Third Avenue Baptist Church
Sunday School — The Gospel of John Series
March 7, 2021
Now again, we look to the sermon on the Mount in what we call the Lord's prayer, but we call it the Lord's prayer primarily because the church has referred to it in those terms. it's not referred to as the Lord's prayer in the text, it simply is the Lord's prayer and familiar to us. And you see the fact that most modern translations that have some kind of paragraph identification will put the Lord's prayer on it.
But it is believed that the earliest Christians refer to it as the Lord's prayer, because this was how the Lord taught his disciples to pray. And you'll recall that in the Gospel of Luke, the Lord's prayer comes when Jesus’ disciples come to him and say, ‘John taught his disciples how to pray, teach us also how to pray.’ So you assume that the disciples of John had John's prayer and this is the Lord's prayer, but as you look at it, you recognize that in his earthly incarnation Christ could pray every word of the Lord's prayer, except one portion of it. And that is the forgiveness of sins. He was sinless. That is to say he had no need of that prayer, that one line or phrase in the Lord's prayer reminds us of that. That was his prayer for us, not his own prayer as unto the Father.
But as you look to John chapter 17, it's a very different reality. And we are taken into something like 300 words of prayer between Jesus and the Father, that reveals an intimacy that is unparalleled anywhere in Scripture. It reveals a depth that is greater than anything most Christians imagine when thinking about this text. And it actually presents to us an entire Biblical theology.
And that's a part of what we're going to see and have the joy of seeing together. That is, there is no such prayer as an ordinary prayer between Jesus and the Father. There is no ordinary access to that prayer. This is extraordinary in every way, but it's also in the relationship between the Father and the Son extraordinary in that it is, and could well be called the prayer of obedience of the son. As he is preparing for the ultimate act of obedience to the Father in the Cross.
There are several ways to look at a text like this, and we paused even last week before entering into the High Priestly Prayer, because I believe the best way to study it, first is sequentially. Just taking the texts as we would take another text verse by verse and word by word.
But after that, we'll consider the prayer thematically. And, one of the things we'll look at after we look at the prayer, sequentially, are the gifts that are referenced. Gifts from the Son to the Father, Gifts from the Father to the Son. It's an extraordinary passage. It is also just in terms of theology, proper, the doctrine of God. This text takes us further into the depths of the Trinitarian mystery than any other text of Scripture. And so even though this text, as it is said in the English translation, probably doesn't put over the depths of the Trinity, that's actually what we're looking at. This is the greatest access we have and will ever have in Scripture to the inner Trinitarian relationship between the Father and the Son.
So it as the Lord will bless us, let's look to the text, to Scripture. John 17, verse one, “when Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted his eyes to heaven and said, father, the hour has come glorify your son, that the son may glorify you since you have given him authority over all flesh to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life that they know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth. Having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.”
Five verses, and I'm struck even just reading it now, how much is here and how impossible it is to plumb the depths of this passage. But let's do our best to follow through what we are overhearing Jesus, pray to the Father.
Now we're told that this was as the Farewell Discourse had come to an end. Jesus' teaching of his disciples has come to an end.
That magnificent didactic passage which was not only didactic in the classical sense, but it was relational. Jesus is speaking to them, they're speaking to him. We have a sense of the dynamism of the farewell discourse and the experience of the disciples with Jesus. But now this is a very different, context.
Jesus had spoken those words, but then he lifted his eyes to heaven and said, and here's where the prayer begins. “Father, the hour has come.” Now, of course, this is one of the most significant phrases in the Gospel of John going all the way back, very, very early in the gospel. As we saw even last week.
When Jesus says ‘my hour has come”, he actually himself likens it unto the delivery of a child. And he does so in two ways, number one, everything's kind of before and after. And, yet once labor has begun, this is a process that has a conclusion. It is a process of urgency. And the woman who's expecting is looking forward to those pains of delivery. Once they begin, then here it is.
And, everything's going to be a before and after for Jesus. Of course, it's more eschatological than that. It's more teleological, there's a good theological word for that. And that it's not just about the birth of a child. It is about the salvation, the atonement that he is to accomplish.
