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God’s Work

"My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working."

                                                                                           John 5:17


With this explanation, Jesus indicated that he knew something about God that his critics didn’t.  He knew that God was working, but more importantly, he knew what God’s work was.

The issue was that he had healed someone on the Sabbath, telling the man to pick up his mat and go home.  Carrying the mat constituted work, which violated the Sabbath.  Some of my Jewish friends tell me that they have grandmothers, who to this day, will tear off toilet paper sections, making a small stack, before the Sabbath, so that they will not violate the Sabbath by doing the work of tearing off needed paper.  I don’t share that in disrespect, but as an illustration of how important keeping that day is to some.

Jesus’ actions were incomprehensible to his critics because they did not know what the work of God is.


What is God’s work?


The Bible teaches that God’s first great work is creation.  But, he finished that.  Theologians talk about his work in preserving, sustaining and providing for what he has created.  But, what was the work of God that Jesus was doing?  That got him in so much trouble.

One biblical word that describes the current work of God is ‘redemption.’  Restoring his people, recovering that which was lost, rescuing those taken captive.   Basically, undoing the work of sin, the work of evil.

God is often called a ‘Redeemer’, especially in Isaiah and the Psalms.  Moses’ first conversation with God was with God as a Redeemer.  People who have wanted to know God, but have honestly recognized the result of evil and sin have always cried out to God, “Redeem us.”  That is, bring your gracious kingdom and rule to everything that is broken.

The critics didn’t know what they most needed to know about God:  that he is a Redeemer, that his work is redemption.  Consequently, they couldn’t do the work of God, but worse, they couldn’t’ be the work of God.

They refused to admit that their lives needed redemption.  They refused to accept how badly they needed God.

That sounds way too familiar.   It’s far too easy to develop a self-satisfied life, even with the help of our spiritual practices and not know how much we need redemption.  Christians, tend to reduce redemption to getting their heaven-ticket stamped by the forgiveness of their sins, not realizing that God’s redeeming work is ongoing, even required because of every broken thing in our lives.

Is there an area in your life that does not look like God’s leading it, transforming it?  A perfect occasion for redemption.

It’s huge to ask how do we join Jesus in doing the work of God.  But, first, give yourself to the work of God.  How has God redeemed you already?  Where does his work of redemption need to take over in your life?


I’m discovering that “Redeem this,” is a pretty good prayer, whatever the this is.


Go ahead.  Be the work of God.  I dare you.