[Jesus prayed to the Father,] "And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." - John 17:3
I remember one time, standing in my office, bawling like a baby, looking up to the heavens, and crying out to God, "What is going on?"
Have you ever wondered that in your life?
Recently, I met someone at their favorite coffee-shop so they could ask me the same question about their life, "What is going on?" "Am I a bad person?" "What am I going to do?" "How am I going to get past this?" "Where is God?"
As my friend was talking, we were doing the guy thing, ya' know, sitting next to each other, backs to the wall, looking out into the room, watching people. At the same time, we both had noticed a very tall person who came in looking very short, pressed down by the weight of the world, with that look on their face, "What is going on?" The now-short, tall person ordered a coffee, sat down, shook their head despairingly, and took a deep breath, as if they were trying to expel a bad taste from their soul. Shortly after, their name was called; they got their coffee; they pulled out their phone; and texted someone. We both later said that they probably texted a trusted friend with the words, "What is going on?" because the coffee stayed untouched as they waited for a reply like a person on trial, waiting for a verdict. Their phone must've vibrated because they jumped about a foot off their seat, even though their eyes never came off the phone. They started to read what must've been short because they never scrolled. They just put down their phone, screen down. Then they looked up. And then they smiled.
And grew tall again.
Coffee untouched. They arose and walked away. Restored.
What was said to them that made it all better? We, of course, can't be totally sure. But I said to my friend, "this is what I think was said" to the short-tall person now restored to tall. What I think was said was something like, "Who can be sure exactly what's going on when broken people and destructive forces are involved? But this is sure, 'I am with you!'"
And so it is with us in today's Bible verse. Jesus is praying. He's about to be rejected, suffer, and be crucified because and only because broken people and destructive forces are involved. In his humanity, we know that Jesus was feeling the make-you-feel-short-and-small weight of the question, "What is going on?"
But God sent him a spiritual text. Jesus heard the voice of the Father say what God's word says again and again and again. God's word says, "This is!" (John 17:3), as in "this is most importantly what's going on: I know you, and I AM WITH YOU!"
Can't you just see Jesus smile?
Like when St. Paul's in a horrible jail for the "crime" of preaching about Jesus, and Paul writes, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4). And when Jesus knows he's about to be rejected, suffer, and be crucified, and he says, "In the world you'll have trials and hard times, but cheer up! For I have overcome the world!" (John 16:33)
Friends, in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, we have assurance that God sees you shaking your head and hears you groaning with a sigh too deep for words, "What is going on?" "Am I a bad person?" "What am I going to do?" "How am I going to get past this?" "Where is God?"
And God just sent you a spiritual text, saying what God's word says again and again and again. God's word says, "This is!" (John 17:3), as in "this is most importantly what's going on: I know you, and I AM WITH YOU!"
And because of God's promise, may we all grow tall again, arise from our untouched coffee, and get back out there with a smile.
Because mighty, victorious God knows us and is with us!
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson