Have you ever been sent on an errand? Perhaps to the grocery store for milk or to the bank to deposit a check? If so, then you have some insight into what it means to be a "sent one." This idea is central to the Gospel of John.
The Gospel of John may be the best place for a new or young believer to read about Jesus. It has a unique flavor, recording stories and sayings not found in the other three gospels (e.g. water turned to wine, the woman at the well, raising Lazarus, etc.).
It is theologically rich, yet accessible to all. Many verses clearly present Jesus' claim to deity (e.g. John 1:1, 14; 5:17-18; 10:30-33). Other sections are devoted to Jesus' seven-fold self-description, all of which begin with the OT allusion to deity in "I am" ...
- I am the bread of life (6:35, 41, 48, 51)
- I am the light of the world (8:12)
- I am the door/gate of the sheep (10:7, 9)
- I am the good shepherd (10:11, 14)
- I am the resurrection and the life (11:25)
- I am the way, the truth, and the life (14:6)
- I am the true vine (15:1, 5)
And the Gospel of John houses the greatest verse of all:
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life." (3:16)
About a year ago, while reading through John, I discovered a prominent word that I'd not noticed before. The word: Sent. A simple word, to be sure. But is there more than meets the eye?
I began by highlighting every appearance of the word sent in John's Gospel, discovering 55 appearances (that's a lot!). Of the 55, sent was used ...
- 41 times about Jesus
- 5 times about the Pharisees
- 4 times about the disciples
- 3 times about John the Baptist
- 1 time about sisters Mary and Martha
I was particularly drawn to Jesus' repeated use of sent to describe how He came to live among mankind. Examples:
- "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work." 4:34
- "He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent Him." 5:23
- "Whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life ..."5:24
- "... for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent Me." 5:30
- "... for the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent Me. And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning Me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does His word dwell in you, for you do not believe the One He sent." 5:36-38
- Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent." 6:29
- "For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that He has given Me, but raise them up at the last day." 6:38-39
- "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day." 6:44
- Jesus answered, "My teaching is not my own. It comes from Him who sent Me." 7:16
- "I am not here on my own, but He who sent Me is true. You do not know Him, but I know Him because I am from Him and He sent Me." 7:28-29
- "I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the One who sent Me. 7:33
- "I stand with the Father, who sent Me."8:16
- "... He who sent Me is reliable, and what I have heard from Him I tell the world." 8:26
- "The One who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do what pleases Him." 8:29
- "I have not come on my own, but He has sent Me." 8:42
- "As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent Me." 9:3-4
- "When a man believes in Me, he does not believe in Me only, but in the One who sent me. When he looks at Me, he sees the One who sent Me." 12:44-45
- "For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent Me commanded me what to say and how to say it." 12:49
- "... whoever accepts Me accepts the One who sent Me."13:20
- "These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me." 14:24
- "Now I am going to Him who sent Me, yet none of you asks Me, 'Where are you going?'" 16:5
- "Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent." 17:3
- "May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me." 17:23
"Sent" is everywhere in John. It even shows up during a miraculous healing of a man born blind (chapter 9). Jesus puts mud on the man's eyes and tells him to wash it off "in the pool of Siloam." Guess what Siloam means? Yep, it means sent!
After so many declarations by Jesus – that the Father sent Him into the world – the final appearance of the word sent has a surprising twist. In chapter 20, Jesus pivots and declares:
"Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you." 20:21
Mic Drop. After 40+ times that Jesus calls Himself "sent" by the Father, He now sends his followers to be the new "sent" ones. If you are a follower of Jesus, He is sending you. I don't know exactly where or into what audience, but make no mistake about it: Jesus, the sent One, continues to commission others ... to go.