Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A PRAYER FOR THE AGES (John Chapter 17)

John 17:24, “Father, I desire that they also…may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me.”

John chapter 17 constitutes what is commonly referred to as “Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer.”  In it we find Jesus’ intercession to the Father regarding: 1) Himself in His redemptive Work (1-6); 2) His earthly disciples (7-19); and all the others “who will believe in me through their word” (20-26).  It is preeminent amongst all the prayers found in the Bible, for here the veil is pulled back that we ourselves might listen in on a divine and intimate conversation between the Son and the Father.  It is a prayer which encompasses eons of time for it speaks to the heart of Christ’s redemptive work in restoring to man that which was lost in the fall.  It is a prayer which applies directly to the salvation and future destiny of all believers through the centuries, people from “every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9).

We, as believers in Christ, were prayed for by Jesus.  Even before He died for us, He prayed for us and for all the others who were given by the Father to Him (Cf. John 17:24).  He prayed regarding a variety of important matters, but near the end of His prayer He uttered these wondrous words, praying that we might be with Him and that we might see His glory.

Even now He is with us.  He has promised to be “with (us) always” and to “never leave (us) nor forsake (us)” (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5).  And, positionally speaking, there is a sense that we are even now with Him, having “been seated…with him in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 2:6).  But He was speaking in His prayer of heaven, where He has gone to “prepare a place for (us)” (John 14:3).  Jesus’ prayer speaks to the heart of God’s saving purpose for us.  Salvation is bigger in scope than just saving us from sin and hell, it has to do with bringing us safely home to heaven, into His presence.  There was a time, before the fall, when man walked with God in intimate fellowship.  There will come a day, in Jesus’ presence, where we will experience that which was lost to us in the fall.  Even now our hearts yearn for that day, “we groan, being burdened…we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord...Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:4-8).  There’s no place like home!  Jesus has prepared for us a home.  He has prayed and purposed and worked to bring us to a home where “we will always be with (Him)” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).  Whether by death or the rapture His centuries-old prayer for His own—“(that) they will be with me where I am”--will be realized.

In His presence we will behold His glory.  Others have been so privileged.  So the Apostle John wrote, “We have seen his glory” (John 1:14; Cf.  John 11:4).  Peter wrote of his experience in viewing Jesus’ “transfiguration”: “we were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16).  We ourselves, as believers, have likewise had our eyes opened to it: “For God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).  Even now the Spirit of God works to bear witness to the glory of Christ (Cf. John 15:26, 16:14).  But, this side of heaven, there are limitations.  In his book, “The Glory of Christ,” John Owen makes a distinction between the beholding of the glory of Christ by faith and by sight.  Both have the same object.  Both look to the same reality.  But the first is temporal and subject to degrees, the other is not.  By faith, we catch a glimpse of that which is unseen (Cf. Hebrews 11:1), but our vision now is limited.  “For how we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face” (1 Corinthians 13:2).  Now we “do not see him” (1 Peter 1:8), but the day is coming when we will “see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).  We shall not only see Him, “we shall be like him” (1 John 3:2).  I can imagine Jesus saying to His disciples, as he led them up that Mount of Transfiguration, “Come with Me, I’ve got something to show you!”  And so He has prayed and is in effect saying to us the same thing.  John Macarthur once told the story of a little blind girl.  She knew of the beauties of the world but only from her mother’s lips.  A noted surgeon performed a series of operations that successfully worked to restore her sight.  The day finally came when bandages were removed from her eyes so that she could see for the very first time.  The little girl ran first of all into her mother’s arms, then she ran to the window and she ran to the door and she turned around and ran back into her mother's arms and she said, "Oh Mother, why didn't you tell me you were so beautiful and the world was so wonderful?" And her mother replied, "I tried."

Set it in your heart as the grand objective while lies in the heart of our Savior and is at the heart of His redemptive work—to bring us home to Himself and unveil to us the full majesty of His glory.  On the day of that unveiling He will be “marveled at among all who have believed,” just as He had once prayed (2 Thessalonians 1:10).

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