Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 22, 1970
NUMBER 24, PAGE 6b-7a

The Unfinished Work Of Christ

Bobby Graham

In Jn. 4:34, Jesus announced his mission: "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work." The Son of God's earthly portion then was to accomplish the will of the heavenly Father: this he would do by finishing the work of salvation. Jesus further alluded to his work among men in Jn. 17:4: "I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gayest me to do." In agony that resulted from a consideration of the events that were to occur in the next few days, the Christ contemplated the end that was imminent and declared his work to be a finished work. Though his earthly task was completed, his statement is nonetheless true because God was guaranteeing the rest — he was calling things which are not as though they were. Jesus is thus referred to as the "author and the finisher of our faith." (Heb. 12:2) He not only became the work of salvation, but he also brought it to a completion.

Let us notice in this study the work that Jesus had not completed when he referred to his mission as complete.


Jesus had not yet tasted death for every man. Since he had been born of woman under the Law to redeem those who were under that Law (Gal. 4:4-5), he had not completed his principal earthly work. The cause of righteousness still had to triumph in his defeat of the serpent (Gen. 3:15), and this battle was to involve his death and his resurrection. (Heb. 2:14-15) He had yet to fulfill the prophecy of Isa. 53 by being cut off from the land of the living for the transgression of the people to whom the stroke was due. Because his Father in heaven was assuring his death, Christ spoke of it as finished.


His rising victoriously from the grave was just as certain as his death; accordingly, Jesus spoke of it as a finished work. Jehovah was planning to prolong his days (Isa. 53:10), and God's plan could not be frustrated or defeated by the whims and desires of men. According to the Old Testament writings it behooved (made it necessary for) Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day. (Lk. 24:46) Peter consequently preached the resurrection as evidence that Jesus was the exalted Son of God (Acts 2:29-32), and Paul affirmed that he was God's son with authority. (Rom. 1:4)

The Commission

Jesus used the authority that his resurrection showed him to have when he commissioned the apostles and sent them to preach the gospel. In fact, he preceded the commission in Matthew's account (28:18ff) with a claim to all heavenly and earthly authority. He then sent them forth to work under the Great Commission — to announce the facts of the gospel by preaching, to urge the commands of the gospel, and to offer the hope of the gospel by telling people of salvation and remission of sins. (Matt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15-16; Lk. 24:46-47) He also had to charge them to abide in Jerusalem until they be baptized in the Spirit, that they might preach this gospel.

Ascension — Coronation

Immediately after charging his apostles to tarry in the city, "he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight." (Acts 1:9) The risen Lord was now taking his homeward journey to be welcomed by the heavenly hosts as he entered the gates of glory to become our newly crowned king. The King of glory was coming in as conqueror of Death and him that had power over Death. (Psm. 24:7-10) Such a coronation earth has never experienced! Jesus is now at the right hand of God exalted as Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:33, 36) His inheritance has now granted him to sit at the right hand of the Majesty on high with a position superior to that of the angels. (Heb. 1:3-4)

Intercessory Work

At the same time Christ sits on the throne as our king, he also serves as our priest before God. (Zech. 6:13) As our great high priest, he has entered heaven with his own blood to atone for the sins of the race. (Heb. 6:20; 10:19-23) He accordingly serves as our advocate (defense counsel), our propitiation (covering for sin), our mediator, (I Jn. 2:1; I Tim. 2:5) He is thus obtaining for us all the benefits of his death. What a wonderful thought that God guaranteed this part of the work of Christ when Jesus called it a finished work!

Second Coming

The blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the Son of God is likewise assured by these words of Jesus. Then shall he descend from heaven with the angelic host in flaming fire to render vengeance to the unrighteous, but to the saints eternal life. At the sounding of the last trump, many shall be raised; all shall be changed. (I Cor. 15:51-52) We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (I Jn. 3:2) Those who abide in him can be confident and unashamed at his coming. (I Jn. 2:28).


The concluding phase of the work of Christ will be his rendering of judgment, for this authority has been granted unto the Son. (Jn. 5:27) This, my friend, will be the day for which all other days have been made and toward which they all will have been pointing. It is likewise the day from which all other days derive any value that they may have. It is the one day when all men who were ever born will be together in the awesome presence of God to account for their deeds. (2 Cor. 5:10) Christ's resurrection serves as God's divine assurance of judgment. (Acts 17:31)

We can see that the wonderful work of salvation spans time from eternity past to eternity future, when Christ shall have delivered the kingdom to the Father and shall have put aside all authority. (I Cor. 15:24) Let us forever appreciate the work of Christ before his death, but let us never forget the unfinished work of Christ.

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