Return to Glory

“I glorified You on earth, having accomplished the work that You gave Me to do.  And now, Father, glorify Me in your own presence with the glory that I had with You before the world existed.  I have manifested Your name to the people whom You gave Me out of the world.  Yours they were, and you gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word” (Jn 17:4-6).

Notice the verbs in these verses.  Jesus glorified the Father during His time upon the earth.  Jesus accomplished all that the Father gave Him to do.  And Jesus manifested or revealed the Father to His followers.  As we have seen throughout these chapters in John’s gospels, there is an incredible Father-Son connection in how God reveals His identity and how He works in the world.

The specific way that Jesus glorified the Father in this passage is by accomplishing all that the Father gave Him to do.  This acknowledgement by Jesus that He has completed everything that the Father assigned Him is an interesting one in light of the one great work left for Jesus to do at this point – His upcoming death upon the cross.

I think we can say that the death of Christ is here a foregone conclusion in the mind of Christ.  Jesus is so sure of its outcome that His death, burial, and resurrection are as if they have already taken place.  Jesus’ hour has come and all that God has asked of the Son will surely be accomplished.

When that final act of obedience is completed, God will be glorified and the Son will be glorified.  Jesus will break free of His earth-suit.  He will be glorified as one with God, a glory He shared with the Father since before time began.  For Jesus, it will be a return to glory.

For us, it will cement our identity as those “whom You [the Father] gave Me [the Son] from out of the world.”  Jesus says these chosen ones, His followers in AD 33 and His followers to come, are given to Him from the Father.  And we were extracted “from out of the world”, as it were, to be joined to Christ in the family of God.

We “keep” the word of God by believing what Jesus, the Word Incarnate, said.  We believe what Jesus said about the Father.  We believe what Jesus said about Himself.  We believe what Jesus said about entering His kingdom by faith.  And the promise to those who “keep” His word is the everlasting presence of the Lord in our lives.  “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him” (Jn 14:23).

Jesus’ Prayer for You and Me

“When Jesus had spoken these words, He lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son that the Son may glorify You, since You have given Him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given Him.  And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (Jn 17:1-3).

John chapter 17 is a beautiful prayer of Jesus.  It is a benediction in a way, a closure to Jesus’ time on the earth.  But it is also forward-looking.  It is a conversation from the Son to the Father in which Jesus prays for the future of the disciples and the church they will lead.  His prayer is for His first century followers who are in the upper room with Jesus and for those of us who will come later to the family.  “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word” (Jn 17:20).  This is you and me!

Looking at these three verses, Jesus acknowledges that “the hour has come”.  The time for Jesus to be revealed and die as the Messiah has arrived.  Jesus used the same language in John 12:23 as He began His journey to the cross, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”  Jesus will be glorified through His death, burial, and resurrection.  And it will be a shared glory between the Father and the Son.

Jesus exercises His glory by giving eternal life to all whom the Father has “given Him”.  Because the disciples had believed in the One whom the Father had sent, they were given eternal life (Jn 6:29, 40).  Now Jesus defines eternal life as not only believing, but actually knowing “the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He had sent” (Jn 17:3).

What makes life eternal is more than just its length.  Eternal life also has a quality; the quality of actually knowing God.  What sets eternal life apart from temporal life is not just its longevity, but its intimate connection to God Himself.

For us, eternal life began the hour we believed.  This is one reason we believe that once we embrace the gospel message 0f Christ, our standing as a child of God cannot be revoked.  Our eternal life – the promise that came from our believing in Jesus – has already begun.  And its greatest quality is that we can know, really know, God the Father and the Son whom He has sent.

The Peace of Christ

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you have tribulation, but take courage;  I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33).

Peace – True peace is found in Jesus.  The words “in Me” send us ahead to Colossians 3:3, “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”  Our life is hidden in Christ, you are complete in Christ, and it is “in Him” that we have true peace.

Tribulation – But the world seeks to shake us from this peace, this rest in Jesus.  Trouble attacks us from all sides in this fallen world.  We learned previously in these verses that the world system hates us.  We have an enemy, the devil, who seeks our destruction.  “Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (I Pet 5:8).  And we have an enemy within, our flesh, that tempts us toward the dead-end path of sin.

Courage – In the face of this tribulation … take courage!  Fear not!  Do not be afraid!  Courage is commended to us many many times by Jesus.  A familiar story in Matthew chapter 8 is Jesus and the disciples crossing the sea of Galilee during a furious storm.  Jesus is asleep in the boat as the waves threaten the lives of His followers.  They awaken the Lord with a cry, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!”  Jesus answered them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” (Mt 8:25-26).

True courage is totally powered by faith.  We can be bold.  We can be strong in the face of our enemies and in the face of the world’s tribulation because our faith is squarely upon Christ, our deliverer.

