When Jesus had finished saying these things, he looked upward to heaven and said, “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, so that your Son may glorify you – just as you have given him authority over all humanity, so that he may give eternal life to everyone you have given him. Now this is eternal life – that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent. I glorified you on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me at your side with the glory I had with you before the world was created.
God’s glory has a central role in every redemptive action. First, we look at the redemptive and glorifying role that Christ plays. Here are the things we see here:
God’s glory in Christ
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was fully God… Now the Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We saw his glory – the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the Father.
John 1:1, 14
God’s glory began before all of creation – before the world was created. Jesus Christ was not the start or cumulation of God’s glory. Christ has always existed with God. He is the same presence of God, the same fullness of eternal glory. In fact, glory resides inherently within God (and Christ). The words “by your side” is better translated as “in your presence”. God and His glory are inseparable, wherever God is there is His glory. When God’s presence manifested on Mount Sinai, His glory was there (Exodus 24:16-17). When He met in the tent with Moses, His glory was there (Exodus 40:34). When His presence was with the Ark of Covenant, His glory was there (1 Samuel 4:21-22). When the temple built by Solomon was dedicated to the Lord, His glory was there (1 Kings 8:11-12).
God’s glory amplified in Christ
I am the Lord! That is my name!
I will not share my glory with anyone else,
or the praise due me with idols.
Isaiah 42:8 (See also Isaiah 48:9-11)
God is jealous for His glory. He wants all of it and He doesn’t take it lightly. All of creation is marked with His glory (Psalm 19:1), even man is created for His glory (Isaiah 43:7). If His glory is diminished, God is insulted. That is why His glory needs to be amplified.
Here Jesus, being fully God and is the fullness of God’s glory asks to be glorified for the expressed purpose of glorifying God back. Imagine a feedback loop getting louder and louder forever; this is the complete amplification of God’s glory – the Son glorifying the Father, who glorifies the Son. It is no wonder that Jesus is entirely glorifying to Him because that is all that Christ does (John 5:19)!
God’s glory amplified in Christ’s redemption
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
John 3:17 (See also John 4:34, 5:36)
When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
It is no secret. Jesus was sent on a mission. His mission is clear in John 17:3 – to bring his own to eternal life by restoring the relationship between man and God (John 17:22-24). That is what it means to “know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent”. The knowledge here isn’t just an intellectual knowledge, but an experiential and spiritual one. John tells us specifically that the completion of this redemptive work brings glory to God.
We tend to think that God did it all for us. We think that it was entirely for us that Christ came and for us that He died (John 3:16). We tend to place ourselves in the center of the story of redemption. But the truth is that God is at the center of redemption. God brought Israel out of Egypt for His name’s sake (Isaiah 49:3). He brought Israel out of captivity for His name’s sake (Ezekiel 36:22-23). God forgives our sin for His name’s sake (Isaiah 43:25). We don’t motivate God to redeem us, because we have no merit or strength that God might be motivated by. The only thing that could motivate God is God Himself.
Time to get off our high horse and put God in the center of redemption.