Easter 7 2017, Conant/Pinckneyville John 17:1-11
In 1958 three Los Angeles high school graduates formed a trio called the Teddy Bears and recorded a song, which became a no. 1 hit. They sang: “To know, know, know you, is to love, love, love you.” Now this song had nothing to do with religion, but did have to do with a relationship in which one person had a deep three – fold knowing of another person which resulted in a three – fold love.
Our text for today tells of a deep relationship with our three – fold loving God, resulting in life, life, life. The scene is Jesus’ last Passover meal with his disciples. He has washed their feet, sent Judas into the night of his’ betrayal, promised the disciple a helper, the Holy Spirit. Now, within the flow of meal time conversation, he prays to His Father saying, “This is everlasting life- to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You sent.” That’s right. To know God as the only true God and His Son Jesus Christ, is life, life, life.
Time and time again, in the Old Testament God’s actions have the goal in mind that his people, “will know that I am God.’” Not just knowing the right answers in the catechism, not merely a Sunday morning nodding acquaintance with God, not simply knowing that our God is an awesome God. Rather it’s knowing, knowing, knowing that His work for us, Jesus Christ, restores his close relationship with us as Creator, Caregiver and saving Father. We are restored to our original family after being lost for so many years.
Preparations for our welcome home began in the Garden of Eden. One day during his evening walk, God couldn’t find his friends Adam and Eve. God became like a parent calling to a child or a wife calling her husband on his cell phone asking, “Where are you?” We know, don’t we? They are hiding in the woods. They have munched on the forbidden fruit hanging from the branch which suddenly appeared attractive, nutritious, delicious, and a health food for the mind. God had told them it was deadly poisonous. But the serpent told them It would make them like God, wise in the ways of life. They did become wise. They discovered that they were naked and for some strange reason that knowledge filled them with guilt, shame, and fear. They now knew, knew, knew evil as a firsthand personal experience. So, it is for you and me their sons and daughters. They would now be cast out of that perfect paradise into a world of pain, sweat, toil and finally, dust. Yet, they went out with a promise in their pocket. Down the road, at some time, a woman through the pain of giving birth, would bear an offspring who would stomp on that serpent’s head even while the serpent sank its poisonous fangs into her son’s heel.
Centuries later, God heard moaning arising from the valley of the Nile river. It was his people enslaved in Egypt. Now Pharaoh would come to know, know, know it was the Lord God who was working through Moses in a series of inundations of frogs, gnats, flies, boils, hail and locusts, the night of death followed by Pharaoh’s disastrous military action at the Red Sea. Pharaoh came to know the wrath of God. But God wanted his people to come to know him as their Savior and Keeper. They could count on his commitment to them. So later, when Moses informed God of the grumbling rumbling through the camp of the ex-slaves, the Lord rained down bread upon them in the morning and quails at twilight so that they would “know that I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” They came to know God through the honey taste of manna on their tongues and the smell of roast quail. So, it is for us, this morning we already have tasted the goodness of the Lord through our breakfast and will again at lunch and supper.
However, just as we often scarf down our daily bread without so much as a thought about who provided all our bounty, so it was for his people Israel. The book of Isaiah begins with a trial. God acts as the prosecutor pleading the case to a jury, “Listen, heaven; pay attention earth! I raised my children and helped them grow, but they rebelled against me. Oxen know their owners, and donkeys know where their masters feed them. But Israel doesn’t know its owner.”
How will it come about, as we read in the Introit, that we will “know that the Lord he is God!” That “It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture?” John tells us near the beginning of his gospel, “The Word became flesh.” God lived in our midst full of grace and truth. And to know Jesus is to know God.
Throughout, the Gospel of John we come to know Jesus with all our senses. John the Baptist calls out for our hearing and seeing, the image of a romping lamb, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Jesus’ ministry is barely underway when he attends a wedding. He saved the day when the wine ran short providing a better wine than that which came from the local vineyards for, of course, he is the vine. So, this morning Jesus provides us with the best wine, that we might taste and see the goodness of the Lord. It’s the best wine, not because you paid $500 a bottle, but because Jesus enters the wine and makes it a cup of salvation. On another day, Jesus calls himself the temple of the Lord, “Destroy this temple and I will rebuild it in three days.” Of course, we know he was speaking of his body and his resurrection from the dead. Strangely, He compared himself to a serpent. That one which Moses lifted upon a pole in the wilderness so that whoever looked on the serpent would live. He makes the comparison that whoever looks on him and believes will have everlasting life. On another day, He broke the taboo of talking to a Samaritan woman at a well presenting himself as the water of life. He is the water which quenches all thirst and gives everlasting life. Elsewhere he said, He is the bread from heaven replacing the manna in the wilderness. He is the bread which gives everlasting life. In Holy Communion, today as we eat the wafer, we will be eating the Bread from heaven given for you for life and salvation.
Thus, we come to know God through Jesus Christ, the water of life, the temple of God, the finest wine and filling bread. Now so strengthened, He has put his work in our hands. We are his presence in the world to do for the world, what He has done for us. For this is his promise, “They will do even greater things because I am going to the Father.”
Jesus has ascended and next Sunday we celebrate His Holy Spirit who helps us continue his work that we and the world might know, know, know him and have life, life, life in his name.