What do you think God the
Son would say to God the Father the night before He
would offer Himself up as a sacrifice for the sin of
Imagine with me for a
moment what the divine communication between God the
Father and God the Son must be like. I wonder what
deep conversations must take place between the
members of the Trinity. The communiqué between the
Godhead must be too profound and unfathomable for us
to comprehend. The LORD God said to Isaiah, "For My
thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your
ways My ways. . . For as the heavens are higher than
the earth so are My ways higher than your ways, and
My thoughts than your thoughts" (55:8-9).
Everything we know about
God has been revealed to us through His
self-revelation as recorded in the Old and New
Testaments in the Bible. The final and complete
revelation was in the person and work of Jesus
Christ (Heb. 1:1-3).
God allows us in John 17
to listen in on God the Son talking to God the
Father in the simplest words some of the most
profound truths in the revelation of God to man.
We hear in these words an
example of the divine communication that constantly
passed between the Father and the Son while He was
on the earth.
In simple sentences Jesus
prays to the Father a prayer of consecration of
Himself for the sacrifice at Calvary (vv. 1-5), for
His disciples who are gathered with Him the night
before His death (vv. 6-19), and for you and me who
believe as a result of their witness (vv. 20-26).
A. T. Robertson, quoting
Bernard notes these are the words of Jesus recorded
from "the tenacious memory of an old man recalling
the greatest days of his life," aided by the Holy
Spirit for this specific purpose (John 11:26;
When we open to John 17
we enter with our great high priest into the holiest
of all sanctuaries. He takes us into the secret
place of the tabernacle of the Most High God. In
these twenty-six verses we are on holy ground and it
behooves us to sit in silence and ponder His words.
Here are the words of the prayer of the God-man
speaking to His Father before He sacrifices Himself
for the sins of the world. The one who is full of
grace and truth opens His heart and expresses it to
His Father. What will He say? Will we be able to
There is no vain
self-glorification in this prayer of Jesus. His
glory is in the cross. He lifts His eyes to heaven
and prays being both the High Priest and the
substitutionary sacrifice on the altar. He is both
the Lamb of God that would lift up and carry away
the sin of the world, and the one perfect priest who
did not have to first make an offering for his own
sin. Jesus Christ never experienced personal sin. He
is the only person who could ever die in the place
of another without having to die for his own sins.
We could never do that because we are depraved
sinners who are worthy of death because "the wages
of sin is death."
WITH THE FATHER
Jesus begins His prayer
with the word "Father." The word reveals
relationship as a child to its parent. It is the
close relationship of fellowship and intimacy of the
Father-Son. The I-Thou of the Old Testament did not
know this kind of intimacy with God. Not even Moses
had this kind of relationship with God.
"Jesus spoke these
things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said,
'Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that
the Son may glorify You . . . Now, Father, glorify
Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I
had with You before the world was'" (John 17:1, 5).
"God stands in the
relation of 'Father' to our Lord as the Head and
Representative of the holy family redeemed from
among men," notes Pink. Jesus "is a Son in a sense
absolutely peculiar to Himself." It is a unique
relationship shared by no other person.
In verses one and two
Jesus uses the third person, calling Himself "Thy
Son," and "the Son" not merely "Me" and "I." Jesus
uses such language to indicate His deity and eternal
relation to His Father (vv. 1, 2; 1:18). "Son"
designates Him as God (1:14; Acts 3:15; 1 Cor. 2:8;
Gal. 4:4; 1 Tim. 3:16). Jesus and the Father are in
absolute harmony on all features of His great
mission to redeem the world.
F. F. Bruce says, "While
this is His prayer of consecration in view of the
impending sacrifice of the cross, yet in some ways
it presupposes the presentation and acceptance of
that sacrifice and becomes the prototype of the
perpetual intercession in which, as His people's
ascended high priest, He is engaged on their behalf
at the Father's right hand" (John, pp.
The reformer John Knox
lay on is deathbed and during the final days of his
illness God sustained the old reformer with His
grace and strength through the reading of this great
chapter every day.
Martin Luther wrote,
"This is truly, beyond measure, a warm and hearty
prayer. He opens the depths of His heart, both in
reference to us and to His Father, and He pours them
all out. It sounds so honest, so simple; it is so
deep, so rich, so wide, no one can fathom it."
