17:1 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, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
6 “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. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 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. 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 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. (John 17:1-11 (ESV)
“The hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may Glorify you” So Jesus begins his pray in John 17. The High Priestly prayer. He prays this with the disciples just after telling them that the world will you tribulation, but take heart I have overcome the world. He prays this in front of the disciples before crossing over the Kidron Valley to the Garden of Gethsemane. It is to prepare the disciples for this time, when we remain in the world as the body of Christ, even as he returns to the Father to take up the glory he once had had with the Father before the world existed.
“Glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you.” The rest of this High Priestly Prayer will deal with what that means, in just what a way the Son will be glorified, and how in turn this will glorify God. The High Priestly Prayer. It’s an awkward sounding name for the 17th Chapter of John. Sometimes I try to come up with a better name for it, one that still captures the essence of the prayer but doesn’t call it High Priestly. The idea of it is that here Jesus shows his work as our High Priest. This is one of three offices attributed to Jesus, one of three offices in which people of the Old Testament would be anointed into with oil, and one of the three offices Jesus was anointed to with the Holy Spirit who fell upon him in the form of a dove when he was baptized. These are the offices of Prophet, Priest and King. But the emphasis of this prayer is his office as High Priest in that here he does what a priest does. Prays and consecrates a sacrifice. He prays first and foremost for his disciples, the apostles that must remain in this world, and then for us that we too would be comforted by his word. Then he consecrates himself as a sacrifice for them and for us, that our sins would be atoned for before the Father, and that we would be given eternal life. And this is eternal life: “that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom your have sent.” Jesus refers to himself in the third person, or John modifies the speech of Jesus to make it clearer for us. Either way, to know God is to know Jesus, because it is Jesus who glorifies the Father, by sacrificing himself for us on the cross that we may have eternal life.
This is why Jesus came to glorify the Father. It doesn’t look glorious. It looks like death, pain and suffering. Jesus speaks of it as if it already happened, but it is still yet to take place. He knows the outcome already. He knows he has already overcome the world. He overcame it precisely in this that he has determined to let the world take him, to crucify him, to sacrifice him that his blood might sanctify you and me. It will be in this that we come to know the Father, through the Son, who is the way the truth and the life, apart from whom know one comes to the Father. This isn’t head knowledge. This is to fear, love and trust in God, to let his will take over our lives, to rejoice in him even as the Son feared, loved and trusted in the Father above all things that he was even willing to die for the Father that you and I might be given eternal life. To know the Father, the only True God and Jesus Christ whom he sent is to know God as only a forgiven child of God can know the Father. To be restored to a right relationship with Him. To trust in him and his promises. It is for this reason Jesus came. And it is this reason that his death is a great glorification of the Father. Because in his death we are given eternal life, we are given to Know the Father, and in his death a glorious kingdom is born full of praise and joy, even joy that lives in the midst of suffering.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.