The Lord’s Prayer, part 1: Glory

Posted: January 18, 2016 in John, Uncategorized

John 17:1-5, “The Lord’s Prayer, part 1: Glory”

It’s the Lord’s Prayer, though tradition doesn’t call it that.  This is the real Lord’s Prayer, whereas the prayer given by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount is better labeled “the Disciples’ prayer,” or “the model prayer.”  It is John 17 that truly records the actual prayer of our Lord – the most detailed one preserved for us in the pages of Scripture.

That said, there is much that serves as a model & example for us.  Jesus seeks His Father in humility & selflessly – He seeks the Lord’s will & prays for the church (God’s kingdom) – He even prays that the church would be kept safe from the Evil One.  No doubt Jesus followed His own model in the true Lord’s Prayer.

This comes at the end of a long section of teaching & was in the middle of a long night for Jesus & the disciples.  It was still the night of the Passover, and Jesus’ arrest was mere hours (maybe even minutes) away.  He had washed the disciples’ feet, predicted their soon abandonment of Him & Judas had left to go fetch the soldiers in betrayal.  From there on, Jesus prepared His remaining disciples for what was about to take place.  He would soon leave, though His departure would be brief.  He’d return, but would eventually leave again – but He would send to the disciples another Helper, the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit would empower them to do the work & will of God, and Jesus promised to return and to take the disciples back to Himself.  He had the ultimate victory, and He wanted them to have faith in what He was yet to do.

Now in John 17, we have what is often termed Jesus’ “High Priestly Prayer.”  Like the perfect High Priest that He is, Jesus interceded for His disciples & for all who would eventually come to faith in Him, and His prayer for the church is marvelous.  But before He prays for the church, He first prays for Himself.  What was His request?  Glory.  Jesus asked to be glorified by God, so that He could give glory to God – and in the process, all who came to faith would give glory to God as well.

John 17:1–5
1 Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said:

  1. John details a bit of context here.  Jesus had finished speaking to His disciples, and is now shown purposefully turning His attention to God in prayer.  Two interesting notes here: first, Jesus did this publicly.  Jesus never seemed to hesitate to pray either in private or in public, but the fact that He did it in public demonstrates that this is something He wanted His disciples to hear.  Although He was sincerely speaking to God, He was teaching the disciples at the same time.  (This can be difficult for us, so be careful.  When praying publicly, be sure to pray TO God, while being mindful of others.  We’re not preaching at them, but we do want them engaged.)
  2. Second, from a more general perspective, Jesus prayed.  The gospel writers show Jesus praying various times throughout His ministry, and it’s always worth noting.  After all, He is the Son of God – many people wonder why prayer for Jesus was necessary.  “Was He talking to Himself?  Didn’t God already know what He was going to say?  Didn’t Jesus already know how God would answer?”  Keep in mind that prayer is essentially communication…it’s talking with God.  God the Father and God the Son have had fellowship together stretching back to eternal past – they have always communicated with one another.  When Jesus became incarnate, that communication became prayer, and He did it often.  The Son of God is not exempt from prayer.  The closer a person is to God, the more prevalent prayer becomes.  (Which might say something about ourselves if our prayer life is silent.)

