What did Jesus do? Space here does not allow me to answer this question in depth. While there is much, much more we can say, after a quick look at the Gospels, we can see that Jesus intended to: (1) usher in the Kingdom of God; (2) bear witness to the truth; (3) fulfill Old Testament prophecies and promises; (4) seek and save the lost; and (5) bring restoration.
What Did Jesus Do During His Earthly Ministry?
What Jesus intended to do he actually accomplished. These things are the results of his earthly ministry. I examine each point with various texts from the Gospels below.
Jesus Ushered in the Kingdom of God
First, Jesus ushered in the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is not less than heaven, but it is not just heaven. The Kingdom of God is God’s rule and reign over creation. Wherever God’s reign and rule are present, there is the Kingdom of God. As it has been pointed out by many, this means that New Covenant believers live in the tension of the “already” but “not yet.”
The “already” means the Kingdom has come. Jesus makes this clear when he tells certain Pharisees that the “kingdom is in the midst of you” (Luke 17:21). During his earthly ministry, Jesus inaugurated God’s Kingdom, which includes various features such as preaching and teaching, healings, disciple-making, and restoration (Mark 1: 36; Matt. 4: 23; Mark 3:13).
Nevertheless, the Kingdom of God is also “not yet.” It’s not yet because of sin. The Kingdom of God, in other words, will be fully realized in the New Heavens and New Earth – where there will be no more sin or death, and all things will be made new.
Jesus Bore Witness to the Truth
Second, Jesus bore witness to the truth. He literally says this on one occasion, “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37).
We are told from Jesus that he came to preach when he says, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for this is why I came out” (Luke 1:38). Jesus is the truth (John 14:6), and he came to bring the truth to God’s people in which he bears witness about his father, about himself, and the Old Testament Scriptures. Jesus’ actions reveal his intentions. And through his actions of studying the Old Testament, preaching the gospel, and training others in the truth, Jesus shows that he intended to bear witness to the truth and bring the truth to God’s people, who have been waiting hundreds of years for the Messiah.
Jesus Fulfilled Old Testament Prophecies
Third, Jesus fulfilled OT prophecies. If Jesus did not intend to fulfill certain OT prophecies, then how can we trust the reliability of the Bible? The Bible is filled with prophecies! By definition, that means that they must come true. If they don’t, they’re wrong and we can no longer trust the Bible. But through his perfect life, death, and resurrection, Jesus fulfills all of the prophecies written about him. Some include being born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; fulfilled in Matt. 1:22-23), being born from the line of Abraham (Genesis 12:3; fulfilled in Matt. 1:1), being betrayed, (Psalm 41:9; fulfilled in Luke 22:47-48, among other places) and so on.
In living up to his messianic role, part of Jesus did was to fulfill what was promised –namely, all of the OT prophecies spoken about him.
Jesus Came to Seek and Save the Lost
Fourth, Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He makes this clear when he says, “For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). By using the word “seek,” Jesus shows his heart to reach people who yet do not know him. He often associates with the outcasts, the lonely, the marginalized, the ones who the Pharisees and Sadducees did not like.
By using the word “save,” Jesus shows his power over creation. The Father is the one who chooses who to be saved, and Jesus says that not one person can come to him unless his father compels them to (John 6:44). And though the Father is the one who brings election, Jesus’ atonement is also what makes salvation possible. He has the ability to save. He came to bring redemption, a theme that is consistent with Scripture. In fact, the Bible is filled with redemption stories.
In the Old Testament, God rescued the Israelites from the wickedness of the Egyptians. This is perhaps the biggest example of redemption in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, however, Jesus Christ’s perfect life, death, and resurrection is the most prominent example of redemption. This redemption is something he wants others to experience, which is why he commands his disciples to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations . . .” (Matt. 28:19). Jesus came to save sinners.
Jesus Brought Restoration
Fifth, Jesus brought restoration. The intertestamental period of about 400 years kept God’s people waiting. To restore, by definition, means to fix what was broken. Things have not been the same since Adam and Eve rebelled in the Garden of Eden. Since then, sin has affected all of creation – humans, nature, animals, etc. We are painfully reminded of this with events like the racist acts in Charlottesville, Hurricane Harvey, and the mass shooting in Las Vegas. Right now, thing are not the way that they should be. But one day, that will change.
God promises a messiah repeatedly in the OT, and he finally comes in the person and work of Jesus Christ, although he did not come as they expected him to. He came humbly, riding on a donkey. And when he came, he started the restoration process of which he will finish when he comes back. When Christ comes back, all things will be restored as God originally intended them to be. Jesus came to bring restoration.
So what did Jesus do during his earthly ministry? He came to reveal (himself), redeem (God’s elect), and restore (the affects of sin). He also came to fulfill Old Testament prophecies written about him and to bear witness to the truth. His intentions reveal his actions, and we can find these truths from reading the Gospels. What an amazing Savior we have.
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