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Bonds of Fellowship and Love (2)

C Logan, Botswana

The Mutual Fellowship of Divine Persons

The relationship between the Father and the Son of God is beautifully portrayed in the Gospel of John.

The Father with the Son

There are seven references to the Father’s love for the Son.

The relationship between the Father and the Son had no beginning. The eternal Son knew the intimacy of being with the Father before anything was created. The divine and eternal Word was already there and the object of the Father’s love, "for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world" (Jn 1.1; 17.24).

He was "the only begotten of the Father". This unique phrase, "only begotten", found five times in John’s writings, does not refer to His birth upon earth nor of any beginning in time. Rather, it expresses His special and eternal relationship to the Father and the revelation of divine love through the Son: the glory displayed, "as of the only begotten of the Father" (Jn 1.14); the love shared, "the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father" (Jn 1.18); the gift given, "he gave his only begotten Son" (Jn 3.16); the judgment averted, "he that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (Jn 3.18); the life imparted, "God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him" (1 Jn 4.9). All this and more is told out in these wonderful verses.

Many of these truths stretch our minds to the limit. His disciples probably struggled to comprehend what He told them, as we still do today: "Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works" (Jn 14.10). He was God – yes, we believe it for this speaks of His essential deity. He was with God – yes, we can grasp something of the relationship between the Father and the Son. But when we read that the Father dwells in Him, we struggle to take it in. Nonetheless, it is all truth to enjoy and truth to revel in, even if we must confess that we are just like little children who paddle on the edge of a vast ocean that stretches to the horizon and far beyond.

The Son with the Father

Not only was He sent by the Father and came from the Father, but also He revealed the Father. Divine love and grace became visible (Jn 1.18). As He moved through life on this earth He pleased the Father at all times and in all things by a sinless walk of willing submission and perfect obedience (Jn 5.19,30; 8.29). By so doing He was expressing His love for the Father: "But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do" (Jn 14.31). It was the Father who sent Him into the world on a mission of love. The Son came down from heaven as the living Bread to do the Father’s will (Jn 3.13; 6.38,41,51,58). The Jews objected to His claims, of course, preferring to think of Him only as "Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know" (Jn 6.42). The Bread of Life would be given in death that those who ate of it might "live for ever" (Jn 6.51,58). He would be the only way that a sinner could come back to the Father. His claims then and now are exclusive: there can be no salvation outside of Christ (Jn 14.6).

Alongside the fact of Christ being the obedient and submissive Son, we must keep in mind that He was equal with the Father.

Finally, He left this earth to "go to the Father" (Jn 14.28; 16.16-17). He had completed His mission to the Father’s full satisfaction, and, having glorified Him, He returned to the Father so that the Spirit could come (Jn 16.7). He continues His divine work on high, preparing a place for us. He will come again to take us home to be with Himself eternally in the Father’s house (Jn 14.1-3).

The Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father. They are united in purpose, the Father glorifying the Son and the Son glorifying the Father (Jn 17.1). Such eternal bonds of love and fellowship have been extended to a sinful world. For this we should thank God.

To be continued.

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