From “Studies in the Lord’s Prayer,” by Pastor K. David Oldfield
Let’s say that when you wake up tomorrow, you’re disoriented and don’t recognize where you are. You find yourself laying on an unfamiliar bed in a dilapidated house with strange pictures on walls. And there Is someone pounding on your door, yelling at you in a language that is not your own. As you stumble to the door, you realize that this is not a dream; this is really happening. You are not at home, and you don’t know how you got to this strange place. The night before you dropped into your old bed in your comfortable old house as usual, but now you’re in Africa, or the Amazon jungle, or some other exotic place.
When you open the door there is a big black man, with tears running down his face, obviously pleading with you in a foreign tongue. But surprisingly you understand every word that he is saying. He says that the weight of his sins is crushing him. He wants to know how the Lord Jesus can save him. He pleads with you to give him the gospel once again; he tells you that he’s ready to be saved. And it’s your joy to tell him all that you know about the Saviour.
Of course this is never going to happen, at least not in this miraculous, instantaneous sort of way. And yet at the same time, that is what has happened to all of us in a not so instantaneous sort way.
Now, let’s see how this illustration ties into the Lord’s prayer in verses 18 and 19.
“As thou hast sent me into the world . . .”
These are the words of Lord Jesus to His Heavenly Father. We are only overhearing this conversation. They can be easily misconstrued if we ever forget that fact. The Lord is speaking under the blanket of some fully understood principles between the Father and the Son.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Arians, the Russelites and many others think that this statement proves that Jesus is something less than God the Father. They say, “See, the Father and the Son are not equals.” But these heretics are taking the Saviour’s words out of their eternal and Heavenly context. The Lord knows exactly what He is saying, and it’s up to us to discover what it is.
This statement reminds us that the Father and the Son are distinct persons. It hints at the pre-existence of the Son. It speaks of the incarnation of the Son of God – as the Messiah, anointed servant of Jehovah. And it shows us that the Son of God did not come to earth on His own authority.
And that last point is probably the Saviour’s main emphasis right here. In the covenant between them, the Second Person of the Trinity was sent into the world, while the First Person remained veiled in His unfathomable glory. This idea is very often repeated by the Lord. “Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” – John 4:34. “But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart” – John 16:5-6.
The Son of God, as the Messiah was sent, commissioned and qualified to be our Saviour. And perhaps we need to think about what the Saviour was sent to accomplish. Was this sending only in the sense of his incarnation? Or is this the commission to evangelize – to spread the good news about salvation?
I think that this sending involved these things, but was primarily in order to save sinners through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.
“Even so have I also sent them into the world . . .”
If you take time to think about this statement, you’ll come to agree with me that this is one of the greatest and most gracious things ever uttered by man or God.
When we compare the Saviour’s commission, based upon the eternal covenant between the Father and the Son; when we think about what the Saviour was sent here to do, and then we hear Him say that He has sent us in a parallel sort of way, it elevates our responsibilities to Heavenly dimensions. What an honor to be placed beside the Saviour like this! We don’t have the same authority, but we in essence do have the same ministry.
It is our commission to “open men’s eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Christ” – Acts 26:18. And this was precisely what we saw in Isaiah’s prophecy of the work of the Saviour. This is why we haven’t been taken out of the world.
“Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you” – John 20:19-21.
This is where my opening illustration butts into the text. We are not here in this world by our own choice or for our own purpose. We have been sent unto a place that is not of our own citizenship. We are in a world where the people talk a language that is different from our own. We have been sent by God, incarnated as Christians, as the ambassadors of Christ, we beseech the heathen around us to be reconciled to God.
As I said, some people find in this verse arguments against Jesus’ deity and authority, but I find exactly the opposite: I see the Lord Jesus’ co-authority with the Father. And as He has been commissioned, he has commissioned us. That assumes that Jesus has authority to send us into the world.
“And for their sakes I sanctify myself . . .”
As we said in our last lesson, this “sanctification” refers to setting apart and is related to “holiness.” But the Lord Jesus could not become more holy than he already was. He was sent into the world and became flesh, even like unto sinful flesh, but it was not actually sinful flesh. He was absolutely holy in his conception, birth, life and even in his death. But he was sanctified, in the sense of being set apart for his office as Messiah, Saviour and Mediator. We might say that in addition to His sending by the Father, the Lord Jesus dedicated himself to this great purpose. He was anointed by the Father, and in addition He sanctified Himself.
Now think about the sanctification of the first born of the Old Testament. Turn to Exodus 13:1-3 and 14-15: “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine. And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten. And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What is this? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength of hand the LORD brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage: And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the LORD slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast: therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all that openeth the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I redeem.”
Can you see that the sanctification of the first born was, in a sense, for the purpose of saving the rest of the people of Israel? And that offering was a type or picture of the Lord Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. He died as the Passover Lamb to make the Death Angel of Judgment skip over us. And He sanctified Himself, to this purpose, that we might be sanctified unto God.
“That they also might be sanctified through the truth.”
And again, what was Jesus’ motive in sanctifying Himself? It can be said in many different ways, but here he says that he sanctified Himself that we might be sanctified.
What does that entail?
Well, it most definitely is our salvation – Hebrews 10:7-10: “Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
“For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren” – Hebrews 2:10-11.
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” – I Corinthians 6:9-11.
This sanctification of ours is certainly our redemption and separation unto the Lord in salvation. But it even more closely parallels the Lord’s sanctification than just that. “God sent His Son into the World that the world through Him might be saved.” Even so I send and sanctify you.
And how is this sanctification accomplished in us? By way of the truth.
There is an aspect in which we cannot be more sanctified than we are in Christ. But there is another way in which there is a growing, developing, progressing sanctification unto the great work to which the Lord has called us. We have been dropped into a foreign world, just as the Lord Jesus was, in order to share with them the message of salvation in the Christ, and we cannot do that without proper sanctification.
And the means of that sanctification is the ministry of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit within us. But it begins with the sanctification of the Lord Jesus on our behalf.
Praise the Lord for His sanctification!