"For I gave them the words You gave me ..." (John 17:8)

"For I gave them the words You gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from You, and they believed that You sent me." (John 17:8)

What were 'the words' God gave Jesus?

Jesus is continuing his open prayer to the Supreme Being in front of disciples after what is considered the 'last supper.'

The term, "words" is being translated from the Greek term ῥῆμα (rhēma), which means "what one has said" and "subject matter of speech, thing spoken of."

A more appropriate translation would be "teachings."

"I gave them the teachings You gave me" is precisely what a messenger does. He passes on the exact message that he has been given to pass on.

Jesus is clarifying his role and identity. He is clearly putting himself in the position as God's servant and messenger. His statement illustrates that the teachings of Jesus did not originate with Jesus. If they did, Jesus would not be saying "I gave them the teachings You gave me."

The word "gave" here is taken from the Greek word δίδωμι (didōmi), which indicates not only something being given but a gift: According to the lexicon, "of one's own accord to give one something, to his advantage - to bestow a gift."

This indicates that Jesus considers the "word" - his teachings - as a gift. A gift that he has been given by God, and a gift that he has passed on to his students.

This is the traditional role of the spiritual teacher. Jesus was not inventing the teachings he gave to his students. He took on the role of teacher, which is a role that passes on knowledge given to others.

This is why Jesus often quoted those teachers who came before him, including Isaiah, Moses, David and others.

And Jesus did not solely take on this role - as many sectarian institutions have portrayed. Here Jesus clearly states, "and they accepted them."

This means that not only did Jesus receive those teachings and pass them on. But Jesus' students also received those teachings.

Does Jesus want his followers to pass on those 'words'?

Jesus is clearly instructing his students to pass on the teachings that Jesus has taught them. How do we know this?

Consider this instruction Jesus gave his students:
These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: 'The kingdom of heaven has come near.' ... Freely you have received; freely give." (Matt. 10:5-8)
We also know that this instruction passes on what Jesus had taught and also what Jesus' teacher John the Baptist taught. How do we know this?
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." (Matt. 3:1-2)
Then, after John became imprisoned, Jesus began teaching the same message:
When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. (Matt. 4:12)
From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." (Matt. 4:17)
This phrase in Greek - μετανοεῖτε ἤγγικεν γὰρ ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν - certainly did not encompass all of Jesus' teachings. This is obvious, as there are so many verses in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John detailing Jesus' teachings. In addition we find many of Jesus' teachings among scriptures found in the desert - translated in the Lost Gospels of Jesus.

Rather, this phrase - μετανοεῖτε ἤγγικεν γὰρ ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν - summarizes the teachings that Jesus had received and was passing to his students - and then asking his students to pass along to others.

What does 'repent' mean?

The word "repent" taken from μετανοέω (metanoeō) relates to change - "to change one's mind for better" according to the lexicon. But to the word "change" relates also to changing ones activities - which goes beyond just changing the mind. This means, basically, to have a change of heart.

The concept of "the kingdom of heaven has come near" or "the kingdom of heaven is near" as translated in other Biblical versions, does not relate to the end of the world as promoted by some sectarian teachers and the many fanatics that walk the streets proclaiming the end of the world is at hand.

The word "near" is being translated from the Greek word ἐγγίζω (eggizō) which means "to bring near, to join one thing to another;" and "to draw or come near to, to approach" according to the lexicon.

This has nothing to do with time, as in "the time is near." It is solely a word indicating closeness in distance.

So John, Jesus, and Jesus' students were preaching that the kingdom of heaven is close by? Yes.

But what does that have to do with Jesus' teachings?

Jesus' teachings promoted loving God and doing to the will of God - serving God:
"For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother." (Matt. 12:50)
"Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother." (Mark 3:35)
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matt. 7:21)
And this service certainly comes from a place of love:
" 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37)
So how does a person come to know and love God? Through the teachings that were being passed on by John, Jesus, and Jesus' students.

In other words, they were introducing people to God. They were teachings about God - praising God's glories - and these teachings, once people heard them - had the power to change people's hearts. Why? Because they were coming from God.

The Supreme Being is here. God is not locked away in heaven and cannot be with us. Quite the contrary, the Supreme Being is not bound by physical space and time. God is next to each and every one of us at every moment. All we have to do is turn to Him and He is there for us.

As soon as any of us realize our position as God's servant - we have a change of heart or "repent" - we will be able to know who we are in relation to God. We will be able to understand our spiritual form and our service to Him.

Why can't we see God?

