Bible Reading: John 20:19-23
“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” [John 20:21].
God’s heart is a missionary heart, and it is far more than just a few verses at the end of the gospels! His heart was to reach out to sinners and for them to be saved, even before the world was created. The Bible says that the kingdom of God was prepared for Jesus before the foundation of the world [Matthew 25:34]. It also says that Jesus, the Lamb of God, was slain before the foundation of the world [Revelation 13:18], although its actual outworking in time was at the cross.
We can see God was on His mission to rescue lost sinners as early as Genesis chapter 3, immediately after the fall. He called out, “Adam where are you?” [Genesis 3:9]. Later God called Israel as a witness to the Gentile nations to bring them back to God. In Isaiah 42:3 God calls Israel His witnesses, but they tragically failed in their calling.
It was David Livingstone who said, “God had one Son, and He was a missionary.” God is the Father of Missions; Jesus is the Pattern of Missions; the Holy Spirit is the Executor of Missions!
In our text today we see that Jesus is the pattern of missions. He sends us out in exactly the same way as the Father sent Him [John 20:21]. The word “missionary” is not found in the Bible, but comes from the Latin word ‘missio’ meaning “an act of sending.” A missionary therefore is simply someone who is sent out. Confusion has arisen because the word missionary has been mostly linked to those who go overseas, but over the years that has changed. As the world has increasingly become a global village people have moved from lands where Christian missionaries were formerly sent to the lands where those missionaries came from. It is just as relevant to say that someone is a missionary who is called and sent to the Immigrant community of Leicester, or the student community in Birmingham as much as someone who brings the gospel to people living overseas. It must also be clearly stated that there are still many areas of the world where people are unreached with the gospel, and it is necessary for people to be sent out to reach those people.
When Jesus referred to the Father sending Him, He was referring to being sent from heaven to earth, to seek and to save those who were lost. In the same way Jesus sends us out, and so over the next few days I will seek to specifically answer the question, “How did the Father send Jesus?”
Why do you think it is important that we understand how the Father sent Jesus?
Why did Israel fail to fulfil the mission that God gave them? Why is that a warning to us? How would you explain what it means to be a “Christian missionary?”