“Truly, truly, I say to you,
whoever receives the one I send receives me,
and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me."
This is the second of four "Truly, truly" sayings in the thirteenth chapter of John's gospel. John's gospel is unique in the amount of recording and emphasis given to the last night Jesus was with his disciples. John, who outlived all of his fellow disciples, undoubtedly had many years to ponder and meditate on what Jesus had done and said in his entire life, and he clearly particularly had strong recollections and feelings about what Jesus said and did in the imminent time before his arrest, trial, and crucifixion. In the absence of a "written" legal will, John is clear he considers this last evening with Jesus to be a "Last Will and Testament" time with his Lord.
After making it clear that Jesus and his disciples are not to be about power and prestige (demonstrated by foot washing), Jesus now offers a promise of immeasurable comfort to a set of disciples who are not yet grasping the full impact of what is about to happen.
Jesus makes clear with this "Truly, truly, I say unto you, whoever receives me receives the one who sends me" that his disciples are no mere "band of brothers" in any normal human sense.
It is a wonderful thing to be a member of a chosen group. I cherish the memories of being a band member in 1972 when our band was selected to travel to Vienna, Austria for a contest -- the only high school band from the state of Oregon so honored. The experiences and times together have bound that group close together in ways many people cannot imagine. "We were members who did that." Many people have similar precious memories related to sports teams, clubs, sororities or fraternities, summer camps, military experience, or any number of such group activities.
Imagine for a moment, though, what it must have felt like to hear the Lord Jesus say, "He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me." The promise here is simply breathtaking. We are directly in line as the conduit through which God the Father has chosen to make His will known and done in the world. The Father sent Jesus to make himself known to us (John 1:18). Jesus sends the disciples to make himself known to others. Now we are in that same chain of revelation. Such an honor, such a task.
This pattern should be very clear to us. This is the language of ambassadorship and diplomacy. An ambassador speaks the will and interests of the country he/she represents. Wars have been started over improper reception of a nation's ambassador; indeed Genghis Khan once obliterated a whole empire in central Asia when his ambassadors to that nation were abused, tortured, and returned to him deeply damaged. The whole notion of international diplomacy and diplomatic immunity in this old world are rooted in the level of respect that an ambassador commands as the representative of a king or nation.
So consider carefully how you are being honored and burdened by this word from Jesus. Honored because you are a chosen, adopted child and representative of God the Father himself through His chain of promises. But also burdened in that we daily fail to represent our great high king in the most positive way. Genghis Khan regularly killed ambassadors who misrepresented him to others. Thank the Lord that Jesus is no Genghis Khan. Jesus forgives even his ambassadors when they fall short.