In my last article, I wrote on the priority Jesus placed on evangelism immediately after his resurrection. His first words to his disciples were:
“Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you”(John 20:19b-21 ESV).
While Jesus first chose to address their evangelistic mission as priority, knowing how to put that priority into practice is a different matter.
Jesus’ answer to this dilemma is this: “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” As he was sent, so we are sent. As he went on mission to seek and save the lost, so we are to be on mission to seek and save the lost. The natural question is then, “How was he sent?” Let’s look at five ways Jesus was sent so we do as he did.
He was sent for love.
Why did the Father send Jesus on his mission? It was love. You know what is says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (NIV), but do you know what it says in 1John 3:16? It says, “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters” (NLT). As he was sent and gave up his life for sinners because of love, so we ought to so love lost sinners that we sacrifice whatever it takes to see some saved.
He was sent into a dark world.
I can only imagine what heaven must be like, but it’s not hard to imagine it was comfortable for Jesus. Yet, he was willing to come into our dark world. He didn’t remain in heaven and hope that we figured out some way to get to him. No, he left Paradise to come to us. In the Great Commission in Mark’s Gospel Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone” (Mark 16:15 NIV). As he left comfort to save us, we must leave the comfort of our churches and go to the lost around us.
He was sent in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus wasn’t sent to fulfill his mission in his own power and ability. He was operating in the Kingdom of God, doing everything with the Father through the Holy Spirit. As he said in John 14:11: “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.” When Jesus promised to be with us always in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), he didn’t say, “You’re on your own, but if you get into trouble let me know!” As he went on mission guided by the Spirit, we too are to go on mission with Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s why the second thing he said to the disciples on the night of the resurrection was, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22).
He was sent to sinners in the world.
Jesus didn’t just sit in the synagogues and talk to people who came to him. He hung out with sinners in the community who wouldn’t have stepped foot in a synagogue. One example is in Mark 2:16-17: “When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’On hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’”
It’s in the context of being with “sinners” that we learn how their separation from God has left them ‘sick,’ and we can point them to life in the Kingdom of God where they’ll find healing and wholeness forever. Paul described it this way, “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some” (1Cor. 9:22).
He was sent to lead people to repentance and belief.
Jesus didn’t show love and do signs and wonders hoping people would figure out what to do to be saved. He was sent for a specific goal: to lead people to repentance. He used words to invite people to believe Him for salvation and turn from their sins, for example, “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” (John 5:24).
And just as he used words to lead people to salvation, we should use our words to proclaim the Good News, “for ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” (Romans 10:13-15)
“As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” John 20:21