Another reformer and
friend of Luther, Melanchthon said, "There is no
voice which has ever been heard, either in heaven or
in earth, more exalted, more holy, more fruitful,
more sublime, than the prayer offered up by the Son
of God Himself."
R. C. H. Lenski said,
"This prayer lies on a plane that is so exalted that
no disciple can join in its utterance. . . Its
serenity, its majesty, and its authority befit only
the heart and lips of Him who is the Son. Before
this prayer all our prayers fade like tapers in the
sun" (John, p. 1114).
J. C. Ryle said this
chapter "is the most remarkable in the Bible. It
stands alone, and there is nothing like it." It is
as someone said, "It is perhaps characterized truly
as unequaled for depth and scope in all the
In this intimate prayer
of Jesus we are let in on this deep penetrating talk
going on in the Godhead. It is exalted, holy and
sublime. It is God speaking to God. Jesus is the
burning bush of the New Testament on the most holy
ground in New Testament soil.
GLORIFY THE SON
The hour has
An idea repeated
throughout the Gospel of John beginning at 2:4 is,
"My hour has not come" (7:6, 8, 30, 39; 8:20). Now
Jesus prays out loud that the "hour" has arrived
(12:23, 27; 13:1, 31-32; 16:32; 17:1). Even a little
earlier as He contemplated the cross He said these
words anticipating it's soon arrival, "The hour has
come for the Son of Man to be glorified" (12:23).
The hour not only has "come," but it "has come and
stays with us." This is the reason for which Jesus
came into the world (12:27).
The coming of this "hour"
has to do with the Son being "glorified" by the
Father (5:44). Jesus never sought the glory of man.
How insignificant that is when God the Father is
going to glorify Him by means of the cross. "And I,
if I be lifted up from the earth will draw all men
to Myself" (12:32).
The whole ministry of
Jesus led up to this moment. With the cross in full
view Jesus prays the Father will glorify Him. The
cross was the means of true glory. To glorify the
Son is to glorify the Father.
Of course, the manner in
which Jesus glorified the Father was by being
obedient to the will of the Father. Lenski says,
"the entire activity of Jesus in His heavenly
exaltation in making the glory of His Father shine
forth in all His wondrous attributes before the eyes
and hearts of men." The cross, the resurrection and
ascension are acts that glorify Jesus.
Lenski adds, "The Father
is to exalt Jesus by investing His human nature with
the unlimited use of the divine attributes in the
glory of heaven (Phil. 2:9); and this He is to do in
order to effect the purpose that the Son may make
the glorious attributes of the Father shine out in
all the world through the work of the Spirit and the
gospel and in the church" (p. 1116). "The Father
glorifies the Son in the Son's self; the Son
glorifies the Father in the world."
The glory of God is
manifest and demonstrated at the cross of Jesus. "It
is on the cross that His kingship is proclaimed (cf.
19:19); it is through the cross that He will
discharge His Father's commission to Him to bless
His people with eternal life" (Bruce, p. 329).
The glory of God is
linked to His attributes, His intrinsic worth or
character. "Thus, all that can be properly known of
God is an expression of His glory," observes James
Boice. As the incarnate Son of God Jesus "revealed
the essential characteristics of the Father. When
the disciples beheld His glory, as in 2:11, they
actually beheld His character, which was the
character of God. . . if we have seen Jesus, we have
seen the Father" (p. 1248).
In John 1:1, 14, 18 the
apostle John says, "We beheld His glory, glory as of
the only begotten from the Father full of grace and
truth." The apostle Peter wrote, "For we did not
follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to
you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,
but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He
received honor and glory from God the Father, such
an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic
Glory, 'This is My beloved Son with whom I am
well-pleased'" (2 Peter 1:16-17).
Jesus speaks of His
per-incarnate glory in eternity past before He
became flesh. Jesus possessed and manifested the
same glory with God before He became flesh. The very
essence of deity that Jesus possessed cannot be
changed. "He existed in the form of God." He was
equal with God (Philippians 2:6). Jesus was and is
essentially and unalterably God. That fact did not
change when He took on in addition the "form of a
bondservant, being made in the likeness of men" (v.
