"I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am he. I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the One who sent me." (John 13:19-20)
Who is 'the One who sent me'?The Greek word λαμβάνω (lambanō) is being translated to "accepts," but this also means "receives" or "to take with the hand, lay hold of, any person or thing in order to use it" but also, figuratively, to "embrace."
Whether the word "accepts", "receives" or "embraces" is used, there is a double entendre being utilized here. Jesus is not talking about a physical embrace, acceptance or reception. He is talking about accepting his teachings. And by accepting his teachings, we are effectively accepting God Himself.
The "One who sent me" is none other than the Supreme Being. The definitive word in this phrase is πέμπω (pempō). This means "to dispatch" someone to do something. Jesus is communicating that the Supreme Being has dispatched him. Why?
Jesus is saying that he has been dispatched from God to teach, and he is dispatching his disciples to pass on these teachings.
And Jesus is speaking of those who embrace those teachings. Those who embrace his instructions - which means carrying out those instructions.
What are Jesus' most important instructions?Jesus was dispatched to instruct us on our primary objective in life. This is the objective that will fulfill our spiritual nature:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor [others] as yourself.'" (Matt. 22:37-39)This means the Supreme Being wants us to return to our loving relationship with Him. He wants us to come home to Him. He does not need us: He is not dependent upon us. But He knows that we will only be truly happy when we return to Him. And He loves us, and thus wants us to be happy.
We were created to love and care for the Supreme Being and His children. That is, all His children, not just our "neighbors" - a weak translation of the Greek word πλησίον (plēsion), which can mean "any other person."
Who is Jesus referring to as 'anyone I send'?Jesus also says, "I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me." Who is Jesus talking about as "anyone I send?"
Jesus discusses two sender-messenger scenarios here: 1) God sending Jesus, and 2) Jesus sending someone else.
Jesus refers to three possible receptions: 1) Accepting Jesus; 3) accepting God who sent Jesus, and 3) accepting someone who Jesus sends.
This doesn't mean that Jesus or those who Jesus sends out are God. It means they are representing God.
What does 'believing that I am he' mean?Part of the first sentence is mistranslated.* Jesus is not saying, "you will believe that I am he."
Who is the "he" that Jesus is referring to? This statement is not at all what the Greek being translated indicates.
The Greek phrase being used is πιστεύσητε ὅταν γένηται ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι. Let's break this down:
The Greek word πιστεύω (pisteuō) means "to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in" or "to trust" according to the lexicon.
The Greek γίνομαι (ginomai) means "to become, i.e. to come into existence, begin to be, receive being" according to the lexicon, or to "arise, appear in history, come upon the stage" as in "of men appearing in public."
The Greek word ὅτι (hoti) means "that, because, since" according to the lexicon.
Then ἐγώ (egō) means "I" or "myself"
And εἰμί (eimi) means "to be, to exist, to happen, to be present" according to the lexicon.
Putting this together with the context, it is apparent that Jesus is saying something like:
"...you will trust in who I am."or more simply:
"...you will trust in me."*
Why is trusting in Jesus so important?Jesus clarifies this in the next sentence:
"Very truly, I say to you, one who receives those I send receives me; and one who receives me receives Him who sent me."*So trusting in his appearance means to accept (or trust in) the Person who sent Jesus. Who is this? It is none other than God.
While functionally correct, in the NIV version above, this second sentence is translated in such a way that seems to de-emphasize the "One" who sent Jesus. The translators did not even capitalize "One" in their translation (added here). Who were they thinking Jesus was sent by?
This illustrates the translators' lack of empowerment by God. To not acknowledge and understand Jesus' relationship with God automatically disqualifies a person from translating Scripture.
Was Paul also 'anyone I send'?
As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. (Acts 9:3)
He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" "Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked. "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied. "Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do." (Act 9:4-6)
The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. (Act 9:7)
At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, "Isn't he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn't he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?" (Act 9:20-21)
This is within days of his "conversion." So Paul apparently doesn't take the time to learn and absorb Jesus' teachings. He doesn't take Jesus' teachings into his heart and practice them for any stretch of time. Rather, within days, he immediately begins teaching in the synagogues - claiming to be an apostle of Jesus within days of having a "vision" of Jesus - which was only a flash of light that no one else saw. Isn't this all a bit coincidental?
In other words, within days of this flashing light vision, Paul was collecting followers. Can we trust Paul when we combine this with the reality that many of his teachings conflicted with Jesus' teachings?
This isn't just about trusting that Paul was just arresting Jesus' followers and persecuting them. Yes, that freaked out everyone - that immediately Paul was claiming to represent Jesus and the week before he was persecuting Jesus' followers.
But it is also about trusting the teachings of someone who didn't learn and practice those teachings for any appreciable length of time. Someone who supposedly saw a flash of light and heard a voice and then began preaching and collecting followers. How can such a person be trusted that they are teaching something they know about?
At least we know that Jesus' followers studied under Jesus. They heard his teachings and applied them to their lives. Then some of them also were criticized by Jesus, so they could make corrections. This is what makes a good teacher: Someone who teaches from experience and application.
Then we find that Jesus personally instructed these followers (at least 72 according to Luke 10) to preach to others. These followers were Jesus' true messengers. They were those Jesus is referring to when he says, "anyone I send"
But Paul just claimed to have a posthumous flash of light, then claimed himself to be the true apostle of Jesus. Not only that, he began to argue against the teachings of Jesus' actual apostles, James and Peter. He argued with them in public - in front of hundreds of people!
So not only did Paul have a suspect "vision" and then curiously begin to teach without first taking time to learn and practice Jesus' teachings. But then he created a teaching that was inconsistent with Jesus' own teachings, and argued against the teachings of Jesus' leading disciples, James and Peter:
When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. (Galatians 2:11)
Yet we find - again curiously - that 13 of the 27 books of the New Testament are about Paul. And it so happens that Paul's teachings - the Pauline theology which differs from Jesus' teachings - are the foundation of the Nicene Creed and the Roman Catholic Church, and those institutions of today that embrace Pauline theology.
Curiously, the Nicene Creed was dictated by a council (First Council of Nicaea) hand-picked by the Roman emperor Constantine. And curiously, Constantine ordered Eusebius to assemble what we know today as the Bible. And curiously, Eusebius left out many other texts that portray Jesus' life and teachings, while including even the most minor letters between Paul and some of his followers.
It's almost like the New Testament is more about Paul than it is about Jesus.
Then the Romans burnt and destroyed those other scriptural texts about Jesus, throughout the region. If it wasn't for a few smart scribes that buried their scrolls or hid them in caves, we'd know nothing about this vast Roman cover-up.
The only Roman-authorized texts about Jesus were in the Latin Bible - and for centuries no one could read them except for Roman Catholic priests and other Roman authorities.
And curiously, Paul was also a Roman.
The Nicene Creed interpreted Jesus' identity as being God in order to support a position that their religion could be the only correct religion. In doing this, they effectively forgot the Supreme Being that Jesus was teaching about - the "One who sent me."
*Here is the translation of Jesus' statement from the Lost Gospels of Jesus:
"From now on I am telling you before it takes place, so that when it does happen, you will trust in me. Very truly, I say to you, one who receives those I send receives me; and one who receives me receives Him who sent me.” (John 13:19-20)