John 17:1-5: This Is Eternal Life
December 10, 2021
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
These few words are packed with theology. They are also replete with meaning, significance, and stunning glory!
First of all, note the primary locus of Jesus’ glory. It is this “hour”; that is the hour of the cross. If you want to know what most glorifies Jesus, what most exalts him, then it is the cross. There is the glory of God most revealed. This glory is not distinct from the glory that Jesus “had” with the Father before the world existed. It is not, in that sense, a new glory; but it is the glory that Jesus had with the Father before the world existed, now revealed and trumpeted to the universe.
The cross demonstrates God’s justice, and therefore glorifies God. No one can say that God does not care about injustice, oppression, evil; he himself in Christ bore the pain of that injustice. No one can say that God is not a fair and true judge; in Christ he expressed the wrath of God on all the ungodliness and “out-of-jointness” and rebellion of this world. Nor can anyone say that God is not loving, merciful, or gracious. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree that we might die to sin and live for righteousness.
If we want, then, to glorify Jesus, speak much about the cross. Focus on the cross. Trumpet and glory in the cross, for the cross glorifies Jesus.
But the second aspect of these few verses is equally remarkable. What do we think of when we think of eternal life? What comes into our mind when we consider heaven? Often enough people think of material prosperity or comfort or lack of sadness. They think of being with their dearly departed loved ones. Some think of ephemeral notions like playing a harp on a cloud. You only need look at some of Hollywood’s portrayals of eternal life to have an idea of what captures the modern mind with regard to eternity: pleasure, ease, sensuality; or peace, family, love. Not all of that is bad (though some of it is). But it is not what God means by “eternal life.”
Eternal life is to “know God and Jesus Christ whom God sent.” That means that when we know Jesus, we have already started on the pathway called eternal life! We already have the “life of the ages” for eternal life is about knowing Jesus and knowing God. When we die, unless Jesus returns first, we will go to be with Jesus in a more real and astonishing sense than in this world; but that knowledge of Jesus and of God then will be a massive enhancement of our knowledge of Jesus now—not something totally different.
Would you then not only glory in the cross, but also rejoice in and maximize your relationship with Jesus? That is heaven, this is eternal life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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