At Bethlehem …

At Bethlehem, Christ became God WITH us.

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which translated means ‘God with us’ ” (Matt 1:23).

One of most recognized names for Jesus that we celebrate at His birth is Immanuel, God with us.  The apostle John called Jesus’ arrival “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14).  For 30 plus years, Jesus walked the earth as one of us.  He was indeed “God with us”.

At Calvary, Christ became God FOR us.

“God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor 5:21).

Look at those words, “on our behalf”.  Christ, who knew no sin became sin FOR US, on our behalf.  He took our place.  At Calvary, Christ died as our substitute.  He died in our place to free us from the penalty of sin and from the power of sin.  His death did something FOR us.  And His death did something TO us.  It made us a new creation the minute we accepted His gift.  It provided a pathway for Him to indwell us and live His live through us.  Which leads us to …

At Pentecost, Christ became God IN us.

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.  And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting…and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:1-4).

The promised Holy Spirit arrived with incredible power 50 days after Christ’s resurrection.  The room and the inhabitants of the room were filled with God’s Spirit.  And believers in Jesus have been home to the Holy Spirit ever since; an indwelling that takes place the millisecond we believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The Spirit living inside fulfills a promise that Jesus made many times in the gospels.

“In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” (Jn 14:20).  “I in you” when speaking to the disciples.  “I in them” when speaking to the Father about us.  Christ in us by His Spirit.  May we all not only celebrate – but experience in our heart of hearts – this mystery of the gospel, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27).

Infused by the Love of God

“Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, may be with Me where I am, to see My glory that You have given Me because you loved Me before the foundation of the world.  O righteous Father, even though the world does not know You, I know You, and these know that You have sent Me.  I have 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” (Jn 17:24-26).

“Be with Me where I am” (vs 24) harkens back to John chapter 14 where Jesus speaks of going to prepare a place for us so “that where I am, there you may be also” (Jn 14:3).  And in this place He has prepared for us, we will fully behold the glory of the Lamb, the glory of the Son of God, the glory of Jesus.  This journey to experience the glory of God begins with believing that the Father sent the Son.

“That You have sent Me” (vs 25) is the most common phrase that Jesus uses in the book of John to identify Himself as the Son of God.  Believing that God sent Jesus.  Believing that He came to die in our place.  Believing that He rose again sealing our redemption.  This is how we cross over from death to life.  “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (Jn 5:24).  Here in John 17, Jesus acknowledges that His disciples believe.  “They know that You sent Me.”  They now belong to Jesus and the Father.

Jesus’ final petition to the Father in this chapter of prayer is centered on the love of God.  This request goes to the very heart of God’s essence.  Love is not one of God’s attributes.  Love is His identity.  This apostle simply writes it elsewhere as, “God is love” (I Jn 4:8).

What do we learn about God’s love in this passage?  The Father loved the Son “before the foundation of the world” (vs 24).  God’s love is eternal.  And Jesus’ prayer is that this eternal, powerful, one-of-a-kind love will also inhabit His followers.

“That the love with which You have loved Me may be in them, and I in them” (vs 26).  Jesus prays for God’s love to saturate us, to wash over and inside us.  And in this verse, we see the path of how this happens.  “I in them”.  Christ in us is the only way for the love of God to be in us.  We can’t find it on our own.  We can’t manufacture this love by will-power and trying harder.

Because God is love and His Spirit lives in us, it only stands to reason the God’s supernatural love lives in us also.  We are infused with His love.  Our role?  To let it out.  To let it flow.  To send love out into the world.  Then the world will know the loving embrace of the Father.

His Glory is Your Glory

“The glory that You have given Me, I have given to them, that they may be one even as We are one, I in them and You in Me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent Me and loved them even as You loved Me” (Jn 17:22-23).

If you read the verses above and thought, “Didn’t Jay just write about these verses last time?” you would not be far off.  Jesus’ words in this part of His prayer are almost identical to the verses just above that we wrote about last time.  As Jesus prays to the Father in John chapter 17, there is a repetitive pattern to His prayer.  I think this repetition is important.

Jesus is emphasizing these critical points: He and the Father are one.  He is offering that same oneness to us.  He is promising to be “I in them”; creating in us the experience of being one with the Father and with the Son.  And He is praying that this oneness will flow into our relationships with each other.

And in all of this, Jesus drives home the point that all of this oneness between us and the Godhead is invisible.  But we can make it visible to the world by how we practice unity in the Spirit as His followers.  When the world sees this oneness in us, it will show that Jesus was indeed sent by the Father.

Jesus also brings love into the picture.  Earlier in John chapter 13, Jesus revealed a new commandment that we love one another.  He even went so far to say that our love for each other would be another evidence that we belong to Jesus, that we are Christ followers.  Here we learn that our love for one another, our oneness in the Spirit all flow from the fact that God loves us just as He loves His Son.

