Monday, April 11, 2011

Three Reasons Jesus Died on the Cross -John 17:1-5 Part 2

This is part 2 of a series and so deals with a second reason for Jesus dying on the cross as found in John 17:1-5. You can read part 1 here. Part 3 is here.

Reason 2: Jesus dies on the cross to accomplish eternal life for those the Father has given him.
God the Father has given Jesus all authority over all flesh.
John 17:2 even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life.

Jesus did not give up his authority when he became flesh. He did not give up his deity. However, this reception of authority where he is given it by his Father, refers to the authority he has over all flesh as the Son of God who has become flesh. It is authority in his humanity, in his incarnation.

While his exaltation is his crowning as the King in his humanity--we still see that from his incarnation on he has authority over all flesh. It is like the authority a king has before the crown is properly put on his head for all to publicly recognize.
Matthew 11:27 “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.

While Jesus is on earth--the Father interacts with Jesus as one who has authority over all creation. This is for example why Jesus is “Lord of the Sabbath” even before he is crowned Lord of the earth in exaltation.

Jesus will accomplish eternal life for all whom the Father has given Him.
John 17:2 even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life.
The Father gives a people to Jesus--this is a theme in John’s Gospel.
John 6: 37 “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.
John 6:39 “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.
John 6:44 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. 45 “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.

Jesus teaches us the plan of God. We are all unable to come to God in and of ourselves. John 1:13 tells us that when we are children of God--we are not born of the human will or of our decision but because of the will of God.

In the context the Jews were grumbling. They did not want to believe what Jesus was saying. And Jesus says: you can’t believe I am the bread of life unless the Father draws.

When the Father draws a person, they will come to Jesus. Jesus will not lose any the Father has given Him. Their salvation is secure because of the plan and purpose of God.

Jesus is given a people by the hand of the Father. When the Father “draws” people--we are to think of a person who draws water from a well--the water cannot move--it is put in the bucket and lifted up.

We are dead in our sins. We do not move towards Jesus. Rather the Father draws us and we come. The Father gives us to the Son.

The Son’s purpose is to win eternal life for those people.
John 17:2 even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life.

The Son does not give eternal life to all people. The Son gives eternal life to those whom the Father has given him. In fact, in the next section of verses he makes it very clear that he is not praying for the world but those the Father has given him. He goes to the cross knowing that he will lose none whom the Father has given him. He prays for their protection and he accomplishes their salvation on the cross.

What is the purpose of the Son in getting on the Cross? He intends to win and perfectly accomplish eternal life for those who the Father has given him.
John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep...14 “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, 15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.

The Son dies for the sheep. These will be people from every tongue, tribe and nation. This are people who live scattered across time and geography. But those whom the Shepherd dies for--His sheep--they will hear His voice and respond.

In coming to Jesus--we turn and believe in Him. But you are not to draw attention to yourself in coming to salvation. You are to turn and say: “wow, I only came because the Father did a work. And I only came because the Son infallible accomplished my salvation.

The plan of God and the blood of Christ is effective in salvation. Anyone who believes in Jesus will be saved! But the reason they are saved is because the Father drew them and the Son died for them. The Father gives them to the Son and the Son wins for them without fail their salvation.

Not one drop of the blood of Christ falls to the ground ineffective and unable to accomplish what the Father and Son intend.

Dear Saint: please glory in Jesus--please see how wonderous and precious his blood is. That he would not just make your eternal life a mere possiblity and leave the work up to you to finish. Rather He starts and finishes it.

Eternal life is knowing the Father and the Son.
John 17:3 “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
“to know” means to have a relationship. It does not mean merely “know something about.” Eternal life is constituted--made up of ‘knowing God’. It is not that I come to know God and then I get eternal life. Rather eternal life is itself “knowing God.”

When I was a young man, I would snarkly tell people that "no where in the Bible does God use the word 'relationship.'" This was not because I didn't believe in a relationship with God, I was reacting against a certain conception of it that was not grounded in the language of Scripture. Sometimes we interpret a "relationship" with God based on what our human relationships look like. However, the concept of a "relationship" with God is Biblical. In fact, to "know God" is to be in a covenant union, a marriage relationship with the true and living God. We "know" God.

