Introduction John Calvin, the Reformer, described God's revelation of himself to us in Scripture as ‘baby talk’, the kind of speech used by a mother communicating with an infant. And God condescends to speak to us in this way in order to make himself understood. What then of conversations that take place within the Godhead? Surely those must be unfathomable! Perhaps, but they are not incomprehensible. For we have the most extensive example in scripture of verbal communication between two members of the Godhead, here in Jn. 17. This prayer contains the simplest of sentences, though the ideas are profound. Presentation 73
A Priestly Prayer This wonderful prayer, sometimes described as the real Lord’s Prayer, is composed of three parts: 1.Christ's prayer for himself v 1-5 2.His prayer for his disciples v6-19 3.His prayer for all who should follow them in faith in years to come v20-26. The shortest part is Christ's prayer is for himself. But he prays at length both for his disciples and for the church. The prayer contains five petitions, one for himself and four for his people. Presentation 73
A Priestly Prayer This is a high priestly prayer in which Jesus intercedes for us as our High Priest before his Father's throne. Melanchthon, Martin Luther's friend wrote, "There is no voice which has ever been heard either in heaven or in earth, more exalted, more holy, more fruitful, more sublime, than the prayer offered up by the Son to God Himself." John Knox, the Scottish Reformer had this prayer read to him every day during his final illness. This prayer should be to us what the burning bush was to Moses, for in it we hear God speaking. We should put off our shoes and bow humbly for here we are treading hallowed ground. Presentation 73
The First Petition Jesus first petition found in v1 and v5 asks the Father to "glorify" him so he in turn would "glorify" the Father. How are we to understand the word "glory"? We are told four apparently conflicting things about Jesus’ glory. 1.Jesus possessed a certain glory with God before the incarnation. 2.This glory was God's glory. 3.Jesus did not possess this glory during the years of his incarnation. He now prays that this original glory might be restored to him. 4.There is a sense in which he did possess this glory while on earth. He revealed it to others by finishing the work God had given him to do. cf John 2:11, where we are told that by changing water into wine Jesus "revealed his glory". Presentation 73
The First Petition How can the Lord have possessed God's glory, renounce it, and yet continue to possess it even in the period of the renunciation? In order to try to clarify our understanding we begin by asking how the idea of "glory" was used in ancient Greek and Hebrew literature. In the Greek language the word for ‘glory’ is ‘doxa’. It meant an "opinion" or, more precisely, "what one thinks." This meaning is preserved in our English words "orthodox," and "paradox," which mean, roughly, "a straight (or right) opinion," and "a contrary (or conflicting) opinion.” In time it came to mean, "that which merits a good opinion." And was translated as, "praise," "honour," "good standing," "reputation," or "renown." Presentation 73
The First Petition When used of a king or of God, it obviously meant the ultimate in praise or renown, e.g. "Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle… The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory" Ps. 24v8, 10. The glory of God was obviously linked to his attributes, for he could be called the King of glory because he was perfect in all his attributes - love, truth, holiness, grace, power, knowledge, immutability, etc. and was therefore truly glorious. God's glory consists of his intrinsic worth, or character. Thus, all that can be properly known of God is an expression of his glory. Presentation 73
The First Petition At this point we can understand one use of the word 'glory' in Christ's petition, for when he says, “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do” v4, he is saying that, by his ministry, he had revealed the essential characteristics of the Father. When the disciples beheld his glory, as in 2v11, they actually beheld his character, which was the character of God. It is one way of saying that, if we have seen Jesus, we have seen the Father. Presentation 73
Shekinah Glory However, this only explains one use of the word. It explains the glory that Jesus retained during the years of his earthly ministry. But what of the glory which he had with the Father before the incarnation, which he renounced and which he prayed might be restored? If this glory refers to God's essential character, it would mean that Jesus was less than God during the days of his ministry, and this is not right. What then does the word mean in these more exalted references? Presentation 73
Shekinah Glory The answer to this question is found in the meaning of the Hebrew origin for glory. In Jewish thought any outward manifestation of God's presence was believed to involve a display of light, so brilliant that no man could approach it. "O LORD my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendour and majesty. He wraps himself in light as with a garment" Ps. 104v1-2. Think too of Moses’ face that glowed with transferred light after his time with God on Mount Sinai - the people asked that he cover his face with a veil that they might be shielded from its radiance Ex. 34v29-35. Presentation 73
Shekinah Glory Light was also associated with the cloud of glory that overshadowed the wilderness tabernacle during the years of Israel's wandering and which later filled Solomon's great temple in Jerusalem. Presentation 73 Does all of this help us to understand the use of the word "glory" in Christ's first petition? Before his incarnation Jesus had possessed the glory of God in both these senses. He possessed the fullness of God's attributes and character in the inward sense; he also possessed the fullness of God's outward, visible glory. In the Incarnation Jesus laid aside the second of these, had he not done so we would not have been able to approach him. Nevertheless, he retained God's glory in the first sense and indeed disclosed it to his disciples.
Shekinah Glory For the sake of completeness we must point out the significance of what took place on the Mount of Transfiguration when Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James and John. An event that out of all four gospel writers only John does not include in his gospel - it is thought he didn’t want it to distract from what he saw to be the climax of the revelation of Jesus’ glory - the cross. But on the Mount of Transfiguration Jesus’ glory, which had been veiled from his incarnation, broke through. So intense was that light that the gospel writers scramble to find suitable language to describe it. cf. Matt 17v1-13, Mk 9v2-13, Lk.9v28-36 Presentation 73
Shekinah Glory Then, at the end of his earthly ministry, and on the verge of his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection, Jesus prays that he might again enter into this visible glory in the presence of his Father, having finished the work which the Father had given him to do. Now that Jesus has been exalted he has been given that glory. Stephen saw it at the time of his martyrdom; so also did John the author of the Book of Revelation, so too did Saul, who was blinded by it. This fact should encourage believers, for it points to the kingly rule of Christ who, from his seat at the Father's right hand, now rules to establish his church and to ensure the welfare of his people. Cf Acts 9v4 Presentation 73
Christ Our Glory Consider too that believers shall share in Christ's glory. In a sense, we share in it now, for, to the degree that we embody Christ's character, we possess his glory in the first of its two important senses. This is the significance of Jesus’ words in v10, “I am glorified in them.” And again, “I have given them the glory that you gave me” v22. Further, we shall also see Christ's visible, outward glory one day. Jesus goes on to pray concerning us and of that glory in v24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory”. Presentation 73
Christ Our Glory What conclusions can we draw from this instruction? If we shall one day behold Christ's glory and if we are to be filled with it now, let us strive to glorify Him and display his glory. Pray that God will do that in us, for it is obviously not something of which we in ourselves are capable. May we shine as Stephen shone before his accusers, “his face was like the face of an angel.” Acts 6v15. And this first martyr was given a foretaste of what awaited him, “Stephen… looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” Acts 7v55 Presentation 73
Christ Our Glory But notice, when Jesus prayed that he might be glorified and that God would therefore be glorified in him; he rested his petition on a number of points. Presentation 73 1.First, that “the hour had come” v1, meaning that the hour of his great work was at hand, the hour of his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection. 2.To say that the hour had come meant that Jesus had remained within the will of the Father throughout his life, and that this had led him to his final goal, his final hour, and he intended to continue on the path to the cross until God’s will was done.
Christ Our Glory 2.Secondly, he prays for his glorification because it would result in the glorification of the Father v1. In other words, the prayer was not selfish but merely that which every intelligence in the universe should desire. 3.Thirdly, he says that God the Father had already given him authority to grant eternal life to each one who had been given to him v2. His glorification followed naturally upon this. 4.Fourthly, Jesus argues that by virtue of his death he is the only way to life v3. His glorification would therefore mean the salvation of his people. Presentation 73
Conclusion Jesus speaks of his ‘finished work’ in v4. Notice the steps in this divine pattern: first self-denial, obedience, and suffering, after which the glory follows. Presentation 73 In one sense this should be our pattern also. We must seek to glorify Christ while we live by displaying his character in our lives. This will not happen in a remote or mystical way. It will happen only as, by the grace of God, we walk in his will - as he directs, as we carry out whatever responsibility he has entrusted to us, as we point to Jesus as the only way of salvation, as we finish our work, and as we seek after the glory of God in its fullness, rather than our own.