I’ve been intrigued by passages that explicitly state why Jesus did or did not come to do during his earthly ministry. I’ve tried to keep alert to these passages as I’ve read the Bible and have compiled them into a list (unless otherwise noted, Scripture texts should be from the ESV).
Matthew 1:21—She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
Matthew 5:17-18—”Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”
Matthew 9:12-13—But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Matthew 15:24—“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Matthew 10:34-36—“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.
Matthew 20:28—even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Mark 1:38—He said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.” (NASB); cf. Lk. 4:43.
Mark 2:17—And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Mark 10:45—For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Luke 1:32—establish the throne of David
Luke 4:18–21—“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Luke 4:43—I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose [These towns are Jewish towns]
Luke 5:31-32—And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
Luke 12:49-53—“I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! 51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
Luke 19:10—For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (in context, the lost ones of Israel)
John 6:38—For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.
John 9:39— Jesus said, “For judgment I came into the world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”
John 18:37—Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
Hebrews 2:14-15 — Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.
Hebrews 2:17-18 — Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Hebrews 10:7—Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’ ”
1 John 3:8—Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
Phil Gons says
Brian, thanks for your list. I did the same thing several years back, but I broadened mine to all the purpose statements attached to the broader work of Christ (first coming, life, death, resurrection, ascension, intercession, and second coming), since sometimes a purpose is attached to his death that’s also true by extension of his incarnation. Here’s my list.
Phil, thanks for sharing your list. I look forward to working through it and expanding my own.