“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, even so I am sending you.'” John 20:21
Sometimes we look at words so superficially. We don’t really stop to think what someone is really saying to us. Husbands do it to their wives. Wives do it to their husbands. Kids do it to their parents. Parents do it to their kids. And we do it to God all the time. But just because we do it all the time doesn’t make it right. Maybe it would behoove us to listen more carefully. Maybe it would behoove us to ask each other questions more, to clarify, to take the time to care.
It’s so easy to get preoccupied with our own thoughts and ideas. I was at a fast food restaurant with my daughter and her soccer team. My adult daughter was also there with us. I was going to fill my drink and asked her if she wanted ice or no ice as I was going to fill hers also. She told me which she wanted. But my mind was so preoccupied with other things, I couldn’t have told you which she said, and I filled it up with the wrong stuff. I said, “I’m so so sorry, I forgot. I wasn’t paying attention.” The standing joke on me became, “I’m sorry, I forgot to care.” Not really funny, is it? I’m glad my girls do have a sense of humor, I mean, they have to, living with me. But that is actually really sad. And it’s true, if I had cared more about that moment, I would have paid attention and really listened to her, even about ice.
And so now I hear these words, “‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, even so I am sending you.” And they reverberate in my ears and in my heart. And I want to listen and realize and know and understand what it means. I don’t want to ask You, Lord, if You want a cup of ice and bring you back a cup filled with ice when You asked for none. If I want to know how You are sending me into this world, I need to know how the Father has sent You. I need to look closely at You and listen closely to You, to know what I ought to look like and act like and sound like and be like. He sent You as a sacrifice. You are that ram that was provided so Isaac and I don’t have to die and be eternally separated from You. You are that sacrifice that gives us new life in You as we live now and into eternity. But if You were sent to be a sacrifice, what does that mean for me?
So, that’s going to be my quest for a while. Because it’s not an answer you figure out in a day. It takes digging and thinking and meditating in Your Word and on You. It takes reading and searching and praying and listening.
I want to look at You closely. I want to look at how You walked on the earth that You were sent to. I want to see what the Father expected of You. And I expect that every day will be a new treasure because You tell us “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened.” That’s Your promise and Your promises are always true. As a matter of fact, every Word of Yours is true, promise or no promise. I can count on every one.
Matthew starts his accounting of You in an interesting way. He introduces You not from Adam first, but from Abraham. I just heard a message about Abraham yesterday and how he was asked to sacrifice his only son, Isaac on Mt. Moriah. And it’s something unique that Matthew begins with that. Because when Abraham was provided with the ram instead of Isaac for the sacrifice, He realized something about God’s character that he shared with us forever. On that day in history “Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah Jireh: as it is said to this day, ‘In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen (provided).'” (Genesis 22:14) The Lord sees. The Lord provides. He doesn’t just provide anything. He provides exactly what and WHO we need. His ultimate provision is You, Jesus. He sent You as a sacrifice. You are that ram that was provided so Isaac and I don’t have to die and be eternally separated from You. You are that sacrifice that gives us new life in You as we live now and into eternity.
But if You were sent to be a sacrifice, what does that mean for me? “As the Father has sent Me, even so I am sending you.” What? Am I supposed to be a sacrifice? What?! What does that mean?
Wait a minute. That can’t be. In Matthew 9:13 Jesus said, “But go you and learn what that means, ‘I will have mercy, and not sacrifice’: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Nah, Jesus isn’t calling us to sacrifice. Really? What if I stop to look at the example of His life? If you don’t know it, take the time to read through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John carefully. Look carefully at what Mercy actually looks like and Who it looks like. Jesus doesn’t want our sacrifices unless we are really sacrificing. This isn’t about an outward show devoid of inward care. This is about giving of yourself, even when it hurts.
Jesus pointed out this kind of sacrifice in the widow that gave her last coins. And it’s written all over Jesus and through Jesus. Think of all He sacrificed to come to earth, to live on earth as a man while still being God. Think of the pride He sacrificed as He was continually ridiculed by his family and the religious leaders. Think of the physical sacrifices he made daily as he slept on the ground and ate corn as they walked through the fields because He was hungry, but hungrier for the people to know God. Think about the sacrifice of the torture and the cross, not for His good, but for the good of us, who don’t deserve it, us who whether we admit it or not, at some point of time have spit in His face.
Well, I’m reading and hearing that if Jesus was sent for this, and He was, then so am I and so is every believer. I may not be sent for exactly the same scenario, but I am sent to be a living sacrifice just like Jesus, only I can only do that as I abide in Him. I’m not strong enough to do it on my own.
I’m thinking that maybe Paul thought deeply about these words too. “As the Father has sent Me, even so I am sending you.” His prayer for his brothers and sisters in Christ in Romans 12:1 was, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Really, one shouldn’t stop there. Keep reading on your own. The point is, I can’t separate my mind and spirit from my body. Get it? That means all of me should be a living sacrifice. All of my thoughts, my mind, my actions, should be surrendered to Him. And in surrendering to Him, it means I will need to surrender to others just like He did.
The will of God for me and you is to let Him be glorified in and through us. When people mistreat me, do I respond as You, Jesus? Is Your sacrificial mercy and love and response alive and evident in my response and the mercy I show? Do I look like You at all?
Paul continues thinking about this and teaching about it in Ephesians 5:2. “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us, and has given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.” Yes, “As the Father has sent Me, even so I am sending you.” Husbands, do you really love your wives like Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her? Would you do whatever it took and give up of yourself whatever it took to draw her closer to the Lord in love and mercy as He did? What would any of us give up so that Jesus’s love and mercy would trump everything? What would I give up, what part of ME would I sacrifice, so that Jesus would stand before everything, and become everything, and I would be more than satisfied with that? Because it’s only when He shines forth, that others will be drawn to Him, and others will see and know and experience His love and mercy toward them.
Paul sums it up in Hebrews 13:15. He says, “Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name.” But the thing for Paul is that “acknowledging His name” isn’t just about saying the name of Jesus. He’s talking about lips that acknowledge everything that Jesus is. He’s talking about lips that know Him and lips that are connected to a body and mind and spirit that live in Him and for Him. Our sacrifice of praise, therefore, is not just our verbal praise. We must continually lift up our lives as a sacrifice of praise. What we allow Him to do in us and through us as we learn to sacrifice, to die to self and live for Him, as He did, that is our only reasonable praise. That is the only acceptable praise that He is looking to receive. He’ll take no less than He deserves. And that is only right.
God, these are very high standards that You have set. Jesus is that standard. And if He hadn’t risen again, I could never meet those standards. But because You rose, Jesus, You have the power to send me in all Your authority because You place Your Holy Spirit in those who are surrendered to You. This is amazing stuff. This is amazing truth. You are an amazing God. Lord, I want to live in this truth. And no matter how much it hurts or what I have to sacrifice, give me everything I need to live for You and like You and in You. May I love You as deeply as You love me so that I can love others as deeply as You love them. Because to love You like that, I have to know, I mean really know, how much You love me. Thank You for giving me Your peace, Your true shalom, so that I can give it to others, even when it means I must live sacrificially for them.