Today’s Gospel reading continues with the Farewell Discourse. In these passages, from John chapters 13-17, we get a very intimate, first-hand account of the final hours of Jesus’ life and teaching. If you ever wondered what it would be like to be a ‘fly on the wall’ among Jesus and the disciples, the Farewell Discourse is a great place to start.
In the passage today, Jesus says “Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.” The word ‘know’ in this verse intends to communicate a personal acquaintance or first hand experience. To have eternal life is to experience the life of God first hand. We are told in other places that this comes about through the life-giving power of the Spirit (John 3, et. al.). The mysterious and glorious interplay of Trinitarian relations is involved in each step of the Christian journey. This is but one reason why so much was at stake in the early Church over doctrinal matters concerning the nature of the Son and the Holy Spirit.
To have eternal life is not to be a floating apparition. Eternal life is not an unending, mindless state. It is not going to someplace in the sky. It is to have the “life of the Age’, to be a full participant in the age to come which is a remade and properly ordered cosmos. Eternal ife is a qualitatively different kind of life. It is elevated. Free from inordinate passion and malice. Free to worship and live in harmony as God intended from the beginning.