By David Kobed
Life does not always pan out the way we want, and it is frustrating. Because of the pain, evil and brokenness in our world, there is this deep human desire for things to be different. It is as if we are hotwired to think that there is a particular way things are supposed to be. Do you ever experience this feeling?
About four years ago we went to visit a friend of mine who was grieving for yet another close family member. The pain was real and we were lost for words. I still remember the question he posed to us: why can’t I be happy? What he longed for at that moment, more than anything, was the life that the Christian story promises.
At the centre of the Christian story is a man called Jesus. In a world of pain, evil and brokenness, He offers life in all its fullness. We see this more often and most vividly in the Gospel of John. John sets out to present an account of the life, teachings and miracles of Jesus, and his key aim is to convince us that Jesus is a man appointed by God to restore life to what it was meant to be. He wants the readers to assent to this belief and in doing so they “may have life in His name” (John 20:31). So, ‘life’ or ‘eternal life’ are used in the New Testament and particularly in John to refer to our deep human desire for life to function in the way God designed it to function.
When you engage with the Christian story you will appreciate that for us to realise this deep human desire, the relationship between God and humanity has to be restored. In His longest recorded and most famous prayer Jesus says: “this is eternal life, that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). The Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology puts it this way: the divinely bestowed gift of blessedness in God’s presence that endures without end. This relates especially to the quality of life in this age, and to both the quality and duration of life in the age to come. There are three things we can notice from this definition: 1. Eternal life is the quality of life: a happy life; 2. It is from God and cannot be experienced outside of Him; and 3. It begins now and knows no end.
It is not enough to say that a restored relationship with God is the answer to our angst. It would appear too simplistic to just leave it there. So, join me over the next weeks as we explore real stories from the life of Jesus that give us a taste of the nature of the Eternal Life that He offers.