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“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ….” (1 Peter 1:1)

“Of” is a mighty word in scripture.  It can show source–something that originates in something else and shares its nature, substance, reality.  Ownership is another connotation.  “Of” also suggests “from”; coming in another’s stead and on their authority.  Such big ideas in such a little word!

“Apostle” merely means “one sent.”  But when I am one sent *of* Jesus Christ, what a weighty thing that is!  What can it possibly mean?

Hebrews tells us Jesus is “the apostle and high priest of our confession” (Heb. 3:1).  Jesus was one sent of God.  What did this mean in His case?  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).  When the Word was sent, He was God Himself, come in the flesh.  God sent Himself.

As one sent, Jesus didn’t operate according to self-determination.  Though possessing the freedom of God Himself, Jesus chose to live as one who was owned by Another.  “I tell you the truth, the Son is not able to do anything out from Himself, but only what He sees the Father doing” (John 5:19).  Jesus belonged to God, not as a thing possessed, but as a son belongs to his father; a belonging of intimacy, of having complete place and acceptance.

Jesus was from God (John 13:3).  To see Him was to see God (John 14:9).  Jesus came in God’s stead and on His authority: “Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love Me, because I came from God and I am here. For I didn’t come on My own, but He sent Me'” (John 8:42).

As Jesus was One sent of God, so it is for us who are sent of Him.  We originate in Him; we share His nature, substance, and reality.  Jesus sends Himself in us.  “The one who welcomes you welcomes Me, and the one who welcomes Me welcomes Him who sent Me” (Matt. 10:40).

To be sent of Jesus Christ is to belong to Him.  “And He died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them and was raised” (2 Cor. 5:15).  We do not determine our own direction, purpose, or pleasure.  We are sent.  We belong to the One who sent us and to that for which He sent us.  At the same time, our belonging is borne out of the closeness of our relationship with the Lord.  As Song of Songs puts it: “I belong to my love, and his desire is for me” (SOS 7:10).

To be sent of Jesus Christ is to come in His stead, on His authority.  This is more than being a middle-manager.  It means the CEO (Chief Eternal One) Himself is present.  “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:19-20, HCSB).  When sent, we don’t show up.  He does–in us.

What a word “of” is!  It’s the biggest small word in the Bible.  (Or maybe that’s “in.”  Don’t even get me started on “in”!!).  I pray the Holy Spirit awakens us to all that it means to be sent of Jesus Christ as Peter was.

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