And This Is Eternal Life
We now come to that most solemn and holy passage which records our Lord’s “High Priestly Prayer.” It is rightly called so, since, 1) Christ is our eternal High Priest who has atoned for our sins and now intercedes for us in heaven (Hebrews 2:14-18; 4:14-16; 5:1-10; 7:1-10:39); and, 2) He prays for us in this very prayer, even with the shadow of the cross looming over him. It should be one of the most precious chapters in all of Scripture for us as we are allowed a glimpse into our Lord’s priestly ministry of prayer to his Father on our behalf, the Son speaking to his Father for our sake, the very task he does for us right now. Imagine: this prayer serves as an example of what he is doing and has been doing on our behalf ever since his ascension, his heart poured out before the heart of the Father for our sakes right before our eyes! This might be regarded as one of the most sublime revelations of the love of God for His people as illustrated in the interpersonal relations between the members of the Triune God in all of Scripture.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem amid the shouts of joy of the people, and some pagan Greeks came looking for him, he prayed to the Father in utter devotion, “Father, glorify your name” (John 12:20-28). But now Jesus prays instead, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son.” God shares His glory with none as only He is God and worthy of glory. The fact that the Son would and could ask of his Father to “glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed,” plainly reveals the divine majesty of the Son. Jesus asks his Father to glorify him “since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.” Jesus is Lord of all, and is the giver of eternal life to those whom the Father has given him. No one has eternal life by nature; it is a gift from the Father through the Son. And then Jesus defines eternal life for us. Don’t bother with a dictionary; hear this: “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
The Westminster Shorter Catechism of 1647 begins: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” To glorify Him is to know Him and His Son. It is not mere mental assent, but a personal relationship in which we know Him by faith, and by faith know Him. He transforms us to and through this knowing and believing in Him so that we are not the creatures we were but are new creations in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17), taking away the heart of stone and giving us a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). And this is eternal life: To know the true God and the Son whom He has sent