2019 08 25 AM The Glory of Christ John 17 1:5 by Andre Holtslag

Congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ,

Apparently, economic recession is just around the corner.  There is also a measles epidemic, a growing prison population, and a climate emergency.  And to top it all off, since we here last Sunday, we are all one week closer to death. 

And I expect you are thinking, Phew!  That’s a pretty gloomy intro!  Fair point.  During the week I saw a rainbow over the kindy!  Beautiful!  Maybe you saw something beautiful this week or experienced kindness or happy family times or a good day at work or school…  But it is all so short lived.  Rainbows disappear.  A family outing can be followed by an argument on the way home.  Good day at work can be followed by a bad day at work.  And I think we all know that if climate change were fixed tomorrow, humanity would just find something else to be terrified about.

So you have to wonder: Is this it?  Is there anything that can truly uplift and inspire?  Is there anything lastingly beautiful and permanently encouraging?

Now, I know that there are some Christians out there J  And I am sure you are thinking, Yes, Jesus truly uplifts and inspires!  And you are absolutely right!  Well done!  Your catechism classes have been helpful!  But let me ask you this: How did that look in your life this past week?  How Christian was your week?  Would you be prepared to come up here and say, Imitate me.  Live like I live for I am living the life of victory!  Or has your week been a kind of two steps forward three steps back sort of week?  A mixture of halting obedience and regretful sin?

So is there a vision of the Lord Jesus that can really influence how we live and enhance our expectation of heaven? 

Well, the answer to these questions is, Yes!  Absolutely!  What we will talk about today is the only thing that can truly inspire, and give real meaning and purpose and lasting joy!  And this is because what we have in this passage is an invitation to enter into the glory of Christ.  And it is only the glory of Christ that can fuel the Christian life.  And working on the assumption that there are a few more petrol heads than just me here today, I am not just talking about regular 91, I am talking about methanol with nitrous!

We began our consideration of ch. 17 last Sunday.  We called this the ‘real’ Lord’s prayer because this is the Lord Jesus praying.  And we saw that it is known as the     High Priestly prayer because Jesus it prayed it just before He offered Himself as the sacrifice for our sins. 

Now, in church language, the things we ask for in prayer are called ‘petitions.’  And this prayer has two main petitions – in vv1-5 Jesus asks for something for Himself, and then in vv6-26 He asks for things for believers.  And our focus today will be the first petition – what Jesus asked for concerning Himself.  And as you can see in v1, what He asks for is that the Father would glorify Him.

So the first petition of the Lord’s prayer is about the glory of Christ.  And the two major parts of the sermon will be our consideration of the petition itself, and then the implications of the petition that Jesus speaks about in a few verses in this prayer. 