But as hours come, this is why he came. The culmination of pregnancy is the delivery of the baby. The culmination of Christ’s messianic work is the atonement that he will now accomplish. And this sequence is now unfolding. This is a public event. Jesus will be arrested and he will be publicly crucified in Romans chapter three, the apostle Paul will speak of it as God putting Christ forth publicly as a propitiation. So now all the world is going to know all the world is going to see.
But as the prayer begins, he references the father, just as he taught us too, by the way, in what we call the Lord's prayer, “our Father, who is in heaven.” And we tend to kind of rush over that, but we just remind ourselves of the incredible truth that it makes perfect Trinitarian sense for Jesus to pray to the Father as Father. But it is only because Christ gives us the privilege of praying to God, his Father, that we also pray that way.
And so, even as I just began this morning and we naturally begin our prayers, we have no natural right to pray to God as father, It's a gift. Jesus prays by natural right. “Father, the hour’s come,” What will follow then? What makes sense will immediately follow. And you'll notice it's the words “glorify your Son, that the Son may glorify you.”
Well, this is the hour that's come. The hour of atonement, the hour of arrest, the hour of torture, the hour of crucifixion, the hour of burial, the hour of resurrection.
You know, what word would we use if we were trying theologically to cope with this? What word would we use to say, okay, here's the one word summary of what all that means. But in the radical nature of what is revealed to us here, the one word that describes all of this is probably the one word that we would not have conceived. And it's the word glory.
What is taking place and what will take place even in the immediate future as Jesus is praying this prayer to the father is an exchange of glory. And it turns out that this is in the economy of the Trinity. This is the greatest summation of the obedience of the Son to the Father. It is a mutuality of glory. It is the Son praying to the Father, glorify me that I may glorify you.
Now, here's something, again, we have to keep in mind, we use this language. And I've written a lot about this because it puzzled me as a young Christian to hear this language. And it didn't make sense. If God is infinite in his perfections and the Son shares in the perfections of the Father. And if God is all infinitely righteous, and just, and if he is also unchanging, and in other words, he's not more righteous and less righteous.
And then how can he be glorious and then more glorious? And actually, yeah, biblical theology helps to reveal that because God's intrinsic glory, doesn't change. His godness doesn't change, but the reflection of his glory, the knowledge, the consciousness of his glory amongst his creatures, does change.
And thus the glory of God is never more real and less real, but it is sometimes in creation, more visible and less visible. A part of the task of the church is to make the glory of God more visible. We're not adding glory to God that we can add anything to him, but we are making his glory more visible, more apparent, more known to the world.
But in the inner-Trinitarian relation between the Son and the Father, there's an exchange of glory of just this, I started to say cosmic significance, but that's an understatement. It's a trans cosmic reality. Where it’s said that each glorifies the other.
And it's the glory that will be explained to us later in the New Testament that also fits in the context of all that has come before. It is the glory of the obedience of the Son to the Father. It's not a good, healthy obedience, it's a perfect obedience.
You'll notice the sequence. Father, the hour has come, glorify your son, that the Son may glorify you. There's that exchange. And the son is praying to the father that he be glorified in order that he may glorify the Father. And again, it shows you that there is a, there's an order within the Godhead. And it is the Son who is praying to the Father here.
The words continue and the words get to, again, what in Biblical theology turns out to be pretty astounding. “Father, the hour has come to glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you since you have given him…” speaking of the Son of himself, “...authority over all flesh to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.”
Alright. So now we have glory and then we have authority. And its authority of a particular nature. It's authority to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. Okay. We're two versus in.
Let's think about what we have here. Seeing the exchange of glory. You've seen the intimacy of the prayer. The hour has come.
But then in verse two, we are told that the father has given the son authority over all flesh. Now, before we see how that continues, we use that word so naturally. Authority. We use it to speak of parental authority, or the authority of the state or a Biblical authority. I mean, we speak of authority. We even call them plural. The authorities.
Well just, ‘did you notify the authorities?’ What is an authority? What does that mean? Well, it means one who rightly holds power, who rightly exercises power.
