And with Jesus’ last cry, redemptive history reached a watershed. The apostle John added that Jesus said, “It is finished” (Jn 19:30). Jesus had fulfilled God’s plan that the Father had “purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (Eph 1:9–10). Stewardship theologian A. C. Conrad comments:
When, in the far reaches of the past, God planned the creation of the world and man, he did so in connection with his Son, the revealed oikonomos, or steward … It is evident in this passage [in Eph 1:9–10] and others that the entire plan of the ages and scheme of redemption was in the mind of God in the far distant past … The essence and heart of God’s purpose is revealed in the redemptive work of Christ. [The kinship between God and humanity] is established in the presence of his Son upon the earth and fully sealed through his sacrificial death upon the cross.
In his death Jesus became the great high priest, fulfilling all the requirements of the old law, interceding between God and humans “once for all when he offered himself” (Heb 7:27). Says stewardship theologian T. A. Kantonen (1900–1993):
He is the High Priest who laid down his life on the altar of the Cross to redeem us from sin and death. He defines the central purpose of his mission thus: “[The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many]” [Mt 20:28]. Redemption presupposes that man is a sinner and as such he is cut off from the power to carry out the tasks growing out of that son ship.
Kantonen goes on to explain the ramifications of Jesus’ redemptive work for stewardship:
Those who accept the gospel of forgiveness in faith receive the power to become not only God’s trustees but also his children. The motive for their action is grateful love; the more livingly we know him who loved us and gave himself for us the more completely we give ourselves to him. And because genuine love is “[not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth]” (1Jn 3:18), we shoulder the responsibilities of Christian stewardship.
In the death of Christ on the cross, not only humanity, but indeed all creation is set free from bondage (see Ro 8:20–23); Christ’s redemptive work establishes his victory over all the powers in this world opposed to his purposes. These are at work in individual sinners and in the world’s systems to produce injustice, lawlessness, cruelty, faithlessness, greed, jealousy and death. God is liberating his people by redeeming them and his creation from individual sins and from the dominion of darkness (see Col 1:19–20).
Think About It
How was the passion of Jesus a part of God’s plan even before creation?
In what ways was Jesus a steward?
What is your response to Jesus’ redemptive and liberating work?
Pray About It
Lord, thank you for your perfect plan for the world and for me.