1 John 4:14 "And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world."
The One who was Sent.
Again and again in the Gospel narratives we find Jesus referring to himself as having been sent into the world.
Often he explained exactly who it was who sent him. For example we hear him say:
Jn.5:23b "Whoever does not honour the Son does not honour the Father who sent him."
Jn.8:42 "Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me."
Jesus clearly understood that it was his God and Father who had sent him into the world. He understood too that this sending was important: he had been sent with a purpose to accomplish.
While sometimes Jesus wanted to emphasise the purpose for his having been sent on other occasions he simply seems to have wanted to highlight the fact of his having been sent. On such occasions he used phrases such as "the one who sent me" or "him who sent me" which stand as circumlocutions for "the Father", "My Father" or "God".
Eg. Jn.4:34 "Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.""
A careful reading of the gospels shows us that Jesus spoke far more about his having been sent by the Father than did any other person. He believed it, he proclaimed it and he wanted others to understand its truthfulness and to believe it too.
Perhaps the relative silence of the rest of the NT on the matter is due to the simple fact that Jesus had been so insistent on this during his earthly mission that this was now a commonly accepted belief in the Christian community. As he prayed to the Father in his high priestly prayer:
Jn.17:8 "For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me."
The apostle Paul did write about the Father sending the Son but only once or twice, as, for example:
Rom.8:3 "For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,"
The apostle John, perhaps unsurprisingly given the number of times he quoted Jesus’ claims in his gospel account, also referred explicitly to God sending his Son in his First Letter:
1Jn.4:14 "And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world."
What it means to be sent by God
There are two different words that are employed to describe the way in which Jesus had been sent by God the Father into the world. On the one hand there is the simple word for to send which is very down to earth and refers to the simple fact of sending.
The second word adds additional information and carries with it the sense of being commissioned to carry out a specific task. The one so sent is not merely sent but sent with plenary powers to act as the sender’s full representative. Being thus sent Jesus acted with complete divine authority.
This close identification of the Sender with the One sent explains why Jesus could says such things as:
Jn.13:20 "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me."
Cf. Mk.9:37 "whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me."
With this in mind it is interesting to note how often Jesus went out of his way to emphasize that he acted and spoke in total harmony with his Heavenly Father. Having been sent thus to represent his Father it is unthinkable that he would indeed act in any other way:
Jn.5:30 "I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me."
Jesus had not come into the world as some kind of independent or rogue miracle worker out to promote his own interests. When he had come he had come in total harmony with his Father who himself loved the world so much that he gave us his one and only son.
Jesus had not come to force the Father’s hand as it were to be nice to poor sinners. Indeed the Father desired so much to be gracious to sinful rebels that he found a way by which he could be without for a moment compromising his own holy integrity.
And Jesus wanted everyone to know this. He wanted people to know that the Father had sent him!
Jn.11:42 "I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me."
We have already referred to how he prayed concerning his own followers and how they had come to believe that the Father had sent him. He later prayed in that same high priestly prayer that his people might be so united that the whole world might come to believe that the Father had sent the Son.
What specific goals did the Father have in mind when he sent Jesus into the world?
Again let Jesus explain some of the reasons why the Father had sent him.
Jesus taught that the Father had, in sending him, several goals for him to attain:
He was to act powerfully. In the synagogue in his home town of Nazareth he read from the prophet Isaiah and then declared that what Isaiah had said he had said about Jesus himself:
Lk.4:18 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed."
He was to preach and to teach. Here is the explanation of just why teaching was such a prominent part of his ministry:
Lk.4:43 ""I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose."
He was to save and in so doing he was to bring life. This is such an encouraging truth! We celebrate it at Christmas when we tend to spend some time thinking about the very meaning of the name given to our Saviour – Jesus – "for he will save his people from their sins." Just because we think about it at Christmas doesn’t mean that we don’t think about it at other times and rejoice in the fact that he came to fully secure our salvation and what wonderful descriptions he has given as to that salvation:
Jn.6:39 "this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day."
In coming to be our Saviour he came to give us life and we can have it though feeding on him by faith:
Jn.6:57 "As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me."
During his earthly ministry his goals were limited – he explained that he had been sent only for the lost sheep of the house of Israel – but even then he was prepared to extend his blessings beyond the confines of Israel. And of course after his resurrection as he sent out his disciples he sent them out to bear witness to the ends of the earth.
He came then to bring faith and trust. He wanted men and women to know that the Father had sent him. And he wanted men and women to realise that God the Father had sent his Son with the intent that we should believe in him:
Jn.6:29 "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent."
John wrote towards the end of his gospel explaining just why he had written all that he had done and he put it like simply.
He wanted people like us to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that by believing we might have life in his name.
Do you have this life? Have you put your faith and trust in him? I do hope so.
If you have know for a certainty that you are secure because Jesus was sent by the Father and fully pleased his Father in all he did. We have a wonderful Saviour in Jesus!