The Son was always in the Father. He was always God living inside 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 still in the Father as a human being. This Son of the Father has become human forever. Now at the centre of heaven, we find a human and this human is in the Father. So the Triune communion now includes a human being! Before the incarnation of the Son, there was Father Son and Spirit. Now there is Father, Spirit and Incarnate Son.
The human being who is now part of the Triune Communion is a real human. He is fully human as we are. The Son did not just appear as a human. He became a real flesh and blood human as we are. Nevertheless, we must be clear that he is now a new human. The Son came into our real humanity. He took it down into death to bear the consequences of human sin and then he rose again as the new man who is head of the new humanity. Following his resurrection, he was taken into heaven to be in the Father as the new human, the new humanity, the new creation. The human being who is now part of the Triune Community is the new human who is real human as we are.
This is amazing in itself, but Jesus goes on to amaze us even more by saying, “and 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?
The Son is in the Father. That means he lives inside the Father. Jesus says we live inside him in the same way. That means we are included in the Triune Communion.
The triune communion now includes a human being and it also includes us. We are fully included in the communion.
Does that mean we become divine? The early church fathers used to say that the Son become human so that we might become divine. Is that so? We do not become divine in the sense that we now share in the divine being. Nevertheless, we do share in the Son’s life in God. In union with the Son, we share fully in his own unique life in his Father.
That means we share in his continuing love relationship with the Father. The Son is fully loved by his Father. On earth he heard the Father say, you are my son whom I love with you I am well pleased. The Son continues to live loved by Father. In union with the Son, that which is his becomes ours. He is loved fully; we are loved fully. If I say, God does not really love me then I am saying God does not really love his Son. I am in the Son. Everything that is true of him is also true of me. He is the Father’s beloved Son and I am the Father’s beloved son in union with him. Here lies the deepest truth about us.
Baxter Kruger says,
Staggering and startling as it is, it remains the great truth about us. It is the secret of our existence. It may be veiled to us, hidden from our sight and very far removed from the way we see ourselves and our lives; nevertheless, it is true. The eternal Son became human. As a human being, he knows his Father inside and out, and dwells in faithfulness and security, joy and freedom with his Father in the Spirit. And we have been included in his incarnate relationship with his Father. We are included.
What does all this mean to us in our daily living?
I want to look answer that question by considering Belonging and Becoming.
One of the most important things in human life is Belonging. We really find our true identity in knowing we belong. This is not so strong in our individualistic culture. Each individual seeks to find his or her identity in what I acquire or what I achieve. But this individual identity is always lacking and the human heart cries out for belonging. Who we are and what our lives mean is found in belonging to someone or something. Identity is communal and relational.
Jesus tells us that we belong to the Triune Communion. The Triune communion now includes a real human being and we are in that human being. That means we belong. And in that belonging we know who we are. Or is it not better to say that in this belonging we find who we are by knowing Whose we are. In union with the Son we belong in the Triune Communion.
Our belonging is Sure. It is sure because we belong in union with the incarnate Son. Our belonging does not depend on us or anyone else. It simply depends on union with the Son. He belongs as a new human being within the Triune Communion and we belong in union with him.
Our belonging us Real. This is not an imaginary belonging. We don’t just say it is a great idea to lift us up, but it is not real. Our union with the Son is real. The Son united himself with us in our humanity and remains united with us in our humanity as the new man. And the Spirit, through faith, unites us to him. The Spirit brings us to faith in Christ by revealing Christ to us. Then, having brought us to faith, the same Spirit engrafts us into Christ. Being in Christ is not just an idea it is a reality through the Spirit.
You can sense something of how real it is when you hear Paul’s words to the Colossians,
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, 3for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is your* life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory (Colossians…3.1ff).
We already belong to the Triune Communion. We are now called to become who we are in our daily experience. We are to become Son’s and daughters who actually live in the communion that is already ours.
It is very important that we see our call to actual communion in terms of belonging followed by becoming. If we fail to see that we already belong in the Son’s relationship with the Father we will be left ever striving for our own union with God.
We will always be on the performance treadmill trying to move towards union with God by doing our best to appease him and by doing our best to use techniques to gain union with God. We will always fail in this pursuit and so we will never be at rest in God. We must see that we already belong. We cannot be more in union with the Father than we already are. And within the joy of this belonging we seek to become who we already are in our daily experience.
Evangelicals are fond of talking about each person’s own relationship with God.
I am then expected to pay a lot of attention to pursuing my own personal relationship with God But should we talk about my personal relationship with God? Should we not rather talk about Jesus’ relationship with his Father and my participation in that relationship as the main thing?You are not a lone ranger, striving for your own relationship with the Father. You are always included in Jesus’ relationship with the Father. John’s gospel is the stunning news that the Father’s Son has received us into his relationship with the Father. Jesus has included us in his life with his Father in the Holy Spirit. So it might not be right for us to talk about our relationship with God. What John points us to his something better – we get to share in the Son’s relationship with his Father. The Fathers’ Son has become human to lift us up into himself and his relationship with his Father.
We aim to become who we already are in our daily experience. But we do not do this alone. Jesus says, you in me, and I in you. The Son is in us by the Spirit to enable us to become who we are in our daily experience. We will explore that next time.