There’s a great worship song I’ve had on repeat practically all week. It’s called Furious and it’s all about the awesome, wide and deep God lavishes on all of us. But there’s only one lyric that I’m really interested in, I could listen to it a thousand times:
The Father loves and sends His Son. The Son lays down His life for all.
Now if you’ve never been a Christian or you’ve never tracked with the whole complex idea of the trinity, a triune being with co-existent and co-eternal members, don’t let this escape you. The Father LOVES and SENDS his son.
As humanity, I think John 3:16 maybe has given us a bit of a big head. For God SO LOVED THE WORLD. How often do we focus on the inherent and amazing love between the Father and the Son?
Let’s put it this way, if there’s ever a perfect expression of what love truly means, the love the Great Father and the Great Son have for each other must be it.
And yet, the Father sends the Son. He sends the Son to earth, to become a peasant carpenter’s Son. To eventually die on a Cross, the most excruciating form of death we humans could come up with. If I were a father, I don’t know if I could do that. No, I know I couldn’t. And yet, in all of Father God’s love for His Son, He sent Him anyway.
Right now, some of you desperately need to repent. Because you’ve been sent by a God that loves you to something really difficult and you refuse to do it. Or you question how God could love you and yet allow bad things to happen to you. According to God, sometimes He even SENDS people He loves to extraordinarily difficult predicaments.
I know I need to repent. And yet, I feel like this is also an opportunity to radically readjust my thinking in tough times. This could be revolutionary in my spiritual walk as I shift from an attitude of: “God, how could you let this happen to me?” To an attitude of: “God, you’ve sent me. Use me.”
That attitude adjustment blows my mind. What if we looked at everything we were a part of, and we asked why God sent us here? What would God use us for?
I’ll tell you where it helps me. I know I am sent to middle school ministry at my church. I know. God made sure I knew. And yet, so often my attitude hasn’t been about God’s sending. It’s been about me. Do my groups go better than everybody else’s? Do I have the most kids? Did I make a difference? Am I being listened to? It’s all about me, my pride, my accomplishments, my achievements. Me, me, me, me, me, me!
What if I shifted? What if I leaned into the hard conversations, the ones nobody wants to have, and I said, “I’m here even if I don’t want to be. But you sent me, so use me!” What if our heart really changed towards an attitude of being sent!?
Because, here’s why I think it’s important: it’s the heart of the Gospel. Gospel means Good News. There is no Good News unless the Father sent the Son. And the Good News wouldn’t have mattered if the original disciples had disbanded and told no one about their time with Jesus. And the Good News wouldn’t have mattered if Paul didn’t get sent to get on a ship (three times shipwrecked and twice snake bitten!) and to sail around the Roman Empire, planting churches and writing most of what we now call the New Testament.
The disciples were sent. And most of them were sent to an early death, impoverished and destitute. One of the most amazing “sends” in the Bible has to be Paul’s. He was an early and ardent oppressor of the Church, and yet Jesus literally shows up in Paul’s life and sends him on a new mission. Jesus soon appears to another Christian in a nearby town and explains that Paul has a new send, and that “This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to Gentiles and their Kings and to the people of Israel.” (Acts 9:15) and Jesus’ words were true, as Jesus used Paul to write almost all of the New Testament, which has shaped thousands of years of human history and through Paul’s letters, Jesus’ name has been proclaimed to billions. But the follow up calling is a tough pill to swallow: “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” (v 16)
Every time I’ve read this, it sends chills down my spine. Paul was sent. Sent to suffer. That’s a pretty difficult pill to swallow, but without it, I’m not so sure we’d have the Good News today. These men saw Jesus, they embraced Jesus, and their natural inclination, acknowledged in the books they wrote, was to flee and run away. And yet something changed. They were bold in the face of persecution. Though they were impoverished, though they suffered greatly, they persevered and carried the Gospel. Why? I can only imagine it’s because they were sent.
Today, we talked a bit about this in my 7th grade church life group. I don’t know how this came up, but somebody looked up Hebrews 1:3 on their Bible and said: I don’t get it. So I wrote this verse on the white board and we went through word by word. It was powerful. It’s the Gospel. It’s the best news ever.
It starts off: The Son is The Radiance of God’s Glory.
What’s God’s glory? I’m writing this from about 11,000 ft above sea level in Rocky Mountain National Park. Truly one of the most beautiful places on earth. God made it, so His glory must be greater. I visited Yellowstone this year. Fantastic trip, God’s glory is greater still. There is beauty in the scientific formulas that govern the universe. There’s beauty in the stars above and the insect below. Look at anything in all of creation and it is beautiful, complex, mysterious and wonderful God’s glory is greater than all of that.
The Son. Who is that? Jesus. And what is He? The Radiance! The Radiance of what? ALL of God’s incomprehensible glory.
It continues: And the exact representation of his being.
Who is the representation? Jesus is. And what does representation mean? It means he stands in God’s place, presenting God to us. Jesus is the exact representation of God to a world that does not know God. Exactly, perfectly.
It goes on: Sustaining all things by his powerful word.
Whose powerful word? Jesus’. And what does sustaining mean? We had a little trouble with this in our 7th grade group, but let me share the analogy I used and maybe it will help: it’s like a bike. If you ride your bike, you have to pedal. If you don’t pedal, eventually you lose momentum and eventually you’ll topple over. Even if you ride down hill, eventually it flattens out and you have to pedal or you’re gonna fall over.
So sustaining just means that Jesus is keeping things going. What is He sustaining? All things. The entire universe. How does He sustain it? Through nothing but the power of his word. This is amazing!!!
We’re almost there, let’s keep going: After he provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
What is sin? Sin is an old archery term, it means missing the mark. I drew a target on the board and said, this is God. This is how God lives his life. We must always hit that target. Every single time. Then I drew a bunch of marks all over the board. Sometimes we miss it on accident, sometimes we miss it on purpose because we don’t want to live God’s way. But if we don’t live God’s way, we miss the mark. And we can’t be in his company.
What does purification mean? And I took the eraser and I erased all the arrows the missed the mark. Jesus erased every sin we ever committed. It’s called justification and it means: Just AS IF I never sinned. So Jesus, erased our sins, and now that mission has been accomplished, has returned to the father in heaven.
So putting it all together: the Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. -Hebrews 1:3
That’s the Gospel. The Good News is not that we’ve done something to earn God’s love. That we would need to would be bad news. But that Jesus was sent from the Father to do what only Jesus could do.
The heart of the Gospel is the God who sends. When we closed: one of my guys let out a “wow!” about hearing the gospel in this way. I have to as well.