Presentation 73
Presentation 73
John Calvin, the Reformer, described God's revelation of himself to us in
Scripture as ‘baby talk’, the kind of speech used by a mother communicating
with an infant. And God condescends to speak to us in this way in order to
make himself understood.
What then of conversations that take place within the
Godhead? Surely those must be unfathomable!
Perhaps, but they are not incomprehensible. For we
have the most extensive example in scripture of
verbal communication between two members
of the Godhead, here in Jn. 17. This prayer
contains the simplest of sentences,
though the ideas are profound.
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A Priestly Prayer
This wonderful prayer, sometimes described as the real Lord’s Prayer, is
composed of three parts:
1. Christ's prayer for himself v 1-5
2. His prayer for his disciples v6-19
3. His prayer for all who should follow them in faith in years to come v20-26.
The shortest part is Christ's prayer is for
himself. But he prays at length both for
his disciples and for the church.
The prayer contains five petitions,
one for himself and four for his
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A Priestly Prayer
This is a high priestly prayer in which Jesus
intercedes for us as our High Priest before his
Father's throne. Melanchthon, Martin Luther's
friend wrote,
"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 to God Himself."
John Knox, the Scottish Reformer had this prayer
read to him every day during his final illness.
This prayer should be to us what the burning bush
was to Moses, for in it we hear God speaking.
We should put off our shoes and bow humbly for
here we are treading hallowed ground.
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The First Petition
Jesus first petition found in v1 and v5 asks the Father to "glorify" him so he in
turn would "glorify" the Father. How are we to understand the word "glory"?
We are told four apparently conflicting things about Jesus’ glory.
1. Jesus possessed a certain glory with God before the incarnation.
2. This glory was God's glory.
3. Jesus did not possess this glory during the years of his incarnation. He now
prays that this original glory might be restored to him.
4. There is a sense in which he did possess this glory while on earth. He
revealed it to others by finishing the work God had given him to do.
cf John 2:11, where we are told that by changing water into wine Jesus
"revealed his glory".
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The First Petition
How can the Lord have possessed God's glory, renounce it, and yet continue to
possess it even in the period of the renunciation? In order to try to clarify our
understanding we begin by asking how the idea of "glory" was used in ancient
Greek and Hebrew literature.
In the Greek language the word for ‘glory’ is ‘doxa’. It meant an "opinion" or,
more precisely, "what one thinks."
This meaning is preserved in our English words "orthodox,"
and "paradox," which mean, roughly, "a straight (or right)
opinion," and "a contrary (or conflicting) opinion.”
In time it came to mean, "that which merits a good opinion."
And was translated as, "praise," "honour," "good standing,"
"reputation," or "renown."
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The First Petition
When used of a king or of God, it obviously meant the ultimate in praise or
renown, e.g. "Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD
mighty in battle… The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory" Ps. 24v8, 10.
The glory of God was obviously linked to his attributes, for he could be called
the King of glory because he was perfect in all his attributes - love, truth,
holiness, grace, power, knowledge, immutability, etc. and was therefore truly
glorious. God's glory consists of his intrinsic worth, or character. Thus, all that
can be properly known of God is an expression of his glory.
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The First Petition
At this point we can understand one use of the word 'glory' in Christ's petition,
for when he says, “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work
you gave me to do” v4, he is saying that, by his ministry, he had revealed the
essential characteristics of the Father.
When the disciples beheld his glory, as in 2v11,
they actually beheld his character, which was
the character of God. It is one way of saying
that, if we have seen Jesus, we have seen
the Father.
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Shekinah Glory
However, this only explains one use of the
word. It explains the glory that Jesus
retained during the years of his earthly
ministry. But what of the glory which he had
with the Father before the incarnation,
which he renounced and which he prayed
might be restored?
If this glory refers to God's essential
character, it would mean that Jesus was less
than God during the days of his ministry,
and this is not right. What then does the
word mean in these more exalted
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Shekinah Glory
The answer to this question is found in the
meaning of the Hebrew origin for glory. In Jewish
thought any outward manifestation of God's
presence was believed to involve a display of
light, so brilliant that no man could approach it.
"O LORD my God, you are very great; you are
clothed with splendour and majesty. He wraps
himself in light as with a garment" Ps. 104v1-2.
