RPM, Volume 18, Number 30, July 17 to July 23, 2016

Sermons on John 17

Sermon XXX

By Thomas Manton

As Thou has sent me into the world, even so now I also sent them into the world.—John 17: 18.

In the context our Lord had prayed for conservation and sanctification; first he saith, 'Keep them through thine own name,' ver. 11; then, 'Sanctify them through thy truth.' ver. 17. In this verse is the reason of the latter request, why he prays for sanctification for the apostles; and the argument which he uses is,' I have sent them into the world.' It was at hand, and therefore it is spoken of a thine done, I am about to send; or it referreth to his election and choice, I have called them, that I may send them to preach the word. The same office which thou hast put upon me as a prophet I have put upon them, and therefore 'sanctify them.' They that are sent abroad to preach the gospel need special preservation and special holiness; their dangers are great, and so are their temptations. So much holiness as will serve an ordinary Christian will not serve a minister. The measures of the sanctuary were double to other measures, and so should the graces of ministers be double to the graces of others. It is not enough that ministers excel in gifts, but they must also excel in holiness; they are to bear forth the name of Christ before the world, and therefore they should resemble Christ more than others do. This is the reason of the context: 'Sanctify them through, or by, thy truth; for I have sent them into the world, as thou hast sent me into the world.' In the text there are two things:—

1. The mission of Christ.

2. The mission of the apostles. Together with the comparison between them both; as thou hast sent me into the world, even so, &c.

First, The mission of Christ, 'Thou hast sent me into the world,' Here you may consider—(1.) Who sends; (2.) The nature of this [Pg. 462] mission, or what this sending is; (3.) The ends and purposes why Christ was sent

1. Who sends. Christ saith to his Father, 'Thou hast sent me.' The Holy Ghost sends as well as the Father, yea, the Son sends himself. The Trinity are one in essence and in will, and their actions am undivided; why then doth he say to the Father, 'Thou hast sent me into the world?' I answer—It is chiefly ascribed to the Father, because it is his personal operation. In the economy of salvation, the original authority is said to reside in God the Father; he sent Christ, and the Spirit fits and qualifies him, and the Son he takes human nature, and unites it to his own person. Now there is a great deal of comfort in this, that the Father sends Christ The Father, being first in the order of the persons, is to be looked upon as the offended party, and as the highest judge. All sin is against God, and it chiefly reflects upon the first person, to whom we direct our prayers, and who is the maker of the law, and therefore requires an account of the breach of it It chiefly reflects upon the first person, to whom Christ tendered the satisfaction. Sin, it is a grieving of the Spirit, it is a crucifying of Christ, there is wrong done to all the persons of the Godhead; but in the last result of all, it is an offence to God the Father, and an affront to his authority; for all that is done to the other persons redounds to him. It is his Spirit that is grieved; and our Saviour thus reasoneth, Luke x. 16, 'He that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me;' so that he is the wronged party. And again, he is the supreme judge. All the persons in the Godhead are co-essential and co-equal in glory and honour; but in the economy and dispensation of salvation, the Father is to be looked upon as judge and chief. Therefore Christ doth say, 'My Father is greater than I.' And all addressee are made to him: not only by us but by Christ: 'Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.' And Christ is said to be 'an advocate with the Father,' 1 John ii. 1. I say, in that court and throne that is erected the Father is supreme; and if it pleaseth God the Father, the business is done. So John xiv. 16, 'I will pray the Father, and he will give yon another Comforter, that he may abide with yon for ever.' Pardon, comfort, grace, all comes from the Father, as the fountain and first cause. It is true it is said, Mat ix. 6, 'That the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins;' but this is by commission from God the Father. Well, then, the Father sendeth Christ Eli saith, 1 Sam. ii. 25, 'If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him; but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall entreat for him?' There may be an umpire to compromise the difference between man and man, and award satisfaction to the party offended; but now who shall state the offence and compound the difference between us and God? Can there be an umpire above God, that can give laws to God? The sin is committed against the judge himself, the highest judge, from whom there is no appeal; and who is a fit person to arbitrate the difference? This is a doubt that would have remained to all eternity unsatisfied, a question that never could be answered. Where should we find an umpire between God and us, to have awarded a meet satisfaction? But now God himself is pleased to find out the remedy. Christ saith to the Father, 'Thou hast sent me;' his act is authoritative and above [Pg. 463] contradiction. If God had not given us a mediator out of his own bosom there could have been no satisfaction, and we had for ever lain under the guilt and burden of our sine: Gal. iv. 4, 'God sent forth his Son, made of a woman.' &c.; he consecrated him for this great purpose. Therefore he is said to seal him: John vi. 37, 'Him hath God the Father sealed;' a metaphor taken from them that give commissions under hand and seal. Christ is a mediator, confirmed and allowed under the broad seal of heaven, by God the Father, as the supreme judge. God hath awarded satisfaction to himself, and sent his own Son to make it

