Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” – John 20:21
I have read this verse over a hundred times and for most of my life I have interpreted it in the context of service to others; supporting, guiding, encouraging, etc. But recently I have discover an slightly fuller context to what it means to be sent by Jesus as he was sent by the Father.
Jesus delivered his ministry “kick-off” speech in the temple (Luke 4) by reading from Isaiah:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Proclaim, heal, set free – service to those who are oppressed; the hurting and broken. I get that and wholeheartedly believe and lean into it. And, this was the sole lens through which I had interpreted John 20:21.
Recently, our small group decided to use John Eldredge’s book Beautiful Outlaw as a study on the personality of Jesus leading up to Christmas.
Well, it “just happened” that I had commitments that took me away from the group the first two weeks of the study. My awesome wife, Debbie, led the group and they leaned into the introduction and the refreshing idea of Jesus’ playfulness. So, week three, here I come and we are tackling Chapters three and four.
Chapter three puts an exclamation point on the playfulness of Jesus (John 21:1-14, Luke 24:13-32); however, chapter four turns a corner and looks at Jesus’ “Fierce Intentionality” as he was assaulted – no place to lay his head, temptation in the desert, chased by the Jews, hunted in Gethsemane, etc.
The Father sent Jesus into a world at war to heal the brokenhearted and to set the captives free. The juxtaposition of service AND battle. So now, John 20:21 has new meaning. How did the Father send Jesus? Into the Garden of Eden or a Sunday jaunt in the countryside on a beautiful spring day? No, the Father sent Jesus into enemy territory to set his people free.