“Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you’” (John 20:21 NIV).
“I am sending you.” Doesn’t that seem daunting? These words to the disciples in John 20:21 may have been both exciting and a bit confusing at the same time.
They had been with Jesus and now He had appeared to them again, bearing the scars on His hands and His side. The disciples had locked themselves together in a room. They were afraid of the Jewish leaders. But that’s not where they would stay, because they were being sent!
In order to be sent, you’ll need a few things that all invitations have in common.
1. A MESSAGE
Did you make your message clear? Every invitation has a message. It invites you to an event such as a party, a ceremony, or a celebration. But to be sent by Jesus with His message may seem overwhelming. You may very well find yourself in situations where you know you’ve been sent, but you’re not sure about how to deliver the message.
That’s when the Holy Spirit will speak. Following John 20:21, John continues, “And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven’” (John 20:22–23 NIV).
The verses describe three kinds of messages that you can readily give your neighbors.
The invitation to peace is something that Jesus offers to all. Yet many people, maybe even the people who live next door to you, do not know about the peace that Jesus offers. How can you be an invitation to point your neighbor to the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6)? We know that His peace is not like the world’s peace (see John 14:27). Jesus greeted the disciples by saying, “Peace be with you!”
The invitation to receive the Holy Spirit was “breathed on them” (verse 22). It is comforting that once you begin following Jesus Christ, you receive the Holy Spirit to direct your life. But do your neighbors have the comfort from the Holy Spirit? Perhaps you will have opportunities to tell your neighbors how to follow Jesus.
The invitation to forgive and to be forgiven is another important invitation Jesus extends. The Lord’s Prayer reminds us to ask the Father to “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12 NIV). Ouch! That speaks personally, doesn’t it? You want your sins forgiven, and you will forgive those who sin against you. How many times should that be? Matthew 18:21–22 (NIV) provides a guide:
“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’
“Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’”
The meaning is probably not a literal 77 times, but even 77 times is quite an expectation.
Maybe forgiving others will provide the peace of mind you need in order to hear God’s voice daily and in order to live at peace with your neighbors.
2. AN ADDRESS
Did you include an address? Jesus told His disciples they would be witnesses “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8 NIV). You may think of Jerusalem as those right where you live and work.
As you think of yourself being a living invitation, imagine that you have been sent to the addresses on the mailboxes in your own neighborhood.
Pray for those neighbors living closest to your house, apartment, dorm room, or wherever you live. Ask the Lord to provide them with His peace and to allow you opportunities to point them to the Prince of Peace.
3. A STAMP
Did you put on the proper postage? It seems obvious that you wouldn’t mail your invitation without including the stamp. Without postage, the invitation may not even be delivered.
But do you relate to others without first spending time with Jesus? As a Christian, you have access to living water that can flow to others, bringing them refreshment and healing. Being connected to the Father provides you with the power of His presence to deliver the message to the address where it can be useful for God’s purposes.
As you relate to your neighbors, consider how God is sending you to each of them to deliver a message through His Holy Spirit to the people who need to hear it. Be aware of how you are being sent in your own Jerusalem and then to Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth.
In our two tracks of online courses this week, we are discussing those things that hinder us from coming to God and from walking daily in obedience to Him. In the course Women Leaders from the Past, participants will engage with the story of Eliza Davis, the child of ex-slaves. She was sent to Liberia in 1914 and served the people there for more than 50 years.
What about you? How are you being sent—much like an invitation—to point your neighbors to Christ?
John 20:21 reminds us of the excitement we have as Jesus provides peace. When you abide in His peace, you accept His invitation to continue on a journey that leads to real life.
Claudia Johnson lives near Birmingham, Alabama, where she has been sent to know her neighbors.