The apostle Paul in
Philippians 2:7 writes of the self-emptying of the
outward visible manifestations of Jesus' visible
glory while in His flesh. Paul is careful to stress
that Jesus did not empty Himself of His divine
nature, or His essential attributes of deity. It was
a self-emptying of His outward visible glory and not
His deity. He limited only the manifestation of His
glory that He demonstrated in heaven. He is God of
very God. The self-emptying was the taking on of the
form, or essential characteristics of a servant, and
humbling "Himself by becoming obedient to the point
of death, even the death on a cross" (v. 8). He
looked like any other household servant of that day,
yet He was fully human—fully God.
Jesus retained the
essential attributes, unchangeable and unchanging
essential nature of God. The essential nature of
Jesus is the same as the essential nature of God.
The essential form never alters and never changes.
He is God.
Since that is true about
Jesus then what does He mean when He says to the
Father, "And now, glorify Thou Me with Thyself,
Father, with the glory which I had with Thee, before
the world was" (John 17:5)? Is Jesus praying for the
restoration of His essential attributes of deity?
No, of course, not, that is impossible because His
deity never changed. This glory was God's glory.
However, Jesus did not manifest this glory during
the days of His incarnation. He hid it behind the
veil of His flesh. Jesus is going to glorify the
Father in His outward visible glory as He did in
eternity past. His present glory in heaven is even
greater than in the past because He was obedient to
the Father unto death. "Therefore also God highly
exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is
above every name" (Philippians 2:9). Every knee will
bow to the name of Jesus, and every person will
"confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of
God the Father" (vv. 10-11).
It is obvious that this
glory is the ultimate in praise, honor and glory
renown that can ever be given. It is of His
intrinsic worth or character. All that can be
properly known of Yahweh, Jehovah or LORD is the
expression of His glory. When we have seen Jesus, we
have seen the Father. "And the Word became flesh,
and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as
of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace
and truth" (John 1:14). The One who "is in the bosom
of the Father, He has explained Him" (v. 18).
F. F. Bruce says, "The
glory Jesus would receive from the Father would be
the glory which He enjoyed in His presence before
creation in that 'beginning' in which the Word was
eternally with the Father (Jn. 1:12)." It "would
inevitably have a new dimension which was absent
from it 'before the world existed' . . . the cross
as the essential stage will now be shared with those
who have believed in Him" (John, p. 330).
Jesus is glorified when
He receives the ultimate in praise or renown. He
never sought the praise of men, like the Pharisees,
but only of the Father (John 5:41-44).
The Father will glorify
Jesus with true glory in the cross at Calvary the
same way as in His pre-incarnate state. The apostle
Paul reflected on this glory and wrote, "Christ was
raised from the dead through the glory of the
Father" (Romans 6:4). Morris says at the cross Jesus
was "glorified with true glory, a continuous glory,
and indeed identical, with the glory he had 'before
the world was'" (p. 721).
God the Father is
glorified in our salvation
An idea that is dominant
in this prayer is "eternal life" for all whom the
Father has given the Son. Jesus prays in 17:3, "This
is eternal life, that they may know You, the only
true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."
Eternal life consists in
the knowledge of God and mediated through the
revealer the Father has chosen and sent. This
eternal life is a personal relationship with the one
true supreme Sovereign of the universe. Lenski says,
"This is eternal life" is equal to saying, "This is
what it means to have the gift of eternal life."
This knowing is in the present tense and might be
expressed by the infinitive "to know you." Probably
"Jesus has in mind an ever-increasing knowledge, not
something given in its completeness once and for
all," writes Morris (p. 719).
"To know Thee" and "to
know Jesus," when the object is a person as here,
means, "to have intimate personal experience" and
nothing less. A true heart knowledge is the meaning.
The only true God can be known in an intimate
personal experience only by knowing "Him whom He
sent, Jesus Christ." "To know" here is "to keep on
knowing," says A. T. Robertson.
"And there is salvation
in no one else; for there is no other name under
heaven that has been given among men by which we
must be saved" (Acts 4:12; cf. Rom. 10:9-10; John
The only way to know the
true God is through the revelation He has made to
Himself in His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. The
Mediator is the only one who can know the true God.
And there is no other Mediator. "For there is one
God, and one mediator also between God and men, the
man Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 2:5).
It is plain that it is
appropriated through faith in Christ (John 6:40).