  1. So we begin with our consideration of the Petition
  1. And you will see from v1 that before Jesus asks to be glorified, He first gives the reason for His petition – He says, “Father, the hour has come…”  
    1. We saw last week that before the creation of the world, the Father decided to present a love gift to the Son.  And that love gift would be a people to be with the Son as His eternal Bride in heaven.  And the way that this would come about is the story of human history.  The Triune God would create the earth and fill it with humanity.  Humanity would fall into sin and from the mass of fallen humanity some would be chosen to experience the grace of forgiveness.  But because God cannot just overlook sin, the Son’s role in this salvation story required Him to become like them and live the perfectly holy life, and then go the cross and endure God’s eternal wrath for their sin.  For then God’s chosen ones could receive from Him, by faith, the grace of forgiveness and Christ’s perfection.
    1. So the cross always stood at the centre of God’s plan of salvation.  And now the hour of the cross had come.  And make no mistake, you and I have many appointments every day and the hour of those appointments come and we do what we planned to do and then we move on to the next thing.  But this appointment, this date with destiny, was like no other appointment that has been or ever will be.  Indeed, so atrocious and agonizing was what was about to happen to Jesus that very shortly, according to the other Gospels, He would pray in the garden of Gethsemane and ask the Father if there be any other way for Him to accomplish our salvation than the way of the cross.  And as He prayed, the Bible tells us, His sweat was “as drops of blood.”
    1. Don’t ever think that it was easy for Jesus to do what He did on the cross because He was God.  In fact, the opposite is true.  For as God, He was about to be forsaken by His Father.  But He was also truly human.  And the realization of what He was about to endure was agonizingly daunting. 
    1. So the reason for this petition of the Lord Jesus is that the hour of the cross had come.  He needed the help of His Father in heaven.  He could not face this moment without the help of His Father in heaven.
    1. And surely, brothers and sisters, if the Lord Jesus sought the help of His Father when He faced this moment, then shouldn’t we do the same when we face hardship?  I am sure you have heard this said before but when life knocks you to your knees, you are in the perfect position for prayer!  Let us be like Christ and continually seek our Father’s help through prayer.
    1. But that brings us to the petition itself, which we see in the rest of vv1-5, “Father … glorify your Son.”
      1. So what does being glorified mean?  What was Jesus asking for from the Father?  Well, to glorify means ‘to cause the true dignity and worth of a person to be known so that they are praised and celebrated and crowned with honour.’ 
        1. At the end of every academic year, schools have a prize-giving.  And if you are in the audience, you cannot tell just by looking at the students which of them has won a prize because they all look the same.  So at the start of the evening their achievements are hidden.  But as the evening progresses and the teachers read out the names of those students that have excelled at science or Scripture or sports, etc, then the effort and the attitude of the prize-winning students is made known to you, and you clap and praise them.  So as the teachers reveal their efforts and you clap, those students are, in a sense, being glorified.  
        1. So what Jesus was asking for was that the Father would reveal His true dignity and value so that He could receive the praise and honour that He was worthy of.  
  • So now we need to think about the why of this petition; why was Jesus asking to be glorified?Well, if you look at v5, you will see that the Lord Jesus had at one time already enjoyed and possessed glory.  He said, “Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.”  So before creation, when He was in heaven, the Lord Jesus ruled and reigned as the Second Person of the Trinity.  He received the praise of the angels.  Who He was was obvious and plain for all to see.  But if He had come to earth as He was then, no one would have been able to look at Him.  We know this, for example, because of what we read in Isaiah 6.  There we are told that Isaiah saw the Lord.  And whenever you read about people seeing the Lord in the OT, the One they are seeing is Jesus, the Second person of the Trinity, because the Bible is clear that no one has seen the Father.  And when Isaiah saw the Lord Jesus, He said, “Wow is me!  For I am lost! …  For mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts!”  Isaiah expected to die just because He had glimpsed the Second person of the Trinity, in heaven, in His glory.  And you boys and girls might remember that at one time Moses went up Mt Sinai to meet with the Lord.  And again, the Lord was the Second person of the Trinity – Jesus.  And we are told in Exodus 33 that Moses was not allowed to see the Lord’s face; if he did, he would die.  So we are told that when the glory of the Lord passed by Moses, the Lord put Moses in a cleft in the rock and covered Moses with His hand until He had passed by.  He then took away His hand and allowed Moses to see His back.  Well, when Moses came down from the mountain, we read that he did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.  Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.”  