…“Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You,

  1. Jesus’ prayer begins first with a declaration, then moves to a request.  The declaration: “the hour has come.”  This is huge…a loaded statement.  Several times throughout the gospel of John, the reader was told that Jesus’ hour had not yet come (from Jesus to His mother at the wedding in Cana – 2:4, during the Feast of Tabernacles & immediately following when the crowds attempted to seize Jesus and/or kill Him – 7:30, 8:50).  Yet when the narrative turned to this particular day as Jesus prepared Himself & His disciples in the hours prior to His arrest, He began to say that His hour had come (12:23, 13:1).  Now He declared it to His heavenly Father. 
    1. The moment had arrived.  The central event in all history was at hand.  This had been planned by the Triune Godhead since before the foundations of the world, was prophesied at the fall of Adam in the Garden of Eden, and was set in motion the day the Holy Spirit came upon Mary to impregnate her with the Son of God.  Jesus had specifically come to earth to go to the cross, to enter into His hour of suffering as the wrath of God came upon Him & He suffered for all the sins of all the world.  The hour had come, and Jesus needed help.  He could not endure it alone without the help of God, and thus He turned to God the Father in prayer.
    2. Prayer is necessary at all times, but there are some times that seem more weighty than others.  There are some days that we know the spiritual battle into which we’re about to walk, and the thought of it weighs heavily upon us.  Spend time in prayer!  Spend time seeking the face of God, asking for His grace & the power of the Holy Spirit.  Students taking exams prepare through studies – athletes playing games prepare through strategy – doctors in surgery prepare through review – Christians going to battle prepare through prayer.  Take whatever time is needed to seek God’s face, allowing Him to calm your spirit through His peace, and to guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.
  2. The request: glory.  Jesus asked to be glorified, so that He could glorify His Father.  Question: what does it mean for God the Father and God the Son to glorify each other?  When people glorify God, typically it means that we publicly praise Him – we speak well of Him.  Psalm 50:23, “Whoever offers praise glorifies Me…”  But what does it mean for God to glorify God?  Certainly Father & Son do speak well of each other & could be thought to praise one another in a similar way.  But Jesus’ context of the cross seems to speak of something more.  In the hour of His suffering, Jesus needed more than verbal praise but He still asked to be glorified by His heavenly Father.  One Greek dictionary (BDAG) gives an additional definition as causing another person “to have splendid greatness.”  For the Father to glorify His Son would be for the Father to make Jesus great (splendidly so), even (and especially) in the hour of His suffering.  Considering that speaks of the cross, that would at first seem contradictory.  After all, to much of the world, it is at the cross where Jesus appears to be His weakest (beaten, bleeding, dying).  The reality was infinitely different!  Through the glory the Father gave to Jesus, Jesus was splendidly strong!  The very moment the scribes and priests thought to be Jesus’ defeat was actually His victory.  It was the reason He came & in the centuries that followed, Jesus received (and still receives) glory because of the cross.  Every single person that comes to faith today gives glory to Jesus because of the cross.  At the cross, the greatness of God was on grand display!
  3. Notice why it was that Jesus asked the Father to glorify Him? “That (ινα) Your Son also may glorify You.”  Jesus wasn’t looking to boost His own ego.  It’s not that He selfishly desired to be great in the eyes of men.  Jesus wanted His glory to be for the Father’s glory.  When Jesus received splendor & strength from God to endure His hour of suffering, Jesus would glorify the Father in turn.  Not only would the Son praise the Father with His words, but the actions of the Son would praise the Father & cause others to praise the Father.  When God the Son was glorified, truly that gave glory to God the Father as well.
    1. Not only does this speak to the relationship between Father & Son, but it also speaks to the humility of the Son.  Jesus’ whole purpose was to give glory to God.  He did not seek His own will; He sought the will and glory of the One who sent Him (Jn 8:50).  Jesus’ motivation ought to be our motivation.  The very best reason to do anything at all is to do it for the glory of God.  The Westminster Shorter Catechism (although not Scripture) famously says that the chief end of man “is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”  The glory of God existed long before creation and will last into eternity.  The question for us is: how might we add to it?  What part can I play to glorify Father, Son, and Spirit?  ALL things were created for the glory of God, including us.  Scripture tells us that whatever it is we do, we are to do it for the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31)…so DO it.  Do what you have been made to do.  Do what you have been saved to do.  Give glory unto God!
    2. How?  There are many ways. (1) Worship.  Praise Him publicly & privately.  Ascribe to Him honor & worth.  Sing sincerely to Him, and keep your mind fixed upon Him throughout your day.  (2) Obedience.  Do what He says to do. Be mindful of your own tendencies to rebel, and remain humbly obedient to your God and King. (3) Attitude. How often we could glorify God if we simply kept a right attitude towards others!  They may slap one cheek, but we turn the other to them as well.  (4) Evangelism.  God is glorified when His gospel is shared.  All of heaven rejoices whenever one person is saved.  When we participate in the process, we bring glory to God.  (5) Service.  God saved us showering us with His grace in order that we would walk in the good deeds He prepared for us.  When people see our good works, they glorify our Father in heaven (Mt 5:16).
      1. There are many ways to glorify God.  Pick one..pick all…and do it!