Life is in the Son. "The giving of eternal life to
men is the outworking of the glory of which Christ
speaks," notes Leon Morris. "The authority is for
the express purpose of conferring eternal life
Jesus prays that the
Father will "glorify" Him, and as a result of this
glorification Jesus will "glorify" the Father. It is
not a selfish prayer. Bless me Lord so that I will
be a blessing to You. "Father . . . Glorify your
Son, that your Son may glorify You" (v. 1). The same
train of thought is found in verse five, "Now,
Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the
glory which I had with You before the world was."
The Father is glorified
by the perfect obedience of the Son in His death.
Jesus said, "My food is to do the will of Him who
sent Me and to accomplish His work" (John 4:34).
Everything He did was in conformity to the Father's
work. "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do
nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees
the Father doing; for whatever the Father does,
these things the Son also does in like manner"
(5:19). "I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I
hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do
not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent
Me" (5:30). Now He prays in anticipation of
the completed work, "I glorified You on the earth,
having accomplished the work which You have given Me
to do" (17:4). As Jesus prays this high priestly
prayer He looks on the next day of crucifixion as
already completed. From the cross He will cry aloud,
"It is finished!" (19:30).
This is the steady beat
of the prayer of Jesus; "I glorified You on the
earth, having accomplished the work which You have
given Me to do" (17:4). The entire life of Christ
had been one of obedience. Now the night before His
death Jesus "is so totally committed to it that He
speaks of it as already accomplished" (Bruce).
What Jesus has already
done is revealed in verses 4-5. He amplifies His
thought by describing the glory for which He makes
request. Jesus glorified the Father on the earth by
completing the work the Father gave Him to do. The
"work" is the work of atonement for our sins which
will glorify God. The "crowning point" of the work
of Jesus is His atoning death for our sins and not
only ours but all mankind. Our redemption involves a
higher purpose, the glorification of God. Our
redemption is viewed by Jesus as a loving gift to
Him on the part of the Father.
"I glorified You,"
indicates a "completed task." Jesus has completed
the assigned work thoroughly and has brought glory
to the Father. The work Jesus completed was the work
the Father had "given" Him to do (Heb. 10:7; Lk.
2:49; Jn. 4:34; 19:30). The initiative was with the
Authority of Jesus
Jesus Christ received
authority over all mankind when He came to the earth
to redeem men. "Even as You gave Him authority over
all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He
may give eternal life" (17:2; cf. vv. 6, 9).
The "authority over all
flesh" is a Hebrew expression to denote all mankind
as weak as opposed to the strength and eternity of
Lenski writes, "According
to His divine nature the Son already possessed this
authority and could not be given what He already had
by virtue of His deity. But as a man He could,
indeed, and did, indeed, receive this gift. . .
During His humiliation Jesus had this authority, but
did not exercise it save in a very limited degree.
The humiliation was a brief, transient period, the
prelude to the exaltation or glorification of the
human nature when Jesus exercises to the full also
according to His human nature the authority that
came to it as the Father's gift in the assumption of
the divine mission" (John, pp. 1118-119).
Jesus has the authority
to give eternal life. The apostle John wrote, "The
Father loves the Son and has given all things into
His hand. He who believes in the Son has eternal
life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see
life, but the wrath of God abides on him" (John
3:35-36). Jesus said, "All that the Father gives Me
will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will
certainly not cast out. For I have come down from
heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him
who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me,
that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but
raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of
My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and
believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself
will raise him up on the last day" (6:37-40). "I
give eternal life to them, and they will never
perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand"
(10:28). It is hard to miss the message unless you
really want to. It is simple, plain and to the
point. Jesus has authority to give eternal life to
those whom the Father gave Him. Therefore, nothing
"shall separate us from the love of God, which is in
Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:39).
Jesus exercised authority
in bringing men life even as He hung on the cross.
He spoke to the dying penitent thief saying, "Truly
I say to you, today you shall be with Me in
Paradise" (Luke 23:43).
But did you also note He
has received authority to judge unbelievers? (cf.
John 5:27-28; 12:48; Acts 17:31; John 6:39; Matt.
28:18; Dan. 7:14; John 3:35; 13:3; Matt. 11:27; Eph.
1:22; Heb. 2:8; 1 Cor. 15:27; Jn. 1:3). It is a
fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living
God (Heb. 10:26-31).
God did not have to save
anyone. It is His sovereign grace that reaches down
to us and draws us to Himself. Will you not respond
to His pleading even now? He has the authority and
power to break our rebellious will, and quicken our
dead spirit so that we will respond to Him in faith.
