Who doesn’t want their lover to be passionate? I know I do…
I’m reading slowly through John’s gospel these days, and arrived at chapter seventeen yesterday. John’s gospel has always been my favourite, but this time I had one of those experiences you often get within familiar passages of the Bible, of noticing things I’ve never noticed before. And what struck me about this chapter was the tone of Jesus’ prayer to the Father.
Jesus here intertwines his love and devotion for the Father, his love for his disciples, and his acknowledgment of who he himself is, in an incredible love-feast of unity, desire and oneness. Without accepting the negative connotations the word “obsession” has these days, one could consider Jesus’ monologue as an expression of intense obsession. Christ is obsessed with this incredible union, once only between he and the Father. Reading between the lines; reading the powerful direct references to love and oneness, and soaking in powerful imagery-almost taking me to the Song Of Solomon-made my head spin and my soul swell with emotion and gratitude.
Jesus Christ, as is made plain throughout scripture, is no mere man or avatar among many-he is uniquely equal to the Father:
And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began (verse 5)
Another incredible statement in the same vein is this one:
All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them (verse 10).
Jesus then speaks of the unity of believers with the Godhead-what was once impossible being made possible by his sacrifice:
I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity (verses 22 and 23).
How can you have total unity with someone without being in the same place? You can’t, and so Christ, in his obsession for us, expresses his desire for the objects of his love to be with him, with the Father. And with this desire comes another reference to the origin of the Christ. It isn’t a stable, it’s all of eternity:
Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world (verse 24).
We’re amazed and humbled by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, and his willingness to die at the hands of his own creation. But here in chapter seventeen I saw clearly the love which inspired such sacrifice; a love beyond anything we see or feel here in the world of people. And in this is a pointer to what he expects, or rather hopes and desires from us. As I wrote a few weeks ago in “A PASSIONATE LOVE AFFAIR”, what Jesus is looking for is nothing less (and I am not, for any of you who may be wondering, speaking of anything sexual) – nothing less than an intimate relationship of passionate love, for ever.