2 as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.

  1. Not only is there mutual glorification between Father and Son, there is also mutual giving (referred to by Jesus both here & in vs. 4).  Primarily Jesus speaks of the gifts of His Father, speaking of the grand work of His Father towards His Son.
  2. First, the Father gave to the Son “authority.”  This is the right to control, the resources to command.  Just as a property owner has the right to do whatever he wants with his land, that is the same sort of authority over the world that God gave to Jesus.  Of course as God the Son, Jesus inherently has authority over creation…after all, He created it.  Yet Jesus’ words here are clear that He was given authority by God the Father.  How so?  There is mystery here, but some of it is perhaps related to His humility in the incarnation.  When God the Son became Man, He willingly laid aside His divine prerogatives (Phil 2:7), so this could possibly refer to God’s restoration of it.  This could also possibly refer somewhat to the original fall of man in the Garden of Eden.  When Adam fell, he lost the dominion over the earth that was originally entrusted to him by God.  Part of the curse was that the earth would no longer easily yield food, and Adam & his descendants would have to labor for it.  Along with death, it was dominion (i.e. authority) that was lost.  All of that is restored in Christ Jesus to Christ Jesus.  After Jesus rose from the dead, He told His disciples that all authority in heaven and earth had been given to Him (Mt 28:18).  This seems to be in view for Jesus even prior to the cross (here in Jn 17:2).  Chronologically speaking, Jesus would not rise from the grave for yet 3½ more days, and already the Father gave Him “authority over all flesh.” (Past tense!)  That was the certainty of the resurrection.  All authority could already be given to Jesus, because His victory was never in doubt!
    1. Our Jesus is an authoritative Jesus.  He is a powerful King & Savior.  This is not self-proclaimed power, as it is for so many earthly leaders & despots.  This is true power – this is invested authority rightly given to Jesus & rightly used by Him.  People sometimes think of the power of Satan, but all of his supposed authority is usurped.  The devil pretends that he has the right to speak into our lives; Jesus actually does have authority & the right to command. (To whom do you listen: the pretender, or the Truth?)
  3. Notice over whom Jesus has authority: “all flesh.” All means all.  Jesus has authority over Christians, but Jesus also has authority over Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, Wiccans, and everyone else.  Granted, only a fraction of people acknowledge the authority of Jesus, but Jesus has authority.  When will they see it?  Judgment Day.  On that day, every eye will know Jesus as the authoritative King & every knee will bow before Him.  (Don’t wait until it’s too late!)
    1. Question: If Jesus has authority, why don’t we see it in action more often?  After all, sin and evil run rampant in the world today, and creation is still fallen.  Actually, we do see the authority of Jesus in creation every day, because every day creation still exists.  According to Colossians 1:17, all things consist in Him – thus, all things would cease to exist if Jesus so willed it to be.  We do see evidence of Jesus’ authority in the world, even as creation continues on the timeline given it by God.  We just often see a lack of evidence regarding Jesus’ authority among people.  Why?  Free will.  We rebel against authority because we want to be our own authority.  That attitude might be expected among non-believers, but not among the church…yet we see it there as well.  We so often choose to rebel against the authority of the One we claim as our King.  We choose our own desires instead of obedience, and that is something for which we will one day give an account. 
    2. Thankfully, we have the promise of forgiveness because of the cross, but it is not grace that ought to be abused.  Christian: yield to the authority of Christ!  Respond to the will & command of your King!
  4. God the Father gave more than authority to Jesus; He gave people to Jesus.  “…as many as You have given Him.”  He gave people to His Son so that His Son might give them eternal life.  Although this has been a matter of theological debate for centuries (because it goes into the infinite counsels of God), what Jesus says here is that God knows who will be saved.  God knows who will partake of everlasting life, and it is those people that He has specifically given to His Son for salvation.  Although it is tempting here to jump into the arguments surrounding predestination, to do so is to miss the point.  Jesus does not here set up a debate between Calvinism & Arminianism (predestination vs. free-will).  Instead, Jesus speaks of assurance.  Those who have received eternal life have the assurance of eternal life.  We can know we have received it because we were given to Christ by God, and Christ has the authority to give eternal life to those given Him.
    1. Our life is in Christ!  Our eternity rests upon the authority of Jesus.  There can be no greater assurance than that!  If we had to earn eternity for ourselves, it could not be done.  If we had to maintain our salvation, it could not be kept.  Not only do we lack the ability, but we lack the authority.  Jesus has both.  When our eternity is based in faith in Christ, then our eternity is assured indeed!

