Gospel of John 17: 1-5 (NIV)
1 After Jesus said this, he looked towards heaven and prayed:
“Father, the time 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 may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by completing 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.”
These are the initial verses of the longest prayer of Jesus recorded in the New Testament. Some refer to it as his “high priestly prayer”. It is fitting to reflect on these words so soon after many in the Western church have celebrated Ascension Day, a commemoration of the occasion, forty days after his resurrection, when Jesus was taken to be with the Father.
The emphasis in verse 1 is on the glorification of the Son so that the Son may glorify the Father. But Jesus’ prayer is more about the people who follow the Son. Jesus has referred specifically to them as “those you (the Father) have given him (the Son)” (verse 2).
For them is the promise of eternal life. In verse 3 Jesus spelt that out: “that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
Jesus’ authority is over these who had been given to him by the Father. His authority reaches beyond these, however, to include “all people”. Jesus has authority over all people whether living or having left this life. Not all are to be granted eternal life with the Father. If you know Jesus Christ as Lord of all, if you truly believe that he died for you on that wooden cross and was raised from death to return to the Father and to regain the place of glory that he had with the Father before the world began, you are to be counted among those whom the Father has given to him.
Before whom is Jesus Christ glorified? Before the Father, yes – and before the heavenly beings also. But in addition Jesus Christ is glorified before those to whom eternal life has been given. He is glorified now before each of us even while we are still sojourners on this earth.
Let us therefore reflect soberly on how and when we glorify the risen and ascended Lord of heaven and earth. Do we do it consistently? Do we do it constantly? Do we do it whole-heartedly? Do we do it unstintingly? Do we do it publicly?
Would those around us see Jesus glorified in all we say and do? If you sense that those around you would not, what are you going to do to change your attitude to one of gratitude and joy, honouring the Son and honouring the Father in thought, word and deed?