The Saving Mission of Jesus

Return to Index The Catholic Faith
Return to Level Three Topic Index
Home Page

The Father sent his only Son into our world for the salvation of the human race.  Saint John the Apostle proclaimed this saving mission of Jesus and reminds us that it was the Father's will, his plan, for his Son:  Yes, God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him may not die but may have eternal life.  God did not send the son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him (Jn 3:16-17).

Jesus and the Father

Jesus always had his mind set on the Father, whom he loved with all his heart.  He showed this deep love by faithfully doing the will of God, even if this meant suffering and hardship as in his Agony in the Garden or his death upon the Cross.

Our Lord often spoke of his oneness with the Father.  One day, after having multiplied bread for the hungry, Jesus said: "It is not to do my own will that I have come down from Heaven, but to do the will of him who sent me" (Jn 6:38).

At many other times during his life Christ revealed the intimate relationship which he enjoyed with his Father:
The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him (Jn 3:35). 
The Father loves me for this: that I lay down my life to take it up again (Jn 10:17). 
The world must know that I love the Father and do as the Father has commanded me (Jn 14:31). 
I can never be alone; the Father is with me (Jn 16:32).

We see from these words that Jesus did everything out of love for God and in obedience to his will.  Nothing which the Father asked of him was too much or too difficult, for Jesus' love knew no limits.

Prophet, Priest, and King

The Father sent Jesus to be his greatest Prophet, the teacher of God's truth.  He was also sent to be our Priest, who offered himself in sacrifice to the Father, and our King, who came to start the Kingdom of God upon earth.  We call these three roles of Christ his triple office.

Jesus Our Teacher

Jesus the Prophet, or Teacher, helps us to reach Heaven by telling us how to live lives that are pleasing in God's sight.  Only in Jesus' teachings do we find the way that leads to Heaven.  Jesus said of himself: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me" (Jn 14:6).

By his words and example Jesus told us about the Father's great love for us; he revealed that the Father had sent him as our Savior, the One who would take away our sins.  We call this the Good News of our salvation.  Jesus shared his role as Teacher with his followers.  He teaches us today through the magisterium (teaching office) of the Catholic Church.  This duty to share the faith with others is also a very important part of every Christian's life.  By Baptism and Confirmation we are called to spread the faith to others by our words, good example, and apostolic effort.

Jesus Our Priest

Jesus is our one true Priest whose sacrifice on the Cross won for us the gift of sanctifying grace, which, as we learned in our study of man's creation, is the life of God in our souls.  In order to make this life of grace available to all men of every time and place, Jesus gave us the sacraments and told his apostles to bring these holy gifts to all the world.

Every Christian shares in the priesthood of Jesus through the anointing received at Baptism and Confirmation.  This means that we are set apart from other men and women as the true worshippers of God.  Worship is the prayer and adoration which we offer to God, especially through the Mass and sacraments.  We can also worship God privately in many ways, for example, by reciting acts of faith, hope, and love.

Jesus Our King

Even before his birth the Messiah was called the great king or ruler of God's people.  The angel Gabriel had revealed to Mary: "The Lord God will give him the throne of David. . . and of his kingdom there shall be no end" (Lk 1:32-33).

The Jews thought that the Messiah would be the ruler of an earthly kingdom, but Jesus corrected this mistaken view, saying: "My Kingdom does not belong to this world" (Jn 18:36). 

Our Lord meant that his Kingdom was spiritual.  Everyone who lives in the state of sanctifying grace belongs to the Kingdom of Christ, which is the Church.  The Kingdom of God (also called the Kingdom of Haven or the Reign of God) is the greatest place for a person to live.  We live in it on earth by faithful membership in the Church, and we will live in it in Heaven for ever.  It is so wonderful that Jesus used to tell a parable, or story, in which his Kingdom is compared to a treasure and to a pearl (Mt 13:44-46).  He said that the person who discovers this treasure will see its value and give up anything that stands in the way of obtaining it.

The "thing" that usually stands in our way of having the treasure of God's Kingdom is sin.  For this reason Jesus gave us the sacraments of Baptism and Penance; through these sacred ceremonies we are freed from sin and made holy members of his Kingdom.  According to the parable, if we really value the Kingdom we will give up sin so that this pearl and treasure will be ours for ever.

 Used with the permission of The Ignatius Press 800-799-5534

Return to Index The Catholic Faith
Return to Level Three Topic Index
Home Page