The risen and exalted Jesus encounters us personally as the one who is our salvation. Through this living encounter with Jesus by the Spirit we come to know the true God. And as he repeatedly encounters us we know ever more deeply who God is as the mystery of Father, Son and Spirit. We do not seek to know the “real” divine being above or beyond Jesus. “No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known” (John 1: 18). Jesus is the one “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2: 3). We, therefore, know God only in him and not above or beyond him.
Jesus is not the starting place for knowing God that we must move beyond into deeper and fuller knowing. Jesus alone is our knowledge of God: it’s unique content and entire scope. It is, therefore, only at the risk of going far away from the mystery of the Triune One that we move beyond Jesus trying to discover greater depth and height in other spheres.
We move into deeper and fuller knowing of the true God as Jesus himself encounters us again and again by the Spirit. In this living encounter he opens to us the mystery that is Father, Son and Spirit. And as he repeatedly opens himself to us in this living way we gaze on his glory and are transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory.
Before anything was even made God decided to have us in relationship with himself. He alone decided this for us. He also decided to act in Jesus by his Spirit to achieve his aim. That means all the action of God with us in Jesus is the fulfilment of his eternal decision.
We humans reject God’s intention. We want to live out of ourselves and for ourselves independent of our Creator. Since this is what we always wanted, God might easily have allowed us to perish without God. But God acts with faithfulness to his and his own purpose for himself with humanity.
When we humans rejected him did he need to go on loving us? He certainly wasn’t meeting any lack within himself. Nevertheless, in love, he would not to allow us to perish. He stuck to his original decision. In loving us this way he was faithful to himself. He was being true to who he is as love in spite of everything.
The faithfulness of God to himself is our only confidence before him. We do not put any confidence at all in our faithfulness to him. That would be very shaky. Our only assurance lies in God’s faithfulness to his original decision made actual among us in Jesus by the Spirit. With our eyes fixed on Jesus in the Spirit we rest in the constancy of God’s YES to us. And in response, we say YES to our Father through Jesus in the enabling of his Spirit
God’s Spirit unites us with Jesus, the Father’s Son. Within this union, all that belongs to Jesus becomes ours, including his relationship with the Father in the Spirit. Baxter Kruger writes,
“The gospel is not the news that we can receive an absent Jesus into our lives.
The gospel is the shocking news that Jesus has received us into his”.
Included in his life, we share in his relationship with the Father in the Spirit.
In union with Jesus we do not pray to the Father as isolated individuals trying hard to make contact with God high above. We rather pray to our Father in union with his dearly loved Son by the Spirit. As we do so we are aware that we are actually sharing in the relationship of Jesus with his Father in living union by the Spirit. We are not trying hard to keep up our own individual relationship with the Father we are rather sharing in Jesus’ relationship.
Likewise, we do not engage in mission as isolated individuals trying hard to be effective in our own mission for God. Rather, in the presence and power of the Spirit, we share in the ongoing mission of the Son serving his Father on behalf of the world. We do not stand as spectators looking passively at what Jesus is doing. Nor do we move in and do all the actions ourselves. We actually participate in what Jesus is doing. Jesus is the main mover. By the Spirit we get to share in what he is doing.
In all aspects of Christian living we share in the Son’s relationship with the Father by the Spirit.
Father and Son know each other in a unique way because they are One in a unique way. The Father is in the Son and the Son is in the Father. Mutually indwelling one another, Father and Son know each other with love’s own way of knowing in the love of the Spirit. Only the Father knows the Son in this way; and only the Son knows the Father in this way. So Jesus says, “No one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him ” (Luke 10:22).
The Son does not reveal His Father to us as one who has some truth about God to make known. He is the Father’s Son who came to us from the bosom of the Father. He is, therefore, the very unveiling of God in person. And what is revealed to us is the relating of Father and Son in the love of the Spirit. We only know the Son as Son relating to his Father in the Spirit. We only know the Father as Father relating to his Son in the Spirit. There is no other way to see God.
We know Father and Son not by standing back and looking at their relating as spectators. Amazingly, we know from the inside by sharing in the relating by the Spirit. The Spirit enables us to share in the Son’ relating to the Father so that we cry Abba Father with the Son by the Spirit of the Son within us.
In one of his prayers Jesus says, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth…” (Luke 10: 21-22). Jesus is always aware of his Father as Lord of all. He always acknowledges that he was sent by his Father to do his will. He always looks at what his Father is doing so that he can move into action with his Father. In the agonising struggle of Gethsemane he offers himself to the Father in trustful obedience, “not what I want but what you want”. Then, on the cross, he is obedient to his Father unto death. And in the end, when all the kingdoms are subject to Jesus, he will hand them over to his Father, because in his eyes the Father alone is Lord of heaven and earth.
In his prayer, Jesus addresses his Father as “Lord of heaven and earth”, but just a few sentences later he says, “All things have been handed over to me by my Father” (Luke 10:22). The Father is Sovereign Lord of all, but he has chosen to hand everything over to his Son. Why? Because he loves his Son and is well pleased with him. In another place Jesus says, “The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands…” (John 3:35). The Father does not hand over sovereign rule to his Son because of some fixed rule. No! He has handed everything over to the Son because he loves his Son deeply.
Right now all things are in the hands not of some remote divine power who determines all things according to some fixed decree. Rather, the lowly servant Jesus, whom we know and trust, is Lord over all. He is so because he is the one that the Father loves.
I am glad to know that all things are in the hands of Jesus.