The Glory of God in Jesus Christ
What do you think God the Son would say to God the Father during the night before He would lay down His life as atonement for the sin of the world?
Imagine for a moment with me what the divine communication between God the Father and God the Son must be like. I wonder what deep conversations must take place between the members of the Trinity. The communiqué between the Godhead must be too profound and unfathomable for us to comprehend. The LORD said to Isaiah, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways . . . For as the heavens are higher than the earth so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (55:8-9).
Yet, in the recorded prayer of Jesus in John chapter seventeen we are let in on this deep penetrating talk going on in the Godhead. It is exalted, holy and sublime. It is God speaking to God. This prayer is filled with simple sentences that communicate profound thought for Himself (vv. 1-5), His disciples who are with Him (vv. 6-19) and for you and me (vv. 20-26).
Jesus then is the burning bush of the New Testament on the most holy ground in New Testament soil.
This is a “warm and hearty prayer” from the depths of Jesus’ heart. It is “so honest, so simple; it is so deep, so rich, so wide, no one can fathom it,” wrote Luther.
The petition in verse one is so simple, yet so profound in its simplicity. “Father . . . glorify Thy Son, that the Son may glorify Thee. . . . And now, glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I ever had with Thee before the world was” (John 17:1, 5).
Jesus speaks of His pre-incarnate glory in eternity past before He became flesh. Jesus possessed and manifested the same glory with God before He became flesh. The very essence of deity that Jesus possessed cannot be changed. “He existed in the form of God.” He was equal with God (Phil. 2:6). Jesus was and is essentially and unalterably God. That fact did not change when He took on in addition the “form of a bondservant, being made in the likeness of men” (v. 7).
The apostle Paul in Philippians 2:7 writes of the self-emptying of the outward visible manifestations of Jesus’ visible glory while in His flesh. Paul is careful to stress that Jesus did not empty Himself of His divine nature, or His essential attributes of deity. It was a self-limiting of His outward visible glory and not His deity. He limited only the manifestation of His glory that He demonstrated in heaven. He is God of very God. The self-emptying was the taking on of the form, or essential characteristics of a servant, and humbling “Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even the death on a cross” (v. 8). He looked like any other household servant of that day. He was fully human—fully God.
Jesus Christ retained all the essential attributes, unchangeable and unchanging essential nature of God. The essential nature of Jesus is the same as the essential nature of God. The essential form never alters and never changes. He is God.
Since that is true about Jesus then what does He mean when He says to the Father, “And now, glorify Thou Me with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I had with Thee, before the world was” (Jn. 17:5)? Is Jesus praying for the restoration of His essential attributes of deity? No, of course, not, that is impossible because His deity never changed. This glory was God’s glory. However, Jesus did not manifest this gory during the days of His incarnation. He hid it behind the veil of His flesh. Jesus is going to glorify the Father in His outward visible glory as He did in eternity past. His present glory in heaven is even greater than in the past because He was obedient to the Father unto death. “Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name” (Phil. 2:9). Every knee will bow to the name of Jesus, and every person will “confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (vv. 10-11). It is obvious that this glory is the ultimate in praise, honor and glory renown that can ever be given. It is of His intrinsic worth or character. All that can be properly known of Yahweh, Jehovah or LORD is the expression of His glory.
Who is the King of glory?
The LORD strong and mighty,
The LORD mighty in battle . . .
Who is this King of glory?
The LORD of hosts,
He is the King of glory (Psalm 24:8, 10).
When we have seen Jesus, we have seen the Father.
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Wil is a graduate of William Carey University, B. A.; New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Th. M.; and Azusa Pacific University, M. A. He has pastored in Panama, Ecuador and the U. S, and served for over 20 years as missionary in Ecuador and Honduras. He had a daily expository Bible teaching ministry head in over 100 countries from 1972-2005. He continues to seek opportunities to be personally involved in world missions. Wil and his wife Ann have three grown daughters. He currently serves as a Baptist pastor and teaches seminary extension courses in Ecuador.
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