A man was nearing the end of a long and eventful week. He was tired but there was so much more to be done. His week had started with such joy and celebration. Singing had filled the air around him. The man and his closest friends had gathered for dinner. As they ate dinner that evening, the man told his friends that he was going to die – and very soon. His friends were in shock. The man’s friends wondered why he would say that he was going to die and how did he know?
The man continued and said, “God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.” (John 13:32) The man of course was Jesus Christ. The friends he surrounded himself with were Eleven of his Twelve disciples, the Twelfth disciple, Judas, had left to betray Jesus. The meal they shared was the Passover Seder. It was meant to be a time of joy and celebration, retelling the story of God delivering his people from slavery in Egypt. The story retold during the meal hinted at the hope that God would send the Messiah. It was the Messiah that was addressing this small group. Jesus knew within the next few hours he would be arrested, tried, sentenced, crucified, he would die, and he would be buried. The words he spoke to his disciples would be critical to survival of their faith in the face of what by all appearances would be a defeat of everything Jesus had done. The words that Jesus spoke are words that we need to hear in this world that is so much opposed to the message of the gospel.
Jesus’ words to his disciples, his friends, were difficult to hear. Jesus had shared with them his inner most thoughts about what lay ahead for him. Jesus said, “27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!” (John 12:27-28). Jesus was troubled by the pending cruelty of the cross. Jesus was distressed that Judas would betray him, that Peter would deny him, and all other disciples would desert him at the moment of his arrest. Despite all that disappointment and pain, Jesus asked a question that may be on the minds of his disciples, “Shall I pray to God to spare me all of that agony?” Jesus said he would not do so. Jesus made it clear that he came to earth for this purpose, to voluntarily give up his life, as an atonement for the sins of man, including those of you and me. Jesus’ prayer then would not for his own release from pain but a prayer that he would remain faithful to God’s purposes and to bring glorify his Father’s name.
Instead of walking away from the coming storm and agony Jesus walked right into it. Jesus submitted himself to God and now he was glorified because of it and so too was God. Jesus was affirming that his nature and that of God’s are one. God and Jesus are separate beings with separate wills and yet Jesus’ thoughts, words, and actions exactly express those of his Father. In doing what God wanted, Jesus glorified the Father.
What does that phrase, “The Father is glorified” mean? John here is using a Greek word for glorify that means that these actions reflect very great honor onto God because they reveal his intimate and intrinsic nature. The greatness of God, the magnificence of God, is manifest, that is made visible to all who can see, and they are perfect. Nothing can be added, and nothing can be taken away. Jesus was saying that through his decision to voluntarily give his life as an atonement, God will be honored because God would accomplish a great act through Jesus obedient death. The act we now call atonement.
Atonement is the act of bringing reconciling sinners with a Holy God. Atonement is the single act that brings us into the presence of the one true holy God through the love sacrifice of Jesus, his Son. Atonement is a word allows, “At-one-ment”, unity with the Father. God took the initiative to bring us to him but not that he needs us. God took the initiative to bring us to him because we need Him. It cost God the life of his Son to do that. We cannot imagine doing what God did and so we find it difficult to understand why God atoned for our sins and in this way. It’s okay, we do not have to understand God’s ways, but we should respect and honor his ways. We should praise God for His work through Jesus on our behalf. When we do, we glorify God’s name.
Jesus wanted his disciples to understand that he was called to glorify God and God would glorify him. Jesus, having told his disciples what was to become of him, taught his intimate friends that they must love one another as he has loved them. He called on them to follow in his pathways for he is the truth, the life, and way. He promised them a comforter and helper, the Holy Spirit, to remind them of his commands to them. He encouraged to see themselves as connected to himself as though they were branches to the vine. He urged them to do as he has done so that they may remain in him and he in them. And he told them that when they did the things that he asked them to do, the world would hate them for it, but that they should recognize that the true hated of the world was not directed at them but focused on Jesus and God who sent him. We should not forget that point as we share the Gospel. Jesus told them to do those things they had seen him do for others. Perhaps we could see his teaching as an instruction in WWJD, “What Would Jesus Do.”