3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

  1. In His prayer to the Father, Jesus has spoken of the gift of eternal life; now He defines it.  This is somewhat parenthetical to the main point of vss. 1-5 (glory), but because it is so different, it stands out in a marvelous way.  From a literary standpoint, an argument could be made that John purposefully highlights this part of the prayer, intentionally making it stand out (i.e. middle part of chiasmus).  Bottom line: it may be parenthetical, but it’s important.  Just because it’s an aside doesn’t mean it isn’t crucial…it is!
  2. Jesus describes eternal life in two ways: (1) knowing God as the only true God, and (2) knowing Jesus Christ as sent by God.  But each of these are based in “knowing.”  The word used by John is the normal word for knowing: understanding, comprehending…everything that would come along with a true knowledge of something.  IOW, this isn’t guesswork or hoped-for imagination – this is knowing.  Plus, it’s in the present tense…a continual ongoing knowledge.  Not “they knew” or “they will one day know,” but “they may know.”  Once a person comes to faith, he/she has eternal life in that they continually know and will always know God the Father, Son, and Spirit.
    1. For the true Christian, faith is not a thing of the past.  It’s not a prayer that was prayed & never referenced again.  Nor is it something that we hope to perhaps eventually attain in the future.  The faith through which we receive eternal life is a present faith.  Even our eternal life is a present life.  For the true Christian, eternal life is not something for which we wait; it’s something into which we’ve already entered.  The only thing that changes when our hearts stop beating is the location of our life; the life itself has already begun.
  3. That said, eternal life is more than a thing; it’s a relationship.  We are to know God the Father & know Jesus Christ.  (1) Know God, the only true God.  Those who are given eternal life by Jesus know God Himself and the truth about Him.  We enter into a real relationship with the real God.  That is only possible when we believe the truth about Him.  Someone who claims to know God while believing lies about Him obviously does not know Him.  It’s no different among people.  If someone says he/she knows me, but claims I teach the Book of Mormon in addition to the Bible, then he/she is either completely deluded or is lying outright.  He/she doesn’t know me at all.  Likewise if someone truly knows the true God, they will not believe fundamental falsehoods about Him.  They may believe mistakes now & again regarding minor matters (Christians often disagree on non-essential things), but not major ones.  To believe that God is one of many gods is a major falsehood.  To believe that God is the same god over all religions is a major falsehood.  To remove all distinctions from God is to reveal one’s own ignorance of the true God.  We either believe Him for who He is (who He has revealed Himself to be), or we do not know Him at all.
  4. (2) Know Jesus Christ, as sent by God.  Just like those who have been given eternal life know the true God in real relationship, so do we know Jesus Christ.  And likewise, we have to know Him in truth.  It’s interesting how often Jesus refers to Himself in the 3rd person in this passage…perhaps He did so to ensure that there would be no mistake as to whom He referenced.  We cannot believe upon just anyone to be saved; we must know Jesus and believe the truth about Him.
    1. We must know Him as the Christ.  This is the only place in the entire gospel of John that Jesus uses both His name and His title together, and it is significant.  His given name is Jesus (Yeshua, יֵשׁוּעַ ), meaning “salvation/deliverance,” but that is His only given name.  “Christ” is His title – basically the Greek translation of the Hebrew word for “Messiah,” meaning the “anointed one,” i.e. the king.  Thus to know Jesus Christ is to know Jesus as the King – the divinely appointed King who saves.  All sorts of people claim to know Jesus: a hippie Jesus, a social justice Jesus, a right-wing political Jesus, etc.  Yet they do not know Him as King.  We must know Him as King, if we are to know Him at all.
    2. We must know Him as “sent” by God.  IOW, we need to believe His purpose & mission.  We need to know Him as God the Son sent to be God Incarnate – sent for the specific purpose of the cross & resurrection – sent to seek and to save that which was lost.  Put it together, we need to believe who Jesus is, and what Jesus has done.
  5. When we do (when we know each God the Father & Jesus Christ in this way), then we are assured of everlasting life.  Paul basically writes the same thing to the Romans: Romans 10:9, "that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."  When we truly know and believe Jesus for Whom God revealed Him to be, then we can know we are saved.  Do you have this assurance?  Do you know God in this way?  You can.  Jesus makes Himself available to all the world…you can know Him today!
  6. One of the greatest aspects about all of this is that we can know God.  We enter into a living relationship with the living God.  Of course we believe certain truths about God & believe certain things about God – but our relationship with Jesus is more than intellectual ideas.  It’s more than esoteric theology.  It’s real.  It’s knowledge.  We can know Jesus, just like we know our friends & family.  We can have that kind of relationship with Him…and that IS eternal life.

