And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. -John 17:3
I saw a comic recently where one of the characters was beginning to tell a story to the second character, and he said to the effect of “every single detail is important”. The second character looked resigned to sitting through a long story, even as he said, “that is not accurate”. I had to laugh at myself a bit as I considered the implications of the comic, amused at how similar I can tend to be to the first character. I’ll begin to tell a story to a friend or family member and get hung up on something small like which year the story took place; was it 2005 or 2006, and I’ll think through (often out loud, to the chagrin of such friends and family) the evidence to support one answer or the other. Does it matter whether the story took place in 2005 or 2006? No, at least not normally. Such a detail is rarely the point, or even directly related to the point.
In this passage from John 17, Jesus knows that His time for departing is drawing close. Within hours of this prayer Jesus will be arrested in the garden, taken before the High Priest, Pontius Pilate, and even King Herod, before eventually being sentenced to execution on the cross. The thing is, none of this is coming as a surprise to Jesus, he has told his disciples that he willingly lays down his life and that no one can take it from him. If he knows that he’s in his last hours with his disciples before the crucifixion, then it’s unlikely he’s going to beat around the bush and add unnecessary details to what he’s saying to them.
Amid this Upper Room discourse, it’s as if Jesus is sort of saying “let me boil it down for you, there’s been a lot of talk about eternal life, and the abundant life I came to offer those who follow me, do you want to know that is? Well, it’s knowing the Father, and his Son, whom he has sent.”
Other aspects of the faith certainly matter, but if we’ve missed this, we’ve missed it. If our belief in Christ hasn’t led us to the place of knowing the Father, and knowing the Son we have the most important step of the journey still to make. Eternal life consists of fellowship with God Himself. It’s not simply a matter of being in paradise “someday”, even having the room in the Father’s house, or the streets of gold, as wonderful as those things will be. Eternal life is communion with the One who loved has so much that He gave himself for us. That communion begins now as we are filled with the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Seek Him today! If your faith feels dry, if it seems like you’re only going through the motions, seek him earnestly today, he desires for you to know him!