By Dr. Robert E. Picirilli
John 17 is one of the several passages that may be called “The Lord’s Prayer.” The Gospels mention 25 such instances. However, in John 17 we find the only lengthy prayer recorded. We sometimes call it Jesus’ high priestly prayer. It was prayed on the eve of His crucifixion somewhere between the upper room and the Garden of Gethsemane. Apparently, it was prayed aloud in the hearing of His disciples.
During His ministry, Jesus often said His “hour” had not yet come. But in verse 1 the prayer begins, “Father, the hour is come.” When you read the words of this prayer, read them in the context of the approaching crucifixion. The prayer can be divided into three main parts. In this article we will look at the first part.
In the first five verses of John 17, the prayer asks for the glory of the Son. The central petition of this section is “Glorify your son, that the Son may glorify You” (v. 1). Notice the repeating of this relationship in reverse order: “l glorified You upon the earth . . . and now glorify me” (vv. 4, 5). The glorification of the Lord Jesus and the glorification of the Father go hand in hand. These verses show how the two give one another glory.
- God the Father glorified Jesus by giving Him “power over all flesh” (v. 2).
God had already determined to give this to Him. However, the transaction was not finished until Jesus’ death and resurrection. Only when the transaction was finalized could He say: “All authorityisgiven to me in heaven and earth” (Matthew 28:18).
Verse 5 says that the glorification of the Son includes returning Him to the honored position He had with the Father before the world existed. This position was literally “at the Father’s side.” That is the position of authority the Father willed to give Him at the completion of His work. It culminated in the resurrection and ascension.
- Jesus glorified His Father by giving eternal life to those who choose belief.
And how did He accomplish this? Verse 4 answers that question: “I glorified You in finishing the work which You have given me to do.” That “work” was completed in Jesus’ atoning death and bodily resurrection. Even as Jesus prayed, the work was as good as if already completed. Jesus clearly envisioned the completion and committed to it. He resolved to finish the work that would deliver to us the choice of eternal life with God.
Right in the middle of the verses we have looked at is verse 3. Here we learn the true definition of “eternal life“: Personal knowledge of the Father and the Son. Eternal life, then, is not a chronological duration so much as a relationship. Everything Jesus did was to make it possible for us to know the only true God. If we know the Son, we can know the Father and live with Him forever.
We too can glorify God in at least two ways:
1. By continuing in His work. The work we engage in is different, but like Jesus we can honor the Father by working for Him. The way to glorify God is to obey and toil for His cause.
2. By valuing Him above all else. Jesus obviously valued His Father. He put His Father above all else. We too ought to count God as the most important thing for ourselves and for others.