May 18, 2009

John 17.18 and John 20.21

In the midst of his prayer for his disciples Jesus says to God the Father, "As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world." (John 17.18)

After his betrayal, arrest, trial, crucifixion, and resurrection, Jesus appears to his followers offers them peace, shows them his hands and side and says to them, "As the Father has sent me, so I send you." (John 20.21) and then he breaths on them and offers them the Holy Spirit.

The context is different.

The audience is different. (Sort of - I think both parties hear in both instances)

The meaning is the same.

We can't sit in our pews and follow the risen Lord who has gone on ahead.  We can't stand and sign hymns and live out the gospel.  We can't kneel at the altar and bring others to the knowledge of the Lord.

All these things that we normally associate with "church" are good.  They nourish us, enrich us, empower us - but they are not what Jesus had in mind when he prayed for his rag-tag group of followers.  What he hoped for is what God hoped for in sending his Son - that real people, walking and talking and living and working in the world would have more a real impact on those who had not yet seen, heard, or experienced the love of God.

730 or 10am on Sunday is good, but it is not the purpose of our lives as followers of Christ. No, it is, instead, the time from "Let us go in peace..." until "Alleluia, Christ is risen" that matters.  We are sent just as Jesus was sent to a good world that has been broken.  It is when our sleeves are rolled up, when our hands are dirty, when our eyes are swollen with tears that God's kingdom is known.  730 and 10, well that's meal time.

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