I think it was the first Bible verse I memorized as a child. My mother suggested it would be a good verse to “learn by heart”. Perhaps you know the verse; it is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” I thought the verse had something to do with dying and going to heaven, which didn’t appeal to me at the time. And for many years I thought eternal life was something collected in heaven when I died, but of little relevance to me in my daily life.
Then I made a life-changing discovery! I began to see that Jesus came not only to give us life that lasts forever, but to give us a new quality of life now. It is this wondrous life Jesus gives that is the theme of this year’s Lent devotional. We will explore the very life of God within us. It is what Jesus calls eternal life. It is living the life!
Eternal life is the translation of the Greek words zoe aionios that literally means, “life of the age to come”. The Judaism of Jesus’ day talked about two ages: the present age, and the age to come. The life of the age to come, zoe aionios, is the quality of life belonging to the coming age of Messiah. For “in Jewish thought, life in the age to come is characterized by a restored relationship with God, and that is precisely what Jesus speaks of here. The life of the age to come is already present in Jesus and made available to his disciples, and at the heart of it is an intimate relation with God.” (Rodney Whitacre, John: IVP New Testament Commentary) Eternal life, the life of the age to come, is brought to us in Messiah Jesus today!
As Jesus talked with His Father, He spoke of eternal life as a relationship with the Father and with Him: “And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). Many people can speak of the transforming power of a relationship with a good and gracious person. “She changed my life!” a man recently gushed to me about his wife. Yes! But how much more will knowing Father and Jesus transform us now. It is living the life!
Jesus promised that those who put trust in Him would possess this quality of life in the here and now: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life” (John 3:36a). This means no more life as usual. No more status quo. Because eternal life, zoe aionios, is the foretaste of what awaits us. Jesus came offering eternal life, inviting people to enter into the very life of God. The apostle Paul rejoiced in this radically new quality of living: “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). This is about more than being a church member, serving on a committee, and going to Bible study!
The focus of our Lent devotional for 2018 will be this new quality of life God intends for us today. We will explore what is commonly called “The Upper Room Discourse” found in John 13-16. In these four chapters we have Jesus’ parting words, just hours before He died. Here is the quintessence of everything Jesus wants us to know about life.
Two thousand years have come and gone since Jesus spoke these words, but the same divine power continues to flow through them to us. The same tender eyes look on us that looked on those disciples. Jesus longs today to tell us about the life He came to give us. He has so much He wants to tell us in The Upper Room. Here are words not just to read, but words to read and to ponder. Words to lovingly pray over. Words to live. Let us linger with Jesus in The Upper Room! Here is life! This is Living the Life!
The Season of Lent starts soon: February 14, Ash Wednesday! So be watching here, and on our Water from Rock website, for how you can obtain a copy or copies of Living the Life: Daily Reflections on The Upper Room Discourse.” We are excited to share these words of new life with you!
Grace and peace,