Time and Eternity
After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: "Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
As a human being I struggle to understand the concept of eternity. What does it really mean for me to have “eternal life?” In fact, one could argue that for someone who had a beginning, I was born on June 28, 1946, never having an end does not qualify for “eternal life” since in 1944 I did not exist in any form. So indeed I may live with Jesus from now on, but does that indeed qualify as “eternal?”
We logically think that time; all time is a little slice of the pie of eternity. We assume that time and eternity are made of the same material and that eternity is just infinitely longer than time. Of course, from our “immersed in time” perspective that may be true, but from the heavenly view time and eternity are not the same.
In these verses Jesus defines eternal life, not by days and dates, but by relationship. “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
That is a “jaw dropper.” Knowing God and Jesus is eternal life. Life eternal begins when you come to know Him. Eternal life is not about length of existence, it is rather about your ongoing connection to Jesus and God.
If you could extend your life to equal the 969 years of Methuselah would that be eternal life?
The best example I know on this earth of the power of relationship over time is the re-union of old friends after years of separation, or time spent by a young couple who are “falling in love.” Hours and hours can pass like a few seconds when the relationship is cherished or precious. And for a married couple satisfied in the joy of their relationship forty years can pass like a day.
When does eternal life begin? It begins each time you enjoy your relationship to the Father through the Son. Enjoy eternal life today as you pray without ceasing.