Photo by Joshua Earle at Unsplash.com

Photo by Joshua Earle at Unsplash.com.

What hinders the next generation from heading out into the mission field?

That’s the one question that’s been on my mind for several months now. And from the many conversations I had, as well as a quick survey we made at P4M, parents emerged as the strongest factor.

I want to tread carefully: This thought piece isn’t about pinning blame on parents. Instead, I want you to see the Father’s heart for us.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son.” John 3:16

We all know the verse and phrase very well – He gave His one and only son. But do you truly know what it means? That God the Father sent His one and only Son?

It’s not just God sending Jesus – it’s a father sending his only child.

His only child.

For God so loved the world. This was the world He created – one which severed its ties with its Creator and was spiralling into hopelessness.

Yet in His great love, He sent His only son to redeem what only He could redeem and restore.

God sent Jesus despite knowing death awaited His only Son.

He did not send grudgingly. He did not send reluctantly. He sent lovingly.

I felt God say to me: “Did you know both the Father and the Son knew He would be crucified?”

Jesus came knowing He was going to die. The Father knew – but still sent.

I definitely understand that parents are concerned about their children’s safety.

 I am not downplaying that here. Nobody wants to see their loved ones face danger or death. But as a sending agency, it is definitely not on our hearts to send recklessly – disregarding risk and danger.

Objectively speaking, there is no certainty that the children we send out won’t die in the course of their mission trip. But God sent Jesus despite knowing death awaited His only Son. And Jesus came, knowing He would be led as a lamb to the slaughter.

And then the Holy Spirit brought a verse to mind: ‘The Lord was pleased to crush him.” Isaiah 53:10

How could a father be pleased to crush his own son for sins and transgressions his son never committed? That’s insane and ridiculous!

But it “pleased” the Father to crush His Son for the sins of this world because of just how much He hates sin.

For all the brokenness and bloodshed in this world – slavery, child soldiers, divorce, addiction and so on – it only makes sense that He thoroughly hates what sin has done to His creation. It makes sense that He is pleased to crush sin.

But to crush His one and only Son for the sins of the world? Maybe God the Father didn’t really love His Son Jesus – maybe that’s why it wasn’t that hard to crush Him?

  • This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3:17)
  • And a voice came from heaven, saying, “You are My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.’’ (Mark 1:11)
  • And the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form like a dove on Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son. In You I am well pleased.’’ (Luke 3:22)

Three of the four gospel accounts tell us that Jesus is God’s beloved Son in whom He is well pleased. And yet it pleased the Father to crush His beloved Son for us.

Because of Jesus’s sacrifice and resurrection, we are cleansed and sanctified – adopted into God’s family.

We are God’s children today because He was pleased to crush Christ – on whom all the sins of the world had been placed – for us. Where else would you find such radical love?

I will never fully know His love for a hopeless world. And I can’t help but worship Him.

Writing this piece, I’ve come to realise that we as the body of Christ may have misrepresented God’s heart behind John 3:16.

John 3:17 (which no one talks about) makes it plain for us: “For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Eternal life is not just a ticket into heaven. It’s being adopted into sonship.

If we are not careful, we may present the good news as an eternal death threat.

Certainly the focus shouldn’t be on the consequence, it should be on God’s heart. God’s heart is one of reconciliation, redemption and restoration. John 3:16 is an invitation to live in His radical love.

To me, the word perish doesn’t merely mean death. It’s the pain we feel, and the hopelessness. It is being away from Him – the source of life. Eternal life is not just a ticket into heaven. It’s being adopted into sonship: Loving God and restoring our relationship with Him, enjoying His impossible love in an abundant life.

He invites us to live with Him in eternity. It pleased God to crush Jesus for us, who gladly sent His one and only Son, so that we can come home to Him again.

Would you do the same?


This story was first published at Thir.st, a website for honest conversations about faith and life.

About the author

Joey Lam

Joey is learning to be an effective communicator and mobiliser in Interserve. He loves collecting, processing and exchanging puzzle pieces with others in God's Kingdom. His heartbeat is to equip younger ones to fully live out the Gospel wherever God has placed them.