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. – John 17:1-5
Along the path of my studies at Fuller Seminary, I had the occasion to stay in an apartment with several other students. One of the students was a man from a foreign country who was deeply dedicated to prayer. Each night we could hear him praying. It was a powerful and emotive expression on his part of petitions and supplications expressed from deep in his heart. It was a humbling experience. Few of us pray like that. His level of dedication and anticipation of God’s intervention and help were inspiring.
When I hear Jesus praying, recorded here in John 17, it is much the same; this is a humbling, inspiring, and edifying prayer.
Jesus prays that the Father would glorify him so that he could glorify the Father. This is no quid pro quo exchange offering. Jesus is not making a deal with God that accrues to their mutual benefit. He is expressing a reality that fully engaged faith is the stuff of true godliness and glory. Faith glorifies God, for it imputes righteousness, faithfulness, goodness, holiness, and love to God’s being and character. Faith is not in the end about anything other than the nature of God and his word and promise. Jesus will glorify God when on the cross he entrusts himself to the Father. This, too is Jesus’ glory: he is a man of perfect faith.
Humbling: I do not have perfect faith. Thankfully, however, I have a perfect God and Savior. Inspiring: this just lifts my heart to see Jesus’ love and dedication, and true glory. This is also edifying: Jesus gives us a picture of his eternal nature as the Word Become Flesh. He existed in pure glory before the world began. He was in the presence of the Father. He was returning to the Father. But for now he was in this world, facing a very real challenge, and a horrific encounter with the forces of evil, not to mention his own death. He will return to his rightful place with the Father in heaven. In the meantime he will need his Father’s help and presence to accomplish his task.
All this he did so that you and I and all who believe in him will have eternal life. He has come to redeem us. He has left his heavenly throne and will return these so that we can one day we can be in the realm of his glorious, redemptive love. Thus he prays, “Father, the hour has come…”