“O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
There exists a fundamental difference between those who believe in Christ and those who do not. Scripture presents this difference in several distinct but complementary ways: Christians have passed out of darkness into God’s marvelous light, but non-Christians remain in darkness (1 Peter 2:9); believers no longer are enemies of God but have been reconciled to Him, while unbelievers remain His foes (Rom. 5:10); the servants of Jesus have been delivered from “the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10), yet those who do not serve Christ remain under that wrath. Today’s passage gives us another difference between followers of Christ and those who reject Him: believers, unlike those who deny Jesus, know that He has been sent by the Father, and they have known the name of the Father because of Christ’s work (John 17:25–26).
To know the name of the Father is to know the Father, so Christians alone can be described as those who know God. As we see in Exodus 3, God reveals His name—“I am who I am” (v. 14)—only to His people, and in His name we see His eternality, His self-existence, His very character. God revealed His name to His people under the old covenant, and yet in Christ we have a fuller revelation of that name and of His character. The grace and truth known under the ministry of Moses and the old covenant are known in greater detail and more clearly under the ministry of Christ and the new covenant (John 1:17).
Jesus made known this name to His original disciples during His earthly ministry, but He has also promised to continue to make it known (17:26). This He has done by His Holy Spirit, first in inspiring the New Testament Scriptures and then in leading His people to a greater understanding of both the Old and New Testament Scriptures (14:26; 16:12–15). He has given us His Word, and He illumines His Word so that we might grow in our knowledge of God.
Moreover, Christ reveals the name of God to us not merely to fill our minds with information but so that the love with which the Father loves the Son may be in us and that Christ may be in us as well (17:26). Christ’s goal is that we may, in some mysterious way, have in our hearts a love for God that is like the very love that God has for us, and that on account of that love Christ would dwell among us. Christ makes known the name of God to us so that we will love God and be strengthened by the Savior Himself.
Coram DeoLiving before the face of God
In his commentary John, Dr. R.C. Sproul gives us a practical benefit of knowing and experiencing the love of God: “The knowledge of His everlasting love for us gives us the strength we need to fulfill the mission that He has given to us.” Let us press on to know the name of God so that we will know His love and be sustained in the work that He has given us to make disciples of all nations.