Not to be clichéd! But if the words, “Mission Accomplished” ever meant anything to anyone in any situation, they absolutely apply here in John 17.
As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, this is the moment, courtesy of John, now forever frozen in time.
The singular moment toward which all of human history, going all the way back to the Garden of Eden, had been slowly but steadily building.
The seminal moment from which the remainder of human history, down to our present day, has been rapidly descending.
The consequential moment when Jesus could literally look up to Heaven and finally acknowledge, “I brought glory to You here on earth by completing the work You gave me to do.”
Such mystery, such majesty, in these few words.
Indeed, a Mission — the Mission — Accomplished!
That mission that Jesus Himself defined when He said in referring to Himself, “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost” (Luke 19:10).
Which, as you are about to learn, means far more than pulling people out of Hell. Indeed, infinitely more!
When the biblical writers, as well as Jesus, use the words “save” or “saved,” it means far more than whether we are going to Heaven or Hell when we die. Sadly, most of our Gospel-presentations focus almost exclusively on that locational / destinational dynamic.
However, a most compelling fact emerges from the first few words of Jesus’ prayer here in John 17.
As we are about to learn, if one’s view of his or her salvation centers primarily upon the notion that salvation is basically a “Get Out of Hell Free” card, we miss so much precious truth. So.Much.More than our finite minds can even begin fully to appreciate.
But try to appreciate it, we must.
So in an effort to appreciate it, let me take you on a bit of a journey, far back in time, to a faraway place, in order to show you where and why this journey originally began. All the way back to what is arguably the single most important verse in all of the Bible.
That verse? Genesis 1:1,
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
Everything else flows from this wellspring.
Not only is this the most important verse of the Bible, but the 31,101 verses that follow Genesis 1:1 are merely commentary on Genesis 1:1.
Just as a piece of art has been created by an artist, or a work of music has been created by a composer, all of creation has been created by the Almighty Creator – God.
In other words, there is a God… and you and I are not Him!
Having said that, one of the most important implications of Genesis 1:1 is that God is transcendent. He is holy, unlike any of us, in ways that we cannot even begin to imagine. There is a chasm of separation between us. For us to compare ourselves to God is like a slug comparing itself to a king.
Yes, we are made in His image, but that image has significant limitations.
For instance, in Genesis 14, we are introduced to a phrase that is written throughout the Old and New Testaments: God Most High. Yet, human language utterly fails to communicate all that this phrase means. It barely touches God’s transcendence characteristics.
Another example is Psalm 97:9,
For you, Lord, are the Most High over all the earth;
you are exalted far above all gods.
Again and again, the biblical writers try to convey God’s unconveyable qualities.
Even God, Himself declared His transcendence in His first commandment:
God spoke all these words:
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:1-3)
Those are the words of a transcendent God.
With that said, let’s look at John 17:1-4,
After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. 2 For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. 3 And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.5 Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.
Did you catch Jesus’ audacity? He asked that God – THE transcendent God – would share His glory with Him, Jesus! Who did He think He was? (He KNEW who HE was!)
Imagine being one of the Disciples, hearing Jesus pray these words.
Yet, consider this… Jesus did not invite His disciples to pray these words with Him. He didn’t even imply it. He lifted His eyes to heaven and merely prayed these words out loud for them to hear.
Because they couldn’t pray verses four and five if they ever wanted!
Jesus, God’s only begotten Son, also His only eternal Son, did not become God’s Son in Bethlehem. He has existed forever along with God.
In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
2 He existed in the beginning with God.
3 God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
4 The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone. (John 1:1-4)
The bottom line is this: there exists a chasm between God and us. As I said before, how can a slug compare itself to a king? God is utterly unapproachable.
He alone can never die, and He lives in light so brilliant that no human can approach Him. No human eye has ever seen Him, nor ever will. All honor and power to Him forever! (1 Timothy 6:16)
He is out of reach.
And, if that leaves you feeling empty inside, then I understand. But, infinitely more importantly, God understands. And it is because God understands your emptiness, that He sent His Son on a most magnificent mission. He literally gave His Son “a work to complete”.
I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. (John 17:4)
That work was not simply to save us from Hell’s fire. Jesus’ work was to be the way that we can actually KNOW Him, the only true God. This is not just future tense – save us from eternity in hell. This is present tense – knowing God. Knowing Jesus. Having a daily relationship with the transcendent God!
Jesus made the transcendent accessible, so that you and I can love Him just as He loves us!
In God’s universe, a slug can relate to a king!
Because the King became a slug so that the slug can know the King.