by Carolyn Ehrlich
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This is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent (John 17:3).
Read John 17:1–11
Jesus was with his disciples after supper and at a time when his betrayal and arrest were imminent. After declaring to his disciples, ‘In the world you have tribulation but take courage; I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33), the disciples were likely feeling helpless, vulnerable, and uncertain.
At this time, although Jesus was acutely aware of what was about to happen to him, his priority was to pray. He prayed for himself and the success of his mission (John 17:1–13), for the protection of his disciples as they fulfilled their purpose (John 17:13–19), and for the generations of believers who would follow him because of his disciples’ ministry (John 17:20–26).
But here, I turn specifically to verse three, where Jesus prays and teaches. He gives us hope and tells us precisely what eternal life is … to know the only true God and Jesus Christ. He prays that we are in relationship with him. This means that eternal life is available here and now, and Jesus’ prayer is that we know a personal relationship with him and our Father.
For those who anticipate that eternal life is something to be granted after our resurrection, knowing that it is available now will be unexpected good news. For some, the question might be how to be in relationship with God here and now. Talk and listen. Talk to Jesus about what you are experiencing. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what God the Father wants you to know. Talk to Jesus about who you are (even though he is all-knowing). Talk to him about how you are feeling. Talk to him when things are going well. Talk to him when things are not going well. Just as you would talk with your loved ones on earth, talk to Jesus. Say good morning to him. Talk to him about your day. In this way, you will know him – and by knowing him, your eternal life starts now.
For those who already know eternal life and relationship, share your experience with others. Show them what you have experienced. Show them that although they might be lonely, they are never alone. Show them that when they desire deep and meaningful relationships, access to this depth and meaning is available now in relationship with the only true God and Jesus Christ. Show them by your words and actions that eternal life is available to all who accept Jesus as their personal Saviour.
Father God, thank you that eternal life is a life that is lived in an intimate personal relationship with you. Jesus, thank you for understanding all the thoughts, feelings, anguishes and challenges that come from my humanness because you were simultaneously fully man and fully God. Thank you that I can have a personal relationship with you. To you be the glory, great things you have done. In Jesus’ awesome name, I pray. Amen.
Carolyn Ehrlich lives in retirement with her husband Wayne in Ipswich, Queensland. Before retirement, Carolyn was an academic, working as a researcher in the fields of disability and rehabilitation. Carolyn had also previously worked clinically as a registered nurse. Today, Carolyn keeps busy with hobbies such as patchwork and quilting, supporting the Ipswich Lutheran Parish in various leadership roles, and supporting her family.