The Kingdom of God

John 17:1-10

17 Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me. I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours; 10 and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them. 

Chapter 17 of John contains what is referred to as Jesus’ priestly prayer.  It is what appears to be His last big prayer before He begins the road to His crucifixion.  In reading over it, I’m not quite sure why it is called this.  Maybe I don’t know enough about priests…maybe I don’t know enough about Jesus.  What I have come to learn in this study of the book of John, however, is that part of Jesus’ ministry on earth was to exemplify how we are to live.  Jesus talks a lot about glory in this passage.  The Greek used for this term is doxazo, meaning to honor or give credence to someone or something.  The English definition of glorifying someone is to praise, revere, honor, and even reflect the brilliance of them.  Our teacher this past week explained that glorifying God is like what the moon does to the sun.  It reflects the brilliance and brightness of the sun, since the moon itself does not cast light.

The example that Jesus set on earth was how to glorify God.  He had an intimate relationship with the Father, through the Holy Spirit here on earth.  We discussed the purpose of the Holy Spirit earlier when Jesus was addressing His 12 disciples and why He had to leave the earth.  In verses 2-3, we see a crucial point to the term “eternal life.”  Too often we view this from human, capitalist, American viewpoints.  We see this is a way to live forever, to be invincible, to have all that we ever dreamed of.  How shortsighted are we?  Eternal life isn’t about any of that, it is that we may know Him, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.  God is infinite, in every sense of the imagination and beyond.  We have access to knowing His fullness, His wonder, and His mystery (that so many of us try to understand and comprehend).  Too often we limit ourselves to thinking that we can never and will never be able to know God in this way…but we can!  That is exactly the point of Christ coming here!  That is exactly why God did what He did, so we can be in infinite and eternal communion with Him!  This is what Jesus is saying in verse 4.  He did the things He did not to just wow the crowd, but to introduce the Kingdom of God to anyone willing to look.

Verse 5 reveals a very important element of who Jesus is.  Jesus was with God before the world existed.  We see here a glimpse of the Father and Son that we tend to slide over.  Christians have heard that Jesus is one with God and is God…here is the proof.  Jesus humbled Himself and put down His glory as God to come to earth to reflect the glory of God the Father.  Why would He say it is time to get it back if He didn’t have it in the first place?

In 6, the word “manifested” stands out, doesn’t it?  It seems like one of those weird biblical words that freaks us out, so we just glance by it.  Going back to what I said about verse 2-3, we see more about what it means to glorify God.  You see, Jesus didn’t just teach and preach about the Kingdom of God, but He made it real.  As a result, others came to learn more and wanted to be a part of the Kingdom of God.  As a result, they learned The Truth of God.  We see many times not only the miraculous things Jesus performs, but the ridicule He endures from Pharisees and the like.  This is because they didn’t want to know more.  They stood in their religious piety, not open to God’s Kingdom and instead of looking for more or trying to understand more, they pushed away in ignorance.  This is the very choice we have in life.  This is the same as the choice between the tree of life and the tree of knowledge.

The next section of Jesus’ prayer is a request to the Father on behalf of those who have sought after and entered the Kingdom of God.  As a result of the believers, The Father and Jesus Christ are glorified.  As believers we get to glorify/ honor/ reflect God and Christ (who are one).  We get to do the very thing that Christ did on earth: reveal the Kingdom of God to others.

How do you make the Kingdom of God real for others to see?

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