This is the hope of the New Covenant of Jesus’ blood:
Jeremiah 33:33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 
34 “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

You must know “the only true God and Jesus Christ.”

It is not Biblical to say that there are many ways to God or eternal life. Because eternal life consists in knowing the only God and the true God--there are not multiple paths.

Some people believe today a more insidious version of this. Some will say “well you are only saved through Jesus, but we can all come to find Jesus in various ways.” You don’t have to know Jesus by the name Jesus--in fact you can be in other religions and if you are spiritual/religious you are being saved by Jesus even if you don’t quite know it yet.

They will say “only Jesus is saving everybody” but Jesus can bring this people in through various beliefs and understandings. One writer who advocates that one can be reconciled to God through Jesus but not really know in this life that it is Jesus through whom you have this says the following:
“Sometimes people bump into Jesus, they trip past the word, they drink from the rock, without knowing what or who it was...The last thing we should do is discourage or disregard an honest, authentic encounter with the living Christ. he is the rock, and there is water for the thirsty, whereever there is...Sometimes people use his name, other times they don’t. Some people have so much baggage with regard to the name “Jesus” that when they encounter the mystery present in all of creation--grace, peace, love, acceptance, healing, forgiveness--the last thing they are inclined to name it is “Jesus.”
The problem is that this is not Biblical. It is not sufficient to say "everybody who is saved is saved by Jesus but at the time they don't actually have to know that it's Jesus whose doing it." First the Bible is clear that only Jesus saves:
Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.””
Salvation is described as “calling on the name of the Lord.” You cannot call on one you have not heard about. Not only is Jesus the only Savior but only in calling in the one and only Savior is one actually saved.

But notice specifically: eternal life is knowing--specifically, intimately, relationally--the only True GOD and Jesus Christ whom his sent. Eternal life is not a generic knowledge of a god. Or of nice qualities like grace, peace, love acceptance and forgiveness.

One cannot claim eternal life without naming Jesus--crying out, calling on him, repent to Him and the Father. YOU CANNOT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE WITHOUT KNOWING THE GOD OF THE BIBLE AND HIS SON BECAUSE BY DEFINITION ETERNAL LIFE IS KNOWING THE ONLY TRUE GOD AND HIS SON.

You can define marriage as “knowing your wife” --it is an intimate covenant union. How silly would it be to describe yourself as in a marriage just because you’ve felt warmth, love and acceptance. When my wife invites you to our are home--you may feel warmth, love and acceptance--but that doesn’t mean you have a marriage.

And how can you be in a marriage but not know your partner’s name by her name. What if you called your wife by the name of one of your ex-girlfriends?

In fact look at what John says earlier:
John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep...14 “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, 15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.
The way the Father and the Son "know" each other becomes an analogy for the way that we come to know the Father and the Son. There is intimate union and communion with in the Trinity that will transcend anything we can understand and experience. But on a created level, we are invited as a creature to join in fellowship with the Triune God. We are ever always a creature in this relationship but this is a high privilege of fellowship. We will not know God the way God knows himself because his mind and knowledge is infinite--but there is still an analogy that holds: we come to know the true and living God in a true and real intimacy of fellowship.

Can we say that the Father knows the Son but doesn't know him by name? Can we say that the Son knows the Father but not by name? Would the Father be pleased if the Son came to acknowledge empty attributes of God but identified them in some other deity or being? Of course not. Neither can we say that a person has eternal life without knowing the Father and the Son--knowing entails understanding and experiencing their covenant names and character given for us.

You must know “the only true God and Jesus Christ.”

Soteriology is intimately connected to the Trinity and the Trinity is intimately connected to our view of soteriology. Since eternal life is by definition knowing the Father and the Son---we cannot claim to know him who we do not properly identify and have intimate union with. Do not think that as long as someone identify goodness in some deity that they belong to the Triune God of the Bible even if they worship him by a different name or set of practices. Salvation is for those who call on the name of the Triune God; to be saved is to know this God by the name and way that he has revealed himself.

Please hear this: you only have eternal life if you know of and have a relationship with God the Father and God the Son. This comes through faith and repentance.

This essay is an expanded version of the second point from the following sermon:

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