Read: John 17:6-8
My best friend lived in West Africa during high school. We grew up going to church together, but we only became really close right before she moved. After that, we FaceTimed almost every week and texted in between about everything from books we read to fashion trends to boys we liked to hard things going on in life. The technology to keep in touch with each other across an ocean was such a gift. But the first time she and her family came to visit the United States after moving, words couldn’t express our excitement to hang out in person. FaceTime was great, but there’s nothing to compare to spending time with someone in person.
In today’s passage, Jesus is still praying to the Father. It’s a dense couple of verses, full of meaning and significance. But here, I want to focus on the idea of Jesus revealing or manifesting God (John 17:6). God didn’t just choose to materialize Himself on earth and start doing ‘God stuff’, like throwing lightning bolts and overturning corrupt empires. I think a lot of us would be pretty pleased with God if He took a more direct approach to fixing the world—but that just shows how much we need to learn about God through Jesus. God intentionally gave Jesus a message and a mission to make the invisible God known so that people would believe in God’s only Son and be saved.
Verse 6 specifically says, “I have manifested your name.” The word manifested means to “cause to be seen” or to “make known”. Here, it means that Jesus displayed who God is, by becoming flesh and dwelling among us (John 1:1). Through His words and actions Jesus shows us what God is like in human terms.
Jesus is the image of the invisible God, yet He humbled Himself and became human so He could sympathize with our weakness and offer grace to help (Col. 1:15; Heb. 4:15). Jesus didn’t lose His divinity when He became man. He continued to be fully God as He was present with us. (John 1:14) One of the names for Jesus found in Scripture is “Emmanuel”, which means “God with us”, and this tells us something vastly significant about the character of God (Isa 7:17; Matt 1:23). He is relational, He cares about human life issues, He wants to be with us.
God is not distant. He is present, He is near, and He is relational—even today when it can feel lonely and empty. God is drawing all the world to Himself through His Holy Spirit, who speaks and moves in the lives of everyone who is in Christ. He moves and works through His body of believers, (1 Cor. 12:12-13). He is a close and personal God who wants to walk with you, and lead you into greater and greater understanding about who He is.
Set aside some time now to sit in silence with God. Read over this passage a few times, and meditate on its meaning. Pray that the Holy Spirit would reveal to you the same truth the disciples had come to know about Jesus, and if you find that your desire to know God more feels weak, pray for stronger desire! God is worth our time, and our most eager searching.