Read John 17:1-5
This is just a segue between chapters 16 and 17, a short recap to set the stage for what I think is the most powerful prayer in scripture. The theme is centered on glorifying God and the conclusion simple: when we glorify Jesus, we glorify the Father.
The eleven are still hanging out with Jesus, though they don’t have much to say after His words in the previous two verses (John 6:32-33). While it’s not unusual for them to see Jesus look toward heaven and pray, they are paying close attention to each word at this point.
After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. John 17:1-2
Maybe it’s just me, but when Jesus looks toward heaven, is that different than merely looking up at the sky? I assume He’s looking up. Perhaps that’s my first mistake. Whichever way He does this, the disciples are familiar with the change from eye contact to looking far beyond themselves, deep into thought. Jesus declares He has authority over all with the singular focus of drawing everyone into eternal life with the Father.
But what is eternal life? I suspect we’ve all been preached at about this thing called eternal life, so much so that we think everyone around us understands this concept, including the disciples. When we take a look at the Old Testament, we will find a handful of references to eternal life, but the concept pales in comparison to what Jesus is talking about. This is a new thing:
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. John 17:3
The prophets of old had a notion that there would be life beyond our earthly existence, but the disciples got a glimpse of what that might look like by serving alongside Jesus, God on earth.
I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. John 17:4-5
Jesus glorified God by doing the work He was assigned to perform. It seems to me that if we would simply do the work God assigned to each of us, He would be glorified. And that, my friends, is all we need to be concerned with.
Lord, help us to be more than those who hear Your Word, then just keep walking. Help us to be doers of that which we are assigned. Holy Spirit, please remember that we are often hard of hearing and most of the time we have a hard time comprehending the little that we’ve heard. We need Your help so we can glorify God in the highest. Clear our minds and focus our ears to hear Your desire for our next step.