In my previous blog, entitled “Knowing God”, we saw that Jesus shows us, in John 17:3, that the essence of “eternal life” is this: “that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Let’s look at this in a little more depth…
Jesus is praying. But who is the “you” he is speaking to when he says “that they know you?” The question seems simple enough to answer, but we need to carefully follow the question. We read the bible poorly if we do not read it in context. So let’s read the bible well, and go back a few verses. At the beginning of John 17:1-2 we are told Jesus begins his prayer with these words, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.”
So the answer to the question “who is the person Jesus is speaking to?” is The Father. Let’s go back to verse 3 again: Jesus says, “And this is eternal life, that they know you (The Father), the only true God, and Jesus Christ (The Son) whom you have sent.”
Let’s look at the next two verses now:
“I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” (John 17:4-5)
This is no metaphor; no parable; no example; no confusing lesson for the 11 apostles who are in the Upper Room with him. It is simple. Jesus is making a request of The Father, based on the fact that: 1) he shared The Father’s glory “before the world existed”, 2) he has “glorified” The Father “on earth, having accomplished the work” The Father sent Him to do-to save His people from their sins (Matt 1:21). Hold on to this point, if you forget anything else: Jesus existed, and shared The Father’s glory before the world existed.
Now let’s imagine how this would have sounded to an average Jew (at least initially) in light of these two scriptures:
Isaiah 42:8 “I am the Lord; that is my name;
my glory I give to no other,
nor my praise to carved idols.”
and Isaiah 48:11 “My glory I will not give to another.”
God will not share glory. Yet Jesus says he shared his Father’s glory before the world existed.
Let’s go to the beginning of John’s Gospel account, in John 1, and put a few more pieces of the “knowing God picture” together. John 1:1-3 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” The rest of the chapter (John 1) makes clear that Jesus is this “Word” who has always been present with God (which is primarily referring to The Father), and has always been equal to The Father in His nature (the Word was God). Jesus is uncreated, eternal, and “all things were made through him.” Time, space, matter, angels, any other creatures and everything else was all created, and they were created throuh Jesus. So it is clear from this passage that Jesus is God, though he is not The Father. There is only one God. Yet both the Father and Son are God. There is no way we can fully grasp this, but we must accept it.
Coming back to the upper room, Jesus in his prayer (John 17) is making reference to a time when there was no time, when only he, The Father, and The Spirit existed, and he knows he is about to finish accomplishing God’s work of salvation through his life, death, resurrection, and ascension. Therefore, he was looking to his glory, and as the author of Hebrews says, “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” We know The Spirit of the Lord is involved in all of God’s work in His own way, even from the beginning of time, as we read in Genesis one that the “Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” We also know that The Bible tells us God dwells within His people. It is through the person of The Holy Spirit that this takes place. As surely as The Father sent the Son, when Jesus ascended The Spirit was sent to apply the work Jesus had done. The Father and Son are enthroned in majestic glory and we can only experience their presence through the person and work of The Holy Spirit. Here is a gospel promise for all who repent and trust in the finished work of Christ, placing their faith in the “only true God.” Ephesians 1:13-14 “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”
Consider the implications of this now:
1) The essence of eternal life is knowing the only true God
2) The essence of knowing God, is knowing Him as Father, Son, and Spirit
3) There are many bible passages where the doctrine of The Trinity is clear
This is why we sing songs like: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow…praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (Spirit), Amen.” “Holy, Holy, Holy, merciful and mighty, God in three persons, Blessed Trinity.”
This is an extremely simple and surface-level view of the one true God, who is The Blessed Trinity. Why should we consider this topic at all? Jesus said that those who worship God must worship Him in spirit (not based on a location, or building, or facing a certain direction) and in truth (the truth He has revealed about himself, through The Scripture) John 4. We do not need to fully understand the doctrine of The Trinity (and we can’t), but it is one more truth about who God is, and we could benefit from looking a little more carefully at this reality. Isn’t this part of what Jesus is saying in John 17:3? Isn’t this what Jeremiah is telling us in Jeremiah 9:24-25…It would seem so. So we must worship God as he exists eternally: One God in 3 Persons. Blessed Trinity. Praise The Father, The Son, and The Spirit.
In closing, consider these two Trinitarian passages:
Ephesians 2:18 “For through him (Jesus)
we both have access in one Spirit
to the Father.”
Ephesians 3:20-21 “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think,
according to the power at work within us,
to him be glory in the church
and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”