John 17:1-5 - Eternity is Finishing What Adam Started
Jesus tells you exactly what you'll be doing for all eternity, and you can start today!
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Read John 17:1-5
After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:
“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
Listen to passage & devotional:
Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 58
Q. How does the article
concerning “life everlasting”
A. Even as I already now
experience in my heart
the beginning of eternal joy,
so after this life I will have
perfect blessedness such as
no eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no human heart has ever imagined:
a blessedness in which to praise God eternally.
John 17 is known as Jesus' High Priestly Prayer, which He prays right before being arrested and crucified. In it Jesus prays for Himself, His disciples, and also the believers that would trust in Him throughout the ages.
What a massive statement that Jesus begins with: "the hour has come." All of history, from the very moment God spoke light into being, hinges on Jesus successfully enduring the hell He will face in the coming days. His prayer here at this apex moment is that He will be glorified by the Father in such a way that His glory reflects right back upon the Father. So it's not too much to extrapolate from this simple passage that all of history, and even the eternity that follows, must be focused on glorifying the triune God.
Jesus, "who being in very nature God... made Himself nothing by taking on the nature of a servant and the likeness of man, humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death on a cross (paraphrase of Phil. 2:6-8)." He's brought His Father glory by completing this work, and His prayer is that the Father will accept His righteous work on our behalf, and restore Him to the glory He had with the Father before the world began.
This week we've read that heaven won't last forever, and that instead we will reign on earth with Christ for all eternity. That's a long time, and while the first millenia or two might be filled with all sorts of fun and interesting, it does seem like we might get a bit bored. Perhaps the verse that's been added to the famous hymn Amazing Grace should be modified a bit:
When we've been there 10,000 years
bright shining as the sun;
what will we do to fill the time
that we have not yet done?
The answer comes here, at the beginning of Jesus' prayer. Jesus tells us exactly what eternal life entails in v3:
Now this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
This is exactly what you, as an image bearer of God, were created to do in the first place: know the only true God! One of the very first things God assigned Adam to do was to name the animals (Gen 2:19-20). Adam was to study each creature, admire their details, notice their unique characteristics, see what made one slightly different than some and completely the opposite of others, and then give each one an appropriate name. The Bible doesn't tell us how long this took, but I don't think he got all of that done in a day or two.
What a massive task Adam was given: to come to know God by learning about His creation! Adam got the initial task done of assigning names, but learning all of the other details from the "only true God," all while working and taking care of all that God has made (Gen 2:15) will certainly take an eternity! This is exactly what we'll be doing!
We've been following the Heidelberg Catechism this year, learning about our only comfort in life and in death. Another historic Reformed catechism also begins with a famous question & answer:
Q: What is the chief end of man? A: Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever. (Westminster Shorter Catechism)
The best way for you to fulfil the purpose you were created for is to come to know God. The more you get to know Him, the more you will glorify Him, and the more you will enjoy Him and His creation for all eternity.
Remember, eternity has already begun for Christians. Make your goal in life right here and now to know God more and more.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father is the only true God.
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that your top goal in life would be to grasp eternal life: knowing the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom He has sent.
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:
Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - Romans 14