In this sermon Pastor Tim looks at how Jesus is sent from the father. The Father and Son send the Holy Spirit. And the Father, Son and Holy Spirit send us into the world to preach the good news and continue the ministry of Jesus!
We have been doing a series in the Gospel of John, focusing in on the final week before Jesus’ death and resurrection.
- And this is the second last week… and I am slowing down to one phrase today in Jesus’ prayer for those who will believe in him.
- Verse 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.
- And so as we enter into Jesus’ final prayer before he is imminently betrayed, arrested, tried and crucified
- It is so amazing to see what he prays for his disciples and ones to come like you and I.
- So we have seen that Jesus prays for our unity, our love for one another, our protection from evil and for our sanctification.
- But we are reminded today, that as the children of God, we are a people sent into the world to continue the life and ministry of Jesus.
Let’s have a look at John 17:18-23
18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
I wonder if you have ever been sent somewhere with a message?
- I remember at High School, you’d sometimes be sent to take a message to another teacher…
- And if you were anything like me, you would take your time… possibly swinging by the canteen to see if you could get a cheeky custard tart…
- But I was reading this week about one original famous sent messenger
- And running has always seemed like a bad idea to me… I prefer the water…
- But I am talking about Pheidippides, the inventor of the marathon, sometime around 490 BC
- Do you know what Pheidippides died of?
- That’s right… running a marathon! Cautious tale right there….
But so the legend goes,
- After the badly outnumbered Greeks somehow managed to drive back the Persians who had invaded the coastal plain of Marathon
- An Athenian messenger named Pheidippides was sent from the battlefield to Athens to deliver the news of Greek victory.
- After running about 25 miles to the Acropolis, he burst into the chambers and gallantly hailed his countrymen with “Nike! Nike! Nenikekiam”
- Which means: “Victory! Victory! Rejoice, we conquer!”. There you go…. We are learning lots of things at church today… Nike is Greek for victory
- Well anyhow, after being sent all that way… he then he promptly collapsed from exhaustion and died.
- And so the marathon was born!
My other favourite marathon story is from the 1904 Olympics…
- Where an American runner named Frederick Lorz fell ill during the race and hitched a ride in a car for half the race…
- As he then jogged into the stadium for the finish people started cheering him… and he thought…
- No one knows I hitched a ride… so he picked up his pace and crossed the finish line first, arms in the air claiming victory…
- Lo and behold he was soon found out and was disqualified… and spent the rest of his years trying to tell people he had only been joking!
Well, (and here’s my tenuous link) like Pheidippides, as the children of God, we are sent with a message of victory into the world…
- As Jesus prayed… Verse 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.
- With the same message and mission of Jesus… calling people out of darkness and into the light…
- That forgiveness and relationship with God is possible through coming to believe that he is Lord
- That on the cross our sins are dealt with and through the resurrection, new life and eternal life are possible!
- That we like Jesus work on the side of healing, mercy, justice, grace and truth….
- We are sent into the world with a marvelous message to share!
Now this idea of being sent is all through the Gospel of John. It doesn’t just appear here in John 17.
- Jesus clearly understands himself as sent from the Father… that is God
- Jesus clearly understands that he will send the Holy Spirit so that the whole thing can continue
- And Jesus clearly meant for those who would believe in him, that they would be sent into the world.
- Something we then see in the Book of Acts and of course continue through history!
Do you agree?
- This word sent or send is used over 60 times in John… and it’s a consistent thread all through the gospel.
- Just a little bible thing… one great way to get into the bible is through tracing themes and ideas and words through the story…
- In John it has been things like light and darkness, love, believe, glory and so on…
- So let’s look at some of the almost 60 times the word sent is used in the Gospel of John…
John 4:34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.
- So Jesus says the most basic thing that keeps me going is to do the work of God, who sent him into the world.
John 5:24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.
- So Jesus links the gift of eternal life to believing his words and in the one who sent him.
John 6:38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my will, but to do the will of him who sent me.”
- So again, Jesus ties his mission to doing the will of his Father in heaven who sent him
- So that is how we understand Jesus healing and compassion and teachings… he’s come to do the will of God.
John 7:16 Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me.
- So Jesus understood what he taught to just be what God had sent him to teach.
John 7:29 but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.”
- So Jesus claims intimate knowledge of God and his character and the mission of God because that is who he has been sent by.
John 12:44-46 Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.
- OK, this is a big one… massive claims here about who has sent Jesus.
- Here, he is saying, If we come to believe in Jesus, we come to believe (and see) the one who sent him – that is God
- And in doing so we come out of darkness and into light.
OK, and then there is a shift towards the end of the Gospel when Jesus moves from talking about how he has been sent from God, to how he will send two things… the Holy Spirit and Us!
John 15:26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.
- So just as Jesus came from the Father, he now promises to send the Holy Spirit to keep testifying about Jesus.
And then us… from todays passage…
- Verse 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.
And one of the very last thing he says to his disciples at the resurrection
- John 20:21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
Good huh? OK? Clear…
- The Father sends the Son, who only does what he sees the father doing…
- The Father and the Son sends the Holy Spirit to continue the supernatural work of God in the world…
- And the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit send you and me…
- Like Pheidippides, we have a victory to proclaim, that we are sent into the world as messengers of!
So I think it would just be good to get some clarity around what are we being asked to do?