Such was the glory of the Second person of the Trinity, that even a small glimpse of His back from a distance left Moses with a type of glory sunburn!  And do you remember what Moses did?  He put a veil over his face to cover the brightness of the reflection of God’s glory.  So if Jesus ever came to earth as He was – as glorious God – no one would have been able to look at Him.  Now, the OT prepares us for how this reality would be dealt with, because in all of His appearances on earth that we read about in the OT, the Second person of the Trinity appears as a man or a burning bush or an angel.  He always ‘hid’ or ‘put a veil’ over His godly glory so that humans could see Him and talk to Him.  And that is exactly what the Lord Jesus did when He came to earth in Bethlehem as a human baby.  Philippians 2:6-8 speaks about this when it tell us that Jesus was in the form of God in heaven, but He chose to give that up by making“Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”  So the Lord Jesus ‘hid’ His divine gloriousness inside a human body.     This analogy is far from perfect but in case it helps any of you understand what we are taking about here think of Superman and Clark Kent or Catwoman and Selina Kyle.  When they are Clark Kent or Selina Kyle, no one sees Superman or Catwoman.  And similarly, when the Second person of the Trinity was on earth as Jesus, what people saw with their eyes was an ordinary human being.  Now, having said that, we need to note that even though it was hidden from view, Jesus was still all glorious God.  That is the whole point of John’s Gospel!  That is why he began His Gospel by telling us that this man Jesus is eternal God; He was with God “in the beginning.”  And there were glimpses of Jesus’ glory during His earthly life.  There were moments when His glory shone out.  Do you know what I am referring to?  When He performed His miracles.  The first 12 chapters of the Gospel tell us about the seven great miracle signs of Jesus.  What was the first miracle?  He turned water into wine.  And at the end of that account we read, “This, the first of His signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested His glory.”  So every miracle – water into wine, walking on water, feeding five thousand, healing the sick, raising the dead – all these were glimpses of glorious ‘Godness’ shining out from His humanity.But all of those miracles have been done.  And we have seen that they were not enough to convince people that Jesus was the Promised Messiah.  Even His disciples, the end of ch. 16 tells us, will soon scatter and leave Him alone.  So His divine nature and His miracles alone were not enough to reveal His true worth and dignity.  There is more that He had to do.  And that is what vv2-4 are all about.  In v2 He says that He came “to give eternal life to all whom [the Father] had given Him.”  And when He says in v4 that He accomplished the work that the Father had given Him to do, that includes His miracles but it is especially about the cross and the empty tomb.  At the beginning of the sermon we spoke about the Son’s role in the plan of salvation – He had to come and die on the cross and rise again so that the sins of His people could be forgiven and they could receive eternal life.Do you see?  It is His death and resurrection that reveal His worth and dignity; that make Him worthy of worship and honour.  Romans 10:9 says this about Jesus: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”  It is the cross and the empty tomb that reveal the glory of Christ!And it was seeing the risen Jesus that convinced the disciples that He was the Son of God and their only hope for eternal life.  When John wrote in 1:14, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father,” that confession of faith certainly included the miracles of Jesus but it was especially about His death and resurrection.How about you?  You cannot see the miracles of Jesus; you can only read about them.  And you cannot see the risen Jesus; you can only read about Him or it preached.  What is your response to the glory of Christ?  Do you see His worth and His dignity?  Do you believe that He is the Son of God who came to earth to die for the forgiveness of your sins?  Believe – know, persuaded, convinced, assured that what He did on the cross, He did for you!
  1. The petition of the Lord Jesus was that the Father would help Him to do what he had come to do, which was to endure the cross and to rise from the dead.  For then He could return to heaven and be glorified.  And His prayer was answered!  Ephesians 1:20 says that the Father raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion.  His glory is not hidden anymore!   He receives the worship of angels and human beings.  So now we must briefly consider three implications of this petition as they are spelled out in this prayer.
  1. Notice verse 3 first of all: “And this is eternal life, that they may know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” 
    1. In a moment, we will see from v24 that the petition of the Lord Jesus has a future aspect to it, but here we see that eternal life begins now.  What Jesus is asking the Father for here is something we can have now.  So you may not be able to see the Father or the Son now, but you can know them now! 
      1. In John 14:23, Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”  If you love Jesus, the Father and the Son come to you and make their home in you.  Isn’t that incredible? 
