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 know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 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. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one (Jn 17:1-11)
“All mine are yours, and yours are mine and I am glorified in them, and I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father keep them in your name, which you have given me that they may be one, even as we are one.”
Jesus prays for us. Jesus prays for his disciples, and he prays for you who glorify him, who are left in this world to glorify him as he returns to the Father, into whose name we have been given and are kept as one. Jesus prays this prayer, the High Priestly prayer in the upper room, before crossing over to the Kidron where he would be betrayed by Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane, and turned over to the Romans for execution. Before he would be betrayed and abandoned by those who are his. He prays this prayer before sacrificing himself as our high priest on the cross that we would be forgiven in his name, and sanctified in his blood, before accomplishing the work he wanted to complete before he returned to the Father, the work that would glorify the Father, give us reason to glorify him and his name in this world after the Ascension.
Jesus glorifies the Father having done the work the Father sent him to do. The cross, it is an odd place to find the glory of God. It isn’t where most people look to find it. It perhaps isn’t the first of images to come to mind as we contemplate a phrase like “the glory of God.” Too often we confuse it with those things we like to glory in, those things that Satan tried to tempt Jesus with at the beginning of his ministry when he was setting out to accomplish the work the Father had given him. The ability to do miracles and satisfy hunger, to call on angels to rescue him, to make nations bow at his feet. But it was all this sort of glory Jesus put aside so as to be found in the form of a man, the form of a servant, to glorify the Father by dying for us that ransoming us we would be given his name, would know his name and have eternal life, be kept as one in his name, the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit that was poured over us in baptism, the only name given to men under heaven by which we may be saved.
It is this name we now glorify, we who remain in this world after the work the Father has given is accomplished in Jesus, that that work might find fulfilment in the salvation of others. I suppose it is the question. Why does he leave? Why does he leave us here then? Does he really leave? No, the Ascension that we celebrated on Thursday really wasn’t a goodbye. It was more of a hello. He ascended to the Father that he could remain with us who glorify his name on earth. He sits down at the right hand of the Father, who is God and is therefore everywhere that he might make good on his promise to be wherever two or three are gathered in his name, wherever that is, that his name is glorified in those whom he knows, and who have eternal life in him. His name, his being. That is more the meaning of name in Hebrew thought. Solomon dedicates the temple as a place for the name of God to dwell. The Son shares this name with the Father and the Son. It is this name that gives us salvation in baptism. No, he doesn’t leave us, but he returns to the Father as we remain in this world that we would glorify his name in this world.
How do we glorify his name? By being one in his name, by gathering together in his name, by hearing his word that the Father had given him to give to us, together as one, by sharing his name with our children and teaching them to know his name, by telling others of his glory, his death on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. Because when we are gathered in his name, he is there among us, and we are given salvation. His name is glorified in our salvation, the purpose of his work. His name is glorified as it is poured out on all flesh, his name is glorified when our faith is strengthened and our souls are nourished in his body and blood given and shed for you. His name is glorified when sinners repent and are forgiven in his name, and kept as one by the Father in his name, sanctified in the one true faith.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord Amen.