In John 1:18, Jesus said “No one has ever seen God, but (or except for) God the only Son, who is at the Father’s side.” So Jesus has one advantage over us: he knows God. He knows what it’s like to be in the company of the Father forever. (John 1:2) – and what it’s like being loved by his Father for all eternity too (John 17:24). So, if anyone was to ask Jesus what he appreciates more than anything, his answer would likely be, “Knowing the Father” (John 17:25).
I can only imagine what it must be like in the Father’s company for a billion years. If I had been I’m sure I’d be able to “testify,” as Jesus did, “to what he has seen and heard” of the Father (John 3:32). I’d know firsthand, like Jesus does, what the Father is like, and, again like Jesus, know firsthand what it’s like being one of the Father’s much loved children (John 1:12-13). It could then become my speciality, just as it’s Jesus’ speciality (John 17:26), to help people come to know they’re the children of a loving Father as well.
We were given that chance back in Genesis too, when God created us in his likeness, so that in partnership with him we could make this planet a glowing showcase of his wisdom and love. And in the process of doing that we’d come to know God intimately, as he walked and talked his plans with us, just as he began to do with that first man in Genesis 2.
We had all that on offer, so that from Genesis and forever onwards we’d come to know the one true God as our Father. But it wasn’t to be, because we were convinced instead that “knowing good and evil” was all we needed to know about God and what he was like (Genesis 3:5).
And when God set up Israel to know him through all kinds of miracles and firsthand experiences of his love and wisdom – and through that amazing display of his care for Israel to enable others to come to know him too (Deuteronomy 4:6-7) – Israel blew it as well, because they much preferred knowing “other gods” (Deuteronomy 31:20).
But in Hebrews 8:8 (quoting Jeremiah 31:31), “The time is (would be) coming” when, verse 11, “No longer will (people) say, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me.” And how would this come about? Verse 6, by the “ministry Jesus received.”
And what was Jesus’ ministry primarily focused on? Jesus himself explains in John 17:4 when he prays to his Father, “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.” And what was the “work” he completed? It’s summarized in four words in verse 6: “I have revealed you” – because, verse 3, “this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God…”
So how, exactly, has Jesus gone about helping us know our Father? Again, Jesus explains, this time in John 17:8, “For I gave them the words you gave me” – “them” in that verse referring to “those (disciples) whom you (Father) gave me out of the world” (verse 6). Through Jesus, therefore, we are hearing our Father speaking, so by “obeying” (verse 6) and “accepting” (verse 8) what Jesus said as coming from the Father, that’s how we come to know the Father as he truly is.
There’s a second part to how Jesus helps us know the Father too, which he explains for us in verse 12, when he prayed, “While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me.”
The name the Father gave Jesus was “Son” (“This is my Son whom I love,” Mark 9:7). So the Father sent his very own Son as our protector from “the evil one” John 17:15, to give us the best protection there is. We are utterly safe in Jesus’ care, because he has the power of his Father in him (verse 11). Which tells us something else wonderful about our Father too, in giving us Jesus to do that for us.
Jesus’ job also included showing and explaining that the love the Father has for him is the same love the Father has for us, which Jesus expressed in verse 23, “you sent me (to show that you) have loved them even as you have loved me,“ So our loving Father sent Jesus to help us see and actually experience that love, just as Jesus has always experienced it “before the creation of the world,” verse 24.
And this is the ministry of Jesus we can experience right now, because as Jesus himself prayed to the Father in verse 26, “I will continue to make you known to them in order that the love you have for me may be in them.“ Thanks to Jesus and his continuing ministry, therefore, our Father’s ultimate and supreme purpose of us coming to know him as our loving Father is being fulfilled in us too.