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Standalone Sermon | So I Send You

June 2, 2024
John 20:19-23

19On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Judeans. Jesus came and stood in the middle of them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 20With these words, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were overjoyed when they saw the master. 21“Peace be with you,” Jesus said to them again. “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” 22With that, he breathed on them. “Receive the Holy Spirit,” he said. 23“If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained.” 

(The Kingdom New Testament Translation)

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To discover and experience Jesus Christ in our midst

To cultivate mutually encouraging relationships

To participate in God’s mission to the world 

Opening Prayer

Lord God, the strength of all who put their trust in you: mercifully accept our prayers, and because through the weakness of our mortal nature we can do nothing good without you, grant us the help of your grace, that in keeping your commandments we may please you both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Responsive Prayer — Isaiah 2

It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord,

Shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills;

And all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say:

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob,

That he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.”

For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

Summary and Connection

This week’s discussion is based on John 20:19-23. In this passage, we see Jesus appear to his disciples on the evening of the day of his resurrection. Jesus enters the room where the distraught disciples were hiding from the Judeans. We see Jesus address his disciples by offering them peace (20:19). In verse 21 Jesus commissions the disciples with a mission from God: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Let us unpack this statement by Jesus.

Firstly, the overarching idea: God is on mission. God has a purpose and goal for all of creation. The goal is to make himself known to the ends of the earth — to reconcile, renew, and restore the sinful people and the broken world. God’s mission is also fundamental to our identity as followers of Jesus; as the Father sent the Son, and as the Father and Son send the Holy Spirit, so the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit equip and send Christians into the world — to share and live out the gospel, making followers (not just admirers) of Jesus wherever he has called us.

Secondly, how exactly did Jesus equip his disciples for the mission as the sent ones? Notice verse 22. Here we see Jesus equipping the disciples for the mission by breathing on them. The word “breath” and “spirit” are the same in both Hebrew and Greek. This action by Jesus signifies the theme of new creation. Jesus is making all things new, and he is equipping his followers with the Holy Spirit to be the instruments of his new creation. This action by Jesus takes us back to the moment of creation itself: God breathing life into Adam (Genesis 2:7).

Finally, what exactly are we supposed to do as the sent ones? Notice the nature of the task: the authority and responsibility of offering and withholding forgiveness. As Christians we don’t generate or produce forgiveness of sins nor the deep lasting life that accompanies forgiveness of sins. Forgiveness of sins and peace with God are the free gifts that Jesus grants to those who put their trust in him. Instead, our mission is to share the gospel with others in such a way that they believe that Jesus is the risen Lord and the only Savior who has the power to redeem and reconcile lost sinners to the Father. 

Talking about the implementation of the gospel message, N.T. Wright explains: 

“There is all the difference in the world between something being achieved and something being implemented. The composer achieves the writing of the music; the performers implement it … Jesus has accomplished the defeat of death, and has begun the work of new creation … His followers are to pronounce, in God’s name and by his spirit, the message of forgiveness to all who believe in Jesus. They are to ‘retain sins’: to warn the world that sin is a serious, deadly disease, and that to remain in it will bring death. They are to rebuke and warn — not because they don’t like people, or because they are seeking power or prestige for themselves, but because this is God’s message to a muddled, confused and still rebellious world.”

Discussion Questions

1. Looking at the Bible

Observation: Read the passage privately. What does the text say? What according to you is the theme of this passage? Do you notice keywords, parallels, or surprises?

  • Notice verse 21: “As the Father has sent me, so I’m sending you.” What does Jesus mean by this statement? Also, who are the sent ones in the passage, and who are they today? Discuss.

2. Looking at Jesus

At Central we believe that all of Scripture points to Jesus. In other words, Jesus is the theological center of the Bible. Every passage not only points to Jesus, but the grand narrative of the Bible also finds its fulfillment in the person and work of Jesus.

  • Notice verse 22. What is the significance of Jesus breathing on his disciples? How does Jesus equip us to forgive and withhold forgiveness from others?

3. Looking at Our Hearts

  • Reflect on the work of Jesus: He accomplishes our salvation on the cross. He offers us peace. He sends us out with a mission, and he equips us with the Holy Spirit to implement the mission of God. In light of this, do you believe that there is a distinction between sacred and secular work? If yes, why? If no, why not?
  • Share about the practical ways you can exercise the responsibility and the privilege of being ambassadors of the Kingdom of God at your workplace or college, as parents, or in the lives of your friends. 

4. Looking at Our World

  • What might it look like for Central to model the way of life of ambassadors of Jesus in a highly stratified city like New York? 


God’s word is a lamp to our feet. Christ’s teachings are a light to our path. May God’s word take root in our lives. May Christ’s love nourish and sustain us. Amen.

  • View Study Guide Notes

    Question 1: Refer to the Summary and Connection to unpack Jesus’ statement in verse 21. Make sure to emphasize the identity of the “sent ones” and the nature and scope of God’s mission. All Christians, everywhere, irrespective of their background, must acknowledge their identity as the sent ones and work toward implementing the message of the Kingdom of God wherever God has placed them. Remind the group that proclamation of the gospel does require words, but it also requires more than words — faithfully embodying the gospel in our actions. Christians are called to be the witnesses of the gospel. Think of a Christian as a signboard on a highway pointing to what is ahead. The essential nature of a Christian as a signboard is to point not to self but to Jesus who alone can save the lost and reconcile and restore sinners. 

    Christians are called to be the instruments or ambassadors of the Kingdom of God. It is not only the main purpose of our lives to point people to Jesus, but it is our astounding privilege to be the ambassadors of the Kingdom of God, representing Jesus to people! God makes his appeal through us. Consider the role of an ambassador of a nation. His duty is to develop relationships, build trust, and learn language and culture — to know what people value and fear, and what animates their lives. Similarly, all Christians (not just pastors) are called to be ambassadors of the Kingdom of God, faithfully striving to implement what God has already achieved through Jesus.

    Question 2: Refer to Summary and Connection.

    Question 3: These are personal application questions.

    Question 4: This is a personal application question.