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Last week we quoted Metzler who said he can find no evidence that God engages interpersonally as humans desire, either among Themselves or with mankind. This IS the MYSTERY and Metzler’s having a hard time with it. “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”John 10:14-15 There are some pretty spectacular things said about this verse!
Some very great exegetes have questioned the ability of mankind to know God “even as the Father knows the Son” but the confusion only comes when we put too much emphasis on man and his ability to know compared to God’s ability to know. It is immediately practical and functional when we take the focus from man’s ability to know, and put it on God’s infinite ability to REVEAL! Man is always the weak link, but God is more than able to cover our weakness and failure. Matthew 11:27 says, "All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him." “am known of mine—the soul’s response to the voice that has inwardly and efficaciously called it; for of this mutual loving acquaintance ours is the effect of His. “The Redeemer’s knowledge of us is the active element, penetrating us with His power and life; that of believers is the passive principle, the reception of His life and light. In this reception, however, an assimilation of the soul to the sublime object of its knowledge and love takes place; and thus an activity, though a derived one, is unfolded, which shows itself in obedience to His commands” [Olshausen]. From this mutual knowledge Jesus rises to another and loftier reciprocity of knowledge. (Matthew 11:27)”JFB
The constant push of our flesh for obedience comes from the desire of the flesh to be like God independently of God, and obedience such as that of the Pharisees is easily nothing more than a vehicle for self-approval. But true intimacy with God can never be bastardized by the flesh, because God stands jealously in the center of it! Secondly, while I don’t disagree with Olshausen that this revelation of experiential knowledge of God to those whom Jesus chooses, results in obedience to His commands, I would emphasize that it first results in INTIMACY and interpenetration between God and man, and that obedience follows intimacy as a result of the intimacy. “am known of mine—the soul’s response to the voice that has inwardly and efficaciously called it; for of this mutual loving acquaintance ours is the effect of His. “The Redeemer’s knowledge of us is the active element, penetrating us with His power and life; that of believers is the passive principle, the reception of His life and light. In this reception, however, an assimilation of the soul to the sublime object of its knowledge and love takes place; and thus an activity, though a derived one, is unfolded, which shows itself in obedience to His commands” [Olshausen]. From this mutual knowledge Jesus rises to another and loftier reciprocity of knowledge. (Matthew 11:27)”JFB
So before we finish off the explanation of what it means to be “one” as the Father and Son are one, let’s look again at our two texts.
“I and the Father are one.” The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.”Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? “If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.”Jn 10:30-38
Now I am going to make my argument on why I think “UNITY among the brethren” could NEVER demonstrate to the world that the Father sent the Son, or that the Father loves us the same way He loves Jesus. “that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.”John 17:21-23 It IS that intimacy and interpenetration, the submitted heart of man to Creator that affords God the invitation to manifest Himself through the submitted heart and demonstrates all that is in our text.
Does “not arguing and fighting” among believes accomplish that goal? Buddhists and other Eastern religions experience unity among their followers. They don’t even kill roaches. Does their unity indicate that the Father sent the Son? So it seems to me that Jesus is identifying us with the relationship that He had with the Father as a man, and that relationship is to accomplish in the world THROUGH us the same thing that His relationship was to accomplish in the world, the world seeing the Father’s work in Jesus was to convince them that the Father sent Him. The WORKS of the Father in His people PROVE that He IS IN and operating in them – even in the Old Testament! It does not – and neither does fellowship among God’s people prove that the Father sent the Son. What WOULD prove it? “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.”John 10:37-38 Jesus said that the union, the oneness with the Father among believers is to convince the world that the Father sent the Son and that He loves the disciples the same way He loves the Son.
Heavens NO – Jacob wasn’t unified with ANYBODY! It was the works of God that were being performed through Jacob in spite of Jacob! Laban believed because of the WORKS of the Father in him! Is it UNITY that Laban saw in Jacob that caused him to be convinced that the Father was at work in him? It wasn’t just that Jacob made Laban rich that convinced him of God’s hand in Jacob’s life, otherwise wealth would be proof of God’s blessing and we know that it isn’t true. It was how that blessing came in spite of Jacob that convinced Laban of God’s working in him. “Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served you, and let me depart; for you yourself know my service which I have rendered you.”But Laban said to him, “If now it pleases you, stay with me; I have divined that the Lord has blessed me on your account.”He continued, “Name me your wages, and I will give it.” But he said to him, “You yourself know how I have served you and how your cattle have fared with me. “For you had little before I came and it has increased to a multitude, and the Lord has blessed you wherever I turned. But now, when shall I provide for my own household also?” So he said, “What shall I give you?”Gen 30:26-31a
“For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”John 12:49-50 They were hearing the voice of the Father in the body of a man and it freaked them all out, from the time that Jesus sat in the temple as a 12 year old boy, just like the Father spoke to Eli the priest through the young boy Samuel. When God speaks, even through a donkey, there is NO QUESTION! “He said, “What is the word that He spoke to you? Please do not hide it from me. May God do so to you, and more also, if you hide anything from me of all the words that He spoke to you.” So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, “It is the Lord; let Him do what seems good to Him.” 1Sam 3:17-18 “The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, and they said to them, “Why did you not bring Him?” The officers answered, “Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks.”John 7:45-46 “When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching;”Matt 7:28 How do we explain this reaction of unbelieving people to Jesus? This is a grade school aged kid talking to the High Priest – but he is speaking the words of the Father.