2. What is this sending? It implies three things—(1.) The designation of the person; (2.) His qualification for the work; (3.) His authority and commission.

[1.] The designation of the person. This was an act of divine and voluntary dispensation, according to which the second person in the Trinity, the Son of God, not the Father, nor the Holy Ghost, was sent to take our nature, and the office of a redeemer upon himself. In this choosing of Christ was the original and first rise of elective love. Augustine hath observed, in choosing Christ, what was the reason Christ was the person designed: Col. i. 19, 'It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell' What is the reason we are elected and chosen above others? that God reveals himself to babes? and the things of his grace are hidden from the wise and prudent? 'Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight,' Mat xi. 26. The same reason is given for the election and choice of Jesus Christ to be the redeemer, that is given for our election; 'It pleased the Father;' that is all That Christ might be the first pattern of free grace the Father chose the Son, that he might be the redeemer. It was congruous and very fit that the Son and heir of all things should give us the adoption of sons: Gal. iv. 4, 6, 'God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.' He sent his Son that we might have the same relation to God by grace which Christ had by nature. By nature, he is the only-begotten Son of the Father; and this is that which is purchased for us, that we should become the sons of God; and the middle person of the Trinity is the fittest to be the mediator between us and God.

[2.] This sending implies his fitness and qualification to do the work for which he was sent (1.) He had fit natures; (2.) He had fit endowments.

