The purpose of the Triune communion is inclusion. The three want to include us in their communion of love. More specifically, we saw that the purpose of the Triune Communion is to adopt us into the Son’s relationship with the Father so that we share in their fellowship. We can now say with John, “Our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son…
In this post, I want to look at this same purpose of inclusion as we hear of it from the mouth of Jesus himself in John 14:20.
I am in my Father
you in me
I in you.
Jesus tells us that we are all In One another.
I am in my Father
It’s odd for us to talk about being “in” another person. We usually talk about togetherness as being “with” someone else. Why does Jesus say he is “in” the Father?
I think that ultimately, we will have to admit that we don’t really know what “in” means. Jesus is taking us into depths that leave us out of our depth. The best place to begin is to say we don’t really know what is going on.Nevertheless, we can look at Jesus in the Father in three ways.
Father and Son are One in Doing
Earlier in this passage, we hear one of Jesus disciples say, “Lord show us the Father”. Jesus replies whoever has seen me has seen the Father. Then he elaborates with these words,
10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves.
The works that Jesus is doing are the works of the Father. Whatever Jesus does the Father is doing because the Son and Father are in each other. You cannot separate them. When the Son works to help people the Father is working in him. They are in one another. So Jesus can say if you have seen me you have seen the Father.
All through the gospel of John you see Father and Son in one another in doing. Right at the start John speaks about God creating all things through the Son. We go on and see the Son always looking towards the Father to see what he is doing and moving with the Father into healing people and teaching people and liberating people. He always listens to the Father and responds to what he says and does. Jesus moves towards his death on the cross only at the time that set by the Father. He must offer himself to the Father on our behalf in the Father’s time because he does all in union with the Father. You cannot separate Father and Son they always live and move and act together. They always have and they always will. The Son is always in the Father.
Father and Son are One in Loving
God is love. And in Jesus prayer to the Father, recording in John 17, Jesus speaks about in-ness as oneness in love. The Father loves the Son giving himself entirely to the Son. The Son loves the Father giving himself entirely to the Father. Between Father and Son there is a continual movement of self-giving that is total. And the Son’s self-giving love towards the Father is so deep that it can only be described as being in the Father. There is no separation, no distance or withholding. Rather there is full freedom to know and be known, unqualified appreciation and unreserved embracing, complete sharing and self-giving.
All through John’s gospel we see Jesus indwelling the Father in love relationship. Every step he took was with the Father in love. All through we see the main thing is the Son’s love relationship with his Father.
Father and Son are One in Being
Before the Son became human, he was in the Father so that they were One in Being. John opens his gospel by telling us that the Son was with God and was God. As a human, we hear Jesus take the Divine name “I Am” to himself. And towards the end of John’s gospel Thomas falls before him saying, “My Lord and My God”. In this broader context when Jesus says, “The Father and I are One” he means more than one in will and purpose. Father and Son are One in Being.
We saw previously that the church came to speak about this mutual indwelling as “perichoresis”. The word has the idea of one thing containing another. The Son contains the Father. The Father contains the Son. Both Father and Son contain one another in the unity of the Spirit. The Father contains the Son in himself so that they live inside one another. Yet the Son remains the Son distinct from Father and Spirit.
This perichoretic unity shared by the divine persons goes beyond any kind of unity found within creation. It is deeper than anything experienced between the closest human persons. We cannot grasp this. It is the mystery of the Trinity.
The Son was always in the Father. Then the Son became human. He did not just appear as a human he became fully human as one of us. Here, in John 14.20, he is speaking to us as the incarnate Son. He is telling us that he is in the Father as a human being.
This Son of the Father has become human forever. He didn’t unzip his human skin when he returned to the Father, he remained fully human. Now at the centre of heaven, we find a human and this human is in the Father, he mutually indwells the Father. He is in the Father and the Father is in him.
Do Father and Son still live inside one another as fully as they did before the Son became human?
The incarnate Son is still in the Father. He is still one in Being with the Father. They still live inside one another and always will even though the Son remains fully human forever.
We don’t really know what is going on when Jesus says that he is in the Father as a human being. He is taking us into depths that leave us out of our depth. Nevertheless, we must see that he is telling us something that is truly amazing.
He is telling us that
the Triune Communion now includes a human being!
Why would the Son of God become human? He had no need of this. He has forever known his Father and enjoyed his Father’s full attention and affection. He has forever shared in the fellowship of life with his Father in the Spirit. Why would he become human? Was it because of some deficiency in his fellowship with the Father? Was it because of boredom? The only reason to become human was to include us in the Triune Communion. We will explore this as we consider the next statement,
“You in me”.
Triune communion now includes a human being and we are in this human being.
What does this say about our relationship to the Triune communion?