Who wants eternal life? I see that hand, I see that hand. We can have eternal life. And we can experience it now! Jesus says, “this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom You have sent.”
But God is Holy. Set apart and set above. As sinful man, if we even look on Him we will die, because we are unholy. In the Tabernacle, the only way the Israelites could approach God was by offering sacrifices for their sins, exchanging life for life, and going through many other rituals of cleansing. Even then, only once per year could one person out of the whole nation enter the Holy of Holies. God commands reverence and awe and respect.
How can we have intimacy with a holy God? To become one with a Person who is utterly “set apart”?
Praise God that He wants us to know Him. He was the one that tore the curtain when Christ died so that the way into the Holy of Holies was opened! For the Christian, permanent access is now granted through Christ. He was the perfect and final sacrifice, fully cleansing us as He exchanges our sin for His righteousness. This is our position before Him. We can approach God and be in His presence in the Holy of Holies.
But we can also fellowship with Him and come to an intimate knowledge of God in relationship with Him. He is still holy and so the prescribed method is the same for coming into His presence to know Him: sacrifice. “…in view of God’s mercies, offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to Him, this is your spiritual act of worship.” This harkens back to the worship of the Tabernacle and the Temple. “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who lives, but Christ lives in me, and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” And “…I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my
Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things …that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death…” Knowledge of Christ comes through sacrifice.
Now, Jesus also tells us the same thing about how to know Him more: “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose myself to him,” that is, to show Himself, to make Himself known. This will be by the Holy Spirit abiding in us when we choose to obey His Word.
What are His commandments? He Himself sums it up this way, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”
How did Jesus love them? Humble service and sacrifice. This command He gave right after He washed the disciples’ feet. Shortly after, He died for them. He lived His life as “broken bread” and “poured out wine” and He commands them to do the same, to love one another the way He loved them.
Here then is the summary: in faith-filled obedience to Christ to love one another at great personal cost we will be given the joy of intimate knowledge of a holy and awesome God… this is nothing less than a taste of Heaven!