Archive for the ‘John’ Category

Indeed, They Will Come to the Son!

May 5, 2008

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you, that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:35-40).

In these verses we find two great truths. (1) Eternal life is given only to those who meet the condition of coming to, looking upon, and believing in Jesus, the Son of God. (2) The Father guarantees that some will meet this condition; namely, those he gives to the Son in order that (as a result of his mission) he will raise them up on the last day.

What the Father demands in his Gospel by the former, he also supplies in his Gospel by the latter. Here then, does the church not only find hope in their efforts in missions and evangelism (i.e. sinners whom the Father gives the Son will come), but also promise in that it is impossible for the Son of God to fail his Father’s mission in raising every last one of them up on the last day. By the Father’s will they will come to the Son, and he will raise them up on the last day.

Let us preach and pray, therefore, and behold the fruit of the Son’s mission to accomplish all the Father has given him. 

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The Father’s Relationship to the Son in His Messianic Mission III

January 26, 2007

The Glorification of the Father in the Son

In John 17:1-5, Jesus prays, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son, in order that the Son may glorify you, just as you gave him authority over all flesh, in order that to all whom you have given him, he may give eternal life. Now, this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on the earth by finishing the work which you have given me to do. Now, Father, glorify me together with yourself, with the glory which I had with you before the world was.”

This prayer absolutely blows me away. In it, we find that the Son’s glorification of the Father is rooted in the Father’s glorification of the Son, and because of this glorious Trinitarian activity, sinners will be given eternal life. 

From verse 1, it is obvious that Jesus’ cross-death, resurrection, and ascension is just ahead. He affirms that ‘his hour’ has come. In John’s Gospel, ‘his hour’ refers not only to the horrible death he is to suffer at calvary, but also to his being raised from the dead and going to be with the Father (2:4; 4:23; 5:25; 7:30; 8:20; esp. 12:23; 13:1). In a sense, Jesus’ hour is a package deal: crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension/glorification. Indeed, Jesus knows this, and prays accordingly, “Father, glorify your Son, in order that the Son may glorify you.”

Here, I was absolutely astounded by the purpose clause. Jesus desires the Father to display the glory of the Son (i.e. himself), for the purpose of the Son glorifying the Father. In other words, the glory of the Father is particularly displayed in the Son when the Son is glorified. What is more, this glory of the Father and the Son is primarily displayed in Jesus’ bloody cross, triumphant resurrection, and glorious ascension. The glory of God’s wrath, his judgement, his righteousness, his holiness, his grace, his mercy, his kindness, his covenant faithfulness and more are all displayed at the cross. The glory of God’s power, his faithfulness, his trustworthiness, his authority, his victory, his salvific purposes and more are all displayed at the resurrection. The glory of God’s might, his sovereignty, his splendor, his strength, his magnificence, and more are all displayed in Jesus’ ascension. That the Son endured his hour–both in suffering the cross and rising from the dead–to display the glory of the Father, absolutely took my breath away.

Moreover, in verse 2, Jesus then compares this glorification of the Son and the Father with his own authority to give salvation to those the Father gave him. The comparison reveals that redemption is directly tied to the Father’s glorification of the Son.

The authority Jesus has “over all flesh” is one given to him by the Father in ‘eternity past’–an authority that is based on his future obedience unto death, and his coming resurrection and ascension to glory. Why such authority was given to the Son becomes clear in the next purpose clause: “in order that to all whom [the Father] has given him, he may give eternal life.” The Father gives the Son authority over all flesh in order that eternal life may be granted to those he has given the Son. Doubtless, Jesus’ prayer is in accord with the Father fulfilling his redemptive purposes in election. That is, what was accomplished in Jesus’ ‘hour’ extends to those the Father has given the Son. This is how God has loved such a dark world (cf. 3:15-16).

What does this mean for us? First, this gives us hope that others in this rebellious world will be saved. The Son will not lose a single person the Father has given to him, and the Father will not ignore the prayers of the Son. Sinners will be brought to faith. This should encourage us to participate in his saving purposes through prayer, missions, and evangelism.