The gift of eternal life
is not indiscriminate. Jesus says that He gives life
"to all whom You have given Me." Note the repeated
use of "give" in this chapter. "What grace is in the
Pauline Epistles, giving is in the Fourth Gospel,"
He also has the authority
to send us out making disciples in all the world
(Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus Christ, as our Sovereign
Savior has authority over all mankind to give
salvation to all whom the Father has given Him.
Thank God, because we were dead in our trespasses
and sins and unable to come to Christ unless He
first came to us giving us spiritual life (Eph.
2:1-5). If the Holy Spirit is pleading with you,
please respond to Him now and receive God's free
gift of eternal life. This is the very evidenced you
are longing for because of His dealings with you. He
raises the spiritually dead and gives life.
With His work completed
Jesus anticipates the full restoration to the
pre-incarnate glory and fellowship with the Father
(1:1) that He enjoyed before His incarnation (v.
14). "Now, Father, glorify Me together with
Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before
the world was" (17:5). This is the actual conscious
existence at the Father's side in heaven before the
world was created. That is the way we will see Him
in heaven (14:1-3).
brought glory to God the Father.
"Christ has glorified the
Father in His person (Heb. 1:3). He glorified Him by
His miracles (Matt. 9:8, etc.). He glorified Him by
His words, constantly ascribing all praise to Him
(Matt. 11:25, etc.). But above all He had glorified
Him by His holy life" (Pink, John, vol. iv,
The last place men would
look for the glory of God would be at the cross, a
cruel place of execution. His work on earth is now
completed. It is finished and now God can glorify
Him. In His prayer Jesus is conscious that He has
now completed the Father's work perfectly in every
"The keys of heaven are
in the hands of Christ; the salvation of every human
soul is at His disposal" (J. C. Ryle). "Spiritual or
eternal life consists in knowing, living on, having
communion with and enjoying endless satisfaction in
the Triune God through the one Mediator" Jesus
Every time a sinner
is saved God is glorified.
OUR GLORY IS IN THE
CROSS OF JESUS
Jesus Christ removed all
the barriers to a relationship with the Father. We
can now "know" Him in an intimate personal
experience (17:3, 6, 8).
The Father is glorified
when we turn from our sins, and we put our faith in
Jesus Christ as our Savior. Our glory in life is to
believe on Christ and therefore glorify the LORD God
in everything we do. When we lift high the name of
Jesus Christ we glorify the Father. When the
Son is glorified in our lives the Father is
When we bow before the
LORD God in these opening verses it is imperative
that we plead for Him to enlarge the capacity of our
soul for more of Him. We need an attitude of
obedience to all we learn of Him and His ways. "If
you love Me," Jesus said, "you will obey Me."
Obedience, or a lack of it, is a love problem. If I
love Him I will obey Him. How great my love for Him
is measured by my obedience to Him. The Father was
well pleased with the obedience of Jesus. Is He
pleased with my obedience to Him? This prayer of
Jesus gets to the heart of our love-obedience.
Are you one of the elect
of God? Were you included in this prayer of Jesus?
Jesus said, "All that the Father gives Me will come
to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly
not cast out" (John 6:37). The answer to that
question is answered by another question: have you
believed on Jesus Christ as your personal Savior? If
you have responded to His free grace, and have
believed on Him alone for salvation, you should know
that you are one who was given to Jesus before the
foundation of the world.
The death of Jesus
provided the objective and judicial basis whereby
the elect would be saved. He gives eternal life to
all whom the Father gave Him. Jesus went to the
cross the next day knowing that His death would
secure the salvation of all whom God had given Him
(17:2, 6, 8, 11, 12; cf. Isa. 53:10-11). He had the
satisfaction the night before His death of knowing
that His substitutionary death would secure our
Jesus gives eternal life
to everyone the Father has given Him. He is just in
following His eternal plan of redemption whereby you
and I agree or not. He is the Sovereign King. He
shows mercy to whom He will, and He is showing mercy
to you right now. Will you respond to His pleas?
"But as many as received
Him, to them He gave the right to become children of
God, even to those who believe in His name, who were
born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor
of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:12-13).
Will you bow your head
and ask Jesus Christ to be your personal Savior
right now? "For God so loved the world, that He gave
His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him
shall not perish, but have eternal life" (John
Title: John 17:1-5
The High Priestly Prayer of Jesus