The more traditional use of a phrase like authority would be to someone referring to kings and princes. And, why do they hold power? What kind of power do they hold? It's rightful power. In other words, it's different than if somebody just stands up on the corner and says, I decree this, or I decree that. That's not authority, that's pathetic. Or a child, in the family saying, you know, I decree this, or I decree that, you know. A father looks at him and says, "Sit down." You know, that's a clarification of authority.
And, authority. It's not just power because power can come up here. Power can come up there. Power can be transient. Power can be permanent. Just in terms of earthly, even in the temporal sphere, there's lasting power. There's episodic power.
But authority is vested in power rightfully displayed. And then the question is: why rightful?, who rightful?
And of course in the political sphere, you do have prime ministers, and presidents, and princes, and kings, and queens.
In the church, we speak of the authority of the teaching office. And we understand that that's not an authority that’s ultimate. That's an authority, that’s delegated. It’s an authority in preaching the Word, but it's the word Itself that has the authority. And it's Christ who has the authority and the Church. Every human responsibility is a delegated responsibility. And it's like the Russian dolls, you know, the famous nesting dolls. And you know, eventually, there isn't any authority except the authority of the, author. In other words, the Biblical theology of authority is that the Creator actually owns everything.
BB Warfield, the Presbyterian theologian famous in the early 20th century. He said, "You know, the most basic thing you have to understand about the entire revelation of Scripture is that it begins and ends with God. He owns it in the beginning, in the middle, and in the end, it all belongs to him."
Every entity that is not God, exists only because of God, and is totally owned by God and a subservient to God. And not only that as Romans chapter 11 says, it's from him and to him and through him are all things. It's pointed to him. Its origins explained only in God, its ultimate destiny is explained only in God.
The Greek word ἐξουσία is the word for authority. And you have authority of the, as I say, the political nature, you have ultimately the authority of God and that's what's here. God has given Christ authority.
Well authority over whom or over what? Well, again, this goes back to the fact that John begins the gospel by telling us that he's the λογος of creation. So the Father created all that is, through the Son. In Colossians chapter one, the same creation theology will be made clear when we were told that he is over all things, all principalities and powers and everything that exists is under him.
But the Son has received that authority from the Father. Again, we have to be very careful in speaking of the inter-Trinitarian relationships, but we must be careful to come to know and to understand and affirm everything that Scripture tells us. And Scripture tells us that the authority of the Son’s, is a delegated authority from the Father, but it's that full delegated authority from the Father to whom does it extend to? All flesh. All flesh.
This is an astounding statement. And as you think about, again, just reading this text, this just reminds us that right now on planet earth, there is not a human being who is not now and will forever be and has forever been under the authority of Jesus Christ, the Son.
We speak of Christ’s authority in the church, and we say, well, Christ has authority over the Church. Now Christ actually has authority over all flesh period. Over, and of course by extension, the entire cosmos, every atom and molecule. And Paul makes that clear. For that matter, the Biblical theologies makes that clear because there is no atom or molecule that is a) finding its origin at anything other than God through the Son, and b) continuing to exist. Even as we are reminded that in him, all things hold together. He is before all things and in him, all things hold together. But coming down to human beings and that's the flesh that is referred to here, this is an explicit reference to humanity.
There is not a human being right now who is not under the authority of Christ. And that means that the distinction are those who know and acknowledge that they are under the authority of Christ and those who do not. Those who obey Christ and those who do not. Those who are gladly, submissively, faithfully, recognizing his lordship and those who deny it, don't know it and there's responsibility in not knowing it, according to Scripture.
But this authority has been given from the Father to the Son over all flesh. But there's a purpose to it “to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.” Again, just look at that one phrase. So here we have the Son praying about the exchange of glory that is to take place. He's praying for the Father, to glorify him, that he may glorify the Father, now that his hour has come. And then he explains this with since, so that's the tie in here. He's saying that this is what now makes sense. The hour’s come.
So now, since you have given him authority over all flesh, the next phrase is so important, to give eternal life to all you have given him to give eternal life. Eternal life. Again, we talk about this so often we need to step back and recognize what we're actually saying.
