Just the other day, I finally finished my tax return for 2020. Nearly every year my taxes remain on my list of unfinished tasks for longer than I’d like, and so I celebrated a little that this job was done!
Do you have a list of “unfinished tasks”? Most of us do, I suppose. Let’s ask ourselves: Why do those things remain undone? Many reasons may come to mind, but I suspect that many tasks in our lives remain unfinished simply because we aren’t passionate about them. I suppose it goes without saying that I’m not passionate about taxes.
When Jesus died on the cross he did so for something for which he was exceedingly passionate. “It is finished,” he cried out from the cross. He was so passionate about you and me, so passionate about all those separated from God by their sin, that he finished the job! However, there remains an unfinished task on Jesus’ list. He won salvation for all people of all nations, but the task of proclaiming that Good News to all who need it remains undone. One-third of the world’s population still has no access to the gospel, and over 7,000 people groups remain unreached.
This is an enormous, even overwhelming, unfinished task, and it is a task that he has entrusted to us. But here’s the good news: Jesus is passionate about it! Indeed, he’s doing something about it. Here’s my question: Might he also make us passionate about it? Sadly, it appears that much of the church is not.
Why was Jesus so passionate? And how can we be passionate about this? I’m sure Jesus had a multitude of reasons for his excitement about it, but I’ll share with you three reasons that I find in the words and actions of the resurrected Jesus recorded in Luke 24:36-49.
First of all, he’s alive! He died, but now he’s back from the dead! That’s why he’s so enthused about this unfinished task. He’s not just a story. He’s real. He’s victorious! He stood among his disciples and invited them into that reality. “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself,” he told them. “Touch me, and see.” He was determined to be present, engaged, and known in their lives, and he’s still doing that today. He ascended into heaven so that he would be present not only in that room, but in all the world, even in those places where they do not yet know him, that eventually they would know him.
Secondly, Jesus is passionate about the unfinished task of reaching all nations with the Good News because he knows the story. “Everything written about me… must be fulfilled,” he explained. He knows this divine story from the very beginning to the end. He knows where this is all headed, and he’s excited to invite us into it. “He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” so that they – and we – would understand why it was that he came, died, and rose again. The disciples became so passionate about this story that they gave their lives as witnesses of it. Jesus isn’t finished with the story yet; nor is he finished with us! He invites us into all that is to come!
Thirdly, Jesus is passionate about this unfinished task because he has something to give away. He made it clear to his disciples “that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name.” Jesus has a gift to give that is beyond all other gifts! That gift is forgiveness! Jesus was so passionate about forgiveness that he died for it. He is still passionate that people would be forgiven, reconciled to their Creator and to one another. He’s passionate that they would have healing and peace in their lives, not just for eternity, but for the moments, struggles and relationships of today. There is no greater gift, and if you are one who trusts in Jesus as your Savior, he has given that gift to you. It is a gift that the whole world desperately needs but knows little about. It is the only solution to the messes of our lives and the conflicts in our world. Wonderfully, Jesus has it to give, and so do we.
This takes us to our fourth and final reason why Jesus is so passionate about the unfinished task of sharing the gospel with all nations. He sees things big! He declared that forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed “to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem.” Sometimes we need to see things “small” so that we can manage them. Fortunately, however, Jesus is not so limited. He has his eyes on each and every nation and each and every person. He desires that they would know in this life what it means to have peace and healing, to be forgiven and reconciled, to be loved and to love. He sees things big!
Wonderfully, his “big” includes you, because you, too, are big to him. He’s passionate about you. Ask him to make you passionate about the nations, and someday in heaven we’ll all surround his throne to hear him say in a whole new way, “It is finished.” And then we’ll celebrate!