In just two weeks I'll be finished with my Bible study on the book of John, Called More Than This. I've so enjoyed this study, just as I knew I would. Shortly before I found out we'd be studying the book of John, I posted an entry about the amazing revelation in the first chapter of John: that Jesus is the Word, the same Word that created the entire universe, and when we meditate on the Word we can access the very power and authority of Jesus Christ.
When I posted that entry, my Aunt Carol sent me an email about it that so moved me. She shared the story of her own revelation through the book of John, which occurred decades ago when she read the entire book in one sitting. She said:
After I read her message, I decided to read the book of John again. I couldn't manage to read it all in one sitting, but I read it quickly, as I would read a fascinating novel. I remember distinctly the day when I read John 17. In it, Jesus prayed first for himself, that He would bring glory to God by completing the work He was sent to do (to die on the cross for our salvation). Next he prayed for his disciples, that God would protect them by the power of His name, and that he would set them apart by the truth of God's Word. As I read Jesus's prayer for his disciples, I wished that I could have been one of them, listening as Jesus prayed over me.It was like a personal revelation from God just for me. He loved me! Everything I read had new meaning. I would read and pray, read and pray and I could feel the power of God spiritually and physically. It colored all my life. This mountain top experience lasted not hours, not days or weeks but months. I can't think about it now without weeping. But what I want to say was that John's revelation of Jesus as the Word of God, present from the beginning, the Creator of all things took on new meaning. The Bible is the Word of God, Jesus. And as I read the Gospel of John, it was so exciting. John's teachings that Jesus is the Word, Jesus is the Bread of life and Jesus is the Vine are all related and intertwined.
And then I came to Jesus's third prayer. Guess who he prayed for? Me!! Here's what He said:
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.I can't express how thrilled I was that Jesus looked down through generations of believers to all who would believe in him, and prayed for us. At the moment when I read this, I could feel the unity with Jesus and the Father and all believers. It was glorious.
24 “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.
25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you[e] known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
John 17:20-26 (emphasis added)
Chapter 17 was just as thrilling four months later, when we covered this chapter at Bible study last night. But this time something different captured my heart. At the end of the evening, we watched a segment of the movie The Gospel of John, a word for word enactment of all 21 chapters. I've been enthralled each week as I've watched the story come to life. But until last night, I could never really imagine that I was watching JESUS. It was just a movie.
I'm not sure what was different last night; probably it was the power of Jesus's words. Anyway, I forgot I was watching a movie. I heard Jesus praying for me and all the women around me, praying for our unity. When He said, "I want those you have given me to be where I am, and to see my glory," tears of wonder slipped down my cheeks.
For the first time, I realized that Jesus longs to be face to face with me just as much (more!) than I long to see his face. Of course, He can see me already, inside and out. He knows my very thoughts before I think them (Psalm 139:2, 4). But it's clear that He is longing for our reunion, and I think the reason for that is that He wants to watch as I behold his glory for the first time. Can you imagine?
When the movie clip ended, I didn't want to return to my puny "reality." I wanted to hear it again, and I will. I'm going to buy the movie and watch it with my family during this blessed Christmas season, when we celebrate our Savior's birth.