I found The Work of Jesus a really helpful book. It explains the role, or work of Jesus by giving a summary of what the Bible says about Him.
The Work of Jesus begins with Jesus’ earthly ministry. It shows how He is identified as the Messiah by the Holy Spirit during His baptism by John. He hears God confirm His status by calling Him My Son, and there is more confirmation when the Holy Spirit descends on Him in the form of a dove. Jesus is then tempted by the devil in the wilderness. Instead of power He chooses humble, devoted service to God.
Jesus goes on to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom – the New Testament in effect. But this is a new kind of kingdom. It does not value pomp and power and wealth, like the kingdoms of Herod and Caesar. Instead it is a kingdom in which the poor, the humble and those who mourn will be blessed. It is not a kingdom whose power is imposed by force, but one which conquers by turning the other cheek.
The world is under the yoke of illness and spiritual oppression. It is controlled by abusive and selfish politicians, including the religious elite. Jesus confronts and defeats the spiritual powers, the forces of darkness that underly human sin, and that create cruelty and chaos. He carries out works of miraculous power which embody, or epitomise the nature of God’s kingdom.
Jesus brings physical and spiritual healing, has control over the elements of nature, and provides moral and spiritual teaching. The ruling powers of this world are thrown into consternation by the challenge He poses to them, and determine to get rid of him. Their opposition is strengthened by the claims he makes about His own divinity.
Finally the disciples who have accompanied Him during the time of His ministry realise the truth and acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah.
This opening chapter contains the core of the New Testament, yet its message is very contemporary. Now, as then greed and self interest arise from evil forces that oppose God and His Kingdom of love. But their physical embodiment is in fallen human beings.
Now as then corrupt and self seeking politicians exploit patriotism and nationalism to their own devilish ends. But Jesus rejected the call to be a nationalistic hero, and chose instead God’s path of compassion and care for the oppressed. There is a lesson for our times.
The Work of Jesus goes on to describe Jesus’ journey to the cross, charting His conflict with the authorities of His time. Finally He is condemned to death because of the lie that he was a nationalistic leader claiming to be a King. The penalty for blasphemy was not death, but this offence against Caesar received the death penalty.
The next chapters explore theological issues. They look at the role of the Holy Spirit in continuing Jesus’ work after his death. Though physically we carry out this task, we are doing the work of Christ.
There is a chapter on Christ our Righteousness showing that Jesus’ death did what the law could not do, and reconciled us to God. The idea of Christ’s work as our redeemer is explored in two more chapters – Christ the Conqueror, and Priest and Sacrifice. It is also central to a chapter called Worthy is the Lamb, which focuses on the book of Revelation.
The Work of Jesus concludes by looking at the presence of Jesus in the prophecies and people of the Old Testament, and at His presence in various of the letters, or epistles in the New Testament.
I recommend this book to anyone wanting a clear explanation of Jesus role in salvation and in history. It was published in 1979 as part of the I want to know series, which explores a range of different themes, including Christian Living, Salvation and The Holy Spirit. There are 12 titles in the series. This one is hard to find, so contact me, but the one on the Holy Spirit is still available second hand from Amazon.