4 June 2017

John 20:19-23

“As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (v. 21)

Psalm: Psalm 104


In Jerusalem, it was the evening of Easter day. In a room which may have hosted the last supper three days before, the disciples now cower in fear of their lives. Into this tense scene walks the Prince of Peace, declaring Shalom (verse 19) and showing his frightened friends that it is indeed he and that here is the terrible physical evidence to prove it.

Jesus wished them peace once again (verse 21) and then lays out in one sentence just what it is that his return means for their future purpose in life: "As the Father has sent me, so I send you". The implications of this define the mission to which the risen Christ calls his disciples.

This mission is firstly to be central to their being. As Jesus is the sent one defined by the mission of God the Father, so disciples are sent by Jesus and defined by their mission to the world. Jesus conformed to the likeness of the one who sent him, and so the degree to which disciples are committed to his mission is a measure of how much they conform to the likeness of Jesus who sends them.

Secondly this mission is a continuation of the work of Jesus. It is the great movement of the missionary heart of God, expressed through the Father sending the Son and then the Son sending his disciples. Just as Jesus is sent to do the will of the Father (John 8:28), so disciples are to continue in that same faithfulness.

Thirdly this mission is a costly commitment. Jesus' obedience to the Father who sent him cost him everything (Philippians 2:7). So if disciples are being sent by Jesus in the same way to fulfil the same mission, they are to expect the same need for sacrificial commitment.

In equipping for this mission Jesus offers in verse 22 what John Wesley (in Notes on the New Testament) describes as "an earnest of Pentecost",a sign or promise of the fullness of the Holy Spirit joyously available to all disciples to fulfil their missional calling subsequent to the events of Acts 2.

To Ponder

  • What glimpses can you see in your life and the life of your church that demonstrate continuity with the ministry of Jesus?
  • How might we be more open to receiving the Holy Spirit to equip us for Jesus' mission?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Tim Woolley

The Revd Dr Tim Woolley is superintendent minister of the Hinckley Circuit in Leicestershire and an adjunct faculty member at Cliff College. Tim has a passion for Wesleyan theology and for fresh ways of being church and doing evangelism, and he is a vice chair of Methodist Evangelicals Together.