Today, let’s take a look at Jesus’ references to “eternal life” through the gospel of John. (John 3:15-16 & 36; 4:36; 5:24; 6:47 & 54; 10:28; 11:25.) Notice Jesus’ consistent perspective throughout these verses:
Eternal life is a present reality.
Before turning our attention to why Jesus refers to eternal life as a present reality, let’s clarify a couple things before we go any further.
- The present reality of eternal life does not diminish its “eternal” nature. Eternal life simply begins much sooner than we sometimes imagine.
- The present reality of eternal life doesn’t imply that the way things are today will be the way that they’ll be forever. As 1 Corinthians 15, there is a forthcoming transformation. Life will be MUCH different when the kingdom is fully manifest. Death will be swallowed up by life. Mortality will give way to immortality.
In light of God’s story, the present reality of eternal life should make sense to us. And so it should be no surprise that this same perspective is consistent throughout Jesus’ teaching –- particularly in his parables.
Remember Jesus’ parable in Luke 19: The citizens and servants defined themselves in the kingdom BEFORE the King returned. Jesus taught his disciples that the trajectory of their lives based on their priorities and allegiance would naturally extend into his kingdom. In other words, their everyday lives were already eternally significant. The same is true for us today:
- Eternal life is a natural extension of the lives we are now living. So Jesus refers to it as a present reality for those who have come to know him.
- One day, the veil will be taken away, and we’ll see things more clearly, but we’ll still be us, and the reality in which we find ourselves will be the same that it’s always been.
- Though his reign is not yet fully manifest, we are already living when Jesus is King. We’re already defining ourselves within his reign.
- The more we come to know & serve Jesus and to live in fellowship with him, the more we’re living an eternal kind of life (John 17:3).
So again, what now?
Let’s live well. Let’s be faithful to Jesus in our relationships. In our finances. In our time management. In our allegiance. Let’s embrace Jesus as our Lord and King here & now. And then when the day comes and he returns to finalize his victory, we’ll find ourselves quite at home as we transition into his eternal kingdom.
(Excerpt from Reimagining Discipleship)