So let's think about biblical theology. Let’s go back to Genesis. God made Adam and he made Eve. And then he speaks to them in Genesis chapter three and his purpose for them and in creation and putting them in the garden. He explains to them, that they forever, under his lordship in the garden, that they forever enjoy everything in the garden. The fruit of every single tree save one.
But then he said, if you eat of this tree the very day you eat of it, you shall die. Now he didn't mean immediately be struck dead. He meant become mortal. You will now become death. As a way, you can almost translate that you will, the moment, the day you eat of that tree, you will become death.
Well, even beginning in John chapter one, we're told that the purpose of the Son is to come and give eternal life. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. He came into his own and his own received him not, but those who as many as received him to them gave the power the children, sons of God.
John chapter six, we have the very same thing, eternal life.
But before we get there, we have John chapter three, the most famous verse you remember from the New Testament. "For God So loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believed in him might not perish, but have eternal or everlasting life."
So here's the dichotomy, here's mortality. There's Adam and Eve, they did eat of that tree, and death did enter into them.
And then death becomes the human portion from that moment on. So we are now mortal, and doesn't it show that not only do we have mortality when we stand at the grave, as all of us will, again and again and again, we also have mortality, as the Apostle Paul says, in our bodies.
You know, you don't have to be a very good theologian, you don't have to know much theology to look at your own body and recognize, I'm dying. Now, of course, this is a dawning revelation. Because in the normal cycle of life, as the child grows and enters into adolescence, and then at a young adulthood, things are looking pretty good. Things are looking pretty good.
Generally, you know, you just have growth and growth and growth and growth and growth. I was talking to a father of several children, one of them, a son who's in the seventh grade. And, I saw a picture of him and I said, what happened?
And he said, seven inches just in COVID, boy's grown seven inches in COVID. It's been a very good pandemic for that boy.
You look at that, but then you think, you know, I, as a boy, I can remember growing like that, there's that enormous skeletal and other growth spurt. Things are looking really good. Good until things start looking the other way.
And then you realize I've got mortality everywhere I look. And not only that when my mother died and went to be with the Lord. Just a matter of almost exactly a month ago, people responded. And one of the ways people respond with love and care is to send flowers.
And by the way, there's something kind of natural about that. I mean, here's just a reminder. God loves you. Look what God made for you. Look at this, look at this. And so in the arranges we received, had flowers in it I didn't even know existed. It looked like Disney had created them. Dr. Seuss, oops, can't mention him now, but the amazing flowers, but we're at that stage in our house right now of deciding when we have to part with them because they are dead. They're dying. They're actually dead the moment they were cut off, but just wanted the appearance of life. They don't keep it. And I mentioned the seasons earlier because the seasons are a reminder of mortality as well and comes again and again.
Eternal life is such an astounding statement because those are two words that actually don't go together after Genesis 3, after the curse, after sin. Eternal life requires some kind of cosmic explanation. Then of course, that's what we have. How can we speak of eternal life? How can we even speak of the hope of eternal life? How can we speak to the reality of eternal life? It is because this is why the Son has come.
"For God so Loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. So that whosoever believes in him might not perish, but have everlasting life." And that everlasting life explained over and over again. Jesus has spoken about it. Now he's spoken, speaking about it to the Father, but it is to give eternal life to all whom you have given me. Now, this giftedness turns out to be the key to understanding their high priestly prayer of Jesus.
There are gifts the Son gives to the Father. There are gifts that the Father gives to the Son. And by the way, we are one of the gifts. This is amazing. You know, how is it that we are so honored that we are one of the gifts given by the Son to the Father? Only after the Father has given us to him. In the verses that we will read just shortly is going to be explained. Even in terms of separating all of humanity, basically into what turned out to be the two most fundamental groups. Those who are those, that the Father has given to the Son and the world.
