Jared Witt - June 6, 2019
After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” – John 20:20-21
“As the father is sending me, so I am sending you.”
Think about that one for a second. Otherwise, I fear, it’ll just sound like one of those Bible-y sounding niceties that can make one glaze over. Or even worse, we’ll turn it into the “doctrine of the sending” and rob it of its teeth. A mentor once told me, if no one would ever object to what you’ve said, then you haven’t said anything.
And Jesus has really said something here, no?
“Yes, yes,” you say, “Jesus sends us to go be like him. Yes, we know.”
No. We don’t know. Jesus has just said something that upsets just about everything we think we know about God and God’s plan for the world.
If you missed it in the English, there is a clue in the Greek that Jesus isn’t just confirming our expectations.
In English, the word is as.
A-s. Hardly a word. Grammatically speaking, it’s a particle of comparison. Particles are the Star Wars Episodes I - III of the grammatical world. That's basically the designation that linguists give to the words that are so boring and meaningless on their own, we don’t even know how to categorize them. If I say a nice robust word like “sandwich,” you might already start to salivate. Sandwich is an important word. It has weight and substance. But if I say the word “as,” what is that? That’s nothing. Because particles are basically useless if they’re not sandwiched between other more interesting words.
But the Greek uses the term kathos. And kathos is what's called an emphaticization of the word os, the more common word translated to “as.” That means it’s like saying “very as.” “Super as.” Kathos is as AF.
So if you were to compare something that is normal and expected—like if a mother is brushing her hair she might say to her daughter, “Here, brush your hair os I do.” But if, for instance, she is picking her nose, something the kid would not expect her mother to want her to emulate, she might say, “Pick your nose kathos I am doing.” Pick your nose even as, believe it or not, just as I am doing.
Kathos the father is sending me, so I am sending you.
Why is this a surprising as? Jesus has just shown them the scars in his hands and the wound in his side.
What does that mean? “I’m sending you out now as wounded people. I’m not sending you out in spite of your scars. I’m sending you out because of your scars.
“I’m not sending you as the most impressive version of yourself. I’m not sending you as your greatest accomplishment. I’m specifically not sending you as Mikey the impressive business executive. I’m not sending you as Agatha the accomplished med school student. I’m not sending you as Lindsey the church council president. I’m not sending you as Earnest, the solid family man. I’m not sending you as Jared the young pastor and notable blogger.”
Perhaps this sounds like bad news? Those might be perfectly fine things to be. They might be. But it seems that, whatever you put on your resume, whatever you casually drop in the conversation when you’re trying to impress at cocktail hour, whatever is on your Instagram Bio…that’s all fine and good. But from a Gospel stand point, it’s whatever. In a limited and very temporal since, those might be fine things to do. But if we take Jesus seriously, the best and shiniest thing about us might be accidental to the mission at best, might hinder it at worst.
Get this: Council presidents and med students and pastors don’t heal the world. Wounded people heal the world.
Here’s the good news. Whatever your deepest and most closely held insecurity is, whatever causes you to put your tail between your legs, whatever would cause you to run out of a cocktail party were it made public, that’s why Jesus needs you for the cause. Because there is someone else with that same exact insecurity who does not believe that they could possibly be accepted into the kingdom. Someone else sat out the party for that same fear.
Kathos. Even, believe or not, even as someone who hung naked and expired a public disgrace and has the scars to prove it, God sent Jesus. And so God sends you.
Cheers and Peace,
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