It starts small. Just two little words of a question whose answer explodes into life.
I’m listening in on Jesus’ prayer for us. There’s mystery here for a lifetime. I ask it. “Jesus, which words do you mean when you pray, ‘I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them’ (John 17:8)?”
I know that all the words Jesus spoke came from His Father. But were there words that God gave specifically to Jesus? Words that He now gives to us if we dare to accept them?
I hear the words spoken to Him, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). It’s what each of our hearts aches to know. That we belong. That we are loved, deeply and forever. That Someone likes us. . . is pleased with us. . . enjoys being with us.
We hear the words. And look at our lives. And look around to see who else He might be speaking to, for surely it can’t be us.
But isn’t this the astonishing core of the message that Jesus brought, that through Him these words are now spoken to us who will receive them?
Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. (Ephesians 1:4-5 NLT)
In case we don’t get it – that these words of affirmation are now spoken to us who are in Jesus as fully as they are spoken to Jesus himself, God speaks once more from heaven.
Jesus is facing his death with a willing but heavy heart. He understands its purpose. He knows that He goes ahead to bring us, with Him, through death into life. And so he moves back and forth, speaking now of His death, now of ours. Watch the two intertwine:
Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.
“Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! Father, bring glory to your name.” (John 12:23-28)
God hears the plea and responds:
Then a voice spoke from heaven, saying, “I have already brought glory to my name, and I will do so again.” (John 12:28)
And now, listen:
Then Jesus told them, “The voice was for your benefit, not mine. (John 12:30)
What does Jesus mean? Perhaps that God was again placing His stamp of approval on His Son, speaking aloud to us as He did at the beginning of His ministry. “This is my son whom I love. Listen to Him.” Yes, that, certainly. A wake-up call to receive the words of His Son. But maybe this too. That in the interweaving of our lives with His, our deaths with His, the words spoken over Him are also spoken over us. Our lives also bring glory to God.
Isn’t this exactly what Jesus spoke over His ragtag band of disciples, the same ones He rebuked for their little faith, for falling asleep in prayer, for failing again and again to understand what He was on about?
“. . . in them I am glorified.” (John 17:10 New Jerusalem Bible)
Isn’t it what He prays over us who will believe?
“I have given them the glory that You gave me. . .” (John 17:22)
And should we still wonder whether it’s possible that these words given to Jesus are now passed on to us, we hear it twice (or a thousand times) more.
Once in Jesus’ same prayer:
“. . .that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.” (John 17:23 New Living Translation)
And once as He speaks with His fearful, confused followers.
“I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love.” (John 15:9)
So settle in. Make yourself at home. Receive these words spoken to you. “You are my son, my daughter, whom I love. With you I am well pleased.”