That's going to be the language that Jesus uses in this prayer. That's the great division. That's the great separation. Those you have given me and the world. The language about God giving redeemed believers to the Son is so established by now in the gospel of John. Just consider
What we have read and looked at together in John chapter 6. "All the Father gives me will come to me. And the one who comes to me, I, by no means cast out. No one comes to me unless the Father draws him." And so, so it's this, it's this giftedness. And it just reminds us that this is prior to our hearing of the gospel. It's prior to us, it's actually prior to earth. It's just astounding.
Well, as a child, I learned to sing that little song. Jesus loves me, this I know for the Bible tells me so little ones to him belong. We are weak, but he is strong. How is it that we belong to Jesus? And you say, well, I can tell you, I came to faith in Christ then. No, no, no. Turns out that we belonged to Jesus before the cosmos was created. So much before that time is an impossible reference point here. But before the world was created, we belonged to Christ. It's astounding. It grounds us. Doesn't it?
I mean, this is where a Biblical theology, based upon what we see here; This breathtaking reality tells us that we can't be severed. We can't be severed from the Father. We can't be severed from Christ because after all we were given by the Father to the Son, before the creation of the entire cosmos.
Before the creation of the world, We were Christ’s. Well, before we knew it, we were Christ’s and this is it: Long after we can know it, We are Christ’s. At my mom's funeral, just a matter of couple weeks ago, I ended it by making reference to the song we sang, He will Hold Me Fast.
My mom had Alzheimer's disease. We lost her inch by inch. And then she died suddenly she'd been in good physical health. Mary and I had spent time with her in January. And, we're very thankful for that, given the virus context. So it was kind of a miracle in itself. We were able to spend that kind of time with her outside there at her facility in Florida. She did not know us. That is hard for son's heart, but she knew we were her people. And she definitely was very glad to be with us. She was at the point where I don't even think she recognized that she didn't really know how to put all the pieces together, but that was all right. The Lord gave us the time with her and then the word took her home.
But that, that song, and it's a contemporary version by Matt Merker that we sing. It's that amazing language, “He shall, or he will hold me fast.” And he holds us fast when we can't hold anything. And it really helps me to think about even Alzheimer's disease, because you know, if I'm holding myself to Christ, I'm in big trouble. I cannot hold myself to Christ in love. I can't, my heart just can't stay constant. I can't stay holding myself to Christ in obedience. I’m just too prone to disobedience and terms of sin conscious and unconscious. Sins of commission and sins of omission. The fact is we do have to pray that prayer, that the Lord taught us daily to pray for the forgiveness of sins. If I have to hold myself to Christ in energy or fervor, it just doesn't work because I don't have that much. Or it comes in spurts. If I have to hold myself to Christ in consciousness, then I'm in big trouble. I can't sleep and I can't get Alzheimer's disease. But if Christ is holding me, then not even Alzheimer's disease can sever me from him. But it's not just the crisis holding me.
It's that God has given me to Christ and nothing can separate me from him. And that's exactly the point that Jesus makes in John chapter 10. So, just look back just a few chapters to John chapter 10 and remember that's exactly what he said.
Let's look at verses 22 and following. Jesus is talking about being the, the good shepherd look in verse 27. "My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they will never perish. And no one will snatch them out of my hand, my Father who has given them to me is greater than all. And no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one."
So there again is that assurance: we've been given to the Son by the Father and those the Father gives to the Son can never be severed from him. No one can snatch us from his hand.
So the prayer is continuing.
Since you have given him authority over all flesh to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And then Jesus says, and this is eternal life that they know you. The only true God and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
So now we are told that eternal life is a knowledge. Now, of course it is more than that. But Jesus says, this is eternal life. That this is what eternal life is. It is a knowledge. It is that they know you. The only true God and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. Now it's easy for us to say “No, no, no, no, no, no. Okay. Let's try that and understand this. The entry into this is knowledge.” But no, that's not what the text says. The text says that eternal life is this knowledge. Now there's more to it than that. When you think about heaven and Christ kingdom and the consummation of all things, but the one word that defines that more than anything else is they unmitigated unmediated, immediate knowledge of God, the Father, and of Jesus Christ, whom he has sent.