In verse 22 above, Jesus adds a new dimension to His prayer, “The glory that You have given Me, I have given to them.”  I have to admit, I rarely associate the word “glory” with us.  I usually only equate glory with something about God.

So how does Jesus give us His glory?  By coming to live in us.  This fact alone makes you glorious.  The apostle Paul calls it, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27).  As I have said on many occasions … “You are not the Deity, but you contain the Deity!” (II Cor 4:7).  This makes you, even as you inhabit this planet in your earthen vessel, indeed glorious!

I like how Ted Dekker says it in his book, The Forgotten Way, when writing about these very verses.  “You carry the presence of the glorious One with and within you. Therefore you are, by association, glorious.  It is illogical to claim that Jesus lives within you and at the same time claim that you are not glorious.  When properly understood, there is no pride in that reality.  Just gratitude.”

One With the Father and the Son

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me” (Jn 17:20-21).

We saw last time that as the Father has sent the Son into the world, so the Son is sending His disciples into the world with a message of forgiveness in the name of Jesus.  As the disciples are being sent out, others will believe.  So here, Jesus’ prayer extends beyond the disciples to include us.  We are in the flow of those who have heard and believed the disciples testimony regarding the Christ.

And Jesus’ prayer for us, His body, is that we would be ONE.  This ONE is so so powerful.  Christ went so far in this verse to say that us being ONE will facilitate others coming to faith.  The world will believe that the Father sent the Son when they see the ONE in us.

But the ONE in us is not just our unity and getting along.  The ONE in us is seeing Jesus and the Father in us.  It is literally the Father and Son living in us.  Please hear this:  There is NO separation between you and the Father.  This verse clearly draws the picture that you are IN the Father and IN His Son (vs 21).  Likewise, as we learn elsewhere, the Father dwells IN us by the Holy Spirit.

As an aside, if you believe that you are somehow separated from the Father even after coming to faith, you will interpret the Bible and you will interpret your life through the lens of a broken or tentative relationship.  Faith in Jesus’s words says otherwise.  Your connection to the Father as His beloved child is rock solid.

Look again at the power in Jesus’ statement, “that they (meaning us) may all be one, just as you, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in Us.”  It is an incredible connected life.  Christ in the Father.  The Father in the Son.  And we in Them.  Does the world see this?  Does the world see our indwelling by the Father and the Son?

I believe it can.  Christ promised that He would live His life through us (Gal 2:20).  When the world sees us as one with the Savior, they are seeing Christ.  They will not see “Christ in us” by us keeping the rules for pride’s sake, judging others, condemning our neighbors.  None of these will draw men to Jesus.  What will draw the world to Jesus?  Seeing us live out grace.  Seeing us live out Christ in us.  Seeing us live out the love, acceptance, and forgiveness message that Christ lived on this earth.  That oneness of Christ living His life in us is “so the world may believe that You have sent Me” (vs 21).

We are Christ’s light in the world.  Shine on, my friends.

Sent Into the World

“As You sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.  And for their sake I consecrate Myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth” (Jn 17:18-19).

Jesus continues His prayer to the Father for the future welfare of His disciples.  He reveals here a “sending out” of His followers that is still to come following His death and resurrection.  And the mission they will be sent on is a continuation of the mission Christ has been on; a mission initiated by the Father when He sent Jesus into the world.  “As You have sent Me, I am sending them” (vs 18).

I like the phrase “sent into the world”.  Our relationship with the world has been a common theme in Jesus’s prayer.  As you recall, the disciples were given to Christ “out of the world” (vs 6).  They no longer “belong to the world” (vs 14, 16).  They remain “in the world” (vs 11), and are not immediately “taken out of the world” (vs 15).  And they remain here with a purpose, “sent into the world” (vs 18).  The disciples were not left behind with no purpose, but remain “in the world” as Christ’s messengers.

Just as Christ was “set apart” for His ultimate mission, so the disciples are “sanctified” for their mission.  “I consecrate Myself” (vs 19) can be thought of as Christ saying, “I offer Myself as the sacrifice.”  He did this for us (“for their sake”).  Christ consecrated Himself, was set apart, to be the sacrifice for us.  He died in our place, our substitute, for our sins and the sins of the world.

We have been “set apart” to continue Christ’s mission by proclaiming Christ’s message.  In this world, we are Christ’s physical presence.  We are His body.  And we continue His mission when we share this truth that life – abundant, true, and eternal life – is found only in the name of Jesus Christ.

To repeat from last time, we are sanctified by God’s truth.  We are set apart in God’s truth.  We are standing on a firm foundation of God’s truth.  Be confident.  Your faith is in the true God and His true Son, Jesus Christ.  And no one can take that away.