The apostle John recorded one of the Savior's final prayers before His death. In this petition Jesus asked that we would know the true character of God. Listen as Jesus speaks to His Father: "This is life eternal, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do....I have manifested Your name" John 17: 3,4,6.
Did you notice that Jesus defined eternal life in terms of its substance and quality rather than in terms of its length? Eternal life is, in one sense, to live forever. But Christ did not focus on its duration in His prayer. Eternal life is to know God, He said. In other words, eternal life is a life that derives its quality from a knowledge of the true character of God.
Jesus emphasized our need to know the Father as "the only true God." It is possible for us to conceive of God in a false light, attributing to Him characteristics that He does not possess. Jesus knew God as He truly is, and He longed for us to discover the transforming beauty of the Father's love. The work God gave Him to do was to manifest the divine character. According to His own testimony, He succeeded in accomplishing that mission.
After all the healings, the acceptance of sinners, the feeding of the hungry, and all the acts of love He performed, Jesus went to the cross. At Calvary He gave the crowning revelation of God's character. The sacrifice was equally the Father's as well as the Son's. Paul affirms that "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself" 2Corinthians 5:19. The Son willingly laid down His life the Father willingly gave up His Son.
Why did the Father make the sacrifice?
One of the most astounding and touching statements Jesus ever made offers the answer to this question. In prayer He reminded the Father, You "have loved them as You have loved Me" John17:23. NKJV. I know this is hard to believe, but it's true, God actually loves you and me as He loves the Lord Jesus Christ. This remarkable reality exalts God's love so far beyond human love that we can barely take it in. Think of what it means. If He loves you and me as He loves Jesus, that must mean that His love transcends our sin. His love is not altered because of all the wrong things we have done to Him and to others.
(Can you fathom that kind of love, it is hard isn't it? It is so far above our kind of love that it is just plain hard to fathom it. Ask God to help you understand His love for you, that is what I am having to do. He will answer our prayers, I am sure of that and then we can enjoy His presence in our lives so much more. Grandma Joan)