Sunday, July 26, 2020

John 17 - Part 1

Read John 17

What do dictionaries, glossaries, the back of the textbook, and chapter 17 have in common?

That’s where you can often find the definition of words and terms.

Oh, you mean Google.  That’s where we get our answers these days.  

Sometimes we use Siri but Siri will give you attitude if she can’t understand the question.  So let’s stick with Google.

So, I go to Google and ask for the definition of eternal life and it says it is life after death.  Webster’s says it is life without beginning or end.  But what does the Bible say?

In this 17th chapter, we get one of the few definitions in the Bible.

Are there other definitions?

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

That’s cool but how long is that?  How many days.  How many years?  How many millennia?

Jesus gave us this definition in the context of a prayer offered for his disciples and then for us.  He didn’t say break out your calendars.  He didn’t say, you’re going to need a new calendar app for your phone.

He said that eternal life is in the relationship with the eternal God.  We have listened to Jesus say that he is in the Father and the Father in him for several chapters.  He has counseled his followers to remain in him as a branch remains in the main vine.  We cannot produce fruit otherwise.

Now we are told that eternal life also comes from continuing in relationship with God through Christ Jesus.

We like dates and times, places and events, and things that fit into our perception of reality.  Jesus said, here’s reality.  It comes in relationship with your heavenly Father and me.

Jesus stepped out of heaven to live in this world as a human.  We get that.  Emanuel, God with us, we get that.

Realize that he also stepped out of eternity into our temporal world where no one understands eternity.  Solomon noted that God placed eternity in the hearts of men, but could not define what eternity was. 

People just think that eternal life is more days or years or centuries.  It that eternity of time happens to be in heaven, they expect calorie-free chocolate as well.

You want a human perspective on eternity, ask an eighth-grader who hates English or Math class how long those 50 minutes in the classroom lasted.  They lasted an eternity.

Ask the person who barely makes it paycheck to paycheck how long it is before she gets paid again.  That’s an eternity.

Ask the Christian singing Amazing Grace, how long eternity is, and they will tell you when we’ve been there 10,000 years, we’re just barely getting started.

Jesus said that eternal life is in the relationship with our Father in Heaven and in him.  It’s not about time.  It’s about relationship. 

We understand this in song.

When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound and time shall be no more
And the morning breaks eternal bright and fair

People are count and measure creatures.  Jesus tells us that metrics don’t apply in eternity.  Relationship is what counts.

We are to know Christ and make him known.  In that relationship, we know God the Father and we know eternal life.

Our commission is to take that relationship to the lost.

Our command to love one another charges us to bring that relationship with us as we feed the hungry or clothe the poor, or help someone who is in need.

We are told to seek God and his kingdom and his righteousness and all the things that we need that have become gods to the godless will be given to us as well.

In similar thought, we are to seek God and his kingdom and his righteousness, abide in this fruit-bearing relationship, and we will be given the days and years and millennia that the godless desire as well.

But our hearts seek the relationship not the time.  Time is the reward that accompanies the relationship.

Have you noticed that when you are doing something purposeful that you enjoy, times flies?

When it is something that you begrudge, time drags on.

It could be the same amount of time.  We get a little taste of what eternal relationship might be like. 

Let’s put it this way.  If you had no purpose in life, why would you want eternal life?  If your life just seems to drag on and on, why would you want more?

If you live for God’s purpose, time has much less relevance to you.  The purpose, the relationship, the fellowship governs your life.

The blood of Jesus made it possible to live in right relationship with God.  In that relationship lies our eternity.  You won’t need a clock or a calendar. 

Eternal life is knowing your Heavenly Father and his Son whom he sent into the world to claim us forever.


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