And this is the biblical theology that follows all the way through the book of Revelation. And the book of Revelation describes the New Jerusalem, coming down from heaven. And you recall that there is no need for the sun and there is no need for the moon because the Father is as the sun is as the sun. And the Son is as the moon. So we have this direct light. We won't be in a cosmos in which we need a sun or a moon because we have the Father and the Son and the Father and the Son become to us the light. We no longer see through a glass darkly. We will see face-to-face in the sense that is defined by Biblical theology.
We will certainly see the Son face-to-face. The Son shows us the Father. It's an amazing passage. And this sneaks up on us.
This, he says, is eternal life. What do we expect to follow?
A kind of a definition of heaven or a definition of it like that is everlasting. No, it comes down to knowledge that they know you. The only true God and Jesus Christ to me, you have sent.
Then in the next verse, verse four, Christ says this. I glorified you on earth. Having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now Father glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
Just a few words, it's going to be a stretch, just to think about all of these words. I glorified you on earth. Again, John chapter one tells us of this theology of glory and how it is revealed to us. The Son came in order to glorify the father to bring his glory to earth. Now God's glory was already here, but this is the glory of the son in the midst of creation, the glory of the Logos, the, the very word of creation. This is the glory of the Father's Son. Now humbling himself to take on humanity.
"We have seen his glory; glory as of the only begotten of the Father. They're full of grace and truth." This glory, this visible expression and knowledge of the Father and of the Father's infinite greatness. This is brought to the earth by the Son. He has glorified God. To see Christ to see the Father is to see the glory of the Father.
This glory is all over Christmas. This is when we speak about the glory of Christmas, what is the glory of Christmas? This is the glory of the Son, coming into the world that he had made, in order to reveal what only he can reveal perfectly. And that is the glory of the Father.
And thus, you have angels singing about glory. You have shepherds speaking about glory. You have, you have the most, apparently inglorious people on the planet, talking about the most glorious event imaginable that unto us is born this day in the city of David, a savior who is Christ the Lord.
But in everything Jesus did in the entirety of his earthly ministry, it was all about glorifying the Father. It was constantly. Sometimes Jesus will say that, but even when Jesus is saying that, that's what it's all about. Everything he did, every miracle he performed, every word that he spoke at every that, that he prayed. It was all about glorifying the Father. And in this consummate mediatorial high priestly prayer, where Jesus speaks of glorifying the Father.
"I glorified you on earth having accomplished the work that you gave me to do."
So again, that's defined. So in what way, most importantly, in the relationship between the Son and the Father, did the Son glorify the Father honor on earth? It was by doing his well. By accomplishing his will. And we've also seen this where over and over again, Jesus says the Son has no will except to do the will of the Father in Jesus' earthly ministry.
It was all about the accomplishment, the demonstration of the will of the Father. And now the Son is mentioning this to his Father. And he's saying, I glorified you on earth by accomplishing your will. And now that Jesus’ hour has come, this is the ultimate moment of the accomplishment of the work that you gave me to do.
We speak to the person and the work of Christ. So does Christ. Notice that Christ speaks of the distinction between himself and his work. Now they are united in Christ or united in God's purpose. But, here, we have even Christ speaking about his work. Work that the father gave him to do. It was a work that would end in an hour and the hour has now come in the consummate events of the work that are now to be revealed. "And now Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed."
This is going to take a little thinking. We understand the first words here. He's saying, and now Father, this being the case, Father, glorify me. Now when Christ says glorify me, is he praying for what belongs to the Father and not to himself? He's praying here that the Father will, and language is lacking here, we're stretching ourselves for the language. He's praying that the Father will increase his own glory in the Son. In the events that are now to unfold, glorify me.
Well, if the Son’s existence is merely to glorify the Father, and in this reciprocity, he asked the Father to glorify him. It is, as we shall see in subsequent verses, in order that he may then give the Father even greater glory. But there's a sweetness here. And there's a cosmos shaking phrase here. I glorified you on earth. Having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now Father, glorify in your own presence.
