If you could only listen to one song what would it be?
If you could only drive one car what would it be? You may have seen the advert. We could have some fun with these types of questions:
If you could only watch one movie what would it be?
Personally, I find it difficult to choose between “Dead Poets Society” and “Searching for Sugar Man.” One is lifechanging and the other heartwarming – both are deeply thought provoking.
What do you think?
But how about this question: If you could only choose one scripture that summarises the whole of the Christian life what would it be?
John 3:16? Great choice. If you know nothing about the Bible, start here. If you know everything in the Bible, return here. What about Matthew 11:27-30? There are enough gold nuggets and precious stones within to enrich us forever.
But the scripture that says it all just could be…
“ON THAT DAY YOU WILL REALIZE THAT I AM IN MY FATHER, AND YOU ARE IN ME, AND I AM IN YOU.”
On the night before his death, Jesus not only told his disciples that the Holy Spirit would be given (“on that day”) but he also repeatedly spoke about something that would happen as the result of his death, resurrection and ascension – something so incredible, so awe inspiring, so staggering that it just doesn’t seem possible.
To help us grasp Jesus’ enigmatic yet stunning statement we can break his words into three phrases:
1. “I am in my Father”
Jesus shares and participates in an extraordinary, unique, intimate relationship with his Father in the Spirit. In John 1:18 we read that Jesus is “at the Father’s side….” Some Bibles translate it: “in the bosom of the Father.” One scholar writes; “To be in or on the bosom of someone means to be in his embrace, to be cherished by him as the object of intimate care and dearest affection, or as we say in English, to be a bosom friend.”1 That’s where Jesus is.
2. “You are in me”
Four little words. Four breathtaking words! Where is Jesus? We’ve just learned that he lives in real and joyous fellowship with his Father in the Spirit. Now he says we are in Jesus. Just like a branch is in a vine we are in Jesus (John 15:1-8). Do you see what this means? We are in this same relationship that Jesus has with his Father. We’re not on the outside looking in trying to work out how to be in this remarkable relationship – we are included!
What is all this about? How did all this happen? Let’s backtrack a little.
Easter is our annual reminder and celebration of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. But this is not only Jesus’ story – it’s our story too. In fact it’s everyone’s story. Because Jesus is our representative and substitute, when he died, we all died with him. When he was buried, we were all buried with him. And when he rose from the tomb to new, glorified life, we all rose with him to newness of life (Romans 6:3-14).
But there is something else that we dare not miss.
Why did Jesus die? “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteousness, to bring you to God” (1Peter 3:18). Sadly, many people picture God as a solitary figure somewhere in the sky, detached and remote watching us from a distance. But Jesus reveals the very opposite. Because of his great love Jesus has united us with himself and has carried us with him into the Father’s presence in the Holy Trinity (John 14:3). And did you notice that there is no mention of us having to work our way into his presence? We don’t have to keep rules and regulations to ensure we are good enough to be there. We are there! (Ephesians 2:6). The astonishing, unique, intimate relationship that Jesus has enjoyed for all eternity with the Father in the Spirit has been opened to everyone. We are now as close to God as we can be. He has brought us to where he is to share himself with us and participate in his life.
3. “I am in you”
Your life is much more than you ever imagined! Not only are we in Jesus but he is in us. He has taken up residence inside of us. He is in our lives, hearts, thoughts and relationships and his life is being formed in us (Galatians 4:19). When you go through a difficult time Jesus is experiencing it in you and with you and is the strength to meet that trouble. In the uniqueness, weakness and fragility of each of us, he delights to express himself in us by showing his strength, compassion, joy, patience and forgiveness through us. Paul said “For me to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21). That’s true for you too. He is your life. Abandon yourself to him. Trust him to be who he is in you.
Jesus in you, you in Jesus. You are “in” the atmosphere. In that atmosphere you find light and life and the food to sustain the life. That atmosphere is also in you. Without it you will die. We are in Jesus and he is in us. He is our atmosphere, our very life.
Jesus’ intense words in John 14:20 are astonishing. Just a few little words summarise the whole of the Christian life. It is also a description of our union with Jesus and a summary of what Jesus accomplished in his coming. This could very well be the verse of all verses!
If you could only choose one scripture that summarises the whole Bible what would it be?
Is it possible that it just could be John 14:20?
What do you think?
1. Edward Robinson A Greek and English lexicon of the New Testament pg 452