Just hours before Jesus was arrested, tried, and crucified, he spent time teaching and ministering to his disciples in the upper room and as he walked with them en route to the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:17-36a; Mk 14:12-32a; Lk. 22:7-38; John 13-16). During this time, he washed his disciple’s feet, he predicted that he would have a betrayer and a denier, and he explained to them that he alone was the way, the truth, and the life. He also informed them of the coming and work of the Holy Spirit and that he, the Son of Man, is the vine and they are the branches and that only through him could they and his followers produce spiritual fruit. Furthermore, Jesus warned them that the world would hate them and other Christians, but that he had overcome the world. It is then according to John 17 that Jesus stopped walking and conversing with his disciples and looked to heaven and prayed.
Jesus’ prayer falls neatly into three divisions: he first prayed for himself (vv. 1-5); he then prayed for his disciples (vv. 6-19); and last he prayed for all believers (vv. 20-26). The first part of the prayer (vv. 1-5) is: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” In these verses of prayer Jesus sums up his mission as he speaks of his divine person, his eternal work, and his mission-completing ascension.
Jesus alludes to his deity in asking the Father to glorify him in John 17:1. Glory in the Bible is a characteristic of God’s person whereby he exhibits His splendor, magnificence, and greatness. Glory is part of the very es- sence of God. Jesus, being the eternal Son of God and the second person of the Trinity, possessed glory intrinsically, but in John 17:1 he asks the Father to manifest that glory through his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection from the dead.
We see Jesus’ eternal work in John 17:2-4 where Jesus states that the Father has granted him authority to give eternal life, i.e. not merely a quantity of life but a quality of life in knowing the Father and the Son experientially, to those given him by the Father. Jesus is so confident that he will accomplish his mission that he can say in John 17:4 that his work is already completed, even though he had yet to go to the cross and rise from the dead.
In his last petition for himself in John 17:5, Jesus asks the Father to glorify him in the Father’s presence in the realm of glory Jesus knew in Heaven before his incarnation and coming to Earth. With Jesus’ ascension back to Heaven, his mission is completed, the way of salvation through faith in Christ is established, and the means to eternal life is available to all who will express repentant faith & trust in Jesus Christ.
John 17:1-5 not only sums up the mission of Jesus, but in so doing also reveals to us in microcosm what Easter is all about.
Because Jesus is uniquely the God-Man, being completely human as the virgin-born Son of Man, and perfect deity as the eternal Son of God, he alone is worthy of worship as our resurrected Savior. Because Jesus died as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world, he removed the veil separating man from God, making knowing God and experiencing eternal life now and beyond the grave wonderful and practical realities. Because Jesus arose from the dead and ascended into glory, completing his divine mission, we can be confident as Christians that we too will someday rise from the dead after completing our mission of knowing God and making Him known and enter the glories of heaven and into the presence of our Holy Triune God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
What wonderful truth! What a glorious reality! What a perfect Savior! He is risen! Praise God!
Your friend and pastor. Bruce