“And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” —John 17:3
I’ll be honest: There are times, especially late at night when I’m having trouble sleeping, and I start thinking about death, about loved ones who I’ve lost, about loved ones who are in their final years, about how quickly life goes by and how soon death will come for me, that all I want from God is for death not to be the end. In those moments, the contrast between death and life is so stark, so severe, that all I want is to know that death has not had the last word, will not ultimately be victorious.
And there’s good reason for this. Death is an enemy. Death destroys. Death is not a benign force. In 1 Corinthians 15, the apostle Paul wrote of Jesus, “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” Death is an enemy to be defeated, and our hope in Christ is in no small part rooted in our confidence that he is the one who has conquered death.
But these words of Jesus that we read today from John 17 remind us that the news is much better than simply undoing death. The world as it is, the world as we live in it, is not as it should be. Even when we are still breathing, our lives are not as they should be. To be sure, life is a gift, and the destruction of life is part and parcel of the brokenness of our world. But simply having breath in our lungs is not all there is. Jesus came to provide eternal life. And here Jesus helps us to see that “eternal” doesn’t just mean going on forever. It means real life, life in its fullness, life in which we know our Heavenly Father and are known by him.
And this is exactly why we are able to start experiencing eternal life right now. Life knowing the God who loves us doesn’t have to wait. Because Jesus is ours and we are his, we can live, really live, right here and now. So, in the midst of the death and decay that surrounds you, in the midst of the brokenness that is in your own heart and soul, may you, today, know real, eternal life, because you know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he sent.