Title: Even so I am sending you
Text: John 20.19-23
CIT: As with Mary, Jesus commissions the disciples with a message of forgiveness.
CIS: We have that same mandate – a message of reconciliation.
Introduction: rd v 19a; On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, I wonder what that day was like. It started pretty early with Mary’s report. John and Peter ran to the tomb. Surely their report, coupled with Mary’s would have set off a firestorm. Every single disciple would have made his (or her) way to investigate. Every disciple! I can’t possibly imagine someone in their position not going. Sure, they were afraid; rd 19b (the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews). But, still, they’d do what Peter and John did. I just can’t imagine it being enough just to hear. For sure, each man there would have risked their fears to satisfy their curiosity. The day would have been filled with the story of Christ’s disappearance and Mary’s explanation. One by one or in groups of two or three, they would have ventured over to see what had happened as they heard about it. According to Luke version of the resurrection and appearances, and Paul’s declaration in 1 Corinthians 15.3, Peter had also seen the Lord. Remember it’s night now and the disciples on the road to Emmaus have run back and added their story to the drama being played out. Some have seen Christ, some have seen the empty tomb and others are just confused by it all.
Enter Jesus. He just appears. No open windows or doors to come through. He is just… there! I’m sure the room fell silent as he stands there. Voices dropping as the room falls silent. Rd v 19c; Shalom, he says. He must have known what they were thinking – that they were seeing a ghost. So to alleviate their fears, he shows them his hands and his side. So what does he do first: He confirms that it really is Him. I say this because v 20 says they rejoiced to see it. rd v 20; Kara – Joy in verb form. So, first he confirms.
What’s the message John records here? All these years later, as John, Christendom’s patriarch in the church reflecting back to his teen years – his early adult years, what’s the 1st thing he says to them? He says hello again and then, rd v 21: As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.; Most literally, this verse is translated: Just as (in the same manner, in the same way) the father has commissioned me (you see, the word for sent is the same word we get “apostle” from, which means sent with a commission)
Let that sink in for just a moment: Just as the father has commissioned me, I am also sending you.
- The 1st words to this group – who’ve been walking with him for a few years now and who know him so well…
- The 1st words to this group – those who’ve been hiding out of fear for the last couple of days because of his death…
- The 1st words these people hear – those who experienced his faithfulness to his Father’s commissioning;
- his 1st words are: Just as the father has commissioned me I also send you.
So the first action of Jesus is to confirm that it really is him, they’re not seeing a ghost. And the 2nd action he takes is to commission them.
So, what does it mean to be commissioned? I think for us, the commissioning is seen in our Savior’s next action; Rd v 22;
- He breathes on them. Gen 2.7: then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. So, he breathes on them, I suppose you would say in a symbolic gesture and says to them:
- Receive the Holy Spirit. Now, they won’t receive the Holy Spirit until Acts 2; however, Turn to John 7.37; 37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
Ill.: The Feast of Tabernacles/Booths – This morning would shape up like any of the other mornings. It was the seventh day of the festival. This morning the men rise early and get moving. There is a massive wave of men moving to three different places. The first is to the Temple were the sacrifices for the day will be lifted up.
This is a huge undertaking. There will be no less than 446 priests and an equal number of Levites to conduct this sacrificial ceremony. It is huge and these men are excited as they make their way to the appointed positions that they will take up. The only days that are different are the first two and the last. These days take on a restful, reflective Sabbath day.
These sacrifices began at the beginning of the Festival with 13 different sacrifices taking place. I believe they were all bulls being offered. It will conclude this day with the smallest number of bulls being sacrificed: seven.
What would it be like, if we could be one of their number? Women, and children, if you could stand on the rooftop and catch a bird’s eye view? What would we see? What would we hear?
This huge number of men and their teenage sons leaving their ‘booths’ at daybreak. The are all decked out in festive array. In the right hand of each man is a set of branches. This set of branches consists of one myrtle, one palm and one willow branch, with the palm-branch in betwixt the other two. This is the Lulabh. IN the right hand, another branch, some sort of citrus branch. It is called the Ethrog. Now, this second branch was a point of controversy with the Sadducees.
Thus armed, with the Lulabh in the right and the Ethrog in the left hand, this massive army of men would make their way to three different areas in Jerusalem. As they moved along they would divide into three different groups.
The first group moved to the Temple area where the fire sacrifices would be offered up. They would remain there for the Morning Sacrifices. Another band would make its way in procession below Jerusalem to a place called “Moza”. This road is referred to by scholars as the road they think lead to Emmaus, where Jesus met two disciples after his resurrection. Here, these men would cut down willow branches and adorn the altar while the priests blew on their “shafar”. This would create a leafy canopy over the altar.
A third company of men would move in a processional from the group left at the Morning Sacrifice. These men would follow a Priest who had a golden pitcher, holding about two pints. Onwards the processional would go, led by the Priest. He would make his way to the Pool of Siloam, fed by a living spring. This Pool of Siloam is the same pool mentioned in Nehemiah 2:14: The King’s Pool. King Hezekiah had it built it because he wanted to divert water and protect their water supply from those who were trying to conquer Jerusalem. Here at this same pool the Priest would dip his golden pitcher into the waters and fill it. Then the whole group would return with the priest, timing it so that they would arrive just as the parts of the animal were being laid out for the morning sacrifice. A trumpet sound (three times) would mark the arrival of the Priest and his entourage. He would enter through the “water gate,” so named for the ceremony. He would pass through the Court of Priests. Here, another Priest who carried the wine for the drink offering would join him. These two men would ascend the altar. There were two silver funnels which led down to the base of the altar: One for the wine, the other for the water. As the priest would pour the water, the men would yell louder and louder to raise his hands and not miss the funnel.
This rose to become a tradition by the time Jesus had come onto the scene. It seems that at some point in the past there was a Priest named Alexander Jannaus. He was in favor of the Sadducees who had a point of contention about the water-pouring ordinance as given by Moses. In protest, he poured it out on the ground before he got to the funnel. All the men saw it and began pelting him with whatever they could pick up. He survived, but a riot ensued and as many as 6,000 men were killed in the fights.
And so the men would join in the yelling and screaming to the priest to raise his arms to ensure he didn’t spill any of the water-offering. The Pharisees, who were the more conservative – legalistic group, won out and by the time of Jesus, the men would make this an exciting, loud part of the festivities.
After pouring the water into the funnels, the great ‘Hallel,’ consisting of Psalm 113 to 118 would be chanted by the hundreds, maybe thousands of men who filled that area. It was like responsive reading, only on a much larger scale. The Levites would sing or chant the first line of each Psalm and the people would repeat it. While to the other lines the people would respond with the “Hallelu Yah!”- Praise the Lord!
When they got to Ps 118, the people not only repeated the 1st line, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever.” They would also say vs 25: “Save us, we pray, O Lord! O Lord, we pray, give us success!”
While they chanted, they would shake these branches, the Lulabh – as a reminder of God’s faithfulness in the past – a reality of their current praise and a reminder to God for his promises. Keep this in mind now. With these cries of praise and hope from the crowd, it was quickly followed by the sacrificial offering of the animal, the drink-offerings, and by the Psalm of the day, which, on the last day is Psalm 82:5; They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
The Psalm was, of course, chanted, as always, to instrumental accompaniment, and at the end of each of its three sections the Priests blew a threefold blast, while the people bowed down in worship. In further symbolism of this Feast, as pointing to the ingathering of the heathen nations, the public services closed with a procession round the Altar by the Priests, who chanted “Save us, we pray, O Lord! O Lord, we pray, give us success!”
But on ‘the last, the Great Day of the Feast,’ this procession of Priests made the circuit of the altar, not only once, but seven times, as if they were once again encompassing, but now with prayer, the Gentile Jericho which barred their possession of the promised land. Hence the seventh or last day of the Feast was also called that of ‘the Great Hosanna.’ As the people left the Temple, they saluted the altar with words of thanks, and on the last day of the Feast they shook off the leaves on the willow-branches round the altar, and beat their palm-branches to pieces. On the same afternoon the ‘booths’ were dismantled, and the Feast ended.
It is with all this activity going on that ‘On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink! 38The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.”’
Explanation: Notice in this passage the invitation: Come. All who are thirsty! The water being poured out. Note 2nd, the declaration: Believe! Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ Psalm 118.19-27a; People are getting all worked up about this water being poured into these funnels and He let’s out this cry of hope for them. The one who can save them is standing right there in their midst! Now, back in John 7.39, John explains just what Jesus means – this living water is the Spirit given to us!
Transition: Let me pull this all together. It’s the evening of resurrection day. Jesus does something that we see is a reference to what he’s been teaching them. Not just in John 7, but continually – they would one day receive the Holy Spirit. He’s saying that A transition is occurring – things are changing. All that Christ has been trying to teach them is now coming to pass. Shortly they’ll receive the power of the Holy Spirit and they will be his witnesses throughout the world. We see him issuing this commission: he says, I’m giving them his authority in the following statement; rd v 23;
Transition: Oh how I wish we could see the importance of forgiveness. How many people suffer each day because they don’t know what forgiveness means. They don’t know how to forgive someone else; they don’t know how to forgive themselves. I think it is so interesting how often Jesus would say: your sins are forgiven. Really, all he needed to say was you are healed, Or your site is restored, or rise and walk. But notice he told them what they needed to hear, “your sins are forgiven.” How often does unforgiveness paralyze us? How often does unforgiveness make us ill as we bottle up the anger, resentment and bitterness?
Observations & Implications: Do you remember that we have been given the ministry of reconciliation: reconciling lost men to God? Us, being reconciled to fellow man? This means going and being restored in our relationships. But even more so, it means restoring the fractured relationship between God and man. Jesus has commissioned you to go. He has commissioned you to go and extend forgiveness to those who need it. And that can only come through the shed blood of Jesus. So my guess this morning is that there are three types of people here today:
- First, those who desire to be forgiven. Maybe today, someone here just wants to be forgiven. Have you ever thought to yourself:” I just wish that I could go back and change those things or that thing!” Well, you don’t have to! That’s already been taken care of and that sin has been washed away by the blood of Jesus. Reconciliation today might be with God and that comes through forgiveness. My guess is someone here today desires to be forgiven. Is that person you?
- For the first time
- For something you need to repent of…like not being faithful to the great commission.
- Second, those who need to extend forgiveness to someone else.Have you been hurt? Has someone done something to you that’s caused a root of bitterness to rise up or maybe anger? I wonder if the person who hurt you even knows? And if they do maybe they think it’s behind you guys. Don’t let that cancer eat away your soul. But instead forgive that person today.
- Third, those who need to ask someone for forgiveness. You know you’ve hurt someone or you sense the relationship has suffered recently because of your actions. This is so hard to do… but will you respond as the Lord has been dealing with your heart.