My last post on this topic started with asking why Paul made such a big deal of Christian Unity. It's because Jesus did. Jesus' desire for unity is displayed in bold relief in John 17 but before we get there let's explore His primary passion revealed in that chapter.
I had a Bible teacher that taught me to “look for the action words” in Scripture. Verbs are often the key to understanding the point of the passage. They certainly mark out the requests Jesus is making in this prayer. Find the action words and you find the focal points of Christ’s prayer.
The first action word is just six words into the prayer, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son…” The second action word is the same in vs. 5, “Now, Father, glorify Me…” If you look toward the end of the prayer you’ll see that He also ends with this request. The prayer is bracketed with Jesus’ desire for His glory and His Father’s glory. The entire prayer is permeated with the Savior’s excitement over His restored and shared glory.
I don’t think we have any way to comprehend the depths of Christ’s desire for the restoration of the glory He shared with His Father before the world was. We can read it but we may never know it. We have to realize that Jesus voluntarily submitted Himself to a veiled glory. Veiled with human flesh like that He designed in concert with the Father before the world began. He left the adoration of saints and angels in the heavenly realms to wear the taunts and abuse of earth-bound rebels who despised Him. How can we understand the pain of this rejection and the stifled anticipation of a return to His rightful exaltation?
Think about it: He shared GLORY with the Father! Glory we cannot describe except to repeat that “our God is a consuming fire.” Glory that must be invisible lest we see it and perish. Glory that forcibly prostrated the nation of Israel when it descended on the temple. Glory that resounds with goodness and eternal lovingkindness. (2 Chron. 7:1-3) Shared glory that binds the Son and the Father and the Spirit. Glory inexpressible with human tongue, barely explained by the tongues of angels, reserved for the language of God Himself to express in the holy of holies. How Jesus craves it, how He deserves it, how He expects it, and how He wishes to share it! All of this and more are expressed in His pleadings. We should linger here – we should write volumes – we should fill our souls with Christ’s glory – sadly, we have to move on. Fortunately, our subject does not wander far from the glory of God. In fact, no worthy subject does. If we could just visit this high thought, this great theme more often in our churches and private meditations we might find ourselves humble enough to seek that which He prays for next.
Tracking through the prayer we read in verses 6-10 and 12 Christ’s claim to glory. He manifested the Father’s name to the Father’s own, He told them everything, He caused them to believe by sharing perfect words through a perfect life. He kept them, guarded them, and lost none save the one who determined not to believe. Now He has to part with them. What does He want for them? What does a perfect heart long for in respect to those He loves? Look for the action words.
Glory is the first request. The second great request coming in a later post...