According to John, the third stage of spiritual growth, depicted as the experience of those who are like fathers, concerns knowledge – John writes that ‘fathers’ ‘know him who is from the beginning’. This is John’s way of referring to Jesus (1 John 1:1). The height of spiritual life is experiential knowledge of Jesus.
Paul, who undoubtedly attained to living as a ‘father’, expressed such a desire in Philippians 3:10 in reference to Jesus: ‘that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.’ Paul wanted to know more and more about Jesus.
In Ephesians 3:14-19, Paul the ‘father’ prayed that the Christians in Ephesus would have rich experiences of Jesus: ‘For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory, he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.’ Paul wanted them to develop into those who could be described as persons who know Jesus well, to be fathers.
There are many things that we can know about Jesus. For example, we can learn about his offices of prophet (teacher), priest (helper, intercessor) and king (ruler, protector); or we can consider his activities (creator of the universe, atoner for our sins, maker of the new heavens and new earth); or we can relate to him as shepherd, guide, friend and guard.
There are many ways of expressing this relationship, but one important word that a ‘father’ will use is the personal pronoun ‘my’ in his descriptions of what Jesus means to him. The word ‘my’ is a word that indicates intimate knowledge. Such have grown well in the Christian life. It does not mean, however, that they don’t have further to go.
The question that we should all ask ourselves is, ‘How well do I know Jesus?’