Hmm. Glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. I was in a conversation with another theologian this week, about some contemporary issues, theology, and we both independently came to the conversation saying that we believed the great derailing of the theology in the church today in so many ways is the failure to ground everything; Every doctrine, every understanding, in creation. That is to say, not that there's nothing before creation. No, that's actually a part of what creation testifies to, even as we have it here. It is to say that the biblical story begins in creation, and thus, everything that's revealed in scripture has to be brought back to creation.
Paul gives us constant examples of how that is to take place. John does in this gospel provides us constant teaching how that is to take place. Jesus again, and again, shows us how that is to take place. But the most important thing about the Doctrine of Creation is that there was something before creation and that creation only takes place because the self existent sovereign God decreed that it should be. But God's story, so to speak, doesn't begin in creation. Our story begins at creation. The story of redemption accomplished begins at creation. But before the world existed, there was the Father and the Son. There was the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In the existence and intimacy, which is theirs alone. But at least a part of what we are given a vision of here, a sight of here, is that there is glory, given and received in the Trinity. The old English would say, “In the Godhead.” There is glory, given and received before the world exists.
In the existence they knew only amongst themselves. In the privacy of the Trinity, there was a reciprocity of glory. A part of what Christ forfeited in his humiliation in the incarnation was some of the reciprocity of glory that he had with the father before the incarnation. The two giant ‘before’ and ‘afters’ in biblical theology: we have to think of before and after creation. And then before and after incarnation. Before incarnation, there was a reciprocity of glory in the presence of the Father, the Son knew and has not known in the same way on earth.
Part of what he gave up in his condescension in his incarnation was what he hear prays about. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. That's all we know. This is where we are taken right up to the knowledge of something that is so far surpassing our understanding that we don't know. And we can't know. and we'll never know we will never know all that. It means for Christ to have prayed for the glory that he had with the Father in his presence before the world was created.
All, all we do know is that the glory of the Son now is even greater than it was before. The glory of the Son is now greater due to his accomplishment of all that the Father had given him the obedience and that. In Philippians chapter two, Paul tells us why the Father has given him the name Lord. That every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God, the Father.
We're only in five verses, and the entire history of the world's been rewritten.
Our understanding of why Jesus came has actually been redefined because we want to say, okay, and this is where we have to end today. But just think about this because this is the way we will tell the story.
As Bible-believing Christians say by grace, if we get to tell the story the way we want to tell the story, it is this. God loved us so much that he sent us Jesus. Jesus died on the cross as a substitute for our sins. God raised him from the dead. Salvation comes to all who believe in him, who believe and repent of sins, salvation comes to them. And we're given the gift of eternal life and we can never re-sever from God. That's the Bible storyline, except it's not. No that’s a part of the Bible’s storyline.
But it's actually put in the Bible storyline as, as kind of a parenthetical statement. The Bible’s real Storyline is the Father and the Son glorifying one another with a greater glory yet to come/ When the Son forfeits some of that glory, the glory he knew with the Father, before the creation of the world, in order to come into the world. But there's an even greater glory in this inter-Trinitarian exchange and transaction of glory after Christ's perfect obedience. And when he ascends to the Father. This high priestly prayer reminds us that, it's all about the fact this greater glory that Christ now knows, is a glory of an enduring priesthood. Of a people who have been given to him by the Father before the world was created.
There's no risk that American Christians, or Christians of any age, when I think particularly of the church in the United States, are going to be shocked to find out that the gospel was a big story, is a big story. The problem is most American Christians have no clue how big a story this is.
But only the very threshold of his obedience to the Father, just five verses in, Jesus has given us an entire cosmology. And by the way, he has reminded us, and this is something that as you're walking on the sidewalks today, as you are seeing people today, regardless of what they're doing; How many of them have any understanding that the Great Before and After is, in this case, before the world was made? That the world is not a self-existing thing. The world constantly is telling us someone made this. There was someone before this. There will be something after this.
How many people recognize that the entire purpose of the cosmos is an exchange of glory between the Father and the Son? And let's admit something else: we wouldn't figure any of this out. We only know this because of the revelation of God in the Bible, but even more importantly, we only know it at this point because this prayer between the Son and the Father. Properly, this prayer of the Son to the Father is made known to us. Otherwise we would never know these things. And we're only five verses in.