      1. But maybe you are wondering, how can I know if the Father and the Son have made their home in me?  Well, 1 John explores this.  It tells us that those who know the Lord love to obey His commandments and they love their brothers and sisters in Christ and they love the truth about who Jesus is and what He came to do on the cross. 
      1. But just in case we misunderstand that to mean that it is all about what we do, listen to 1 John 4:13: “By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.”  You see, it is the Holy Spirit who draws us to the Word and causes us to love the word and to love the One who the word is all about and to want to obey the word because the Father has loved us in Christ.
      1. Let me illustrate it this way: I love Youtube Barnfinds.  A car that has been several years in a barn.  Will it start?  You can pour petrol into that motor as much as you like, but it will not start unless there is a spark!  And it is the same with preaching about the Lord Jesus Christ.  For the word to ignite love in a person’s heart you need the spark of the Holy Spirit.  But when the Holy Spirit is present in a person and they hear the preaching of Christ, they want to confess their sins, they want to sing and praise the Father and the Son, they want to obey what they have heard, they want to tell others about life with Jesus as their Saviour. 
      1. Do you know what I am talking about?  Is that how it is with you and preaching?  Does it move you and warn you and challenge you and encourage and compel you and inspire you and uplift you?  Does it fill you with love for all that your Father has done for you in Christ?  If it doesn’t, it is either because Christ is not being preached, or it is that you do not yet “know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.”  And if it is the latter, then today is the day of salvation.  Believe!
  • But not only can we know God now, by faith, one day we will see Him with our eyes!  In verse 24 Jesus prayed, – “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”Here Jesus is praying for the day when we are in heaven and we get to see Him and spend eternity with Him.  1 John 3:2 says, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we will be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is.”Isn’t that an amazing truth to ponder?  One day, we shall see the glorified Jesus!  And consider this, He still has His human nature!  Everything that you are now, as a human being, apart from sin, is already in heaven in the person of the Lord Jesus.  The Heidelberg Catechism describes one benefit of Christ’s ascension to heaven as being that “we have our own flesh in heaven, a guarantee that Christ our head will take us, His members, to Himself in heaven.”    I said at the beginning of the sermon that we are all one week closer to death.  And I don’t want to minimize the awfulness of dying, but if we truly believe that one day we will be with Jesus in heaven, then when someone talks about death, we can say, So what?!  We can join the Apostle Paul who said, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”  And when we struggle with physical or mental illness, because of our weak and frail human bodies, we can say, So what?!  My body will one day be a glorified body in heaven because that is where the glorified body of My Saviour is today!
  • So now we can finish with this question: Having heard all that has een said about the glory of Christ, and remembering our earlier reading from 2 Samuel 6, are you a David or a Michal
    • You see, the ark was the symbol of God’s glorious presence among His people and David was God’s anointed king.  But as Michal saw David dancing in front of the ark, all she could see was her half-naked husband making a fool of himself.  Her problem, was unbelief.  She just did not believe in the glory of God that the ark and King David represented.
    • And when she challenged David about what he was doing, He replied, “I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in your eyes.”  And with these words he was prophetically pointing forward to Jesus who was crucified, naked, on a cross.  What an abased and contemptible sight He was.  And many people hear the message of the cross and it just sounds ridiculous and pitiful; they refuse to see the glory of the Saviour at work.  
    • Could this be you?  Are you like Michal?  I hope not.  You are a sinner in desperate need of salvation.  Look around at the misery and brokenness of this world.  You know that you will die one day.  You need Christ!  He is God with us!  He is salvation.  He is your only hope for eternal life in the joy of heaven.  Don’t put Him off one more day.  Come to Him today in repentance and faith.
    • But if you are a David, meaning you have heard what has been said today and your heart is filled with the love of Christ, then listen to v10, where Jesus said, “All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.” 
      • Is Christ being glorified in you?  In chapter 15:8, Jesus said, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”  Are you bearing much fruit?  Are you a hearer of the word and a doer of the word
      • I don’t know if Dr Beeke shared this story with you when he preached but I heard him at one of the conferences speak about a man who had an unbelieving wife.  He would go to church and she would stay home.  Well, one day he was home earlier than usual and she was surprised!  She said, is the sermon done already?  He said, No, it has been spoken but it has not yet been done. 
      • B&S, YP, and B&G, glorify Christ with your thankful obedience.  Amen.