(1.) Fit natures. He was God-man: God, else how could he send? man, else how could he be sent into the world? This sending implies he was a person truly existing before he came into the world, as a man must be before he is sent, and therefore he is said to be 'sent forth from God;' Gal. iv. 4, 'God sent forth his Son, made of a woman.' 'Sent forth,' that shows his being before he took flesh; Christ was somewhere from whence he was sent forth. And then, 'made of a-woman,' that implies his incarnation. This sending doth suppose his divine nature, and imply his incarnation, or God's bestowing upon him a human nature. God he was, in the bosom of the Father, from, whence he was sent forth into the world. Such an errand as Christ [Pg. 464] came about required a God, no inferior mediator would serve the turn. Nothing but an infinite good can remedy an infinite evil. Sin had bound us over to an eternal judgment, and nothing can counterpoise eternity but the infiniteness and the excellency of Christ's person. His divine nature was requisite in many regards. Partly to give efficacy and virtue and value to his sufferings; and therefore it is said that we are 'purchased by the blood of God,' Acts xx. 28; the meaning is, the blood of that person to whom the divine properties belonged. God is a spirit, and hath not flesh, blood, and bones, as we have; how then are we said to be redeemed with the 'blood of God'? that is, the blood of him who was God; which makes it to be of infinite value, and enough to counterpoise that eternity of torment which we should have endured. Again, the dignity of his person conduced to the acceptance of one for all: 2 Cor. v. 15, 'And that he died for all,' Ac., in the room and stead of all the elect; and therefore that there might be such a value in his sufferings, his person must be thus worthy; as they said to David, 'Thou art worth ten thousand of us,' 2 Sam. xviii. 3. A general or commander given in ransom will redeem thousands of private soldiers; so the worth of Christ's person made him equivalent in dignity to the persons of all those whom he sustained; yea, much more, God was more satisfied from Christ, than if all the world had suffered, and all angels and men had been made a sacrifice. Again, God he must be, because of the exuberancy of his merit Christ's suffering was not only a ransom from death, but the merit of eternal life. By his death he satisfied the old covenant, and ratified the new. The scriptures do not only set forth the death of Christ as a ransom for souls, but as a price given to purchase everlasting glory. A surety to an ordinary creditor, if he pay the debt, he only frees the creditor from bonds, but doth not bring him into grace and favour. But now Christ hath merited happiness for us, and not only freed us from wrath to come, and delivered us from bondage; there was a price paid to divine justice. Again, the dignity of his person was necessary by way of compensation for those circumstances of punishment which did not beseem Christ The civility of nations remits to princes and nobles some disgraceful circumstances; though the punishment is inflicted, jet the kind of death is changed, because of the dignity of their birth, and place in the commonwealth. So here; the sentence which passed upon men was eternal death; the sentence itself is not ravened, that would lessen the authority of the law, and the glory of God's justice. The truth is, there are some circumstances abated which stood not with the worthiness of Christ's person; as for instance, the eternity of the punishment is abated. Christ suffered but a few hours, because of the greatness of his sufferings, and the dignity of his person. A payment in gold is as full and valid as a payment in silver, though it may take up less room, because of the excellency of the metal; so here, the suffering and death of Christ was of full value, though it was despatched in a lesser time; the eternity, that is abated, because of the dignity and worth of his person. Once more, the godhead of Christ was necessary, that he may be able to discharge the office of a priest, as that he might satisfy on the cross, and know all those whom he did personate and represent before the tribunal of God. As the high [Pg. 465] priest had the names of the twelve tribes upon his shoulders and upon his breast, Exod. xxviii. 12-29,—upon his shoulders, to represent them to God, and upon his breast, to show how dear they were to himself,— so Jesus Christ hath, as it were, the names of all those for whom he was to suffer and intercede; he was to know them man by man. And it was meet that he should know all the sins that were imputed to him; and therefore the person thus sent, for such a work as his was, must needs be God. Again, he must be God, that he might support his human nature, and overcome his sufferings. Jesus Christ was to be raised, and also to raise himself; he was to be raised by God the Father as a judge. As the apostles would not go out of prison till the magistrates came to fetch them out themselves, so God as judge is said to raise Christ, and exalt him; he must give him power to rise. But now Christ was also to raise himself: John ii 19, 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it again·' He was to raise himself, to declare the glory of his person. Christ was to rise by his Father's authority, and to rise by his own power. He was to rise by the Father's authority; therefore, as a pledge of it, an angel is sent to roll away the stone, and open the prison-door, and let our surety out of prison, the debt being paid. And Christ was to rise also by the strength of his own godhead. Why? This was necessary for our satisfaction. He that would undertake our case, with comfort and satisfaction to the creature, had need be able to overcome divine wrath, for the creature could never have satisfied. If our surety were kept in prison, and held under wrath, we could have no security that the debt was paid; the great assurance that is given to the world is the resurrection of Christ: Acts xvii. 31, 'Whereof he hath given assurance to all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead; this was his public acquittance and discharge. Again, it was necessary he should be God, for so much of his prophetical office as he accomplished upon earth. Christ came to bring the everlasting gospel out of the bosom of God, and to ratify it with miracles, to choose disciples to preach it, to give the Holy Ghost, to give them power to work miracles, suitable to the tenor of the gospel; as raising the dead, giving sight to the blind, Ac. Thus his godhead was necessary to his work.

