Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. – John 17:7-8 ESV
In His prayer, Jesus claimed that His disciples had come to know and understand that everything He had – His power, miracles, position, words, insights, mission, and message – were from God. Jesus had spent three years of His life giving them the message He had received from God. It was a message concerning repentance. God was calling them to turn, not only from sin, but from their old thinking regarding God and how to be made right with Him. No longer would strict adherence to the law be the way in which men attempted to earn favor with God. Animal sacrifices, always an incomplete and temporary solution to man’s sin problem, would no longer be the preferred method for finding forgiveness of sins. God had sent His Son to be the permanent, once-for-all remedy for the death sentence that hung over mankind as a result of the fall. Jesus came preaching, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near” (Matthew 4:17 NLT). “Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News. ‘The time promised by God has come at last!’ he announced. ‘The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!’” (Mark 1:14-15 NLT). Jesus came bringing a new message of hope and restoration. “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17 NLT). Rather than salvation based on outward performance and an unachievable adherence to a set of moral and ethical standards, Jesus came offering salvation by faith alone in Him alone. He taught that there was only way in which might be made right with God and it was Him. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NLT).
And Jesus said that His disciples had received these words and come to believe that He had been sent by God. He was, as Peter confessed, “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16 ESV). He was the Son of God just as the voice of God had said at both His baptism and His transfiguration. Jesus was not just a man, a prophet, rabbi, teacher, or miracle worker. He wasn’t just a good man, He was the God-man. He was God in human flesh, God incarnate. He was Immanuel, God with us. He was divine and divinely sent to bring the salvation of God to a lost and dying world. He was the fulfillment of the promises of God made hundreds of years earlier by the prophets of God. He was the long-awaited-for Messiah. He was the promised descendant of David who would sit on his throne in Jerusalem and whose kingdom would have no end. Jesus was sent by God to pay for the sins of the world. He took on human flesh, lived a sinless life and died a sacrificial death on behalf of mankind, in order to satisfy the just demands of a holy and righteous God. The wages of sin is death. Rebellion against God results in a death sentence. But God provided His own Son as the substitute for every person who has ever lived. His death, as the sacrificial Passover Lamb, propitiated or satisfied the wrath of God. His shed blood was necessary, because God had said, “for the life of the body is in its blood. I have given you the blood on the altar to purify you, making you right with the LORD. It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible” (Leviticus 17:11 NLT). The writer of Hebrews tells us, “according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22 NLT). God sent His Son to die. He had to be the sinless, spotless sacrifice for the sins of mankind. And the disciples, when they heard the words of God spoken by the Son of God, received and believed them.
As implausible as it all sounded, they believed. As radically different and paradigm shifting as the message of Jesus was to their Jewish sensibilities, they believed. There was much that the disciples did not understand. They didn’t always comprehend everything that Jesus said. They didn’t always like what they heard coming out of His mouth, especially His admission that He was going to have to go to Jerusalem and die. But they believed that He had come from God. They believed Him to be the Messiah, the Son of God. Jesus had made God known and knowable to man. “No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us” (John 1:18 NLT). Jesus pointed men to God. He was the very manifestation of God in human flesh. “So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son” (John 1:14 NLT). And the disciples believed. Belief in the words of God concerning His Son are still the basis for salvation today. “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:35-36 ESV). We must consider the source – Jesus Christ has been sent by God to be the means by which men might be made right with God. He was the God-provided sin substitute and spotless sacrifice who made our reconciliation to God possible. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV).