The Heart of Jesus

O LORD my God, you have performed many wonders for us.
      Your plans for us are too numerous to list.
      You have no equal.
If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds,
      I would never come to the end of them.
You take no delight in sacrifices or offerings.
      Now that you have made me listen, I finally understand—
      you don’t require burnt offerings or sin offerings.
Then I said, “Look, I have come.
      As is written about me in the Scriptures:
I take joy in doing your will, my God,
      for your instructions are written on my heart.”
I have told all your people about your justice.
      I have not been afraid to speak out,
      as you, O LORD, well know.
I have not kept the good news of your justice hidden in my heart;
      I have talked about your faithfulness and saving power.
I have told everyone in the great assembly
      of your unfailing love and faithfulness. (Psalm 40:5–10 NLT)

For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. That is why, when Christ came into the world, he said to God,

      “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings.
            But you have given me a body to offer.
      You were not pleased with burnt offerings
           or other offerings for sin.
      Then I said, ‘Look, I have come to do your will, O God—
           as is written about me in the Scriptures.’”

First, Christ said, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings or burnt offerings or other offerings for sin, nor were you pleased with them” (though they are required by the law of Moses). Then he said, “Look, I have come to do your will.” He cancels the first covenant in order to put the second into effect. For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time. (Hebrews 10:4–10)

When the disciples first encountered Jesus, it was through the words, “Follow me.” The words and the person of Jesus must have been utterly compelling. Why else would they have dropped everything they knew, including their work and families, in order to follow him?

From that moment on, everything the disciples had previously experienced would have been brought into question. Over the next three years, their beliefs, their sin, their worship, and their convictions and religious teaching would be laid bare before them in an effort to understand the heart of God, the new covenant, and the new Kingdom.

By the end of their three years together, the tone of the final conversations with Jesus changed. His words shifted from “Follow me” to “Abide in me.” Jesus had invited them not only into his ministry and blessed them with a shared calling, but he also brought everything down to one thing – to do the will of his Father. Jesus knew they would not be able to do this without abiding in him and keeping in close proximity with him through the Holy Spirit.

As the disciples watched how Jesus lived, how he loved, how he ministered, and how he taught, it was clear the will of the Father was at the heart of who Jesus was and everything he did. All of their various upbringings that had shaped their understanding of God were shaken. No more sacrifices to appease God or other gods? No more endless rules and legalities to stay on track and in God’s favour? No more atonement for sin?

In all of their misinterpretations of the Kingdom of God and in all of their misunderstandings of who Jesus was, one thing was certain. Jesus had accomplished what he had come to do through his death and resurrection. The salvation of the world was complete, and the disciples now needed to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, carrying on his ministry of the Gospel.

The kind of people Jesus was looking for were those who would open their hearts and listen. People who would make themselves available and say, “Here I am.” People who would surrender their own will and lay it down in order to do the will of the Father. As it says in Hebrews 10, Jesus set aside the sacrifices and burnt offerings in order to establish the new covenant – a relationship with God. And because Jesus carried out the will of his Father through his own sacrifice once and for all, the rest of us have been made holy.

As God’s holy people, how does this change how we live? If we have said yes to following Jesus, are we willing to abide in him, taking on his character and living in the power of the resurrection? We are resurrection people. Do we believe that through the power of the Holy Spirit abiding in us we are have the power to carry out the will of the Father?

—Deb Judas is a member of the Forge Canada Team and a former NAB pastor.