Is there any escape from this pattern of living? The answer lies in the life of our Lord. On the night before He died, Jesus made an astonishing claim. In the great prayer of John 17 He said, “ I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do” (verse 4).
How could Jesus use the word “finished”? His three-year ministry seemed all too short. A prostitute at Simon’s banquet had found forgiveness and a new life, but many others still walked the street without forgiveness and a new life. For every ten withered muscles that had flexed into health, a hundred remained impotent. Yet on that last night, with many useful tasks undone and urgent human needs unmet, the Lord had peace; He knew He had finished God’s work.
The Gospel records show that Jesus worked hard. After describing a busy day Mark writes, “That evening at sundown, they brought to Him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered about the door. And He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons” (1:32-34).
On another occasion the demand of the ill and maimed caused Him to miss supper and to work so late that His family thought He was beside Himself (Mark 3:21). One day after a strenuous teaching session, Jesus and His disciples went out in a boat. Even a storm didn’t awaken Him (Mark 4:37-38). What a picture of exhaustion.
Yet His life was never feverish; He had time for people. He could spend hours talking to one person, such as the Samaritan women at the well. His life showed a wonderful balance, a sense of timing. When His brothers wanted Him to go to Judea, He replied, “My time has not yet come” (John 7:6). Jesus did not ruin His gifts by haste. In The Discipline and Culture of the Spiritual Life, A.E. Whiteham observes; “Here in this Man is adequate purpose…inward rest, that gives an air of leisure to His crowded life: above all there is in this Man a secret and a power of dealing with the waste-products of life, the waste of pain, disappointment, enmity, death—turning to divine uses the abuses of man, transforming arid places of pain to fruitfulness, triumphing at last in death and making a short life of thirty years or so, abruptly cut off, to be a ‘finished’ life. We cannot admire the poise and beauty of this human life, and then ignore the things that made it.”
Copyright 1967 by Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. Reprinted by permission of InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Il 60515