The motif of God as sender and Jesus as sent reaches its climax in
The Johannine community itself faced the struggle of being a religious minority, and its constituents would have been concerned about the future of the Jesus movement. Their focus on God as loving sender and Jesus as the “sent one” gave succeeding generations of early Christians a way to imagine their mission in communion with God, sent to transform the world through love.
The relationship between Jesus and God is a prominent concern of the Gospel of John, and many readers have noted that this theme is accompanied by a “sending” motif. In the Hebrew Bible, prophets are characteristically sent by God to speak and act for God. Likewise, John the Baptist, who is featured in the Gospel of John but is not its namesake—is described as sent by God (
In John’s Gospel, Jesus uses the Greek verb pempein to refer to “the Father who sent me” no fewer than 24 times. These references put the focus on the Father, who through this action of sending authorizes and empowers the Son in his mission. In another seventeen passages, however, some form of the verb apostellein is used to focus instead on Jesus, as the one who is sent. This verb invests Jesus’ acts with the full authority of the Father because he seems to do only what the Father wills. Indeed, for John, the Father is present, speaking and acting in Jesus (