In 1979, I stumbled onto a great little read to which I still reference 40 years later – Out of the Salt Shaker and into the World: Evangelism as a Way of Life, by Rebecca Manley Pippert. She drew attention to an easily overlooked passage in the Gospel of John that was key to the development of a philosophy of ministry/life that has served me well for the past 35-40 years.
The passage is from John 20. On the evening of the day of Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples were huddled behind locked doors in fear of the Jewish religious leaders who might have been out searching for them. John, an eye witness, writes that Jesus came and stood among them, apparently just showing up in the room, presumably not having opened the door! His first words were, “Peace be with you” – an appropriate response when one pops into a room without opening a door!
Jesus proceeded to show them the scars from the crucifixion he experienced two days earlier, to which the disciples were relieved that it was Him and not a ghost of some sort. Then Jesus repeated, “Peace be with you” followed by “In the same way the Father sent Me, I am now sending you” (John 20:21). Turned out to be a pretty revolutionary statement…
Forty days after Jesus popped in among his followers, he departed them and left in their hands the Kingdom work he had inaugurated (See Acts 1). On the day of Pentecost, one of the significant Jewish festivals, the Holy Spirit arrived in their presence, marking the start of the Kingdom work for which Jesus had prepared them to carry out. What I find interesting is this: Reading through the Book of Acts, the story of Jesus’ followers going about the work of the Kingdom, nowhere do we see them ask “How are we supposed to do this?” They just did it. They knew because they had been with Jesus, apprentices learning from the master. They did what he did. “In the same way the Father sent Me, I am now sending you.”
Fast forward a couple thousand years. As 21st century Christ-followers, we have been tasked with the same Kingdom work. How should we do that work? To me, its pretty straight forward: “In the same way the Father sent Me, I am now sending you.” We are being sent in the same manner that Jesus was sent. If you have been reading my postings regularly, you know where this is going: Read the Gospels! The disciples knew what to do by watching how Jesus did things, how he was sent. You and I can do the same. As we spend time with Jesus in the Gospel accounts, we begin to see how he was sent.
In your future readings of the Gospels, I encourage you to be asking the question, “How was Jesus sent?” 40 years ago, I poured through the Gospels with the express purpose of answering that question. The outcome was revolutionary, leading to a philosophy of ministry/life that, as I said earlier, has served me well. In fact, as I write this, it occurred to me that many of the “Right Things” listed in the previous post are directly related to a continuous asking of how Jesus was sent.
Stay tuned – In subsequent postings, we will look at some of the ways Jesus was sent.