There’s a lovely little story about a skydiver who drifted over a hundred miles off course and landed in a dense forest. Strung up in the tree, tangled, and terrified that the night was fast approaching, he began to yell out for help. After a few minutes, a man who was out for a walk chanced upon the skydiver.
“Hello! I need help! Where am I?” called the man in the tree.
“You’re stuck in a tree, with no way out. You’re surrounded by a forest, and it’s getting dark,” the other man replied.
“Of all my luck,” said the skydiver to him, “I get stuck with a minister as a rescuer!”
Hearing this, the passerby wondered aloud how the distressed man knew his occupation as a religious teacher. “Well—I just assumed you must be a minister, as what you’ve said is both utterly true, and absolutely useless in helping me.”
When this story is told to professional ministers, they usually get a chuckle out of it—in part because they can detect the grain of truth it holds. So much of our conversations about spiritual things, while perhaps good and even spot on, are nearly devoid of relevant impact. It’s not only Christianity that gets targeted by this critique—most academic or philosophical movements struggle to reach us where we really live.
One of the greatest concerns I have for the “good news” today is that we often present a gospel that is more “true” than “useful.” This is never more true than when we’re considering the subject and actor of our entire faith: Jesus Christ.
Think about it: The story is familiar to all Christians. The Gospels introduce us to the earthly ministry of Jesus. He was born in Bethlehem. He grew up in the ill-starred town of Nazareth, where He labored as an artisan. Around age thirty He was baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist, and He began His ministry.
Interestingly, Jesus’ ministry lasted less than four years. He was crucified outside the city of Jerusalem, rose again from the dead three days later, and spent forty days on earth in His resurrected state. He then ascended into heaven, taking His seat at the right hand of God the Father.
In our book Jesus: A Theography, Leonard Sweet and I retold the incredible story of Jesus’ earthly ministry, using all the biblical material from Genesis to Revelation. We also discussed in some detail His preexistent state before creation and His promised second coming at the end of the age.
To my knowledge, few books have been dedicated to exploring the present-day ministry of Jesus. By “present-day ministry,” I’m referring to what Jesus has been doing from His ascension until His second coming.
Herein lies the aim of this book. It’s an exploration into the present-day ministry of Christ. And it seeks to answer the question, what is Jesus Christ doing right now, and how is His present-day ministry useful to me?
As we reflect back on the Lord’s earthly ministry, the following aspects stand out:
He preached the gospel of the kingdom.
He revealed His Father.
He healed the sick.
He performed miracles.
He cast out demons.
He fed the poor.
He befriended sinners.
He rebuked the religious.
He trained and sent disciples.
He went to the cross and dealt with the effects of the fall.
He rose again from the dead, ushering in the new creation and becoming Lord of the world.
The Lord then ascended into heaven to take His place of authority and power. Yet Jesus Christ isn’t sitting at the Father’s right hand passively waiting to return to planet Earth. No, He is still active today. And “the Man in the glory” has a very specific ministry.
Concerning His personality, plan, and purpose, Jesus is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). Concerning His ministry, however, it has changed somewhat from “the days of His flesh” (Heb. 5:7).
In this book we will explore the different aspects of the present-day ministry of Christ. We will find out what Jesus is doing now and its relevance to you and me.
Yesterday in Hebrews 13:8 has in view Christ’s ministry before creation as well as His earthly ministry. Today has in view His present-day ministry. Forever has in view His ministry that moves into eternity.
Our focus in this book will be upon Jesus Christ’s ministry today. Or to put it succinctly, Jesus now.
Let’s begin …
From Jesus Now by Frank Viola Author