After teaching his disciples about humility, love, prayer, and the Holy Spirit, Jesus lifted his eyes to heaven and began to pray. Jesus was communing openly with the Father that his disciples might learn more deeply, more fully, what he had taught them about prayer in his sermon on the mount.
Having considered Jesus’ example in prayer, the basic concepts in his prayer, and his emphasis on unity, let us listen in on Jesus’ chief concerns.
The first thing to notice is that Jesus prayed for himself.
You and I might get the idea that it is more noble to have a long list of other people to pray for, and yes, that is good. But Jesus did not start with other people, he started with himself. That is our example to follow, asking the Lord for God’s will in our lives, God’s enabling to do God’s will, for God’s joy, and God’s transformation of our characters.
Though the language is simple, the concepts are profound in Jesus’ prayer.
Father, the hour has come.Jesus, John 17:1
All throughout this gospel Jesus had been saying it was not his time, but now the hour had come, the hour of the crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and the coming of the Holy Spirit. All Jesus’ life had been leading up to this moment.
Honor, magnify, and glorify your Son, so that your Son may honor, magnify, and glorify you.Jesus, John 17:1
The Lord Jesus wanted the Father to reveal the hidden riches of God’s love, mercy, and grace through the events surrounding Jesus’ death and rising back to life.
Give to the Son all the fulfillment of what this hour was going to hold, in order that the Messiah, by finishing the work, may give glory to the Father.
The following verses give aspects of how the Lord Jesus Christ glorifies the Father.
The Son Glorifies the Father
Even as you bestowed to him authority [over] all flesh [physical, mortal human beings], so that everyone you have given to him, he may give them eternal life.Jesus, John 17:2
Jesus glorifies the Father because Jesus has been given authority over all people, not just believers. No one is beyond the reach of our Lord, not the hardest, meanest, worst person you or I can think of.
They are still under Jesus’ very real authority.
He is able to get through to that person, even to give them eternal life.
While there is life, there is hope. God can still draw that person to Jesus, the Spirit can still convict that person of truth, bring them to faith, and transform them into new creations.
Jesus glorifies the Father by giving eternal life to all those whom the Father has given him. You and I glorify both the Father and the Son when we receive eternal life through God’s Spirit.
The fact that eternal life means you and I will live forever is only a byproduct, a bonus side-affect, of the actual meaning of this phrase
And this is the life eternal, that they may recognize, understand, and know you, the one true God and the one you sent, Jesus Christ.Jesus, John 17:3
Was it a surprise to discover that eternal life is not something that happens after a person dies?
Knowing God, and being known by God, is the great purpose of God for all people. This one life experience defines the whole scope of the Bible.
God’s life inside of me, the Lord making God’s home within me, the Holy Spirit inhabiting my person, and I more and more being transformed by God’s glory, to be more loving, to love the truth more, by both obeying God and depending on God’s life within me glorifies God.
It Is Finished
This is what the Lord Jesus came to do.
I rendered to you glory, honoring and magnifying you, on the earth, [by] the work which I have finished which you gave to me, that I would do.Jesus, John 17:4
Jesus declared “It is finished” when he completed his commitment to die for the sins of the world. This is another aspect of Jesus glorifying the Father, finishing what he began, bringing the work to fulfillment. Jesus prayed this as if it were so, even though all these events were ahead of him because he knew that he would finish it, such was the depth of his resolve and the confidence he put in the Father’s empowering of him.
I pray this for myself nearly every day, walking in the steps of Jesus’ example to me, that
- The Lord will help me to recognize the opportunities God is presenting to me.
- The Lord will enable me to take steps of faith.
- God will sustain me as I apply God’s words to my life.
- God will empower me just as the Father empowered the Son.
May God make me able to finish the work and, approach what God has given me to do with such confidence I can already hear the Lord say to me, “Well done good and faithful servant, come and share in your Master’s happiness.”
God is glorified when we complete the work God has given us.
Glory Upon Glory
Even now, glorify you me, Father, with your own self the glory that I was having before this world [came] to exist, with you.Jesus, John 17:5
Jesus had set aside the glory he had known before, as God in heaven. He had taken on the form of a human being, with all the limitations that being human would mean. Now Jesus was returning to the original glory that he had with the Father before the world was created.
But Jesus returned to heaven much changed, because he came back as a human being, a perfected person, a resurrected human in a glorified body, the same kind of body every believer will have one day.
This is what Jesus prayed for himself the night before he would have to face the cross. He would be tempted to the point of agony to step away from this last piece. Knowing this, Jesus prayed confidently that he would finish, and asked of the Father that he be returned to the glory he had set aside in order to complete his mission.
I think of work I have been setting aside, sometimes even doing half-heartedly, secretly tempted to abandon it altogether.
Jesus’ prayer encourages me to talk about this with God and ask the Lord how I can glorify God in this work, asking God to fortify me to do whatever the Lord shows me to do.
It might mean the same kind of hour Jesus had, picking up a cross. But after the cross comes the resurrection.
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