“Pharaoh was furious with his servants, and he put me in confinement in the house of the captain of the bodyguard, both me and the chief baker. We had a dream on the same night, he and I; each of us dreamed according to the interpretation of his own dream. Now a Hebrew youthwas with us there, a servant of the captain of the bodyguard, and we related them to him, and he interpreted our dreams for us. To each one he interpreted according to his own dream. And just as he interpreted for us, so it happened; he restored me in my office, but he hanged him.”Gen 41:10-13 Was it Joseph’s unity that convinced the cup bearer that God was with Joseph? No! It was God at work in Joseph that proved that Joseph was uniquely IN UNION with the Father in such a manner that men in need should seek Him out! It is the same for us.
“Now it came about at that time that Abimelech and Phicol, the commander of his army, spoke to Abraham, saying, “God is with you in all that you do; now therefore, swear to me here by God that you will not deal falsely with me or with my offspring or with my posterity, but according to the kindness that I have shown to you, you shall show to me and to the land in which you have sojourned.” Abraham said, “I swear it.”Gen 21:22-24 Of course not – again, it is the works of the Father being viewed by the inhabitants of the earth, and this union with God is so powerful and threatening to Abimelech that he is convinced that even Abraham’s children would be a threat to his offspring! So it is and will be for us! Jesus is praying for this same union for us with the Father in John 17. Unity among Christians is pleasant, but it doesn’t cause the kind of reactions we have seen in our text. Again, is it UNITY that is doing the convincing in the world?
When we are comfortable in our theology as it is, we don’t ask hard questions or think as critically about the text. I want to do a simple slam dunk on this question of what Jesus was asking the Father for when He prayed that we humans would be one as the Father and the Son are one. We demonstrated that it has ALWAYS been the Father working through His people, even in the Old Testament, that has been the proof that the Father was in and with the people He loved and engaged. That was Jesus’ point in John 10:30ff. I am in the Father, He in Me, I in you, and you in US!
If unity among Christians was what Jesus was praying for, I think He is still waiting – and I don’t think that condition will ever appear on this earth. However – If Jesus was praying that Christians could be one with the Father as He was and is one with the Father as a man, His prayer was being answered even before He asked it all through the Old Testament and constantly even in our day. I have had several people in the last month tell me that they wanted in their lives what they have seen God doing in the lives of Christians that they see and know. Even a little scrap of that “oneness” that Jesus prayed for is impacting people right in front of my eyes! In all honesty, don’t you find it curious that Laban didn’t ask Jacob, “Do you think that I could have a relationship with your God like you do?” Or don’t you find it surprising that Pharaoh did take Joseph aside and ask him, “How did you come to have such an amazing relationship with a God that cannot be seen? How did all of this begin for you? Can I have a relationship with God like you have, because I have tremendous responsibilities and that would be enormously helpful to me.” Isn’t the independence of man astounding? Do you think you might be affected by independence in a similar manner? Imagine what this world would see if some of God’s people would give to Him their unfettered love, trust and devotion, and the freedom to express Himself in all of their relationships, and in everything they did. Don’t you think that God wanted to do in Laban the same thing that Laban saw God doing in Jacob? Do you think that God wanted Esau to be such a self-serving man that He couldn’t experience God? Wasn’t God trying to give Pharaoh a reason to engage Him and know Him? Now let’s try Lenski’s interpretation, that men would be unified together as Jesus and the Father are unified, so that the WORLD would know that the Father sent the Son into the world, and that the Father loves mankind JUST as He loves Jesus. Remember, this is a prayer of Jesus, to the Father. Has that prayer ever been answered? Has the world ever been convinced that the Father sent the Son because of their unity? Has there ever really been any kind of appreciable unity among Christians – much less one that would convince the world of the two things Jesus asked? Paul was hard on John Mark, the disciples constantly bickered.
This is something worth thinking about. Sometimes we get emotional or excited for a while and we might mouth the words, but the passing of time, and perseverance in the middle of hardship always demonstrates a serious desire to engage the Father. Where do you think you stand? You will give God a thrill like the thrill I had standing on the platform of the church, and seeing my bride for the first time in her wedding dress, appearing in the door at the back of the church! My knees nearly buckled and if I didn’t step back, I would have fallen at the sight of her! You can do that to the Father who CRAVES to be ONE with YOU! Then test the depth of your desire for Him by measuring the force in you to seek Him and allow Him to express Himself through you. One thing should be very clear to us. Some of us might be wondering whether or not they have the determination to follow through with God to see this accomplished in their lives. Do we have to rise to a certain level of faithfulness before this can happen in our lives? Jacob has to be the low water mark, so I’m thinking not. All any of us need to do is breathe, and God can manage to work for His glory in the world. HOWEVER – if you want to know a oneness that will absolutely blow your mind, and glorify God, and please Him – just tell Him that you want to be one with Him like Jesus was; tell Him to take you away.
The word for “lay hold” is “καταλαμβάνω”κατα meaning “down” and “λαμβάνω” meaning “I take in hand”. KJV has the word “apprehend”. It can also mean to tackle or arrest by taking down. Imagine what would happen if you were running toward Jesus because you were apprehending Him, and He was running toward you because He was apprehending YOU! That is exactly what Paul is describing here. He wants Jesus, and Jesus wants Him. Don’t blink or you will miss this play. “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you;”Phil 3:7-8,12-15