Because we don't want to see Him. We want to chase our self-centered goals. We want to find happiness for ourselves. We want pleasure. We want people to love us and praise us.

We don't want to praise someone else. We want others to praise us.

Yet regardless of how much praise we get and how much physical pleasures we receive, we are never happy. We are never fulfilled by them. We can see this not only in our own lives with what we have or have had, but in others - such as movie stars, rock stars, politicians, and wealthy businessmen. They all have had the ultimate in receiving praise from others, along with all the money and pleasure they could ever want. Yet they remain unfulfilled. Many will try to numb themselves in drugs and drinking - and some have even committed suicide. Or at the very least, they look for their happiness elsewhere - such as having a family.

These illustrate that receiving praise or physical pleasure brings no fulfillment. They bring no happiness. And even having a big family does not fulfill us. It only brings pain as our family members get sick and eventually die or otherwise leave us - or we leave them first. Even this most sacred part of our society is temporary and therefore unfulfilling.

These simply indicate - as does the science - that we are not these physical bodies. We are spiritual beings - spirit-persons. These physical bodies are simply temporary vehicles. They are born, they get old and then they die. And once they die, they decompose.

We are merely possessing our physical body. It is like a car we drive. It is not us.

Therefore, anything we bathe our body in - whether it is praise or physical pleasure - does not touch us. It is like a person bringing their car to the carwash. The carwash will clean up the outside of the car, shine it up and make it sparkle. But all that soap and water will not touch the driver inside the car. The driver might be stinky and sweaty from a workout or a hard day's work as he takes the car to the carwash. But the carwash will not remove his stink. This is because the driver is not the car. The driver is possessing the car. The driver is driving the car.

In the same way, we are driving this physical body. It is a vehicle. We - the spirit-person - is sitting within the body directing it to go get that or do this. And when that body gets pleasure or praise - it doesn't touch us.

What is heaven?

Many picture heaven as a bunch of old people with white beards floating around on clouds playing harps. The spiritual realm is a real place. It is more real than the physical world we see with our physical eyes.

The spiritual realm has countless beings, and each has a form and a unique identity. We have forgotten our real identity.

We might compare this to a boy who plays a video game for hours and hours every day and loses touch with reality. The boy starts feeling that the video game is more real than the life outside the computer. The boy begins to identify with his computer game icon and begins to forget the physical reality around him. But when he turns off the computer and gets up from the chair, he will see another reality.

The fact is, we are currently blind to our spiritual selves. We cannot see them. We have lost touch with them. Like the boy playing a video game, we have become so immersed in this physical identity - like the boy who begins to identify with his video game icon - we have forgotten our spiritual identity.

Why? Because our spiritual identity is linked with the Supreme Being. We are connected to Him. We are His loving servants.

Was Jesus God's servant?

This is why Jesus prayed:
"Father, if You are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but Yours be done." (Luke 22:42)
Jesus is focused on doing God's will. He is putting himself in a subservient mode. This means he realizes his identity is related to being one of God's loving servants.

Service means not only giving freely, but also giving even when it becomes difficult to give. Even when there is hardship.
This concept of service is confirmed directly by Jesus in this verse within his open prayer to God:
"They knew with certainty that I came from You, and they believed that You sent me."
The "they" here is obvious - it is Jesus' students: the same "they" as referred in "they accepted them" - "them" being Jesus' teachings, as indicated with "the words You gave me."

Jesus says to God, "You gave me" and "You sent me."

When a messenger is sent by someone - say Tom - what do we say? We say "the messenger came from Tom." This does not mean the messenger magically appeared from Tom's body. We may also say, "Tom sent them." This confirms the messenger was a separate person from Tom. But they are connected because they are passing along the message Tom gave them to pass along.

This also means the messenger is subservient to Tom. Tom engaged them to send the message. They are connected by that message and the service of the messenger delivering the message.

This is Jesus' role. Jesus is subservient to the Supreme Being. He is the perfect loving servant of God, and he passed along God's message with perfection.

And what was the message? That the kingdom of heaven - and thereby God - is close to us. We can turn to Him at any moment and realize our position as His child and servant. And we can love Him. We can depend upon Him. We can praise His Holy Names. We can give our hearts and our lives to Him and be fulfilled without even trying to become fulfilled.

*Here is the translation of this verse from Jesus' prayer from the Lost Gospels of Jesus:
"The words that You gave me I have given to them; and they received them and surely understood that I came forth from You, and they trust that You sent me.” (John 17:8)