacrifice he had made for them? No, they rejected him and finally killed him. They didn’t want what he offered them – and he couldn’t give them what they wanted.
Some tried to redefine his mission for him – surely the Messiah would come to conquer, to take his kingdom by force? They didn’t like how he did his job and they wanted him to do it differently.
Well then, what about the chosen few – the Twelve? Those he gathered around him to train, to disciple, to share his heart with? They must have been reading off the same page. No, they squabbled among themselves for the most important position in the team – and one of them tried to dissuade Jesus from fulfilling his mission. Not the cross, Lord!
Even the select 3 (Peter, James and John) disappointed him. He did not even have 3 friends he could count on, who would be with him in his hour of greatest need. They fell asleep in Gethsemane and Peter denied him at the end – denied all knowledge of him.
Not the kind of job with a lot of job fulfilment built in to it! Not much job satisfaction there.
Yet it was enough for Jesus to be able to say at the end ”I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do”.
Why should we, his servants, want more than that? What if we don’t have many perks? what if our families don’t understand? what if those we serve try to tell us how to do our job? what if those we are training don’t get it? what if we don’t have a soul mate to count on?
The job fulfilment the world seeks is not what God has promised us. All he asks is that we do the job he has given us to do – and in the acceptance of that job, in the fulfilment of that mission, in obedience to that call, we will find our greatest joy.