Each year, I meditate more and more on what Jesus did—and did not do—on the night of his betrayal and arrest. I can’t help but notice the myriad ways He “loved [his own] to the end” (John 13:1), even as He was about to face torture and brutal death.
I see this particularly in John’s Gospel narrative, as Jesus takes on the place of a lowly servant, washing the dust, sweat, and grime from his disciple’s feet, including the one who was about to betray him for money. I see it in the long conversation He has with his disciples over the next few chapters, preparing them for what’s to come, comforting their confused and fearful hearts. These chapters, to me, hold some of the most profound words of comfort in all of Scripture, and to know that they come from the lips of my Savior, as He too was “troubled in his spirit” (John 13:21), puts me in awe of his selfless care for them in his own time of need.
As Jesus prepared himself for what was to come, He cried out to his Father in Gethsemane. But in those last hours, He also prayed for his disciples and for you and me. In love, Jesus’ eyes scanned beyond his impending agony, beyond the present circumstance, and looked ahead and saw us. He saw all that was to come, all who would respond to the call to follow him. And in that hour, He prayed for us (see John 17). He prayed for our unity, for the integrity of our witness, for his love to be in us. It’s beautiful.
Within this “high priestly prayer,” Jesus says, “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world” (John 17:18). He repeats himself similarly after his resurrection a few chapters later. In these words, we see the first form of the “Great Commission.” And the context in which they are embedded forces us to consider the nature of our own “sentness.” As Jesus was sent…so are we, his disciples, sent.
Now, obviously we are not sent to be the world’s redemption. But in the same way that Jesus was a representative and image of God the Father in the world, so are we representatives and images of God the Son in the world. We mirror him. We put the nature of his Kingdom on display. We do this in word and deed. In everyday conversations and everyday actions. We do it on the way, around the table, in the marketplace. We do this with love and service, without expecting appreciation or repayment in kind. We do this even in our suffering.
The road we walk as “sent ones” is not always easy, but we can rest assured that our Suffering Savior walked it before us. We need only to follow. Thanks be to God.
Diana Gruver (MA, Gordon-Conwell) writes about discipleship and spiritual formation in the every day. She is the author of Companions in the Darkness: Seven Saints who Struggled with Depression and Doubt. You can find her online at www.dianagruver.com or on Facebook or Twitter. Diana originally published this work with the Vere Institute (Oct 2014 – May 2021), which was founded to empower Christians to integrate their faith into everyday life. The Vere Institute’s legacy lives on through our Vere Library.