But now, upon his sending (and that is more formally and expressly intended in the phrase), he had new qualifications and a new power; for as God he could not suffer, therefore the manhood is bestowed upon him: Ps. xi. 7, 'A body hast thou prepared for me.' This is formally implied in that expression, 'He sent him;' that is, prepared a body for him. God's sending of Christ doth not imply his change of place; for Christ, as God, before was everywhere; 'the heaven of heavens could not contain him;' but it implies the assumption of another nature. He was sent, that is, took flesh, assumed another nature into his own person. Now this was necessary, that Christ should be man, that he might have an interest in us, and have compassion on us, and be in a capacity to die for us. That he might have an interest in us, And be of our blood: the next of blood had a right to redeem, Ruth iii. 9. Therefore Christ, he took our nature, that he might be of our blood, that so he might have a right to redeem us, having an interest in us; and therefore he was not only man, but the Son of man. Christ [Pg. 466] might have been true man, if God had formed him out of the duet of the ground, as he did Adam, he might have given him a true human nature. But Christ was not only man, but was of our stock and lineage; and therefore it is said, Heb. ii. 14, 'Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same;' and ver. 11, 'For both he that sanctifieth, and they that are sanctified, are all of one.' They are 'all of one.' How is that? Of one stock. Justice required that the same nature that had sinned should be punished. It was not fit our sins should be punished in the nature of an angel, nor in the nature of man that was made out of nothing, or out of the dust of the ground; but in one that was of the same stock Again, that he might have compassion on us, as well as an interest in us. Christ hath a nature that inclines him to hi» office; besides his essential mercy as God, there is a human compassion, which ariseth from feeling and from experience: Heb. iv. 15, 'For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.' He took our nature, that he might have experience of our sorrows, miseries, temptations, and so entender his own heart by an experimental pity and compassion. As man, Christ had a feeling what it was to be in the state of men, that we might have an assurance of his pity. As a man that hath felt the racking of the gout and stone is more fit to pity others in the same case, so Jesus Christ, having had a feeling of the buffetings of Satan, and wrath of God, and of the neglects and scorns of men, feeling of all conditions that are miserable, his heart is the more entendered, his human compassion is increased, and God would have it to be so for our greater assurance. Again, his human nature gave him a capacity to suffer. As God he could not suffer; and therefore when God would have no more sacrifices, but all were to be abolished; he prepared Christ a body: Heb. x. 5, God invested him with a human nature, that he might offer one sacrifice to abolish all the rest. Thus you see Christ was sent, that is, fitted by his two natures; his divine nature, that is supposed, and his human nature is formally included in that expression, 'He was sent;' that is assumed a body, did not change place, but assumed a nature in his own person, that so he might be fit to deal with God for us.

(2.) And then he had fit endowments; he came to be loaded with graces and blessings, and with all kind of qualities to do men good: John x. 36, 'Hun hath the Father sanctified, and sent into the world;' that is God's sending, his anointing of Christ as our head, 'with the oil of gladness above his fellows.' As the head of the high priest was anointed, and thence the oil dropped down to all the members: Ps. cxxxiii. 3, 'It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard, that went down to the skirts of his garment;' so our head is anointed with the oil of gladness for our sake·, Christ received the Spirit without measure in our nature, as holiness, pity, and the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Look, tie when an ambassador is sent forth, there is not only a designation of his person, but he is furnished for his employment and work; so is Jesus Christ sent forth, that is, his person not only designed and chosen in grace, and yet in wisdom, but also furnished with all manner of [Pg. 467] endowments in our nature, grace and strength for his work as our head.

