"I finish my course." (Jesus, Luke 13:32)
"But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God." (Paul, Acts 20:24)
That isn't an accidental connection, that bolded phrase above. The word behind it means to complete, to fulfill, to satisfy one's life's work or assignment before dying. Luke wrote both passages, and he wants us to see the connection between the King and his disciple.
Jesus was given a mission by his Father - to testify to and bring about the good news of the kingdom of God. For him that meant satisfying his life's work by dying, in Jerusalem. He would not stop testifying about the good news despite threats against his life (Luke 13:31-33) because he was driven by love for his people, and the nations (Luke 13:34-35).
As his disciple, Paul was no different. He cared not for his life, he cared about the mission. He would not stop testifying about the good news of the kingdom of God, to the Jew and to the Greek (Acts 20:21) because he was driven by love for his people (Romans 9:1-5) and the nations (Romans 1:5)
And so it goes for those who follow Jesus today. Just like our King, just like his Apostle, we have been given a course, a mission. We too must go and proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God, despite persecution or threats on our lives, driven by love for our people and all the nations. This is our life's work (Matthew 28:18-20).
Will you satisfy your life's work before dying, by dying?
I pray that I, and you, will have the courage and love, like our King, to do so.
We thank you
for those who have fought the good fight,
who have finished the race,
who have kept the faith.
Now, Lord, my heart is full
as I see those who have stepped forward to say,
“We will take their place.”
The harvest is plentiful,
but the workers are few.
So thank you for answering our prayers
to raise up more laborers for the harvest field.
We ask, Lord,
that You give them everything they need for what lies ahead.
When they are called to step out of their comfort zone, give them the faith of Abraham.
When they face temptation, give them the integrity of Joseph.
When they face hard decisions, give them the wisdom of Solomon.
When their hearts are filled with fear, give them the courage of Esther.
Lord, they will face trials, so give them the perseverance of Job.
When life gets busy and they are surrounded by distractions,
sit them at your feet and give them the listening ears of Mary.
Wake them up every morning with the missionary urgency of Paul,
and through it all, above all, give them the heart of Christ.
And now, oh Lord, send them out.
Go with them, we ask,
as they go to Kansas and Kentucky,
to Kenya and Cambodia,
to the four corners of the earth.
May they go with a Bible in one hand
and a basin and towel in the other,
with your grace and truth.
May they go with the gospel on their lips,
the church at their side,
and the power of the Holy Spirit coursing through their veins.
Go with them
because we know there are evil forces arrayed against them.
March them into the very heart of Satan’s territory.
Use them as the tip of your spear,
to pierce the darkness until it bleeds light.
May the gates of hell crumble before them.
may the gospel be preached
and sin confronted
and sinners loved
and souls saved
and marriages mended
and children taught
and the grieving comforted
and the lonely welcomed
and the hungry fed
and the wounded healed
and communities transformed
and the nations reached with the good news of Jesus Christ.
Use them mightily for Your glory
and for the world’s good,
and keep them faithful until the day they hear You say, “Well done.”
We pray these things in the name of Jesus. Amen.
(Prayer written by Mike Proctor, HT, via the blog of Trevin Wax)