Do you ever wonder what Jesus is doing right now? We spend a lot of our energy telling the ancient story of what he’s done for us. We invite others into our glorious hope and confident expectation of what he will do for us. But what about this moment? What is Jesus doing today?
The writer to the Hebrews tells us that Jesus, having finished his work on the cross, rose from the dead and ascended to heaven. The writer also tells us (four times) that Jesus is presently sitting down at the Father’s right hand (Heb. 1:3, 1:13, 8:1, 10:12). Now, when I sit down having finished my work, it’s more often than not for a bit of peace and quiet or rest. Frankly, it’s to do very little. But Jesus is not sitting on the throne with little to do.
So what is Jesus doing now? And perhaps, more importantly, why does it matter to church planters?
I recently read Patrick Schreiner’s excellent book on the ascension while preparing for a sermon on Acts 1. I’m convinced of its huge value, both for the church to regain a grasp of an oft-forgotten but vital doctrine and to encourage church planters as they seek to minister faithfully in challenging times. Following Schreiner’s structure, this article is the first in a three-part series that focuses on what Jesus is doing presently. We’ll consider Christ’s ongoing office of prophet, priest, and king and how this shapes our church-planting endeavors.
The Prophetic Ministry of Christ
From the first page of the Bible, we see that our God loves to speak; and when he speaks, things happen. Worlds are created, people are made, lives are transformed, cultures are changed, and churches are planted. And even though Jesus, God’s prophet par excellence, has now ascended to heaven and sat down next to the Father, he hasn’t stopped speaking.Our comfort comes through our unshakeable confidence in Christ. It’s not about you (or me) and how “professional” it all feels on any given Sunday. Click To Tweet
Just as he spoke God’s Word during his earthly life, never leaving people the same, he continues his prophetic work through the church. How? Through people like you and me. People who have been equipped by his Spirit to open our mouths and speak biblical, life-changing truth. People who have been empowered to share the news of Jesus’s life, death, resurrection, ascension, and return. And when God speaks through his people, things happen. For church planters, this is both a comfort and a challenge.
A Church Planter’s Comfort
Christ’s prophetic ministry through his church comforts church planters when we feel small and fragile. When our ministries feel chaotic and the evidence of our incompetence is undeniable. Our comfort comes through our unshakeable confidence in Christ. It’s not about you (or me) and how “professional” it all feels on any given Sunday. It’s not about how big or impressive our gatherings are, how much momentum we think we have, or how many churches we’ve planted.
Our comfort is in knowing that Jesus—the ascended, seated prophet—is not idly sitting on his heavenly throne. In our weakness, in our preaching to the gathered saints (no matter how few), the risen Savior speaks. He equips us for proclamation by his Holy Spirit. Jesus draws sinners to himself through his proclaimed Word. And in this, we take comfort. We boldly and eagerly serve as proclaimers of the best news.
A Church Planter’s Challenge
While the ongoing prophetic ministry of Jesus provides great comfort to church planters, it also proves challenging. There are a million and one tasks we might try to squeeze into each week. Our ministry to-do list can overtake us—people to visit, emails to answer, events to organize, venues to secure, supplies to buy, teams to lead, etc. But our ascended, seated prophet who builds his church would have us remember to build it all upon him and his Word.
When we set off each day to tackle our tasks, let’s remember our charge: to be proclamation people first and foremost. And let us not just be people who speak, but people who help others speak. After all, equipped by his Spirit, all God’s people are prophets (Acts 1:17).Jesus draws sinners to himself through his proclaimed Word. And in this, we take comfort. We boldly and eagerly serve as proclaimers of the best news. Click To Tweet
Jesus’s ascension ignited the age of mission. He’s now seated on the throne, and the news about his authority needs to be shared to the “ends of the earth” (Matt. 28:16–20; Acts 1:8). And since Jesus is not physically here anymore, he empowers us by his Spirit and sends us to both neighbors and nations to speak of and for him. As God’s Word goes out, we pray it bears fruit. We pray lives are changed and churches are planted so that “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14).
So what is Jesus doing now? Well, he’s continuing his work as a prophet, speaking through his Spirit-empowered people to grow his church in number and maturity. What a privilege it is to proclaim the good news of Jesus, who gave himself to set sinners free.