Sending and the Gospels
A few years ago, I completed my doctoral project by constructing a seminary course on the subject of missional leadership. In the course of my project paper, I did an overview of the motif of sending throughout the Scriptures. In this section, I offer a brief description of how it appears in the Gospels.
The sending within the four Gospels is centered on the incarnation of God. John the Baptist is sent to prepare the way, and Jesus begins his public ministry having been sent by God (John 3:16). The life of Jesus stands at the heart of God’s sending activity. DuBose wrote, “It cannot be overemphasized how deeply the sending concept relates to Jesus’ identity. Almost every page of the Fourth Gospel breathes with a passage in which Jesus expressed who he is in terms of his sense of being sent, his sense of mission.” DuBose rightly highlights the strong emphasis found in the Gospel of John. The idea of Jesus’ sentness is shown repeatedly (4:34; 5:30; 7:16–18; 9:4). Further, John’s Gospel links the sending of Jesus with the sending of his followers in 17:28 and 20:21. Additionally, in John, Jesus speaks on the sent nature of the Holy Spirit, as well to facilitate the mission of God (14:26; 15:26).
The Synoptic Gospels refer to the use of the language of “sentness” to a lesser degree, but still reference the theme in relation to Jesus in verses such as Matthew 15:24, Mark 9:37, and Luke 9:48. DuBose highlighted the Lukan passage in chapter four, in which Jesus quotes from Isaiah 61 while in the synagogue. DuBose wrote, “Of all the Old Testament passages he could have chosen, he selected this one as the platform for his life and work. It became the manifesto of his ministry. We noted earlier in commenting on Isa 61 how all the activities of the Servant of God proceeded from the sending.” With their primary emphasis on the life of Jesus, the four Gospels provide a compelled portrait of how the Son was sent by the Father for the work of redemption. Christ was sent to minister, die, and rise again as a particular work that cannot and need not be duplicated. In doing so, he also provided teaching about and the reality of a new covenant under which the church would be sent into the world.