Chapter 17, like 16 begins mid-thought. To start there seems inappropriate, so I recap just a bit.
For the time is coming (John 16:2)
Everything about this statement screams excitement. For the disciples it was mixed with pain and sorrow, and yet their time was just around the corner. For those of us that read these passages today the time has already come. There are many who believe that he is still speaking in mystic code, and there are many who believe that the time of God that scripture is speaking plainly to us about, passed with the disciples.
In speaking to the disciples, trying to comfort them and at the same time telling them what their future would be like, he said,
(I am going to give this to you in a variety of versions because
the traditional one just does not convey what he was saying and some versions
are even mysterious.)
- Something close to standard:
John 16:25 MKJV I have spoken these things to you in parables, but the time is coming when I shall no more speak to you in parables, but I will show you plainly of the Father.
- A simplistic, childlike version:
John 16:25 GW “I have used examples to illustrate these things. The time is coming when I won’t use examples to speak to you. Rather, I will speak to you about the Father in plain words.
- This version, though it coveys the meaning, comes off rather intimidating:
John 16:25 ASV These things have I spoken unto you in dark sayings: the hour cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in dark sayings, but shall tell you plainly of the Father.
- When trying to find an accurate translation of scripture, many have said that the NASB is one of the best.
John 16:25 NASB “These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; an hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but will tell you plainly of the Father.
The hope is that I can give you a translation that allows you to grasp the heart of what Jesus is still telling us today. Sadly, I think that many will still read these passages and determine that this “speaking plainly” was momentary and only for the disciples. I do not agree.
If this was meant to be merely a history of the moment it still demonstrates that there was a turning point, and we know that turning point caused them (the disciples, over 120) to be empowered. The revealing of this change is not that turning point, that happens when they received the Holy Spirit.
I have come to believe that every follower of Jesus Christ received the Spirit of God when they accepted Christ, but I do not see the empowerment in believers that is associated with the baptism; this empowerment is a huge aspect of the message we see in Acts, and a major factor in the drawing of people to Christ.
(An idea that I attempt to develop is that God’s main purpose is to win back the world through love. Considering how broken and disoriented we are that really only happens because of repeated acts demonstrating that He can be trusted and loved. Perhaps this is why the Holy Spirit is sent to empower us; to demonstrate His acts of love, repeatedly to a broken world.)
“I have come to believe that every follower of Jesus Christ received the Spirit of God when they accepted Christ”
What is wrong with this picture? While it has a multitude of answers, primarily conjecture, as to why, I believe that the deceiver/Satan has done an effective job in getting us to believe that we are powerless, that all that God gave these men was not meant for us and has passed, nor do we get what they got because we don’t need it today – we have doctors and they didn’t. Do you really believe that?
Jesus said he would speak plainly.
Since Christ is the embodiment of the Father then it is the Father that is speaking to us. I try to maintain that attitude so that I do not diminish the word coming to me. An incident I had at work a short time ago, might help to convey what I am talking about.
The store had been closed for a hour and a half. That was when the supervisor that I had unloaded some grief on earlier in the day decided to ask me how I was doing (Look, when you are not doing mentally well it is easy to perceive a simple, innocent question as harassment, and I did). When this happened I knew that I had three choices I could make in response to what was said. I chose poorly, and I have to take responsibility for that. The following day, during worship time at church, the Spirit spoke to me. I knew, without a doubt, that it was Jesus speaking to me. He spoke very plainly and distinctly to me; he spoke in terminology that I understood, and yet when I answered Him back I said, yes sir. That answer, in my mind, conveyed an importance as if the Father was speaking to me.
I guess the take away from John 16:25 is: What is he saying to you?
Another vital aspect of chapter 16 before we move into chapter 17 is,
John 16:27 NASB for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father.
I would think that it was obvious that Jesus loved the disciples, and by extension you and I for scripture tells us “that God so loved the world”, but this is taking on a whole new depth for me. The Father loves me!
Why is this aspect of the Father’s love so important?
When you have not had a father’s love and cannot even understand it, a statement like this is incredible. Some who read this have been sexually abused, while others had nothing more than an ominous dictator for an example.
How do you change an attitude that is that damaged?
Only through repetitious displays of love and a rebuilding of trust. The God of love is all about that, this rebuilding of broken lives; it seems to be his thing.
Jesus introduced his ministry, and the Father’s heart, when He quoted this passage from Isaiah to those in the synagogue that day.
Isaiah 61:1 NASB The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners;
He effectively told them: This is why I am here and who I am; who God, the Father is!
Consider some of our main characters of the bible when you think about this love toward man.
- Abraham: has God show up in a dream/vision, lays out his plan to rescue man, what he will do for Abraham if he follows God’s lead, and ends with a defining statement as to His unchanging ways when he says, “as for me.” This happens repeatedly.
- Samson: this man became prominent in my thinking recently when one of the men in bible study opened up about his desire to lead a youth bible study. He mentioned Samson as a character study he could use. I responded by saying how Samson could be one of the most difficult characters to use because he, at every turn, displays his self will instead of following God’s will. What makes Samson stand out is his trust and God’s trust of him. God never let go, nor gave up on him. The Father loved him.
This seems like the perfect lead in to chapter 17
John 17:1 BBE Jesus said these things; then, lifting his eyes to heaven, he said, Father, the time has now come; give glory to your Son, so that the Son may give glory to you:
“Father, the time has now come;”
Did we have any doubts as to when the time would come?
It almost seems appropriate to say, I saw the movie and I know what is coming next. Really I have read and heard this story many times and know the torture he will soon endure, his eventual death, resurrection, return to the Father, and the coming of the Holy Spirit.
And yet many are still looking for that time to come. I cannot begin to tell you how sorrowful that makes me.
