It’s important to note that Christ cared about those who followed him. He called his disciples little children, he spoke with love and care to the women who supported his ministry. (See, for example, John 20:11-18.) In John 17, we get to see Jesus pray for himself, his disciples who followed him then, and for us, the disciples who follow him now.
I want to focus on some things he says early on in this prayer.
In the first part of the prayer we are greeted by a strange idea of the Son being glorified and how he had glory “before the world was”(NASB, KJV) or “before the world began”(NIV, NLT) or “before the world existed” (HSCB, WEB). What can happen in moments where we see some theologically interesting passages, we start chasing those discussions. And that’s good. I have spent the last four years engaged in exciting discussions about how to interpret the opening chapters of Genesis, how to read Revelation most accurately, what to do with discrepancies with Scripture, how to understand the state of believers after death. All these are IMPORTANT points that need to be addressed. In your own time, I encourage you to dive into the preceding ideas and verse five of John 17.
However, because I only have a limited time to write, I will assume that you only have a limited time to read. The key point Jesus made is not the interpretation of John 17:5, but John 17:3.
“This is eternal life:
that they may know You, the only true God,
and the One You have sent—Jesus Christ.”
Read that again. And again. And again.
Commit that to memory.
While I understand and agree that theological discussions are important, I don’t want us to lose sight of the war we are in. We are in a battle against the temptations driven by our world and our culture, against the temptations that well up inside ourselves, and against demonic and Satanic forces that would like for nothing more than to destroy every human. But Christ gives us a clear picture here: eternal life is about knowing God and Jesus.
I try not to pit John 17:3 and 17:5 against each other, but I want us to see the bigger point.
17:5 provides us with an important and interesting theological discussion.
17:3 speaks to the very heart of faith.
17:5 is a game we play; an important, fun activity, with an interesting outcome.
17:3 is the war we wage; souls will live or die based on their understanding of Jesus as Messiah and Mediator to God.
I encourage you to think about how you stand in all this…
Is the most important conversation you have with someone to convince them that you know more about Scripture?
Or is the most important conversation you have with someone to convince them that Jesus is the only way to God?
Focus your energy, this Easter/Resurrection Sunday and the following weeks, into telling those who don’t know Christ that Jesus loves them and wants to connect them to God.
Fight the war you are in.
When you win the war, play the games later.
(Author’s Note: This article is purely the opinion of Jake Ballard and does not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of Grow Bible Devotions.)
(Grow Bible Devotion’s Note: Preach it, brother! Let’s fight this war! And, maybe someday in our foxhole I will get to hear your thoughts on John 17:5. Thank you for writing!)