Meditating on Great Themes in John: 25. The Glory of Jesus
John 14:13,14 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
Of the four Gospels, John has a unique perspective that has been formed by many years of reflecting on the wonder of those three marvellous years with Jesus and coming to see and pick up on things the others had not seen in those earlier days. The word ‘glory’ appears 19 times in this gospel. Add nine times the use of ‘glorify’ and we begin to see something significant. It will reach its climax in what we tend to call Jesus’ high priestly prayer of John 17 but it appears as we’ve noted many times earlier on.
We see it first in John’s prologue: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (Jn 1:14) Glory here simply means splendour, thus “We have seen his splendour, the splendour of the one and only unique Son of God”. John reveals Jesus as one who stands out uniquely in this world.
It was after the miracle of water into wine that John commented, “the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.” (Jn 2:11) i.e. through this miracle he started to reveal the wonder of who he was.
In an argument in Jerusalem, Jesus said, “I honour my Father and you dishonour me. I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge.” (Jn 8:49,50) The Father will be honoured when Jesus is glorified and He wants that to happen. That happened in the case of Lazarus being raised from the dead where, before they went to Bethany, Jesus had said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” (Jn 11:4) There would be those who would see this and hear of this and they would praise God because of it. They would also highly esteem Jesus and it was that which brought about the events of Palm Sunday.
In that last week in Jerusalem John explains, “Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. This was to fulfil the word of Isaiah the prophet,” (Jn 12:37,38) and goes on to quote Isaiah and then comments, “Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.” (Jn 12:41) i.e. Isaiah foresaw the day of Jesus and his splendour being revealed and yet not being realised by so many.
Again and again it is clear that Jesus’ intention was that the Father would be glorified, for example: “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father,” (Jn 14:13) and “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (Jn 15:8) You remember we have said previously that Israel’s calling was to reveal the Father so that He will be glorified and people will turn to him. Also with Jesus’ ministry and with us. Thus in his life and ministry, Jesus’ primary task was to reveal the Father and His glory.
In the prayer of John 17 we first hear, “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” (Jn 17:4,5) See the two elements in this: first, the past ministry on earth of Jesus which has glorified the Father and directed many to Him and, second, the request to be returned to heaven to receive the glory again that he had had before he left heaven. This accords with the apostle Paul’s words about Jesus: “Christ Jesus, Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” (Phil 2:6,7)
Do you remember Jesus words about being the bread of life who had come down from heaven. John, uniquely among the gospels, reveals Jesus as the Son who has come down from heaven, having laid aside all his majesty, all his glory, to live in a single human body with no splendour except that which was revealed through his works.
A few sentences on in the prayer, he prays, “I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them.” (Jn 17:9,10) i.e. all these followers now bring glory to the Father. That was the followers he already had, but he also prays for future believers as well: “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (Jn 17:20-23) Our unity should bring glory to the Father. How tragic that the Church is so divided. Nevertheless, it should be the life of Jesus in us that still points the world to the Father. That is the intent of the Godhead.
He concludes, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” (Jn 17:24) His final desire is that we, his followers, will be with him in heaven so that we may see what he is really like. Be ready to have your mind blown away!
This is the culmination of these studies. We said earlier on that there were two big overriding themes – the person and identity of Jesus and the transforming power of his ministry. That is what it is all about and that so that men and women will be drawn to the Father through him and through his ministry – expressed today through us his followers and thus both he and his Father will be glorified, to have something of the spendour that they have in reality in heaven, revealed through their works through us, here on earth.
No wonder John wrote in the concluding chapters, “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (Jn 20:30,31) And believing, we may glorify Him while we can in these years we have on earth, until one day we come face to face with Him in heaven and behold the reality of the wonder of the Father and the Son. There we will have a new spiritual body that will be able to see this wonder and not be destroyed. There we will see him as He truly is, and we will worship. Hallelujah!