Second, it teaches us that even horrible events, such as the slaughter of the Son of God, are planned by the Father and used to display his glory. Not only did Jesus being put to death not make sense to the disciples, it was a murderous act committed against a perfect human being. From a human perspective, the crucifixion was a bad event. However, agonizing as it may have been for Jesus, he knew it was the will of his infinitely wise Father. Even more, he prays that the Father be glorified in it. Thus, the cross teaches us how to handle suffering and evil. Recently, my wife experienced a miscarriage after twelve weeks of pregnancy. Though Rachel and I were crushed by this loss, the Lord gave us the grace to trust in his sovereign hand. On the way to the emergency room, the Lord continued to remind me that he is my Father, he is wise in all that he does, and he will bring glory to his name, even through the miscarriage. We will suffer difficult circumstances in this world, yet Jesus’ prayer has taught me to trust in the Father’s redemptive purposes, for they will stand.

The Father’s Relationship to the Son in His Messianic Mission II

January 20, 2007

The Son’s Obedience to the Father in His Mission

According to John’s Gospel, the Father sent the Son to earth with a mission; namely, to accomplish all the works he himself gave him to do. As the Son of God, Jesus’ delight and duty is to obey the Father (8:28-29), submit to him in all things (5:19), and speak whatever he is commanded (12:49). Moreover, Jesus is wholly committed to the will of his heavenly Father, even to the point of death on a cross (10:18; 12:27-28). In fact, it is his complete obedience to the Father that reveals the cross is exactly why the Father sent him (13:1-3; 17:4; 18:11; 19:11). He died not as a victim, but as a Son accomplishing his Father’s will. And, just as the Father gave him the authority to lay down his life, by the same authority he took his life up again (10:18; 20:1-31). Through accomplishing these things, the Son shines forth light into a dark world (1:9; 3:19-21), grants believing sinners eternal life (3:16), and brings glory to his Father (12:28; 17:1).  

What does this mean for us? First, it means that the only wise God of this universe, took it upon himself to save a dark wicked world through commissioning his own glorious Son to die on a cross; and the Son obeyed him perfectly. This leads me to worship the Father for planning salvation history, the Son for embracing his Father’s will, and the Spirit for applying the Son’s work to sinners like me.

Second, it means that true righteousness and perfect obedience have been infallibly displayed in the life, ministry, and works of Jesus Christ. Therefore, in looking to him, it is always obvious that my life is in need of change. I must get away from comparing myself to other people, and always be reflecting on the greatness of Jesus and his devotion to pleasing his Father. In the wake of Christ’s cross, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, I too must always be about submitting to the will of my heavenly Father.

Third, and more applicable to what these reflections are meant to accomplish, it means the divine Son of God can never, and will never, fail in doing the will of his Father. Therefore, what can stand in his way? The answer is, nothing. Nothing stands in the way of the Son accomplishing the Father’s will. And Jesus tells us, “This is the will of him who sent me, that of all that [the Father] has given me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I myself will raise him up on the last day” (6:39-40). So then, nothing is going to stop the Son from giving eternal life to those who believe, and nothing is going to stop him from raising them from the dead. I do not find this hope from the world, nor any other assurance. I find it only in the Son, who always obeys the Father in his mission to save sinners.

The Father’s Relationship to the Son in His Messianic Mission I

January 20, 2007

The Revelation of the Father in Sending the Son 

One essential aspect of John’s theology–and central to the Son’s mission–is that the Father reveals himself in his own Son, the Word made flesh (John 1:14). Jesus is the Word, who was eternally with God, and indeed was God (1:1-3; 17:5). He is the unique one who has descended from above to bring the revelation of the glory of God to man (1:14-18; 3:13; 6:46). No longer is the glory of God vaguely observed in the tabernacle, but clearly revealed in human flesh, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth (1:14). He knows the Father perfectly (7:29), and the Father tells him everything to say (8:26,28). The Father who sent him has given him a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. Since the Son knows his commandment is eternal life, he speaks; just as the Father tells him (12:49-50). Moreover, “The Father loves the Son, and shows him everything that he himself is doing” (5:20), and “whatever the Father does, these things the Son does in like manner” (5:19). Plainly, therefore, John teaches us that Jesus’ primary role as the incarnate Son of God is to reveal the Father.

