God's Word Does Not Submit to Us
As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
1 Peter 2:4-6
One of the most amazing things about new life in Christ is that He redeems all of us, our thoughts, our emotions, our actions, our personalities so that we are ourselves, but we are not our old selves. Yet, He does not redeem us all at once, and not completely in this life anyway. As we grow in Christ, through faith, we begin to think, act and respond differently, and the aspects of our personality that were our greatest liabilities often become our greatest strengths. The Holy Spirit slowly begins to mature us and lead us to greater knowledge of our Father in heaven, His love for us and who we are in His Son. Yet, we are still tainted by the lingering affects of sin that limit us from coming to complete understanding of eternal things. Not to mention that we are still finite creatures that now engage with the infinite and we struggle to find our place between two worlds. This is often where we find ourselves when we read Scripture, a transcendent God intimately communicates with us through us Word, where we learn about Him and ourselves. But there is always a temptation and tendency to confuse the two, often reading ourselves and our limited knowledge into concepts that are not meant to be comprehended by the human mind.
John 17 is one of those texts. The Spirit of God preserves a conversation between God the Son in flesh and God the Father in heaven for us to behold and consider. Even if we understand the text as much as is humanly possible, we are still gravely inadequate to comprehend its’ depths. So, when we read the details of Jesus’ intercession and care for the elect, we cannot fully grasp the complexities of the unchanging, divine plan that takes place in space and time. In our weakness we far too often compare ourselves to Christ and try to reconcile Jesus’ purview with our own. We must recognize and repent of any time that we subject Scripture to our own limitations. Jesus is God, we are not. We are sinful, He is not. When His words confuse or challenge us, it is we that need to submit to the higher authority, not His words. This is difficult for us, finding the balance between our desire to know God intimately and our desire to reduce Him to our terms. When we read difficult passages like verses 6-10: let us rejoice in the love of the Father to give us to the Son, reflect on the Son keeping us and being glorified in us, and let us rest in the revelation of the Holy Spirit that will continue to teach and refine us according to His Word and into the image of Christ. All we can do in faith and obedience is commit ourselves to meditating on and submitting to the Word of God. For He is our God, and we are His people to His glory alone, through His grace alone, through the work of our Savior and Mediator alone.
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 29:29