sent Advent 2018

26 Nov

Advent 2018 prologue


‘For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.’ John 3: 34-35 ESV

In any ‘sending’ three major actors (at least) play significant roles. First, there is the person who sends; next there is the person or thing sent; and then, finally, there is the recipient of the sent gift.

The John’s Gospel builds on the idea, the principle, the trope of ‘sending.’ By depicting Jesus as ‘sent’ John defines sending as a special gift, a gift put aside for purpose. Jesus is the Son, and God is the Father. Jesus’ mission is described as a unique expression of the Father’s love for the world. (John 3:16) The sender loves his world so that he gives the gift of an only, a unique son. And this son uses his father’s language, his words, to underscore the indescribable nature of this gift, this sending.

In John’s Gospel, Jesus uses the Greek verb pempein to refer to “the Father who sent me” no fewer than 24 times. These references put the focus on the Father, who through this action of sending authorizes and empowers the Son in his mission. What is this mission? To love, to so love us that we can not help to overflow with love, his love.

In addition, while Jesus refers 24 times to his sending father, in another seventeen passages, Jesus uses some form of the verb apostellein.

This verb focuses on Jesus as the one who is sent. It means to be set aside for a specific purpose. This purpose is the Father’s will. Jesus’ acts with the full authority of the Father because he does only what the Father wills. Indeed, for John, the Father is present, speaking and acting in Jesus (John 5:17, John 5:19-20). This emphasis on the interrelationship between God the Father and Jesus the Son describes not just the sender and the sent, but also the receivers.

And what of the recipients? Us. How are we described by this sending?

We are described as being loved; by needing a God who searches and knows us like David sings in Psalm 139:1 and still (Still!) loves us with a love supreme; a love overflowing, a love divine.

In these next four weeks of Advent I will be looking at people in both the Old and New Testaments who are ‘sent.’ Apostles and servants; children and the elderly; disciples and teachers; angels and Saviour.

And what do they all have in common?

They all point to process of being sent, of sending; of overflowing with the precious indescribable gift of Advent, of love.

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