Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, 2 as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. 4 I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
John 17: 1-5
“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in
the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to
His voice in the depth of our hearts.”
Jesus spoke these words
Before Jesus goes to the Cross for us, He sets one more example for us: He prays for us.
After Jesus had comforted and encouraged His Disciples – and us!; after He had given them – and us! final instructions; after He had warned them – and us! about the world’s hatred and the trials we would endure as His ambassadors; and after He had promised them – and us! the indwelling Holy Spirit . . . and then Jesus prayed.
As Christ’s ambassadors, it is not enough for us to teach others the Gospel; we must pray. Our prayers should seek God’s help in being faithful witnesses to His Word; and that our effects would bear fruit to His glory. Our work as Christ’s ambassadors is not finished until we prayer for the people with whom we have shared the Gospel.
This pastoral prayer of Jesus’ is the fitting conclusion to His commissioning saints to be His ambassadors in a hostile world.
lifted up His eyes to heaven
By looking upward, Jesus reminds us that God’s glory is exalted far above all earthly creatures. God is not our pal; nor is He our servant. We must remember to come before Him with respect, humility, and reverence.
Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You.
Jesus always knew that the climax of His earthly ministry would be the Cross. Now our Lord asks that His kingdom be magnified, so that He might give greater glory to His Father. Christ petition asks that His death may, by the power of the Holy Spirit, accomplish God’s eternal plan of salvation for His chosen people.
Here Jesus is giving us an example: He is not asking God to accomplish Jesus’ plan; He is praying that He will accomplish God’s plan. It is every Christian’s duty to ask God for whatever it takes to do His will. We pray not to make God useful to our plans, but for us to be made useful to God’s plans.
According to Berkeley's Professor of Theology, Rita Nakashima Brock, “Christ’s death upon the cross has no place in authentic Christianity” . . . and “the atonement of Christ was a concoction of male church leaders in the 10th century when they began celebrating bread and wine communion.” How does she reach that conclusion?
The world crucified Jesus with the intent of shaming and humiliating Him. Jesus saw the Cross as the instrument of His glory and the means by which He would glorify God.
Let’s consider how this was done.
*The Cross was Christ’s glory because it was the completion of His work.
For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
I Cor. 1: 22-24
*The Cross brought glory to the Father by Jesus’ absolute obedience.
The only way to glorify God is to obey Him.
*The Cross was not the end. The Resurrection followed.
And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people.
Acts 13: 29-31
The eternal Christ became human in order to lead us back to God.
Louis Cassels' The Birds
Once upon a time, there was a man who looked upon Christmas as a lot of humbug.
He wasn't a Scrooge. He was a very kind and decent person, generous to his family, upright in all of his dealings with other men.
But he didn't believe all that stuff about an Incarnation which churches proclaim at Christmas. And he was too honest to pretend that he did.
"I am truly sorry to distress you," he told his wife, who was a faithful churchgoer. "But I simply cannot understand this claim that God became a man. It doesn't make any sense to me."
On Christmas Eve, his wife and children went to church for the midnight service. He declined to accompany them.
"I'd feel like a hypocrite," he explained. "I'd much rather stay at home. But I'll wait up for you."
Shortly after his family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window and watched the flurries getting heavier and heavier.
"If we must have the Christmas," he reflected, "it's nice to have a white one."
He went back to his chair by the fireside and began to read his newspaper.
A few minutes later, he was startled by a thudding sound. It was quickly followed by another, then another. He thought that someone must be throwing snowballs at his living-room window.
When he went to the front door to investigate, he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They had been caught in the storm, and in a desperate search for shelter had tried to fly through his window.
"I can't let these poor creatures lie there and freeze," he thought. "But how can I help them?"
Then he remembered the barn where the children's pony was stabled. It would provide a warm shelter.
He quickly put on his coat and galoshes and tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on a light.
But the birds didn't come in.
"Food will bring them in," he thought. So he hurried back to the house for bread crumbs, which he sprinkled on the snow to make a trail into the barn.
To his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs and continued to flop around helplessly in the snow.
He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around and waving his arms. They scattered in every direction -- except into the warm, lighted barn.
"They find me a strange and terrifying creature," he said to himself, "and I can't seem to think of any way to let them know they can trust me.
"If only I could be a bird myself for a few minutes, perhaps I could lead them to safety."
Just at that moment, the church bells began to ring.
He stood silently for a while, listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas.
Then he sank to his knees in the snow.
"Now I do understand," he whispered. "Now I see why You had to do it."