4 I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.

  1. Returning to His main thought, Jesus speaks of His own glorification of the Father through the His completed work.  Notice the use of the past tense here…these is something Jesus already did.  Jesus alreadyglorified [God] on the earth” – He has alreadyfinished the work.”  Chronologically speaking, Jesus still had another night & morning to go before He was nailed to the cross.  He had yet three more days before He rose from the dead.  He had yet 40 more days before He ascended to the Father.  How was it done?  Because it had been foreordained since before the foundations of the world (Rev 13:8).  Jesus had always been obedient to the Father, and would always be obedient to the Father.  This was never in doubt.  Throughout Jesus’ entire earthly ministry (from conception onward), He had glorified God upon the earth – that’s what His life was all about.  He fulfilled every prophecy written about Him – He left no aspect of the will of God undone.  Everything God gave Him to do, He did…to the utmost.
    1. May God help us one day be able to say the same!  At the end of our lives, none of us want to look back with regret.  To have to label our lives with “would’a, should’a, could’a” is awful.  Don’t place yourselves in that position.  Look around at what God has given you to do, and do it.  Don’t waste time – be about the business of God in your lives.  Invest in the people God has allowed you to influence.  Share the gospel with the people God has placed around you.  Use the opportunities and circumstances God has given you at this time for His glory.
    2. Even if you look back now with regret, look forward in hope!  There is forgiveness for the past & opportunity for the future.  Every day is a new day of the mercies of God.  Use those mercies to live differently & to glorify Him.
  2. BTW – where did the work originate?  From God.  Again, the plan of God regarding Jesus was a plan that stretches back into eternity past.  There was never a time that God did not know He would send Jesus for our sin.  Before time itself existed, the plan of God existed regarding Jesus.  God knew He would create Man, and God knew that we would sin.  God knew you would sin, and that you would be in need of His forgiveness.  God knew every single thing that you & I would do, and He still loved us & still sent Jesus to die for our sins at the cross.  That was the work the Father gave to the Son to accomplish, and Jesus fulfilled it perfectly.  He did everything moment by moment.  He called every disciple by name, He preached the kingdom of God, He performed each and every miracle, He willingly entered into His hour of suffering…He did it all to completion.  (And He would continue to do it through His death, resurrection, and ongoing ministry today.  There is nothing God gave to Jesus that Jesus did not do!)

