19 May 2010John 17:11-19
"As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world." (v.18)
In John's Gospel, right at the beginning, we read about the Word
becoming flesh. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was
with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God"
(John 1:1-2). This was John's poetic way of explaining that Jesus
did not just appear at his birth, but was with God right at the
start - from the creation of the world.
Jesus took human form - became 'incarnate' - so that he might bridge the gap between heaven and earth, God and humankind. And so, in verse 18 of chapter 17, we have John writing a passage similar to the end of Matthew's Gospel where Jesus says to his disciples, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19).
As God has sent Jesus, so now Jesus sends his followers to continue his work. Put in another way, right from the outset Christianity has been a missionary religion, asking that Christians tell others of their experience of faith in God through Jesus. If that had not been the case the followers of Jesus would have remained a small Jewish sect in Palestine. Jesus' commission to his followers meant that they knew they had to speak of their experience not just to people nearby but to people in new places. It was in that spirit that the apostle Paul went on his missionary journeys and that 'sending out' goes on into our own day too.
A century or so ago, Britain used to be a country that 'sent' missionaries out around the world. To what extent could it be said that we are now a 'receiving' country? What are the implications of this change?
Do you think that being involved in mission is an essential part of what it means to be a Christian? Why?