“And this is eternal life, that they many know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” John 17:3
Eternal Life – This is such an odd thing for Jesus to say. It won’t seem odd to many of us because we have heard it so often as to make it passé. But take a slower look. Jesus tells us that eternal life has nothing to do with endless living. All of today’s evangelistic emphasis on getting on the train to glory seems quite misapplied. I don’t want to board the train to glory. I need what God has to offer now, not sometime after my body has been put in the ground. I need the life that Jesus experienced here on earth, in the hours and minutes given to human beings. The truth is that I can’t hold my breath long enough to get to the end of these troublesome days in hopes of a heavenly reward. If it isn’t good today, it isn’t what I need.
I think I have every right to expect eternal life to show up today. After all, Jesus is my exemplar. He is my model of the perfect human being. When I look at his relationship with the Father, I clearly see what I want. I want to know what it is like to hear the Father’s whispers, feel the Father’s smiles, exult in the Father’s will and be pleasing to the Father. That’s really what I want. I don’t care about the bigger house or the better job or another cause to endorse. I want life with God. I am convinced that this will not only fulfill who I truly am but will be the final measure of deepest satisfaction. The rest is consigned to ashes anyway.
Did you notice in your slower review that this zoen aionion (life everlasting) is not an event? It is a present tense continuing experience with the only true God and with Jesus the Messiah. Not one or the other, but both; certainly not a gate-pass to someplace else. Eternal life is the direct result of continuous, intimate relationship. It comes as the by-product of knowing. It should be immediately obvious that this kind of knowing has nothing to do with a collection of facts. My wife and I have a marriage because we are intimately intertwined with each other, not because there is some certificate in the county courthouse. So it must be with God and Jesus. There is a purpose behind the choice of marriage as a symbolic representation of spiritual life. Marriage works when two are all tied up together, when there are multiple levels of intersecting bonds, dependencies, commitments and trust. The fact that the culture has confused a piece of paper with entanglement only shows how pitiful our world has become. So, I ask you: Do you have the same sort of intricate entanglement with God and Jesus? Are you so intertwined with them that every part of your life affects the interaction? If I asked you if you are satisfied with your marriage, how would you reply? And what would your answer be if, under the same imagery, I asked you if you are satisfied with your present eternal life?