What does this mean for us? It means that whether one observes Jesus’ actions, or reads his words, in each case he/she is observing the revelation of God. Objective reality is not a secret; it is disclosed in the person of Jesus Christ. In the unique Son, we observe the desires, character, and works of God himself. God, manifested in the flesh, is absolutely stunning! What a Rock upon which I can stand. There is no need to wander aimlessly in a world of chaos. Rather, I lay hold of the almighty who has spoken most clearly in His own Son–the Eternal Word, revealed in the written word (John 1:1-18; cf. Heb 1:1-3).

In this, Jesus says I have eternal life. Before he laid down his life on the cross, Jesus prayed, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son, in order that the Son may glorify You, just as you gave him authority over all flesh, in order that to all whom you have given him, he may give eternal life. This is eternal life, that they may know you, the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:1-3). Know the Son, and so, know the Father who sent him. According to John’s Gospel, the revelation of the Father in sending the Son means hope–of eternal life; of salvation; of having fellowship with the only true God. This comes to those who believe.

The Father’s Relationship to the Son in His Messianic Mission

January 19, 2007

Malicious behavior, hate crimes, Islamic jihad, intense famine, false teaching, cancer, earthquakes, personal loss and more paint a grim picture of a world that seems like sinking sand; a place where one rarely finds any solid footing. I have learned, however, the Gospel according to John presents a different picture. God the Father has sent his own Son into that depraved world on a mission to save it and restore it, a mission that cannot fail. By observing the relationship within the Godhead in the mission of the Son, I quickly found a rock upon which to contruct a house that no storm will destroy.

I pray that the following posts from my reflections in John’s Gospel will bring great ecouragement to you by pointing you to the Father’s relationship to the Son in his messianic mission to save sinners.

Exultation in Jesus Christ’s Exaltation

January 5, 2007

For quite some time now, my wife has suggested that it would be a good idea to set up a blog so that family and friends might not only observe what is happening in our lives, but also glean from all that Jesus Christ is doing in and through our lives. Indeed, her idea was great (as they usually are); however, I stood at a dilemma. Though blogging seemed like a great idea, I feared one thing:  my own prideful tendencies taking over what I would post on a blog so that it became more of a means of ‘puffing up’ rather than ‘building up.’ So, I refused to begin blogging when she first suggested it to me. However, by the Lord’s grace and the prayers of my wife, the Lord continued to show me that this could be the very place I display His glory in sanctification in my life. A blog would be the means of getting the word out that Jesus is magnificant and Bret is not. Hence the title of this post, “Exultation in Jesus Christ’s Exaltation.”

Over the past few weeks I have been saturating myself in the Gospel of John. Two weeks ago it landed on me that John the Baptist’s joy was rooted in his desire to see the Son of God exalted. The Baptist exulted in the fact that he would be decreasing and that Jesus would be increasing. He told his disciples, “You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent ahead of Him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full. He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:28-30). What a world-view this man had!

Without a doubt John the Baptist knows the Lord’s will:  to use him to preach the coming of Messiah Jesus and His kingdom until Jesus’ arriving for His public ministry and road to the cross, and then get out of the way. He does not begrudgingly step aside so that Jesus will increase; instead, as the best man, he rejoices to see the bridegroom arriving for His mission to redeem His bride. It was determined by God that the Baptist would decrease (noted by must), and he was glad. The Lord’s will to increase Jesus and decrease John was his delight. He found joy in submitting to the Father’s will to make Jesus supreme. Indeed, in this “his joy was made full” (3:29).

So, it is my prayer and Rachel’s prayer that this blog be one which is dedicated to exulting in the exaltation of Jesus Christ. Like John the Baptist, we hope to find our joy in the Father’s plan to make Christ supreme.