One Lesson About the Relational Jesus

One Lesson About the Relational Jesus

Last time I wrote about the first verse and a half of chapter 14 of John’s Gospel. I would like now to talk a bit about the next seven verses through verse nine. In my last column I drew five lessons from the first 1 1/2 verses of John chapter 14, but this time I have only one lesson which I want to lift up.

Many people are looking for “the answer” to life. They are looking for an idea, a principle, or a timeless truth. There is a sense in which every idea, every principle, and every truth is something we can control or appropriate. In a way, according to philosopher Michael Polanyi, ideas are mental tools which we use and manipulate to deal with the world.

But here Jesus is saying that at the heart of reality is not a truth, or an idea, or a principle, but rather a Person. At the deepest level of reality, truth is not an idea we analyze and use but it is a Person who is pursuing us and with whom we can have a relationship. The God of the Old Testament is certainly this kind of relational God who takes the initiative in forming relationships. He calls himself, among other names, “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

Jesus takes the relational nature of God which we see in the Old Testament a step further and a step deeper by revealing that he has the most intimate possible relationship with God – God is His Father, and He is God’s Son. He is “Emmanuel”, “God with Us” (Isaiah 7:14.) He goes on to reveal that we can have an intimate relationship with him (like the one he has with his Father), and that through him, we ourselves can share in that kind of relationship with his Father.

John 1:12 says about Jesus, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (ESV translation of the Greek). In John, chapter 14, he says “no one comes to the Father” “except through me” (verse six) and “anyone who has seen me has seen the Father (verse nine).

Jesus is reaffirming that the kind of knowledge we have about God is not the same kind of knowledge we have about science, engineering, or mathematics. Our knowledge of God is the kind of knowledge we have about someone we know and love and are in a relationship with. Again, this is also what the Old Testament affirms: God is a relational God.  But Jesus is taking it an important step further by revealing that the relational God of the Old Testament, in radical pursuit of a saving relationship with all people, decided, surprisingly, to become a human being who was born, lived, died, and was raised again. In other words, the relational God has intensified and doubled down on His reaching out to us relationally by sovereignly becoming a flesh and blood person in Jesus of Nazareth. (If this were to be  false, it would be the worst blasphemy. But it is true, and since it is true, it is the best good news!)

Jesus, radically, is saying not only that God is a God known only in a personal relationship, but that this God wishes to reach out relationally to humanity as our Father. Because Jesus has always been God‘s Son (at the heart of God’s being is a relationship) , he was and is able to open up to us this relationship where, through him, we can become adopted sons and daughters of the Most High God, His Father. His blood shed on the cross cleanses us through faith in him, so that we can have this kind of intimate relationship with a holy and loving God.

This is the good news!

Winfield Casey Jones is a retired pastor who can be reached at Columns first appear in the Pearland and Friendswood Reporter News. 


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