Missional People - Bible Study

by Tom Bulick and Stephanie Thomas on

Bible Studies 1 document
John 20:19–23

  • Missional People | The Scrolls | August 20, 2023

    Copyright Central Bible Church

The Scrolls is a weekly Bible study written by pastors and other leaders at Central Bible Church, based on that week’s sermon topic. Use The Scrolls as a personal Bible study tool, for family devotions, and for small group discussions. You can read part of it below. The downloadable PDF also includes discussion questions, more in-depth commentary, end notes, and a kids’ page designed for families to study the topic together. This lesson goes with the sermon "Missional People."

As a believer in Christ, you no doubt see yourself as a child of God. After all, John says in his Gospel, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believe in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (Jn 1:12-13). And repeatedly in his letters, John addresses his readers as “children,” using the Greek word teknon (1Jn 3:1, 2, 10; 5:2), which connotes those who are “begotten” or “born ones” (cf., Scottish “bairn”). Moreover, you undoubtedly also see yourself as forgiven, justified, sanctified, gifted, and so on.

What you may not see is that you are not only a “born one,” but also a “sent one.” In his high priestly prayer for the Eleven and you, Jesus prayed, “‘As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world’” (Jn 17:18). His prayer and words later weren’t for the Eleven only. Jesus was praying specifically for the Eleven. However, one commentator writes: “Comparison with verse 20 shows that in verses 6-19 Jesus was praying specifically for the Eleven. However, we should not regard what He requested for the Eleven as restricted to them exclusively. The change that takes place in verse 20 is not from one group of believers to another, as though they were in separate containers. It is rather a broadening of the field from the Eleven to those that would follow them. Thus it is understandable that when Jesus prayed for the Eleven He would pray for some things that not only they but their successors would need. Clearly all subsequent believers would need sanctifying by God's Word so that they could achieve their mission, just as the Eleven needed sanctification” (Thomas L. Constable, “Notes on John,” 2023 ed., 446-47, planobiblechapel.org/tcon/notes/pdf/john.pdf). Later Jesus told the Eleven, you included, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (20:21).

The point of the comparison, “As you [the Father] sent me,” revolves around mission. One commentator explains: “Jesus was sent by his Father into the world (3:17) by means of the incarnation (1:14) with the end of saving the world (1:29); now that Jesus’ disciples no longer belong to the world (15:19), they must also be sent back into the world (20:21)” (D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, PNTC, 648). And another writes: “He had come into the world to fulfill the Father’s purpose and had completed his task. Now he expected them to continue his work in his absence. As the Father had sent him to speak his words, to do his works, and to lay down his life for the salvation of men, so he expected them to deliver his message (15:27), to do greater works than he had done (14:12), and to give their lives in his service” (Merrill C. Tenney, “The Gospel of John,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 9:193). As believers we must see ourselves as people on mission, and the subjects of that mission include all those within our sphere of influence.       

In John 20:21 Jesus told his disciples, “As the Father sent me, so I send you” (TEV). Just as the Father sent him into the world so also he sends his disciples into the world. But does Jesus’ use of comparison extend beyond simply being sent? If it extends to the notion of mission, then just as Jesus was sent on a mission to the world so also he sends his disciples on a mission to the world. By implication, then, Jesus’ disciples ought to live their lives on mission like he did. Put differently, they ought to live missionally, which implies they ought to “share Jesus with others.”

Here’s the point to remember: living missionally means living as Jesus’ agent in the world. Living missionally doesn’t mean becoming a vocational pastor or foreign missionary. Dallas dentists remain Dallas dentists; Springfield moms remain Springfield moms; Miami mechanics remain Miami mechanics; Seattle carpenters remain Seattle carpenters; Omaha office managers remain Omaha office managers; Toledo granddads remain Toledo granddads; you get the picture. It means being Christ’s disciple in whatever sphere of work, in whatever community, in whatever church you attend.   

Central Message of the Text: 

Just as the Father sent Jesus on a gospel mission, so also has Jesus sent you on a gospel mission.

  Family Talk:

For years I was scattered with five different kids in at least three different schools. There was tennis on one side of town, football on another and a crowd of kids that needed to be driven to the community pool or a birthday party. I joked with school moms that we spent more time on the streets of 76013 than we did our own home. Home is basecamp for our family. It’s the first place we want to go to celebrate or settle into a good cry. It’s where we recharge with our people so we can do it all again the next day. Like our home, church is another basecamp and extension of our family. It’s where we gather on Sunday to celebrate God’s work throughout the week. We learn amazing Bible teaching and gather with our community to laugh and cry. We recharge so we can go out on mission the next week. At Central Bible Church we are on a journey to “make God known by making disciples who are changed by God to change their world.” This mission is the same for our adults, students and kids. Though our heart might beat for different parts of the world or different areas in which we can serve others, we’re a mobilized unit ready to spread the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. How are you involving your kids in the mission of God? Do you consider them partners on mission? Just like you and the disciples before you, they are being sent into the world with a message of salvation. How are you equipping them? We’re praying for you!