Overcome – The promise from Jesus as this chapter comes to a close is, “I have overcome the world.”  Christ has overcome.  Christ has defeated all of His enemies.  And our faith is our greatest weapon in “overcoming” with Christ.  “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.  For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith” (I Jn 4:4, 5:4).  Faith brings the victory.

“Do You Now Believe?”

“I came forth from the Father, and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again, and going to the Father.”  His disciples said, “Now you are speaking plainly, and are not using a figure of speech.  Now we know that you know all things, and have not need for anyone to question you; by this we believe that you came from God.”  Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe?  Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me” (Jn 16:28-32).

Jesus is nearing the end of His upper room message to His disciples; a message of preview as to what is coming, a message of hope, a message of assurance, a message of promise, a message of comfort, and, as we see here based on the reaction of the disciples, a message of identity.  Jesus identifies Himself as the One who “came forth from the Father”.

This identification fits the theme of the entire book of John as Jesus said many times that the only requirement to attain eternal life, the only requirement to become God’s child, is “to believe in Him who God has sent” (Jn 6:29).  So Jesus comes back to this narrative here, describing Himself as the One whom God has sent.  And the disciples are “getting” the message.

Jesus simply starts off this passage with four facts.  “I came from the Father.  I came into the world.  I am leaving the world.  I am going back to the Father.”  Based on this testimony and three years of living it, the disciples respond with, “By this we believe that you came from God.  We believe what you have said is true.  We are ‘all in’ “.

Jesus then prophesies that even with this assurance that the disciples are “all in” as His followers, they are about to be scattered like sheep without a shepherd.  In predicting the circumstances around His arrest, trial, and execution, Jesus assures His disciples that even though they will leave Him, He will not be left alone.  The Father is with Him.

Now unlike the disciples at the time, we do know what came next.  The disciples were scattered.  And in Christ’s final prayer before His arrest, it is just the Father and the Son in the Garden of Gethsemane where we see a complete trust between the Father and the Son.  As Christ faced His darkest hour, He asked for the cup of death to be removed from His path.  But in praying to the Father, “Not My will, but yours be done” (Lk 22:42), Christ gave us a living breathing picture of what He had said from the beginning, “I have come to do the will of the Father” (Heb 10:7).

A Direct Line to the Father

“Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything, He will give it to you in My name.  Until now, you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you shall receive, that your joy may be made full.  These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; an hour is coming, when I will speak no more to you in figurative language, but will tell you plainly of the Father.  In that day you will ask in My name; and I do not say to you that I will request the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from the Father” (Jn 16:23-27).

Throughout the gospel of John, Jesus presents Himself as the revealer of the Father.  “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father” (Jn 14:9).  “I and the Father are one” (Jn 10:30).  “The Father abiding in Me does His works” (Jn 14:10).  “I can do nothing on My own initiative … but only the will of Him who sent Me” (Jn 5:30).

Now Jesus is revealing to His disciples that His direct line to the Father is passing to them.  “In that day” (vs 23) – that is, “when I have come back from the dead and you know the promise of My indwelling Spirit is coming – you will have direct access to the Father.”  To understand why they have this access, we jump to the end of the passage and another “in that day” (vs 26).

Here in verse 26, Jesus says that He will not be making the request on their behalf, but they will go directly to the Father with their petitions.  Why?  Because they will now have a special love relationship with the Father.  And because they have loved and believed in the One whom the Father has sent, they “received the right to become children of God” (Jn 1:12).  And as children, they have direct access to the Father with the confidence that He welcomes and gladly attends to their requests.

All of this flows from the Father’s love for His children.  When Jesus says, “the Father Himself loves you” (vs 27), the disciples are not just sharing in God’s general love for the world (Jn 3:16).  They will experience a new and special Father-child love that comes from the heart of God.

But Jesus is not out of the picture.  In this passage alone, we see … “ask in My name” … “He will give it to you in My name” … “previously, you have asked nothing in My name”.

I believe asking in Jesus’ name is asking based upon Christ’s abiding presence in you.  Jesus had taught His disciples to pray to the Father (the Lord’s prayer of Matthew 6:9-13).  But praying in Jesus’ name is a new concept because the abiding and indwelling presence of Jesus, to come in the form of the Holy Spirit after Christ’s departure, is a new arrangement; a new avenue of connection to God.  And a new basis of their prayers to the Father.

And finally, tucked in the middle of this passage is “you shall receive, that your joy may be made full” (vs 24).  As F.F. Bruce summarizes in his commentary on John 16, “Access to the Father in Jesus’ name was part of the joy which was promised in place of their present sorrow; it would, indeed, bring that joy to completion.”