Summary: Hours from Jesus' arrest and crucifixion, Jesus prays to His Father in regard to their eternal mutual glory.
“Jesus Prays to His Father” John 17:1-5
John 17 reveals the prayer of Jesus immediately before His arrest and crucifixion for those who would believe. It is often known as the High Priestly prayer of Jesus since He intercedes for Himself, His Disciples and for all those who would believe in Him.
Today we consider the first five verses in John 17 as the disciples hear Jesus pray: “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.”
What a stunning privilege it is for us to be able to witness this prayer of Jesus to His Father. This truly is THE LORD’S PRAYER. The prayer which Jesus taught His disciples earlier, known as “The Lord’s Prayer”, was a pattern for prayer which we should utilize in our prayers to God but here in John 17, the Son of God Incarnate lifts His human eyes to God’s heavenly throne room, the place from which Jesus had begun His trip to earth. As He prays, it is a direct picture of Psalm 123:1: “I lift up my eyes to you, to you who sit enthroned in heaven.” Very soon, He would again be enthroned in Heaven.
We often “lift up our eyes to Heaven” in prayer, remembering that we are finite creatures and we are below God, not only being earthly inhabitants but being far “below” and submissive to the exalted position of our Great God, who is the Creator and Sovereign ruler over His entire universal created order. He rules over, not over what we can see, but over the principalities of the spiritual realm.
The Hour Has Come.
Jesus prays, “Father, the hour has come.” Jesus addresses His “Father”. Although God is sometimes referred to as “Father” in the Old Testament, it was not common for Jews to refer to God as Father in the first century AD. When you think of it, Jesus alone has the inherent right to address God the Father; He does so around 120 times in John’s Gospel, demonstrating the eternal and perfect relationship which He and the Father have enjoyed FOREVER. Through Jesus we also are invited to call the Heavenly Father “OUR FATHER”. What a privilege!
“The hour has come” is Jesus’ appointed hour in order to die on the cross. Earlier times in John’s Gospel, Jesus mentioned that His hour or time has not yet come but this now is God’s appointed hour for Jesus to take upon Himself the sins of the world. The fact that His Hour had come means that Jesus had served the will of His Father perfectly throughout His life and ministry. Only by living a perfect life could He provide the perfect sacrifice needed to atone for sin, and so this would be the hour of His greatest glory: His hideous death on the cross.
Mutual manifestation of God’s Glory
Jesus prays these words in verses 1 & 5: “Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You,” “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” The concept of glorification had been addressed before in John’s Gospel: In John 11:4 in the context of the death and subsequent raising of Lazarus, Jesus had said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it."
The words “glory” and “glorification” concerning God are difficult to understand, especially since the contexts often say different things concerning God’s Glory. First of all, Jesus possessed a certain glory with God before the Incarnation: It was God’s Glory. Jesus did not possess this glory during the years of His Incarnation. Here Jesus prays that His original Heavenly Glory might be restored to Him. At the same time, there is a sense in which He did possess this glory while on earth because He finished the work which God had given Him and revealed that to others. When He changed the water into wine in John 2:11, this miracle was the beginning of those signs and miracles which “revealed His Glory” and the disciples “believed in Him” as a result. How could Jesus have possessed God’s Glory, renounced it, and yet demonstrate it clearly in His Miracle?