5 And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

  1. Jesus finishes the introduction to His prayer the way He began: with a request for glory.  Once more, this is not a selfish ask from the ego of Jesus; this is something that He desired to have “with” God the Father.  Jesus well understood that when He was glorified, His Father would receive glory as well.  In fact, it would be the Father’s own glory with which Jesus was glorified…and that is what Jesus desired all along.  Throughout His ministry, the Son always lifted up the Father, and that is exactly what Jesus wanted to do in His suffering as well.  Even in Jesus’ exaltation, His desire was that the Father would be exalted.  Everything at all times, all for the glory of God.
    1. Every so often, even when we’re engaged in ministry, it’s good to do a gut-check regarding our motivation.  Why is it that we do the things we do?  Is it so that we can look good?  So that we can appear spiritual to others?  Or maybe it is less selfish, and we truly are concerned about another person.  Surely that’s better, but it is still less than ideal because it remains man-centered.  After all, pagans and atheists all over the world still have a genuine concern for their fellow man.  The best & highest motivation of all is to do it for the glory of God.  Even as we have compassion upon others, serving them, we do it first for God & then for them.  When we share the gospel, we do it first for God & secondly for others.  Yes, we want to see people saved, but we want them saved because GOD is glorified in their salvation.  God is the One who sent His Son – God is the One who did the work – no compassion of man matches the compassion of God for His creation, thus even the most selfless human deed we perform has the best motivation when it is done for the glory of God.
    2. BTW – this relieves us of a lot of pressure.  When we’re doing things for the glory of God, then we’re not nearly as focused as gaining the approval of men.  When our motivation is man-centered, then we want men to be pleased with us (and since the gospel is often offensive, we might shy away from sharing it).  But when our motivation is God-centered, then we’re just focused on pleasing God – despite the reactions of others.
  2. Regarding the glory Jesus desired to share with His Father, notice that this wasn’t the first time Jesus would have experienced it.  Prior to His incarnation, Jesus had this glory with God “before the world was.”  He always had this glory from eternity past.  How so?  Because Jesus is God.  Angels cannot speak of being with God prior to creation, because they were created.  Not even the devil can speak of being with God prior to creation, because he is just another created angel (though fallen).  Jesus is different.  Jesus is God the Son, the λογος/Word of God, eternally begotten of God and fully God of true God.  Thus Jesus always had the glory of God because He Himself IS God.

Conclusion:
Jesus prayed for glory, but ultimately His prayer was to glorify God.  He had been faithful to the work the Father gave Him to do, and He would be faithful to the end.  There was no question as to the outcome – but that made Him no less reliant upon the Father.  On the contrary, Jesus was completely dependent upon God the Father…exactly as all of us ought to be.  Jesus needed the glory of God in order to glorify God and to bring men & women into the glory of God through salvation.  And thus Jesus prayed.

The outcome of it all?  Grand success!  Jesus’ prayer was answered.  God glorified Jesus in His hour of suffering, and not only did Jesus glorify God at the time, He still glorifies God the Father to this day.  And because He did, now we can know God & receive the gift of eternal life.  Now we are brought into a real relationship with the living God, and can also act according to His will & for His glory.

What are you doing with the life you have been given?  Are you using the opportunities God has given you to glorify Him in praise & obedience?  Are you participating in the ongoing knowledge of your God, enjoying Him in real relationship?  Like Jesus, pray that you do!  There’s no question that we will often fall short – both in our motivation & in our obedience.  We’re human…that’s just what we do.  But we don’t have to relegate ourselves to that.  We can rely upon our God in prayer, seeking His face, following the example of our Lord & King.  We can make ourselves knowingly dependent upon our Heavenly Father, just like Jesus was.  Even that will serve to bring glory to God.  If you don’t know where to begin, start there.

Do you know the Lord God at all?  Jesus said it clearly: “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”  If you truly know God as the true God & Jesus as His true Son who died for you & rose from the grave, then you have eternal life – you have been saved.  If not, then you haven’t.  It’s that simple.  But you can.  Turn away from you own sins of the past, from your own rebellion & attempts at self-rule, and acknowledge the rightful authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Surrender your life to Him as your Risen King, believing upon Him as God.  Enter into a true knowledgeable relationship with Jesus, and you will enter into life.  Do it today.

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