…. that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. John 17:3Someone once said, that God created man in His own image, and man has returned the compliment. In Jesus’ prayer above He expresses to His Father the very essence of what eternal life is all about. Jesus did not speak of the duration or the eternality, nor the joys, the happiness or peace, although all those things certainly are a part of eternal life. What Jesus focused on of all things is that we may know the true God. We may know Him as He truly is. Not an image of God as expressed by another, nor our own misconception of Him. It is so very easy for us to give God attributes that He does not possess, and to deny Him attributes that He desires we be familiar with. We create God in our own image, and wonder why so few we witness to want to know that God.
The single most important attribute God desires we be familiar with is His love. Jesus came to reveal to man the Father. He said if we have seen Jesus, we have seen the Father. Jesus was the express image of His Father, the personification of God in the flesh.
Jesus said an extraordinary thing on His way to the cross. He said :
John 10:15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
There was never a time when Jesus could not have pulled the plug on His death. He had the authority and power to literally squash His enemies under His feet and return to heaven leaving mankind to its doom. In the garden He pleaded with His Father in the hope there was another way. Not another way out of saving man, but another way that didn’t mean separation from His Father. His bond and connection with His Father was so close He dreaded and feared the separation. And as the burden of guilt for the sins of mankind were laid upon Him, He began to sense the exact same death that all must experience who would die in their sins. Total, complete life draining separation from the only source of life, God the Father; a death from which there is no hope of a resurrection, a death of which there is no end. Eternal death without hope. That is our lot, those of us who refuse to repent and accept the substitutionary death of our Saviour.
Jesus paid the full price for our sins. He did this voluntarily, laying His own life down out of deliberate choice. And because as the sins of the world were laid upon Him He continued on His course, even when He couldn’t see past the grave to His resurrection, the love He there demonstrated is the love He wants us to understand.
Jesus self sacrificially considered the saving of our lives of greater priority than saving His own! Jesus had no desire to live in eternal glory if we were not there with Him. Calvary was the ultimate revelation of the true nature and character of God. Calvary was the crown which adorned all that had gone before. And Calvary belonged as much to the Father as it did to the Son.
2 Cor 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself….
Amazingly, in the same prayer in which Jesus spoke of life eternal, He added:
John 17:23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
Wow. God the Father loves us just as He loves His own Son Jesus!!!
What this means is that despite our sin, despite our shortcomings, faults, personality disorders, eccentricities, character defects and so on and so on, His love towards us doesn’t change, doesn’t relent, doesn’t fade, doesn’t even flicker. Unlike man, who draws away from people who offend, God draws nearer. No wonder the apostle John declared; “what manner of love is this!”
Let us get to know this God of uncompromising unconditional love. Let us know and love Him who first loved us, and gave Himself for us. “For this is life eternal, that we might know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He did send.”