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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor


The Seventh Sunday Of Easter

 Option #1: "This Is Eternal Life!"
John 17:1-11
Rev. Wayne Dobratz

There are some strange ideas about eternal life out there, as we learned after the September 11th terrorist attacks. The suicide bombers, we are told, were promised a carnal type of eternal life--having 72 virgins at their beck and call for eternity. It turns out that this is an old view. Witness this entry in Volume 55 of Luther’s Works--The Table Talk: Number 5386: What Heaven Is Like for Moslems: "The Turk says that the following will happen after the resurrection: a beautifully set table will stand there with tasteful salvers and excellent drinks. The food will be eels and tender liver. Around the table will stand attractive women, whom it will be a delight to look at." The Bible has quite a different idea of eternal life. The more we learn about it, the more we will appreciate what God has planned for those who love Him.

"This Is Eternal Life!":

I. To know the only true God in Christ, v3, Jn 17:4, 13:30-32; Acts 3:13-15; Phil 2:6-11; 1 Pet 1:18-21

II. To have the Word of God which Jesus brought, vv6-8, Jn 17:26; 12:23-28; Ps 71:19; Matt 11:25-26; 2 Cor 4:6; 1 Jn 5:20

III. To be one as God’s people--here and in eternity--vv9-11, Jn 17:21-24; Jn 14:20-21; Rom 15:5-6; 1 Cor 1:10-12, 12:12-13; Eph 4:4-6

We read in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: The nearest approach to a definition of eternal life is found in John 17:3. Though not a scientific or metaphysical definition, it is nevertheless Jesus’ own description of eternal life and reveals His conception of it. It is thus more valuable than a formal definition. It is "to know God and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent." This knowledge is vastly more than mere intellectual perception or understanding. It is moral knowledge, it is personal acquaintance, it is fellowship, a contact, if we may so speak, of personality with personality, an inner affinity and sympathy, an experience of similar thoughts, emotions, purposes, motives, desires, an interchange of the heart’s deepest feelings and experiences. It is a bringing of the whole personality of man into right relationship with the personality of God. This relation is ethical, personal, binding the two together with ties which nothing can separate. It is into this experience that Jesus came to bring men. Such a life Jesus says is satisfying to all who hunger and thirst for it (Jn 4:14; 6:35); it is the source of light to all (Jn 1:4; 8:12); it is indestructible (Jn 6:58; 11:26); it is like a well of water in the soul (Jn 4:14); it is procured by personally partaking of those qualities which belong to Jesus (Jn 6:53).

Adam Clarke writes in his Commentary on the New Testament: John 17:3 This is life eternal--The salvation purchased by Christ, and given to them who believe, is called life: 1. Because the life of man was forfeited to Divine justice; and the sacrifice of Christ redeemed him from that death to which he was exposed. 2. Because the souls of men were dead in trespasses and sins; and Christ quickens them by his word and Spirit. 3. Because men who are not saved by the grace of Christ do not live, they only exist, no good purpose of life being answered by them. But when they receive this salvation they live--answer all the Divine purposes, are happy in themselves, useful to each other, and bring glory to God. 4. It is called eternal life to show that it reaches beyond the limits of time, and that it necessarily implies--1.The immortality of the soul; 2. the resurrection of the body; and 3. that it is never to end, a life ever living; and indeed no words can more forcibly convey the idea of eternity than these. It is called THAT eternal life, by way of eminence. There may be an eternal existence without blessedness; but this is that eternal life with which infinite happiness is inseparably connected.

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Option #2: "God's Maternal Side"
Rev. Kelly Bedard

(This outline is inspired and otherwise taken from Philip Yancey's Soul Survivor:
How My Faith Survived the Church
, chapter 12: Shusaku Endo: A Place for Traitors)


A. Father Love

       1. Provisional, bestowing approval as the child meets certain standards

       2. Sometimes demanding and impatient--like the apostles in Acts 1:1ff

B. Mother Love

       1. Unconditional, accepting the child no matter what, regardless of behavior

       2. Patient and caring, firm and steadfast--per 1 Pet 5:6-11--and prayerful (Jn 17:1-11)

Notes

1. An old Japanese saying lists the four most awful things on earth as "fires, earthquakes, thunderbolts, and fathers." (Yancey in Soul Survivor)

2. He was thin; he wasn't much. One thing about him, however--he was never known to desert other people if they had trouble. When women were in tears, he stayed by their side. When old folks were lonely, he sat with them quietly. It was nothing miraculous, but the sunken eyes overflowed with love more profound than a miracle. And regarding those who deserted him, those who betrayed him, not a word of resentment came to his lips. No matter what happened, he was the man of sorrows, and he prayed for nothing but their salvation. (Endo in A Life of Jesus)

3. One of Endo's short stories, "Mothers," tells of a man who visits a group of Kakure Christians on a remote island in search of some truth about himself. These crypto-Christians, devoted to Mary, with an acute sense of historical failure, appeal to the visitor. He senses in them something of the longing he felt as a child, unable to communicate well with his own mother. "Sometime I catch a glimpse of myself in these Kakure, people who have had to lead lives of duplicity, lying to the world and never revealing their true feelings to anyone."

In a recurring dream, the narrator lies in a hospital, heavily drugged. As he fades in and out of consciousness he sees that beside him, patient, doggedly loving, sits his mother--no one else, just his mother. In lucid moments he ponders her intense faith and his own waywardness. "The more she compelled me to share her faith, the more I fought her oppressive power, the way a drowning child struggles against the pressure of the water."

As the narrator thinks these thoughts, listening to the hum of life-support machines, shifting mistily between the present and the past, preparing for a future he cannot imagine, his mother sits beside him, silent, waiting.
(Yancey in Soul Survivor)

4. ...it is worthy of inquiry how it was that the Son glorified the Father, seeing that the eternal glory of the Father neither suffered diminution in any human form, nor could be increased in respect of its own divine perfection. (From Augustine's Tractates on John #105)

5. Christ does not pray that they might be rich and great in the world, but that they might be kept from sin, strengthened for their duty, and brought safe to heaven. (Matthew Henry)

6. We are inextricably united to God and we can never be separated from God's love, a love in which both the maternal and the paternal are combined. (Andrew Greeley)

7. Testosterone...is largely responsible for maleness (even though smaller amounts of it occur in the bodies of girls and women)... a man will have to think longer about what he believes--especially about something with an emotional component... A woman, on the other hand, will typically be able to access her prior experience from both hemispheres and discern almost instantly how she feels about it. (James Dobson in Bringing Up Boys)

8. Serotonin [is a]..."neurotransmitter." [Its] purpose is to pacify or soothe the emotions and to help an individual control his or her impulsive behavior...facilitates good judgment... If testosterone is the gasoline that powers the brain, serotonin slows the speed and helps one steer... Females typically have more of it than males. (Ibid)

9. [The amygdala is an] "emotional computer." When a physical or emotional threat is perceived by the senses, the amygdala instantly orders the adrenal glands and other defensive organs to swing into action... regulating aggression... larger in males than in females... (Ibid)

10. How incredibly creative it is of God to put a different from of dominance in each sex so that there is a balance between the two. When they come together in marriage to form what Scripture calls "one flesh," they complement and supplement one another. Wouldn't it be boring if men and women were identical...? It just ain't so, and thank goodness it isn't. (Ibid)

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