1 Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, 2 as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. 4 I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
I pulled up to the group of boys and stopped my truck. One young man stepped from the bunch and began to make his way toward me. He walked slowly, carrying a heavy pack on his shoulders and dragging a laden duffel bag. I met him with a hug and opened the door of the truck. The boy’s hair was matted beneath a soiled green cap and his clothes had various organic-looking stains. He smelled bad–as did his gear–which we placed in the back of the truck. He climbed wearily into the back seat and rested his head against the side window.
“Welcome home, kiddo.” I said.
“Thanks, Dad,” he mumbled, and soon began to snooze.
My son was back from Boy Scout camp, with all of the challenges, frustrations, and joys it could provide to a young man. All of that was behind him, and now it was time to go home.
Jesus, in John Chapter 17, knows that it is now time to go home. For thirty-three years He has walked the earth, experiencing all of the happiness and hardship that can be found in this fallen, broken place. For the past three years, Jesus did the work of His Father as Emmanuel, the incarnate Son, in a ministry that healed the afflicted and afflicted the proud.
All of that was prologue to what was about to happen. Now the time had come for Jesus’s ministry to end and the work of redemption to begin.
There, with eleven of his twelve disciples–for Judas Iscariot had been sent into the night on his mission of betrayal (John 13:27)–Jesus shares His final instructions with them as they prepare to enter the Garden of Gethsemane. He reassures them that though the world will soon come crashing down around them, nevertheless, He has overcome it all (John 16:33).
And now, Jesus begins to pray:
1 Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You,–John 17:1
The hour has finally come. Jesus has spent His ministry telling people “not yet,” beginning with His mother asking for a miracle at a wedding. Jesus moved through the world on the Father’s schedule, and now, with the dirty dishes of a last Passover meal behind Him, all that lay before Him was the cross.
What comfort in this! Jesus, knowing what is to be, what He has just been telling His disciples must and will happen for their salvation has arrived–and Jesus does not fall away.
Can you say the same in your walk? This life is filled with miseries and problems, and our years are filled with the struggles of love, work, health, the temptations of the devil, and the rubble of a fallen world. When the times get hard, do you meet the trouble head on or do you shrink away in despair?
Jesus knows that death stands before Him–mere hours away–and He meets it head on. He does this not in a fatalistic way but as the only thing a child in need can do: He talks to His Father.
Jesus petitions the Father with an incredible request: Glorify Your Son. What does this mean? “Glory” is a word that can carry many meanings for us. There is “glory” in battle and “glorious” victory when an athlete wins gold in the Olympic Games. This is usually in the acknowledgment of sacrifice–of years of discipline for an athlete or the ultimate sacrifice of a soldier fighting for freedom.
This form of glory is exalted, but it is, in its way, a selfish glory. It is a glory of human achievement or remembrance. This is the kind of glory you and I want. You want to be known, to be loved and remembered by others for all that you do in life. As a soldier you accept your fate as the brave Roman Horatius, defending his city of Rome from invaders. Immortalized here in Thomas Babington Macaulay's epic poem:
Then out spoke brave Horatius, the Captain of the Gate:
"To every man upon this earth, death cometh soon or late;
And how can man die better than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his Gods
Jesus is not asking to have His name in lights or put on a national holiday, but He is asking His Father to restore Him to His eternal place. Jesus has emptied Himself to become a man (Philippians 2), and He knows that soon He will be filled once again.
D.A. Carson explains:
The petition asks the father to reverse the self-emptying entailed in his incarnation and to restore him to the splendor that He shared with the father before the world began. The cross and Jesus’s ascension/exaltation are thus inseparable. The hideous profanity of Golgotha means nothing less than the Son’s glorification.–D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John
Jesus asks to be glorified, not as a self-serving thing but in order to glorify the Father. To obey Him unto death. He continues:
…that Your Son also may glorify You, 2 as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.–John 171b-2
Jesus is eternity, stranded in time. He does not work for His glory but for that of His Father–and Jesus has accomplished all He has been sent to do.
How is God glorified in this? Is the cross just a “Mission Accomplished” banner? No, God is glorified in the saving of those whom He sent His son to save. God is glorified by the living, breathing record of Jesus’s work. The Father is glorified by you.
Think about this. You bring God glory simply because Jesus died on the cross for you. Your presence on this earth, as His child, is the glory of the cross. This is the wonderful mystery that the world cannot see. This is why you worship Him.
Do you still live as if you must be good enough for God to love you? Do you know in your mind that Jesus died for you, but still live as if it is all up to you to first?
Would Jesus have gone to the cross for you if it meant that it was still up to you to get your life straight before you could follow Him?
Would Jesus have gone to the cross for you if it meant that “all religions climb different sides of the same mountain?”
Would Jesus have gone to the cross for you if it meant that He was “just a wise teacher?”
Would Jesus have gone to the cross for you if it only meant preachers, priests, and praying grandmothers would dedicate their lives to Him, while you continue about your daily business?
Jesus reveals the heart of His prayer to the Father:
3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.–John 17:3
Jesus’s prayer is telling you, as pastor Ian Hamilton puts it, that:
Eternal life is a living relationship, not an eternal existence.
Jesus, by the cross, is giving you as a gift to the Father; a gift to be enjoyed forever. Likewise, you are to enjoy Him forever.
Do you take comfort in this? In a culture that is tearing itself apart, where envy puts offended neighbor against offended neighbor, and governments struggle to keep the lights on in the western world, you have an eternal hope and home.
John the Apostle remembers that night and he marvels at Jesus’s words as He talks to His Father:
4 I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.–John 17:4-5
As Ian Hamilton so succinctly puts it: Never forget that the glory of Christ is that He did not make salvation possible, He accomplished it.
You watch the news and see a country in the grip of pandemic fear. You see a nation abandon its foreign allies, leave its own citizens behind enemy lines, and Christians open to persecution–even death. Nations and men will fail, but Christ has accomplished His mission. Jesus returns to the Father–and He is bringing you with Him.
The Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay and this Saturday Deep is written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.