Think too of Moses’ face that glowed with
transferred light after his time with God on
Mount Sinai - the people asked that he cover his
face with a veil that they might be shielded from
its radiance Ex. 34v29-35.
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Shekinah Glory
Light was also associated with the cloud of glory that overshadowed the
wilderness tabernacle during the years of Israel's wandering and which later
filled Solomon's great temple in Jerusalem.
Does all of this help us to understand the use of
the word "glory" in Christ's first petition? Before
his incarnation Jesus had possessed the glory of
God in both these senses. He possessed the
fullness of God's attributes and character in the
inward sense; he also possessed the fullness of
God's outward, visible glory. In the Incarnation
Jesus laid aside the second of these, had he not
done so we would not have been able to approach
him. Nevertheless, he retained God's glory in the
first sense and indeed disclosed it to his disciples.
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Shekinah Glory
For the sake of completeness we must point out the
significance of what took place on the Mount of
Transfiguration when Jesus was transfigured before
Peter, James and John.
An event that out of all four gospel writers only John
does not include in his gospel - it is thought he didn’t
want it to distract from what he saw to be the climax
of the revelation of Jesus’ glory - the cross.
But on the Mount of Transfiguration Jesus’ glory,
which had been veiled from his incarnation, broke
through. So intense was that light that the gospel
writers scramble to find suitable language to
describe it. cf. Matt 17v1-13, Mk 9v2-13, Lk.9v28-36
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Shekinah Glory
Then, at the end of his earthly ministry, and on the
verge of his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection,
Jesus prays that he might again enter into this visible
glory in the presence of his Father, having finished
the work which the Father had given him to do.
Now that Jesus has been exalted he has been given
that glory. Stephen saw it at the time of his
martyrdom; so also did John the author of the Book
of Revelation, so too did Saul, who was blinded by it.
This fact should encourage believers, for it points to
the kingly rule of Christ who, from his seat at the
Father's right hand, now rules to establish his church
and to ensure the welfare of his people. Cf Acts 9v4
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Christ Our Glory
Consider too that believers shall share in Christ's glory. In a sense, we share in
it now, for, to the degree that we embody Christ's character, we possess his
glory in the first of its two important senses. This is the significance of Jesus’
words in v10, “I am glorified in them.” And again, “I have given them the glory
that you gave me” v22. Further, we shall also see Christ's visible, outward glory
one day. Jesus goes on to pray concerning us and of that glory in v24 “Father, I
want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory”.
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Christ Our Glory
What conclusions can we draw from this
instruction? If we shall one day behold Christ's
glory and if we are to be filled with it now, let us
strive to glorify Him and display his glory. Pray
that God will do that in us, for it is obviously not
something of which we in ourselves are capable.
May we shine as Stephen shone before his
accusers, “his face was like the face of an angel.”
Acts 6v15. And this first martyr was given a
foretaste of what awaited him, “Stephen…
looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God
and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”
Acts 7v55
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Christ Our Glory
But notice, when Jesus prayed that he might be glorified and that God would
therefore be glorified in him; he rested his petition on a number of points.
1. First, that “the hour had come” v1,
meaning that the hour of his great work
was at hand, the hour of his crucifixion
and subsequent resurrection.
2. To say that the hour had come meant
that Jesus had remained within the will
of the Father throughout his life, and
that this had led him to his final goal,
his final hour, and he intended to
continue on the path to the cross until
God’s will was done.
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Christ Our Glory
2. Secondly, he prays for his glorification because
it would result in the glorification of the Father
v1. In other words, the prayer was not selfish
but merely that which every intelligence in the
universe should desire.
3. Thirdly, he says that God the Father had
already given him authority to grant eternal
life to each one who had been given to him v2.
His glorification followed naturally upon this.
4. Fourthly, Jesus argues that by virtue of his
death he is the only way to life v3. His
glorification would therefore mean the
salvation of his people.
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Jesus speaks of his ‘finished work’ in v4. Notice the steps in this divine pattern:
first self-denial, obedience, and suffering, after which the glory follows.
In one sense this should be our pattern also.
We must seek to glorify Christ while we live
by displaying his character in our lives. This
will not happen in a remote or mystical way.
It will happen only as, by the grace of God,
we walk in his will - as he directs, as we carry
out whatever responsibility he has entrusted
to us, as we point to Jesus as the only way of
salvation, as we finish our work, and as we
seek after the glory of God in its fullness,
rather than our own.
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