Knowing (Loving) God.

O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them. – John 17:25-26 ESV

John 17:1-26

Jesus ended His prayer with an acknowledgement that the world into which He had come had, for the most part, refused to accept Him for who he was. The majority of the Jews had rejected Him as the Messiah. “He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (John 1:10-11 ESV). And because they had failed to know or recognize Him as Messiah, it had left them ignorant of who God really way. Earlier in His ministry, Jesus had said, “no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Matthew 11:27 ESV). With His coming to earth, Jesus had made God known. He had made the invisible, visible and the unknowable, known. When Jesus said He had made to His disciples the name of God, He was saying that He had made known to them the very nature and character of God. Jesus’ very presence on earth was an expression of the love of God. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 ESV). “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10 ESV). “…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 ESV).

Jesus was the revelation of God’s love. But He was also the revelation of God’s righteousness. Jesus lived a perfectly sinless and righteous life. He demonstrated in a real and tangible way exactly what God expected from men. His life of sinless perfection was a demonstration of God’s righteousness “fleshed out.” Sinful man was only capable of living up to God’s standard of righteousness with God’s help. Not only that, Jesus revealed God’s righteousness by becoming the very demonstration of God’s holiness and love lived out. God always does what is right. He never does anything that would contradict His own character. In sending His own Son, God was able to satisfy His own sense of justice against sin, while providing a conduit for His love at the same time. Paul puts it this way: “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:23-26 ESV). Jesus’ death on the cross was a visible reminder of God’s hatred of sin. The sins of mankind could only be atoned or paid for by the death of a sinless man. Since no human existed who could measure up to that standard, His sent His own Son. “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT).

Jesus made God known. He made known His holiness by living it out for all to see. The holiness of God is not ethereal and invisible, but highly practical and tangible. Jesus demonstrated it in the way He lives His life. He showed that the holiness of God was achievable in the life of any man or woman who recognized their own sinfulness and accepted God’s free gift of righteousness made available through His Son’s death and resurrection. Jesus also made known God’s love. He showed us that God’s love is so great that He sent His own Son to die for us – even while we were mired in our sinfulness with no hope of ever changing our ways. God loved us so much that He did for us what we could never have done for ourselves. And Jesus was the demonstration of that love.

In His prayer, Jesus promised to continue to reveal the love of God to His followers. He would do so in His coming death on the cross. But the resurrection of Jesus would also reveal God’s love for His Son. God would raise Jesus from the dead and restore Him to His rightful place of prominence and power at His side. And it is the full scope of that amazing love that Jesus wants His followers to know and experience. To know God is experience and understand the full scope of the love of God. It is also to love God in return. When we begin to grasp just how loving our God really is, we can’t help but return our gratitude in the form of love for Him. Our growing comprehension of the love of God produces in us a love for God. And that is exactly what Jesus prayed for – “that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

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