John 17:1-5 March 21, 2004
The Glory of Jesus
As we head toward Good Friday and Easter, I have been drawn to Jesus’ prayer in John 17. Jesus has entered Jerusalem triumphantly on Palm Sunday, he has been teaching in the temple and on the streets. What he has been saying and doing has offended the rulers and the people more and more. Jesus and the disciples observe the Passover together in an upper room of a house, quietly away from everyone, Jesus teaches them as they eat together, first in action by washing their feet and calling them to do the same for each other, then through words as he explains what is going to happen and how the Holy Spirit will come, then he teaches them through prayer. He prays for himself, then his disciples, and then all of us who will follow him.
The prayer is a model for us – it was prayed with the disciples listening in, and it teaches us about Jesus and ourselves.
Read or show it.
The reciprocal relationship between the Father and the Son (2a)
2"Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.
In this verse there is this beautiful picture of an ever increasing spiral of glory given and received by Jesus and the Father. God the Father gives Jesus glory who then gives it back to the Father, who then gives it to Jesus.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.
And the Spirit is there too. Jesus says: “13But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. 15All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.
16"In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me."
- John 16
You cannot speak of the glory of God without understanding the amazing union that there is in the Trinity, with none of the people grasping at glory, but forever giving it to the other.
This picture of this spiral of glory is how we are to interact with God and with each other.
Jesus will pray at the end of the prayer: 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24"Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
The unity that we have with each other is supposed to mirror the unity that we see in the God head – not the type of relationship that is marked by competition and jealousy, but one that is marked by honoring the other more that we honour ourselves. We must not grasp at the glory that comes our way, but give it away to each other, but especially give it away to God.
The glory that we see in Christ is so connected to the love that is between the Father and the Son, that unless there is love between us, we will not see the glory.
The glory in God is all about the relationship and unity in the Godhead. A Bible scholar once told me that to glorify means to reflect – when we glorify God, we reflect his character. Children have this mantra in the playground: “look at me, look at me!” As we get older we just find more subtle ways to express that mantra.
A mirror cannot join in the mantra, it can only say “look at Him, look at Him!” This is to be the mantra of the Christian, “Look at Him!” We are to reflect God, and in our relationships with each other, we must not grasp at the glory, but give it away, lifting each other up, not knocking one another down.
1 Not to us, O LORD, not to us
but to your name be the glory,
because of your love and faithfulness.
Eternal Life (2b-3)
The relational nature of GLORY continues into the realm of eternal life. Jesus prays…
“For you granted (me) authority over all people that (I) might give eternal life to all those you have given (me).
3Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
Just as the Father gives the Son glory so that the Son can glorify the Father, the Father gives the Son people so that they might know the Father.
To quote Rick Warren, “It is not about you.” Even our eternal life is eternal life because we know the eternal God. We are brought into this glory-giving spiral through Jesus and the spiral goes on for eternity!
Glory through work/service
Jesus brought glory to God by doing the work that the Father had given him to do. We bring glory to God in the same way.
4I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.
We might think that giving God glory has to do mostly with what we do in this room – singing praises, reading psalms, saying prayers extolling the virtues of God. I would say that, while hugely important, worship services flow out of a life that is dedicated to glorifying God by doing the work that he has set out for us to do.
Jesus’ example – tell the story of the wedding at Cana
This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.
10Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. 12I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
Jesus is glorified, and glorifies the Father through the work that he does.
Miracles, yes, but more
Carpentry – did the Son of God only begin to glorify his Father at the age of thirty? NO!
We are called to do the same – to glorify God in our work, both in miraculous acts and in miraculous compassion, grace justice, righteousness & carpentry, or book keeping, or stock trading, or teaching, or parenting…
We glorify God through miraculous service
3Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
Philippians 2 Because he was in very nature God, he became a servant.
This is the strange economy of God – the lower we bow in service to others, the more He is glorified. And he in turn glorifies us so that we might in return glorify him!
The way we do this…
5"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
1 Corinthians 10:31
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
Glory through suffering
It may sound self-seeking to say “glorify me so that I can glorify you.” “Make me rich so that I can give to the Church!” “Make me really good, so that I can point to you!”
It sounds this way until we recognize that when Jesus says that it is his time to be glorified, he is talking about the cross!
The “work” that Jesus is about to complete is to be tortured to death on the cross.
This is such a paradox, because the last thing that Jesus looks like as he goes to the cross is glorious. Those of you who have seen The Passion of The Christ might catch a greater glimpse of this. Jesus does not appear glorious on the Cross. Maimed, hideous, tortured? Yes. Glorious? No.
But once again, God’s economy is different than ours.
We too are called into suffering to glorify God.
Peter is warned of this just after Jesus’ resurrection:
I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!"
16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. (that Sounds good!) 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, (that Sounds good!) if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
18I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
1 Peter 4
12Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
This is what a friend wrote to me this week:
“I’m reading a booklet titled :"10 God Given Strategies for Difficult Times - The Red Sea Rules - The Same God who led you in will lead you out" by Robert J. Morgan. I’ve only read through number 1 - 3. They are: 1) Realize that God means for you to be where you are. 2) Be more concerned for God’s glory than for your relief 3) Acknowledge your enemy, but keep your eyes on the Lord.”
She writes, “Point number 2 I think is a significant one - we always think everything revolves around ourselves, our needs, etc. But God is doing something significant - and we need to be asking the right questions. Instead of asking "How can I get myself out of this mess?", we could try asking "How can God be glorified in this situation?" He speaks here of how God during the Exodus deliberately orchestrated the situation to demonstrate His power amongst other things. In this chapter he uses a quote from C.H. Mackintosh: "If we could only look upon a difficult crisis as an occasion of bringing out, on our behalf, the sufficiency of divine grace, if would enable us to preserve the balance of our souls and to glorify God, even in the deepest waters."”
2 Corinthians 4
16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
The goal is Glory
We are called to be like God – always giving the glory away
Eternal life (what we thought was the goal) is knowing the eternal God
Glory comes by doing the work of God
The work of God is service
Glory comes through suffering
The Glory goes to God