“the time” takes on multiple meanings all of sudden.
You should know at this point that he is aware of the impending pain, and unspeakable horror, but that is not the “the time” he is referring to.
He is also intensely aware that the plan of salvation is about to come to fulfillment, and there is the fact that soon, the Holy Spirit of God will be poured out, not only on the disciples, but everyone.
Read Acts 10:22-44 There you find that this Holy Spirit not only fell on someone other than a disciple, but a non-Jew as well.
“glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You..”
Glorify = to render esteem.
This is not be something that God suddenly decided Jesus was worthy of.
Psalms 86:9 NASB All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, And they shall glorify Your name.
Unless something changed, but what changes, even if at least momentarily?
Jesus, while hanging on the cross, an action soon to transpire, says,
Mark 15:34 MKJV And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? (which being translated is, My God, My God, why did You forsake Me?)
I cannot tell you how many sermons I have heard on this and yet so few seem to get it. The relationship was broken, and lost, at least momentarily.
God had to forsake him. (Forsake= to quit or leave entirely)
Why? Because Jesus became sin.
2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
I have heard it said that God cannot look upon sin, but I cannot find a precise reference in scripture that defends this sort of statement.
Ezekiel gives me a little something, but I cannot really see how this fits unless it demonstrates how Jesus took the full brunt of wrath that we deserved.
Ezekiel 5:11 (11) Therefore, as I live, saith the Lord; surely, because thou hast defiled my holy things with all thine abominations, I also will reject thee; mine eye shall not spare, and I will have no mercy.
The prophet Habakkuk prophesied and lamented at the same time, and to some degree made the statement, but there is a context and you have read the statement in light of the context, and it is not about God just turning his back on evil.
Habakkuk 1:13 GNB But how can you stand these treacherous, evil men? Your eyes are too holy to look at evil, and you cannot stand the sight of people doing wrong. So why are you silent while they destroy people who are more righteous than they are?
There was more to this payment He made on the cross than just sin.
Hebrews 12:2 NASB fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
All of the payment for sin, sin that was our debt, not his, was placed upon him.
Colossians 2:13-14 NASB (13) When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, (14) having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
They did not nail any pieces of paper to the cross with our sins written on it, (I have done this several times. There is the opportunity for a mental, momentary separation from that sin, but it does not remove sin) and tell us ok, all is forgiven. No, Jesus took this unto himself. He became sin; our sin, and was himself nailed to the cross. That action bought our forgiveness, canceled our debt for sin, and completely took it out of the way.
John 17:2 NASB even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life.
Sorry, this just does not make sense. Lets try another version.
John 17:2 EMTV just as You have given Him authority over all flesh, so that He will give eternal life to all You have given Him.
Jesus is still alive at this point, and there is a general understanding that Jesus submission to the cross entitled him to great benefits.
Philippians 2:8-11 EMTV (8) And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (9) Therefore God also has highly exalted Him, and has graciously given Him a name which is above every name, (10) that at the name of Jesus every knee may bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, (11) and that every tongue may confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
So the authority over all flesh really happened long before the cross. This had to come while he was with the Father, and quite possibly from the beginning of time. And yet this simple phrase has multiple definitive moments, for Christ, and also for us.
Here is why?
“so that He will give eternal life to all You have given Him. “
We can read this passage and make the assumption that this pertains to the disciples only.
Another version seems more open – less restrictive.
“so that he would give eternal life to everyone you give him. “
This, to me, represents all those in the future, which includes us, therefore we all, who have believed in him.
How many has God given him? Perhaps it is a limited number, and if you are a believer, you are just one of the fortunate ones?
I am reminded that “God so loved the world that he gave.” I cannot read this without thinking that his love was and is poured out toward everyone.
Matthew 4:23-24 KJV And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. (24) And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.
They did not just bring him the resident Jews. Most of them did not believe that he was God and probably would not have come anyway. They brought everybody.
Romans 10:12 KJV For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
Romans 11:32 KJV For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
If you have ever wondered what it meant to have eternal life?
John 17:3 NASB “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
What are the ramifications of a statement like that?
To know is the Greek word ginosko, meaning to comprehend, be aware, or perceive, among others.
What if we re-stated the verse. “This is eternal life, that they may comprehend you, the only true God ….” And yet even this gives us problems because there are those that come off as though they comprehend but have no relationship with him at all.
Doesn’t any interpretation of what Jesus said, have to do with an intimate relationship, one much like the disciples had?
“This is eternal life, that they may know You..”
To trust this statement is to trust in the hope. What hope?
Titus 1:1-2 NASB Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, (2) in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago,
Paul understood that there was a hope of eternal life, but as some conjecture, eternity will be nothing more than sitting around singing old church hymns to God. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Paul told us that no eye has seen, nor has the mind comprehended what God has prepared.
1 Corinthians 2:9 EMTV But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
But this concept is not just a New Testament one. Look at what the Psalmist has to say.
Psalms 31:19 NASB How great is Your goodness, Which You have stored up for those who fear You, Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You, Before the sons of men!
Romans 9:23 ERV He waited with patience so that he could make known the riches of his glory to the people he has chosen to receive his mercy. God has already prepared them to share his glory.
Why would God do anything like this, for us?
Because the entire reason we were created was to walk with him as family.
John 8:34-36 MSG Jesus said, “I tell you most solemnly that anyone who chooses a life of sin is trapped in a dead-end life and is, in fact, a slave. (35) A slave is a transient, who can’t come and go at will. The Son, though, has an established position, the run of the house. (36) So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through.
We who are followers of Christ have been made to be sons, and have gained an established position in the house.
Ask Jesus Christ to make himself real to you today. Receive him as the ruling member of your life and you to can enjoy the life with the Father.