Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
50 And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God. – Luke 24:44-53
No Longer Loved – if Ever it Was, and Sent out to Pasture
Loved and Sent is the title of a book written by Jeff Cloeter, who serves as Senior Pastor of Christ Memorial Lutheran Church in St. Louis, Missouri. He says that these two words define who you are and why you matter. We used this book as the basis for a sermon series at St. John Lutheran Church where I serve. The concepts of being loved (identity, value, and status) and sent (purpose, meaning, and direction) are powerful influencers in our daily lives. If you don’t believe you are loved, you will live defensively, despairingly, and angrily. If you don’t realize you have a purpose and mission in life you will be selfish, slothful, and unmotivated.
Jesus provides these two compelling to us by his suffering and death, his resurrection and continuing appearances. By this we know we are loved: valuable, redeemed, and secure. Jesus’ clear directive is to wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit, receive the gift, and be his witnesses. By this mandate we now have purpose, life has meaning, and we can begin to make choices that honor the One who loved us and now sends us.
Jesus’ love in this passage is demonstrated by his patient teaching about how he was the fulfillment of the Old Testament teachings and prophecies. He did everything that Israel was supposed to do, but failed at. He did what God has promised he would do. He completed the work that had been laid out for him in the whole Old Testament.
His mission for them is implied in that explanation of his fulfillment of the prophecies and writings of the Old Testament. It was necessary that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. God’s purpose in sending Jesus was not only to redeem us, but to send us, to empower us, to commission us, to authorize us to do what God had planned from all eternity.
God’s love is also shown in the gift of the Holy Spirit by which we are – even today – empowered to fulfill his mission for us. We lack courage, faith, wisdom, insight, and understanding apart from the gift and presence of the Holy Spirit. This is the fullness of God’s gift to us: forgiveness and salvation by faith; courage, insight, and wisdom for mission.
We are loved: redeemed, saved, and precious. And we are sent: commissioned, authorized, emboldened. These two powerful words give us identity and purpose. Those are two powerful forces for good in the world today – by the power of the Holy Spirit, and under the name of Jesus.