A Prayer for Glorification
1 These words spoke Jesus, and lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son, that your Son also may glorify you:John 17:1-5
2 As you have given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as you have given Him.
3 And this is life eternal, that they might 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 gave Me to do.
5 And now, O Father, glorify Me with Your own self with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
A. Father, glorify Your Son
How remarkable that we are allowed to listen in on this conversation between the Father and the Son! It makes you want to take off your shoes, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. The Lord Jesus Christ is just hours away from crucifixion as He prays this prayer. He could have prayed silently, but He choose to pray aloud for the disciples to hear, and for us to read in ages to come.
Time after time throughout His earthly ministry we heard our Lord say, “My hour has not yet come” (Jn. 2:4; 7:30; 8:20). But now the hour had come for the Son to be glorified. Glorified? He was about to die! He knew the horrors that would take place in the next several hours, and yet He did not shy away from them, but bravely walked straight toward Golgotha to give His life a ransom for many. In fact, in verse 4 He talked about it as if it had already happened. “I have finished the work You gave me to do.” The only thing remaining to be done was the crucifixion, and there was no going back. It was certain. The eyes of Jesus were fixed upon the cross—no, beyond the cross—and nothing was going to stop Him from accomplishing God’s eternal redemptive purposes.
In the wake of this supreme sacrifice, Jesus prayed, “Father, glorify Your Son.” This was not a selfish prayer. It would certainly sound selfish coming from you or me because we are not worthy of glory. But Jesus is worthy. He is not asking for anything out of the ordinary. He is only asking that God restore to Him the glory that was His from the beginning. Jesus had willingly laid aside His glory and humbled Himself, taking on the form of a man, living inside a body that was capable of change and death and decay. Why? So that He could die as our sacrificial Lamb and offer His sinless blood as a ransom for our souls to a holy God. It is something our time-bound minds cannot comprehend, that to Christ, death was glory. How could this be? Because death is not the end, but the beginning; it is the fulfillment of the Law, the breaking of the curse of sin. By Christ’s sacrifice, the demands of a holy God were fully satisfied, and you and I were made holy. That, to Christ, was glory.
There is another reason why this prayer was not a selfish prayer. Jesus did not wish to be glorified simply because He was tired of being humble. He wanted to be glorified so that He could give that glory back to God the Father. Look again at verse 1: “Father… glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You.” The Father gave glory to the Son, and the Son gave glory to the Father. He says it again in verse 4.
Three things are given in verse 2: (1) God has given to the Son power over all flesh; (2) the Son has given eternal life to those who trust Him; (3) God has given the souls of men to the Son. Let’s chew on this a few minutes….
Have you accepted God’s gift of salvation? Then you are His child, and nothing, nothing, nothing can ever separate you from Him. You are His forever. You cannot lose your salvation. Ever. Period. End of story. God the Father gave to God the Son power over all flesh—that is everyone who was ever born, that He should give eternal life to all who are His. Do you know what that means? If you have understood your need of salvation, and have received the gift of eternal life, then you are a part of God the Father’s gift to God the Son. We treasure gifts, don’t we? How much more must the Son of God treasure the gifts given to Him by the Father! And He who is all-powerful cannot lose one of us. Just look at these words of Jesus:
“I am the bread of life: he who comes to Me shall never hunger; and he who believes on Me shall never thirst…. All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me; and he who comes to me I will in no way cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the Father’s will who has sent Me, that of all which He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent me, that everyone who sees the Son, and believes on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”John 6:35-40
I am not a theologian, nor do I claim to be able to talk intelligently about predestination. I know that God knew from the beginning who would believe on the Son and who would reject Him. The Bible teaches clearly that He chose certain people to be His gift for the Son. But no one knows who is chosen and who isn’t, therefore the call to salvation is to all, and we are commanded to preach the gospel to everyone. What is more, you may rest assured that Jesus will not turn anyone away who comes to Him by faith, just as He said in the passage I quoted above. There is a harmony between God’s election and man’s responsibility to call on him for salvation. That’s all I know. You are free to comment on this, if you feel so inclined, but I will not argue the point.
C. What is Eternal Life?
If you were to write a poem or an essay about eternal life, how would you describe it? Would you think of eternal life in terms of youth and beauty that never fade? ages and ages in the heavens, perhaps strumming on a harp or sitting in the clouds? the absence of pain and suffering? What is your idea of eternal life?
Now compare that to how Jesus defines eternal life: “And this is life eternal, that they might know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent” (v. 3). It would seem that we cannot fully fathom eternal life because we were created in the realm of time, so we think of eternity in terms of time. But time and eternity are two different things. According to Jesus, eternal life is knowing God. It does matter by what name you call your God, for there is only one God, and He sent His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, into the world to bear your sins on the cross. If you know Him and His Son, you have eternal life—not a wish for it in the future, you have it now. You have the assurance that if your body ceases to live in the next instant, if your heart stops beating, if your next breath is your last, if you close your eyes and never open them again, then you will immediately awaken in Glory in the presence of your Savior, for to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).
I would like to close this week’s study with a verse from Philippians, the book that teaches us how to have joy:
That I may know Him [Christ], and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death.
We have been on holy ground today. We have witnessed firsthand an intimate conversation between God the Son and God the Father. In this conversation the Son has announced the completion of the work of redemption, has asked that the Father glorify Him so that He may glorify the Father, and has told us clearly that eternal life is knowing Him.
Do you have eternal life? Do you know Jesus? If not, I invite you to come to Jesus today. I can tell you more….