Having shared his inner most thoughts with his friends, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you” (John 17:1). Jesus was asking God to strengthen his will and spirit to remain perfectly aligned to God’s will that through his ordeal of arrest, trial, crucifixion, death, and burial Jesus would show the inherent qualities and character of holiness. Jesus wanted God to become visible through those events but not for the sake of glorifying himself but that people would glorify God.
How then was Jesus to accomplish this mission of glorifying God, let’s look at verses 2 and 3. “ 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” (John 17:2-3). The first thing these verses tells us is that God gave Jesus authority over all the people of the world.
There is no one who shall not be present themselves to Christ. Paul tells us, “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-10). All will bow to the authority of Jesus.
The second point brought out in this Scripture was that Jesus can give eternal life to each person. Eternal life is available for each of us but to receive it requires submission to Christ. For those who believe in Jesus as the son of God, and their Lord and Savior, the man who died for them, comes the joy of knowing the true God now and for all eternity. Whether we accept what Jesus did for us or reject the thought he did so, we are told that each person will bow before Jesus. Some will bow before him as see him as they have known him, Savior and Lord. Others will bow before him and see him as their eternal Judge.
Jesus finished this part of his prayer by again reflecting on the glory of God. He says in verses 4 and 5, “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” (John 17:4-5). Jesus' mission on earth was accomplished by showing the very nature of God and now Jesus earnestly sought to return to the Father and to the glory he had before the world even began.
How do we apply this text to our lives? What can we gain out of it to live our life in the here and now? There are two things that we should discuss. The first is that Jesus came to bring us eternal life. We are different from God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, each of whom has always existed, even before the world. We, however, were born into this world. We have a beginning to our life. Jesus did not come to change the way we started, but he did come to change the way we are to live. He came to reveal God to us, to have us know God and to call us into a relationship with God. The knowledge of God here is not some abstract knowledge but one of joy! I know God! Therefore, I have peace in my life. The relationship requires that we gladly accept his love and his intimate fellowship. When we accept Christ, it is just a beginning. It is a very important new beginning, which Jesus describes as a new birth. We are born into a new life that is different from the one we were living. Our lives from that moment are free and eternal.
This brings us to the second point of the text. If we are free and we are saved and we are eternal and Christ is in us and we are in Christ, what is our mission in life to be? What is the overarching way to our life? Perhaps it is to live our life by the wristband, WWJD. It is a good place for new Christians to start but there may be something deeper than that. Everything that Jesus thought, said, and did was to bring glory to God. Perhaps then, our text is telling us that we should live our lives as through we were wearing a wristband with the letters, WIGG – “Will It Glorify God?” We could look at those letters, WIGG, and assess our thoughts, our words, and our actions. Will what I am thinking, saying, or doing glorify God? It is a question that can stop us in our tracks. Will it glorify God when I speak harshly to another person, particularly if they are a fellow believer? No. For the Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love (Psalm 145:8). Will it glorify God if I hold onto past hurts so that that I can retell them to others? No. For after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (1 Peter 5:10). Will it glorify God imagine or chose to believe ill of another? No. The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip. (Psalm 37:30-31) Will it glorify God when I complain that I last while others are first? No. For the last will be first and the first last (Matthew 20:16). For these situations, the answers are easy. We cannot glorify God when we act like the world.
This may be why the world has such a dislike for Christianity. We invite people to come and know Christ, be saved, and live at peace with one another in love and yet we ourselves do not live in that manner. So what are we to do? Deep down, we need to ask ourselves, “Am I living a life that glorifies God?” Wherever we are not, there is sin that we must have cleansed from our lives. John tells us in 1 John 1:8-9, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Wherever sin is present, glorification of God cannot occur. We can start this instant and ask God to cleanse of that sin and live freed to live our life to the glory of God. The apostle Paul tells us, “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” WIGG - “Will it glorify God?” If our actions will Glorify God, reveal God in us, then we should think it, speak it, and do it. If not, then we should cast it aside. Now that is WJD, “What Jesus Did!” Let’s glorify God today. Amen and Amen.