As you have sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.…
It is our privilege to enter at once, by the open door of this utterance, into the interior of our Lord's ideas. He speaks of missions and missionaries. Addressing His Father, He says, "Thou didst send into the world." It was a Divine mission, with reference to a most necessitous field of missionary operation. He says, "Thou didst send Me into the world." Other missionaries were and are required to carry on the great transformation movement inaugurated by the ideal Missionary. They were required to "fill up that which was behind" of His "labours of love," and His afflictions for the gospel's sake. Hence the institution of a new mission by the ideal Missionary, a mission modelled after that of His Father: "As Thou didst send Me into the world, even so sent I them into the world." The Saviour speaks as if He had already moved in person out of the present time into the future, and were looking back to the past. But these apostolic missionaries were not to be the last who would spread themselves out on the field of the world. The work that required to be done would not be finished when their labours were drawing to a close. The generation to which they belonged, having replaced a generation that went before, would itself pass on, and another would come in its room. On the heroes of that generation it would devolve to "fill up that which was behind" of the apostles' labours and sorrows. Hence the Lord Jesus said to His Father, "But not for these alone do I ask, but for them also who shall believe on Me through their word." His mind was looking forward to the living results of the labours of the apostles, and, in these living results, to the first of many successive relays of missionary workers. He prayed, giving earnest expression to an agony of desire, that nothing might impede the progressive subjugation to Himself of the whole world. "I ask, that they all may be one," &c. Our Lord saw from afar the danger of rivalry and dissension among His disciples. He saw that such dissensions would involve disunion in missionary operations at home and abroad; that such disunion meant reduced efficiency all along the straggling lines of the sacramental host; and that such reduced efficiency meant the reduction of the numbers of those who would believe in His mission, and come under the purifying influence of His own and His Father's love. It is but another aspect of this intense longing of our Lord, that, He says, "And for their sakes I sanctify Myself," or, "I consecrate Myself," i.e., "I am, all along the line of My mediatorial career, consecutively consecrating Myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth." It is a grand system of mutual co-operation that is needed; and when all Christian missionaries, in all mission-fields, at home and abroad, become thus co-operative, and hence consecrated after the model of our Lord's consecration, then the bells of heaven may at once be set ringing, in jubilant peals, over the triumph of Christianity.
I. THE AIM WITH WHICH THE MODEL MISSION WAS INWARDLY FORMED AND INSPIRED. It originated in the mind, or, to go further into the interior of things, in the heart of the Divine Father. God felt compassion for men. Hence, His determination to send a Missionary into our human world. It was a determination of pure benevolence. Therein was its goodness, grandeur, glory. Dwelling in His own immensity, as the infinitely happy God, afar from the children of men, and yet near, He beheld them in their misery. The world was full of woes, in consequence of the wickedness of men. Unless the Lord Himself should interpose, what can be expected from roots of bitterness found everywhere — what but the fruits of pessimism and despair? But God has interposed, finding His opportunity in man's extremity. "Thou," says Jesus, "hast sent into the world," that is, Thou hast instituted a mission in reference to this world, and it has resulted in the purest "labour of love." It is nothing less than to bring God's own holy happiness within the reach of His human creatures.
II. THE WAYS AND MEANS EMPLOYED BY THE GREAT IDEAL MISSIONARY TO CARRY OUT THE AIMS OF HIS FATHER
1. He entered intimately and entirely into the spirit of these aims (Psalm 40:7, 8).
2. By and by the grand ideal Missionary "came." His presence on the scene was indispensable. He came without loss of time — "in the fulness of the time." He "emptied Himself of all but love," and came.
3. After He came into our world, He did not take up His abode in some waste howling wilderness, and spend His days as a hermit, remote from the haunts of men. Nor did He take up His position on some conspicuous pillar like that of Simon Stylites, or on some "coign of 'vantage" in the architecture of society, and wave off the crowds that were surging around and jostling one another downwards. Far other was His plan. He mingled freely with the objects of His Father's solicitude. He was found ever radiating pure spiritual effluence, and radiant with pure spiritual influence, wherever men "did congregate."
4. It is noteworthy, besides, that while He did not avoid the society of the opulent and the cultured, yet He made His appearance among the humblest of those who were within the diocese of His missionary enterprise. In His sympathy with the poor, we have a pledge that the time is on the wing, though it may yet be remote, when all honest labour shall be equitably and generously rewarded, and when, in consequence, all the difficulties that beset the perplexing problem of right and righteous remuneration for work, shall, by the logic of love, be satisfactorily solved.
5. He ever went about "doing good," now preaching on the frequented shore, now praying on the solitary mountain slope, now teaching, or reasoning, or comforting, or feeding the hungry, or healing the sick, or enlightening the ignorant, or delivering those who, in their spirits or their bodies, were the unhappy victims of influences inhuman and malign.
6. Then He was "full," not merely of "grace," but of "truth"; and of "truth" not merely as the ethical excellency of absolutely veracious witnessing, not merely, in addition, as the sum of true ideas concerning both God and man, but likewise as the actual antitypical impersonation of the most significant shadows of former ages. He was the true Prophet; the true King; the only One whose authority may be unreservedly trusted even when absolute; the true Priest; the true Sacrifice for sins; the true Propitiator and Propitiation; the true Light that lighteneth the way upward for every man that entereth into the world; likewise the true illuminated Way to the house that is the Father's home.
7. He was, from the commencement of His missionary enterprise to its consummation, engaged in coming under the sins of all mankind without distinction or exception, so as to suffer by them and for them. Our sins became His sorrows and His sufferings, till His heart broke, and His self-sacrifice was complete.
III. For the very reason that the model mission culminated in the glorious propitiatory death of the ideal Missionary, its function as a mission became fulfilled, and room was made for the second great enterprise, with its peculiar complement of apostolic missionaries. They had, as far as was practicable, to take the Master's place on the mission-field, and to carry on the work He had inaugurated. We are thus launched into the third part of our missionary theme — the part that concerns THE RELATION OF THE APOSTOLIC AND ALL SUBSEQUENT MISSIONS AND RELAYS OF MISSIONARIES TO THE DIVINE IDEALS.
1. As it was our Lord Jesus who Himself was the Founder of the second great missionary enterprise, the aims inspiring that enterprise must have been in ecactest accord with the aims inspiring the original project of His Father — to save sinners from their sins, their inhumanities, their woes.
2. It has been within the reach of every Christian mission that has ever flourished, and it is within the reach of every Christian mission that now exists, to cultivate and cherish an exact accord with the aim which animated and informed the mission of our Lord. It was in the bosom of our humanity as well as of His own divinity that He framed and modelled His grand disinterested aim, so that we can get near Him in the ethical peculiarity of His project.
3. The "ways and means" of the great ideal Missionary may in part be imitated by all Christian missionaries. Like Him, they may be —
(3) meek and lowly;
(4) habitually going about doing good;
(5) abounding in prayer.
4. Even when it is utterly impossible to do as Jesus did, as when in "solemn loneliness" He bore the sin of the world and made propitiation for it, still it is permitted to all Christian missionaries, from age to age, to take their stand by the side of the cross, and pointing aloft to the crucified One, to exclaim, "Look! the sight is glorious! Lo, the Lamb of God bearing, and bearing out of the way, the sin of the world! Look! and live."
5. It is a grand privilege to be linked on, as workers, to some disinterested missionary enterprise!
(James Morison, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.