[3.] This sending implies authority, and noteth a commission sealed to him, so that he was an authorised mediator, or an ambassador with letters-patent from heaven. This is the principal thing intended in this sending, the call and authority Christ had to do his office: Heb. v. 4, 5, 'No man taketh this honour to himself, but he that was called of God, as was Aaron. So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.' He was designed in the council of the Trinity; and as every ambassador hath letters of credence under the hand and seal of him from whom he is sent, that he may be acknowledged as his deputy to act for hum, so Christ is sent as God's deputy into the world, to act and deal for him; and the apostles they are thus sent from Christ» to act and deal for Christ Here the comparison chiefly holds: 'As thou hast sent me into the world,' that is, given me authority to execute the office of a mediator, 'so have I sent them;' I have given them authority to preach in my name, and to deliver the gospel to others. This sending of Christ, it maketh all that Christ doth in the Father's name to be valid, which is much for the comfort of our faith. Christ is not a mediator by the right, or merely by the desire of the creature, or by his own interposition; but he is sent and authorised; you may plead it with God, he hath sent him to save sinners. You know Moses, when he interposed on his own accord: Exod. xxxii. 32, 'Forgive their sin; and it not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.' Though it was a high act of zeal in Moses, yet God refused it: ver. 33, 'And the Lord said to Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.' So if Christ had been set up as mediator by the right and desire of the creature only, he might have been refused; but he was authorised by God; he did not glorify himself by invasion of the mediatory office, but had a patent from the council of the Trinity, indited by the Father, accepted by himself, sealed by the Holy Ghost, evidenced to the world by his personal endowments, and by his miracles. Thus you see what this sending is; it implies the designation of the Father, the qualification of his person for the work, and his authority to execute it in his name.

3. To what purpose was he sent into the world? I answer—To perform the whole duty of the mediator, but principally to redeem and instruct the world; those two offices of prophet and priest Christ performed upon earth. The apostle toucheth upon them: Heb. iii. 1, 'Consider the apostle and high priest of our profession, Jesus Christ.' Mark, the apostle mentioneth but two offices, but they were the highest in both the churches: the high priest was the highest officer in the Jewish church, therefore he saith he was the 'high priest of our profession;' and an apostle was the highest officer in the Christian church, therefore he saith he was' the apostle of our profession.' And he mentions but these two, because these were the two offices Christ chiefly performed on earth. He came to preach the gospel which we profess, so he is 'the apostle of our profession;' and he came to ratify it with his blood, so he is 'the high priest of our profession.' In short, he [Pg. 468] came to deal with God and with men: to deal with God, and so is a high priest, to pacify God, to offer such a sacrifice as might satisfy God; and he came to deal with men, and so he is an apostle, to open the everlasting gospel, to bring it out of the bosom of God to our hearts. His kingly office was but little exercised upon earth; we have a glimpse of his kingly office, or rather of his divine nature, in turning the money-changers out of the temple; but it was little exercised upon earth. Why? Because this was the time of Christ's humiliation. Now the kingly office suits more with the exaltation of Christ; when he comes the second time, then he comes to exercise his kingly office, to reign, and scatter his enemies, and show his kingly power; but now he came to teach and to suffer. That is the reason why his kingly office is made the consequent of his resurrection: Acts v. 31, 'Him hath God exalted with his right hand, to be a prince and a saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.' Was not Christ king of the church, and king before his resurrection? I answer—As God, so he was a king from all eternity; and in the days of his flesh he was our mediator, therefore certainly king, priest, and prophet; but in the world he did not come to possess his kingdom, but only to preach it and divulge it Therefore he saith to Pilate, John xviii. 36, 'My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now is my kingdom not from hence.' Christ came to bear witness that he was king, but did not come to possess his kingdom and act as a king. As soon as ever he was consecrated to be a mediator, he was king, priest, and prophet of the church. Look, as David was king before God as soon as he was anointed, long before he possessed the throne and was crowned at Hebron, 1 Sam. xvi. 13, for he was king when he wandered up and down, and was hunted like a flea or like a partridge upon the mountains; so Christ in the time of his humiliation was a king, but did not exercise his kingdom. Chiefly, then, he was sent into the world the first time to redeem and instruct the world. To redeem the world: 1 John iv. 10, 'God loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.' This was Christ's first errand, to make satisfaction for sins; afterwards he will come to destroy his enemies at his second coming. And to instruct the world; that is of special consideration in this place: 'As thou hast sent me into the world, so have I sent them into the world.' Christ sent disciples as a prophet, and in this sense he is the 'apostle of our profession;' an ambassador sent from heaven, God's representative; in this sense he is called 'the angel of the covenant,' Mat. iii. 1. The solemnest messenger that ever God sent into the world: Isa. lxi. 1, 'The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek,' &c. Christ was anointed principally for this work, to preach the gospel; he came from heaven to show us the way of life: Heb. i. 1, 2, 'God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.' He hath spoken to us by apostles, pastors, and teachers. Why doth he make mention only of Christ? Because in the roll of gospel preachers, Christ is the first, Christ's name is first enrolled, he was first in commission, and he sent forth apostles, and the apostles others. The [Pg. 469] mystery of redemption was never clearly known till Christ came to preach it; then all the deep counsel of God for man's salvation came out, which was hidden before. Christ brought out of God's bosom the doctrine of the gospel.


