The Treasure Contained in the Words “have sent”

Easter 7 Thursday

John 14:3

“But this is eternal life, that they know you, who alone are true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”


In these words Christ expresses what and how eternal life is like. For since he said that he has the power to give eternal life, someone might ask: “In what does this eternal life consist or how does it happen that we receive it?” To this Christ wants to respond and says: “This is how it happens and this is how they are to receive it, that they know you as the only true God and Jesus Christ as the one whom you have sent.” The dear fathers used this verse heavily against the heresy of the Arians who denied the divinity of the Lord Christ. … The Arians wanted to stretch this verse for their purposes and emphasized the word “alone,” as if Christ had excluded himself thereby and ascribed divinity to the Father alone. But this is no proof but a misinterpretation of Scripture, taking a single word out of its context and fluttering over the text so that they do not see what the words, as they are linked together, urge. For we too say that it is true and taught rightly that there is no other God but him alone. But they do not want to see that linked to it is how Christ makes himself equal to the Father of all things and talks as the one who also is the same true God because he places eternal life in the knowledge of himself and of the Father, turning both into a single knowledge. … This is why the emphasis is on the word “you,” “that they know you who alone are the true God.” Who is this “you”? You who have sent Jesus Christ. Christ means to say: “The Jews and others also have only one God, as they think. But they do not know you who alone are true God, because they do not know Jesus Christ, sent by you, and meanwhile draw a god according to their own thoughts who truly is no God but is nothing but nothing.” So you see how Christ did not put the word “alone” here to separate himself from the Father on account of the divine substance … but to tie both the Father and himself together, in fact, to bind the Father to himself against all those who depict a different god or who seek him outside the Lord Christ. … Now, what does it mean to know the Father and Christ? Or how does such knowledge happen? Answer: It completely consists in the words: “Whom you have sent.” Those who understand this and believe without doubt certainly have eternal life. But what does “whom you have sent” mean? You can figure this out by yourself by considering the purpose of Christ’s coming and what he did here on earth. He came from heaven and became man to carry out the work the Father ordered him to do (as he will later say himself), namely, to take the sin of the world upon himself and to die in order to reconcile the Father’s wrath and to overcome by himself personally death and the devil and to bring us to himself. For since he is sent by God, this mission cannot be a simple, pointless thing, but comes about by an excellent command and business so necessary and great that no angel or saint could have carried it out; only the one Son could do it. For what such a person must carry out himself must certainly pertain to, and bring about, something eternal between God and us. This is why the whole treasure is contained in the words “have sent.” For they reveal and show the mind, heart, and will of God the Father toward us and summarize everything Christ did, preached, suffered, worked, and brought or gave us. They also show clearly that this verse is not said about the future life, because knowing Christ as sent from the Father means nothing but believing and knowing how he came to earth, died for our sins, rose from death, acquired and gave us the forgiveness of sins – all this belongs to this life.


St. Louis ed., 8:759-766.

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