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.”