Chapter Four – John 17:4-5

From “Studies in the Lord’s Prayer,” by Pastor K. David Oldfield

John 17:4-5

There was someone a few years ago someone who won one of the big city marathons. It seems to me that it was the New York or the Boston Marathon, but I can’t be sure. Anyway, whoever it was appeared to win the race, but he/she later had his medal taken away. Apparently someone questioned whether or not the person actually started the race, so race officials studied all of the film of the runners at the starting point, and this person’s face or number could not be found. Eventually, he/she confessed that he/she had entered the course about half way through. Obviously, this person didn’t deserve the medal. He/she didn’t even deserve the T-shirt.

Let me begin our lesson this evening with an application rather than the exposition. No one “deserves” (if that is the right word) the glories of Heaven, who has not run with patience the race that set before him. And we are compassed about with a great company of witnesses who can testify to our running.

I know that salvation is by grace. I know there will be people in Heaven who were saved by the cross but who still loved a few sins. And I know that there will be thousands in Heaven saved yet so as by fire. In fact there may be thousands in Heaven, who never did a single thing to serve the Lord. But there will be no reward for the man who has not run. There will be no glory for the lazy. This is one of the lessons from these two verses of Jesus’ great prayer.

Our Lord Jesus prays,

“I have glorified thee on the earth:”

How did the Lord Jesus glorify His Heavenly Father? He did the work that He was sent to do; i.e. He obeyed the will of the Father. How did He word it, when, in John 4, the disciples came back from Sycar with some food to eat? “Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” Well, that was much earlier, and the Lord Jesus is about full. There’s hardly any room for dessert now.

If I had been contracted to paint the wall of our church auditorium, and I told you that I was finished and wanted to be paid, but then you came in and saw that most of the wall had new paint, but it was obvious that there were streaks where I didn’t roll the roller, should I be paid? Should I put the name of Calvary Independent Baptist Church on my list of references? Should I glory in my poor and incomplete work?

When the Lord Jesus said, “I have glorified thee on the earth,” there was no one who could say that He’d done otherwise. There was no one who could charge Christ with sin. There were no witnesses who said that Jesus had taught lies or wrested the scriptures. Satan tempted Christ, but our Lord drove Him off with perfect righteousness. His enemies just stood with gaping mouths, because they couldn’t find a single chink in the Lord’s armor. Truly, he had glorified the Father on earth.

But there is more involved in this statement than what appears on the surface. Notice the tense of the verb in this verse: “I have glorified” is past tense. And so is the next part of the verse, “I have finished.” Our Lord is not talking about His doctrinal teaching, His miracles of healing, or His example. He is talking about His sacrifice for our sins. He is talking about something that, as far as those overhearing Him were concerned, was not finished. Some uninitiated person might have a problem with this, but we who know the Lord don’t.

First, the Lord is speaking to His Father and not to us, and again, there is that special relationship. Both the Father and the Son are eternal and unconfined by the passage of time. They don’t have to wait for events to know those events. They are high enough to see the beginning of the parade as well as the end. But this is not just Jesus’ slip of the tongue as He speaks to the Father. Unless the Lord chooses to think and speak in humanese, he speaks in the eternal. Look at verses 11-12 : “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.”

In addition to this, as far as our perspective is concerned, the Lord was speaking as a prophet. This is no different from a dozen Old Testament prophecies about Christ. Listen to the language of Psalm 22: “Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help. Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: They pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me.”

Our Lord Jesus prays, I have glorified thee on the earth:

“I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.”

Some people say that Jesus died a failure. He came to offer the Millennial kingdom to the Jews, but His offer was not accepted. He went to Israel the way that Moses went to his nation and they rejected him. So He went into Midian pouting all the way. Not only was His offer of the Kingdom rejected, but he was taken by cruel hands and executed. He died as a complete and utter failure.

Hog wash! The Lord doesn’t show the least hint of disappointment in this prayer. In fact He implies that He accomplished every task given to Him from the Father. There wasn’t a single sick person whom He was ordained to heal who was not healed. There wasn’t a single person who was supposed to become a disciple, who wasn’t a disciple. There weren’t any bodies buried who were not supposed to be buried.

And keeping in mind that the Lord is talking about His atoning sacrifice: He says, “All whom thou hast given me I have kept.” There was not a single soul given Him of the Father for whom there was not atonement made. Amen, and praise the Lord!!!

Before we move on however, notice another application here for us. The Lord does not necessarily bless the work that we arbitrarily pick up on our own. “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.”What is the will of the Lord for you to do? We have the responsibility to find the answer that question if we desire to be glorified in Heaven.

“And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self”

Doesn’t the Lord warn us about vain repetition when it comes to our devotions? There is a kind of repetition in our prayers which shows a lack of thought. In fact it may actually be despised by the Lord, but then on the other hand the Lord highly commends importunateness. To be importunate is to be persistent in our prayers. And persistence requires repetition. So apparently there needs to be balance and wisdom in our repetitive prayers.

But isn’t verse 5 a repetition of the Lord’s request in verse 1? Isn’t this vain repetition? Actually, I don’t think so. In verse 1 the Lord Jesus was asking the Father the glorify Him in the work of procuring salvation. This verse is a prayer for heavenly glory. If the Father gains and is glorified in the cross, then it’s right for Son to be glorified in resurrection.

Who can quote Hebrews 12:2? “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God..” That “joy which was set before Him” is the glory in Heaven which the Saviour now enjoys.

“With the glory which I had with thee before the world was.”

We know by faith that the Son of God is eternal. It stretches my mind to the breaking point to meditate upon that thought and fact. There are a thousand questions that I have about the eternality of the Second Person, but I know it to be true, because that is what the Word of God says. And I know that eternity past must have been glorious.

And then came the business of the creation of man, the permission of the fall, the choice of salvation, and the covenant between the Father and the Son to save those sinful rebels. What was the order of events in those pre-creation days? Which is correct: supralapsarianism, infralapsarianism or sublapsarianism? Whatever the sequence was there was an agreement that Son would empty Himself of His glory. He would humble Himself in His incarnation. And after a short ministry of teaching and authenticating, He would die as the Lamb of God. But then, when the blood of the sacrifice was properly presented to the Father and applied to the Mercy Seat, He would again return to His former glory .

Isn’t the Lord Jesus actually praying a promise made to Him in eternity past? Philippians 2:5-11 – “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Not only was the Lord asking for His former glory, but an even more glorious glory – as the Saviour. He was praying the promise of the Father – here is something else that we learn.

Go to Chapter Five »