John opens his gospel by speaking about The Word who was with God. The Greek word translated “with” literally means “towards” and may carry the idea of two persons face to face. The Message paraphrases,
The Word present to God,
God present to the Word
So before anything existed there were two persons in relationship: the Word and God. Towards the end of his prologue John will call The Word “Son” and he will call God “Father”. “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” (NRSV 1:18). So God’s very being must now be understood as essentially personal, dynamic and relational.
In another place, John tells us that God is love (1 John 4.16). John does not say God has love or God is loving. He says, “God IS love”. When we hear the words “God is Love,” we usually think first of God’s love towards us. No wonder! His love towards us is so wonderful! However, before we talk about God’s love towards us we must talk about God as love within himself. Our God is love because he is three persons in love relationship. (John will speak later about a third person). The Father has always loved the Son. The Son has always loved the Father. In the love of the Spirit, these two have always been turned towards one another in self-giving love. And God’s love for us is an expression of God’s faithfulness to his own eternal life, which is essentially communal love.
Father and Son always knew each other with love’s own way of knowing in the Spirit. So when the Father’s Son became one of us he always made the Father known to us as his Father. Jesus didn’t proclaim a general idea of the Fatherhood of God and then say that is my Father. No! Jesus made God known particularly as his own Father. He continually tells us that he was sent by his Father. He joyfully served his Father. In love, he always obeyed his Father even unto death on a cross. Indeed, he said he was in his Father and his Father in him.
The Father also made known that Jesus is His Son, his unique Son. We hear him saying, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” So, we don’t make God Father by becoming his children. He has always been Father of the dearly loved and unique Son. And the Father was always finding his greatest joy in this Son who was always close to his heart before anything was made.
Flowing out of this Father-Son love relationship, the Father wants a large family that shares the likeness of his Son (Romans 8:29 NRSV). So, one day Jesus will stand before his Father saying, “Here I am and the children God has given me”. We are that family of sons and daughters in union with the Son. And even now, by the Spirit, we enjoy our belonging within this circle of family love.
“Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth… (Luke 10: 21)
Through Jesus’ praise, we are given a glimpse into the inner relations of God. Within the Triune life, the Son is always delighting in the Father with great joy through the Spirit. He is doing so, as the dearly loved Son with whom the Father is always well pleased. Does this joy of God loom large in your thinking about God? When you hear the word “God” do you instantly think of a communion of joyful love? Or does your concept of God not allow you to see fully the mutual joy of Father and Son in the joy of the Spirit? I ask because I think too many live with a view of God that that lacks a joyful heart. And so they are not likely to rejoice freely in God.
Through Jesus, God has revealed himself to us as a communion of joyful love. And the Spirit of joyful love now joins us to Jesus so that we share in his joyful praise before the Father. We don’t try to work up glad praise we simply allow ourselves to share in Jesus’ delight before his Father. For by the Spirit of God’s Son we cry abba Father and that is the joyful cry of the Son that we now share in. We are in the joyful Son and he is in us as joyful children in the joy of the Spirit.