I must work the works of Him that sent Me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work,” expressed His priority, as God’s perfect Servant, to perform the works His Father sent Him to complete.
Performing the Works of the Father
In John 4, the disciples implored the Lord Jesus to eat, that He might be sustained bodily. In response, He spoke of sustenance, of which they did not know, specifically, “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work” (John 4:34). As the sent One, the accomplishing of the will of His Father and the completion of the Father’s work were the source of spiritual nourishment for His soul.
Further, as the Son Who ever dwelt in the Father’s bosom, there could be nothing between the Father’s will and His own will, and the Father’s work must equally be His own priority. This is seen in John 5; in response to healing the man at the pool, the Jews persecuted the Lord and sought to slay Him. His answer was to declare that He was a divine colaborer in the work of His Father: “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work” (John 5:17). In the following discourse with those Jews, the Lord elaborates on His coequality and unity of purpose with the Father, declaring further His priority to complete the works of His Father, “for the works which the Father hath given Me to finish (to perfect), the same works that I do, bear witness of Me, that the Father hath sent Me” (John 5:36).
In John 9:4, the Lord Jesus particularly expresses the urgency He felt in completing the works of His Father: “I must work … while it is day.” This work included a declaration of the Person of the Father to men, and that required men having their eyes opened to Who He was. This is particularly seen in John 9. The man who was born blind not only received physical sight, but also was brought to an increasing appreciation of Who had wrought this unprecedented miracle.
The revelation of the Person of Christ in the passage can be equated to the coverings of the Old Testament tabernacle in the wilderness. At first, when asked how his eyes were opened he said, “A man that is called Jesus made clay and anointed mine eyes” (v11). He saw only the outer badgers’ skins. By verse 31 we find, “if any man be a worshiper of God, and doeth His will, him He heareth.” The appreciation now is of the ram’s skin, the devotion and consecration of One Who delighted to do God’s will. When the Lord reveals Himself as the Son of God, the man says “Lord, I believe. And he worshiped Him” (v 38). The man is now appreciating the blue, the purple, the scarlet, and the fine linen of the perfections and glories of Christ, the Son of God.
No Rest until the Father’s Work is Accomplished
The Gospels declare a restlessness for our Lord until He finished the Father’s work. After coming down from the Mount of Transfiguration, and having “stedfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51), He says, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay (bow) His head” (Luke 9:58). The Father’s work is such a priority that He will not rest day or night until it is accomplished.
We can appreciate something of the relief for God’s Son in being able to pray to His Father, “I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do” (John 17:4). He is in Spirit beyond Calvary, contemplating His imminent glorification beside the Father, and there is satisfaction that He has discharged the mission that He was sent to do.
At the cross, after the hours of darkness, He cries “Finished” (accomplished), and He “bowed His head” (John 19:30), prior to delivering over His Spirit to the Father. This is not the head drooping uncontrollably in the weakness of death, but the Lord deliberately placed His head in a position of rest. The Father’s work had been the priority for Him throughout His service; He had worked tirelessly day and night, ever busy and urgent. Now in John 19, it is all fulfilled, and in holy, majestic dignity, our Savior bowed His head in a place of rest.
Whose Work is our Priority?
Our Lord’s example should cause all believers to consider their priorities. Paul tells the Corinthians “we are laborers together of God” (1Cor 3:9), and the passage reminds us of a day when our work will be divinely assessed. We tend to do for God what we find convenient; but Christ’s resolve was to accomplish all that was written concerning Him, and to finish His Father’s work. Every believer has a work given to fulfill, a purpose for our life, a mission that the Father has committed to us. We must have desires like our Lord to fully accomplish that work in our life here on earth, and to do so with equivalent urgency, “while it is day” (John 9:4). This is presently our day of opportunity to serve and to seek to bring glory to God here on earth; in doing so we need to be “redeeming the time” (Eph 5:16).
Some have looked back at the end of life’s journey with regrets, and, perhaps, even with shame. This was not so for the apostle; “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2Tim 4:7). Paul was one who, like his Lord, finished the work given to him; for such there will be the Lord’s commendation “Well done, good and faithful servant … enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matt 25:23).