We learn hence many things. As

1. The distinction of the persons in the Trinity. Christ is a distinct subsistence from the Father; for he that sendeth and he that is sent are distinct Mark, it implies a distinction, but not an inferiority; against the Arians. Persons equal by mutual consent may send one another; as the elders of Antioch sent out Paul and Barnabas, but it doth not follow that they were inferior to the elders of Antioch. So here it implies distinction, but not inferiority.

2. The knowledge of Christ's person; he was 'sent into the world,' therefore is God-man. He was one that was sent, therefore had a being before he was incarnate; and was 'sent into the world,' therefore there was an assumption of the human nature.

3. It showeth us the love of God; he would not intrust an angel nor archangel with our salvation, but sent his Son: 1 John iv. 10, 'Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.' There is nothing too near nor too dear for us. It will take the more with us, if we consider the infinite complacency and contentment God had in Christ, yet he sent his Son. Man's love is defensive; he loves his children out of design of immortality, because he lives in them. God had no reason to do so; he had many reasons to the contrary, yet he sent his Son to die for us, when we were enemies. And his Son is sent; what to do? Not only to treat with us, not only to borrow a tongue to speak to us, but to take a body to die for us, to be substituted in our room and stead.'

4. It informs us of the great condescension of Christ, that he submitted to be sent: Ps. xl. 7, 8, 'Then said I, Lo, I come; in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart' He was ready, when God would send him, like a servant ready to be despatched upon his errand. That Christ would be sent, that he would take our nature, not while it was innocent, but when it was guilty, liable to the wrath of God, when all mankind were proclaimed traitors and outlaws, and whoever partaked of our nature was to partake of our sorrow; yet then was Christ sent: he came 'in the similitude of sinful flesh,' Rom. viii. 3. Christ did not partake of the infection of our nature; he was not a sinner, by being born of our stock; the infection was stopped by the Holy Ghost; but he took our nature, when it was sinful, tainted with sin, and in this message and errand he laid aside his majesty, and by an unspeakable dispensation he abstains from the full use and exercise of the godhead, not from the godhead itself. Therefore, he prays, John xvii. 5, 'And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.' He begs for his glory again, which he had laid aside for a while. It cannot be meant of the divine nature, for to that nothing can be given; [Pg. 470] it cannot be meant of human nature, because that is not capable of the glory which Christ had before the world was. The meaning is, he desires to be restored to the full use of the godhead, from which he had abstained by an unspeakable dispensation a long time, and by the interposition of his human nature, the glory of the godhead was, as it were, eclipsed, as a candle in a dark lantern; and therefore he desires that the veil might be taken away, and he might return again to the full use of the godhead, having done his work. It is irksome to us to go back a few degrees in pomp and pleasure, even upon just and convenient reasons; but how did Christ condescend and stoop, when he was thus sent into the world by God for our sakes!

5. Here is some ground of comfort to them that believe; you may offer to God a mediator of his own choosing, one that was authorised by himself. When you plead with God, you may say, 'Lord, thou hast sent thy Son.' Or when you plead with your own hearts, you may urge them with this,' God sent him to be helpful to my soul.' These things may be observed from the first thing, the mission of Christ.

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