- Because at this stage I think a bunch of us freak out…
- We are happy with believing in Jesus… we are happy with going to church and even serving each other…
- But the idea of being sent freaks some of us out. I mean, what do you mean… I need to go and become a street preacher or a bible basher.
- The answer is yes… yes you do…. Haha… no… there are lots of ways we can participate with God in being sent into the world.
- So think of Jesus mission and the myriad of ways that he brings life to people… and we begin to get a sense of the things we can be sent into the world to do!
One of the best places in John’s gospel where we see this idea of being sent to bring life is in John chapter 10.
- Jesus is talking about the people and forces that rob people of life and in calling himself the Good Shepherd… and so he declares… John 10:10
- “I have come that they may have life and life to the full”
So as we have said here before at church, there are two words for life in the bible… zoe and bios.
- Now bios is a word that gets translated as life, but it refers to our biological life… ultimately always given to decay and perishing…
- This is my, do some landscaping and be unable to walk the next day, life.
- It is our life that endures sickness and pain and in one sense is given over to our desires and sinfulness…
- But then there is this other words for life in the bible which Jesus uses here and it is zoe.
- “I have come that they may have zoe, and zoe to the full.”
- This is the divine, eternal, whole life that belongs to God and that is given to his children who believe.
- It is a full life that starts now and lasts into eternity.
- So when someone comes to believe in Jesus they cross over from bios to zoe! And from death to life… from darkness to light.
Now there are a bunch of things Jesus is obviously sent into the world to do…
- Preach truth
- Demonstrate the kingdom
- Be the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world…
But as we think about what we are sent to do…. I wonder if we just focus in on this idea of bringing life
- Now I think we have a great mission statement at this church? Anyone?
- “Joining God in bringing life to Manly.”
- Why did we choose that? Well because at the heart of what we want to be a part of, is to see people move over from death to life… from living a bios, perishing reality to a zoe, life and life eternal reality!
- Right: we want to bring this eternal, divine, whole life to our community
- And it comes through us being sent into the world, into Manly to share and demonstrate this message.
I think about the Christian surfers down in Manly…
- Or the guys helping at the Salvation Army
- Or the people helping with Friday youth, scripture in schools, Playtme…
- Right – we are sent to bring life to our community!
You know, the Apostle Paul picks up on this theme of being sent and bringing life in 2 Corinthians.
- The OG of being sent into the world says this…
2 Corinthians 3:14-16
14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?
Haha – you know I ready this passage and couldn’t help but think of my friends Scotty and Noni
- Who spent their entire long weekend trying to find a dead rat in the walls of their home
- The stench of death being so overwhelming that they eventually smashed a bathroom tile and cut out plaster board to get to the little decomposing fella!
- But you know that stench right? We’ve all been there…
- How much better to have the aroma of Christ filling your life!
So just quickly, what is the Apostle Paul saying here?
- Well as Jesus followers got on with what he prayed they would do….
- Paul compares it to a triumphal procession. Now these were what happened after someone like Pheidippides had come and announced the victory over an enemy…
- The returning King and soldiers would then march through their home city streets with the plunders of their victory…
- And this would often contain the herbs and spices and wealth of their defeated foes. So it would literally smell good.
- There would be an aroma filled triumphant procession… got it?
So Paul says, now that Christ has won a victory (a Nike) over death and darkness…
- His followers spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere we go.
- We are to smell like Christ… good news, his pleasing aroma to those who are being saved.
- Now to some that aroma that will bring death… and there is nothing you can do to stop that… some people just reject the good news of Jesus.
- But to those who believe and respond and are saved, it is an aroma that brings life!
Now I’ve got to say, Manly Life, you are a good smelling bunch… well at least most of you!
- But as you work and live and are involved in this community…
- You are sent to bring life… and to being the aroma of Christ which is life into these very streets.
- Does that make sense?
So… share with someone the good news of Jesus – that’s the aroma of life.
- Live counter-culturally generously, giving away to the poor and those in need… that’s the aroma of life
- Practice hospitality and welcome – that’s the aroma of life
- Lead like a servant to others… metaphorically washing the feet of those below you… and that the aroma of life
- Spend your life on issues of justice and mercy and kindness… and that’s bringing the aroma of life!
And of course there is a flip side to all of this…
- If you are just like the rest of the world…
- Stingy, heartless, closed off…
- Never sharing the good news, never inviting people to church or into community…
- You are going to smell… but not like Christ.
- But as this passage in John 17 where Jesus prays says; “I have given them the glory that you gave me.”
- If you got the glory of Jesus in you… you can’t help but smell good!
Let me finish with this… I remember reading an interesting bit of research on Christianity a few years ago.
- The gist was that ordinary Australian were asked about their feelings towards the church and then their feelings towards any Christians they know.
- And basically the research showed that ordinary Aussies have a pretty bad perception of the church.
- But then asked “do you know any Christians” they would consistently say, oh yeah, I know a bunch of Christians and I really like them.
- You know “they are great parents” or “they are really friendly.’
- And to me that speaks to the need for all of us to be fearless in sharing the Gospel.
- Friend at the swim… all the nicest people I’ve met in Sydney are through you guys and they all seem to go to your church.
Well I certainly don’t feel inspired to run a marathon like the poor Pheidippides who was sent with good news of victory
- But I hope you do feel inspired to be sent by Jesus (just as he prayed for us) with a message of good news found in Christ.
- Like Paul who says in Ephesians 6:19 Pray also for me… that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.