Summary: The Glory of the Father, Eternal life for men, Preservation and unity of the saints.
John 17:3 (NASB95)
3 “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
It is impossible that any simply human heart would begin to comprehend what passed between God the Father and God the Son with the words, “Father, the hour has come”.
The Eternal addressing the Eternal. He for whom time holds no meaning except for that which He assigned to men, who says of Himself “Even from eternity I am He”(Isa 43:13), is now speaking in terms of hours. And not many hours, for He even said, ‘the hour has come’.
Not a 60 minute time period, but that time, that day that God had determined would be the center of history and the hinge of eternity.
Jesus was about to accomplish His sufferings and enter into His glory with the Father, and so fixed was His determination to complete His Father’s will that He spoke of it as though already done (as we see in verse 4); for indeed, in accordance with His own sinless obedience, it was done for it was done already in His divine heart.
In the same way He once accredited Abraham with the sacrifice of his own son, Isaac, because although He stopped that godly man’s hand yet the deed had been done by faith in his heart, He now speaks of His own sufferings as an accomplished work because there is no power or influence in the heavens or on the earth that can stop it. It is done in His eternal heart therefore cannot but be done in history.
This isn’t some great poetic work that we see here in John 17, meant to wrench the heart strings and stir the emotions of the listener.
It’s not the self-indulgent swan-song of a martyr about to be carried away against his will and hoping someone, somewhere will remember his cause and his passion.
It is the pouring out from a heart that is one and indistinguishable from the heart to whom He is speaking, sharing something that only the eternal Father and Son could share because it has been the plan of the Godhead from before time and therefore no one, no created being whether man or angel or devil could begin to fathom the meaning of “Father, the hour has come”.
There was a time when He prayed all night for the Father’s guidance in who He should choose for His Apostles.
There were many hours, both day and night, that He spent alone with His Father for strength and wisdom and power and refreshing; and for all the things we ought to seek in prayer and so often fail to do.
Now, there was nothing left to pray for except those things most pressing on His heart.
Remember, I told you, the deed was as good as done, so much so that He was speaking of it in past tense. So He was free now to pray for the things most important to Him here, because soon He would be at the Father’s right hand and there would no longer be a need for prayer except to intercede for the saints.
So it should not come as a surprise to any Bible studying, Holy Spirit filled believer that according to this great High Priestly prayer of Jesus, the divine priorities would be the Glory of the Father, the giving of eternal life, and the preservation of those the Father has given Him.
Now listen again carefully:
The Glory of the Father, the giving of eternal life, the preservation of the saints.
Now I’m not trying to contrive some half-baked outline for you in this. I know it sounds like a typical three point sermon in the making and I suppose a pointed and meaningful sermon could be gotten from it.
I just want to save you some reading time since we won’t be going over the entire chapter, by saying these three points seem to be the primary focus of Jesus in His prayer. First, God’s glory, as was His mission and purpose throughout His earthly ministry and even in going to the cross, and the giving of eternal life, which was His purpose toward man in coming (Lk 19:10), and then the preservation of those the Father had given Him.
I’ll come back to this in the end but rather than following that outline out of the chapter as a whole I want to narrow our focus to this one verse today, verse three, and draw out from it a challenge for us, the church, and some encouragement for that challenge.
THIS IS ETERNAL LIFE
“This is eternal life…”
Jesus talked of eternal life and the promise of eternal life (Jn 5:24, 6:47) a great deal in the gospels, as do the writers of the New Testament.