Chapter Sixteen – John 17:24

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

John 17:24

It was many years ago that Judy, the kids and I were driving through the Canadian Rockies back to Calgary. I can’t remember if we were returning from Vancouver Island, or just out for a day’s drive, but on this occasion, we turned off the Trans-Canada Highway at a sign that I had often seen but never investigated. The sign bore an Indian name of a waterfall. We drove off the Highway a mile or so and parked the car, then began to walk. I can’t remember how far or how long we walked, but it wasn’t more than half a mile.

Shortly after we began our little hike, we could hear the sound of the waterfall. It began inauspiciously enough, but soon became a all-engulfing roar. And then finally, we burst out of the trees and before us stood a huge, roaring waterfall. This was not the water of a little creek, but a fairly good-sized river. And from our vantage point, it looked like it just leaped from a fissure between a cliff and the sky. It seemed to come out of no-where. It seemed that God created that water out of nothing just as He did for the Israelites in the wilderness. We got drenched with the spray and deafened by the sound, but we were awestruck.

That waterfall, had probably been pouring off that cliff for several thousand years. It was glorious before we were ever born. It was there every time that we drove past on that busy highway. It was beautiful, fantastic, awesome and a hundred other adjectives, before we ever took the trouble to stop and look. But on this occasion, the sight of something that exciting, excited some excitement in us. It reproduced a little bit of itself in us. We were empowered by the power of that cataract. First, we enjoyed, and then reflected, the glory of that glorious sight.

As our Lord Jesus begins to close his prayer, He verbalizes what may well be His highest request.

“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am . . .”

Seven times in this prayer the Lord has referred to this special group of people. With no shadow of doubt the Lord speaks about a specific group of people – to the exclusion of the vast majority of humanity. This group is described as simply “the people whom the Father gave to the Son.”

As we have already learned these were people who belonged to the Father before the foundation of the world. They were given to Christ in order for Him to manifest the Father’s name to them, verse 6. They were given to Christ with the purpose of the Lord’s salvation, verse 2. They were given to Christ and He kept every one of them, verse12. The Lord did not make the Father manifest to any others than those given to Him for that purpose. He certainly didn’t keep any others than these. And He didn’t give His life a ransom for any others but those who were given to Him to save. They were chosen by the Father to obtain these blessings. Elsewhere they are called “the Elect.”

Our Lord here is not praying for merely the Apostles, but for all those who would believe on Him, verse 20. He is praying here for you and me, who have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, but throughout this prayer and again in this verse, the description of these people is not of their faith. They are not called disciples, or followers of Christ, or repentant believers. The word used doesn’t hint of anything in us, or done by us.

As far as the God-head is concerned these are those given to the Son by the Father. As far as the Lord is concerned, they are the elect, nothing more and certainly nothing less.

Now, notice that this is not a prayer request: “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am.”

Nowhere in scriptures do you ever find any man praying to God in such an authoritative tone. Moses prayed for his people, the nation of Israel, but he pleaded and besought the Lord as one of those people. And Paul prayed for others, but he did so as a man needing grace himself.

Here the Lord Jesus speaks to the Father as His equal within the God-head. “Father, I will, I DECLARE my purpose in the matter of these people.”

This, we might say, is the Last Will and Testament of the Lord Jesus Christ. And this Last Testament is the key to the New Testament. Based upon the eternal covenant between the Father and the Son, the Son was claiming these people whom the Father had given to Him before the foundation of the world.

And something else to remember is that the will of the Son was never contrary or divergent to the will of the Father. There will not be one of the Lord’s people who will not be with Him where He is. This is more certain than the rising of the sun tomorrow morning.

“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am. . .”

 

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” – John 14.

The Lord Jesus not only had authority to give eternal life to as many as Father had given him, verse 2, but He also has the Father’s authority to take us to be with Himself. He paid for what He prayed for.

Don’t you find the words, “with me, and where I am” to be kind of redundant? Aren’t “with me” and “where I am” essentially the same thing?

Think back to the history of David and Absalom. Absalom had a sister whom he dearly loved; but Tamar was sexually assaulted by another half-brother. That crime, unpunished by the King, festered in the bosom of Absalom, until it exploded. He murdered that wicked half-brother and fled into the wilderness.

Through some intrigue and trickery, David was persuaded to permit his son to return to Jerusalem, but not to visit or see him. You might say that Absalom was with David in Jerusalem, but he was not permitted to leave his own house, and he didn’t see the king. Absalom was with David, but he was definitely not where David was.

Heaven to the saints of God will not be merely streets of gold and fellowship with other saints and angels. Heaven will not be Heaven without the physical presence of the One Who gave His life for our salvation. Not only will we not be satisfied without Christ, but reading between the lines, it appears that Christ will not be satisfied without our presence with Him.

Many things today may seem to say that this reunion in Heaven will be impossible. Our memories, our sins, our consciences, the broken law, neglected opportunities, Satan himself… These and a hundred other things may say that Heaven with Christ is impossible… But it is the will, the declared intention, of Christ Jesus that we join Him in glory.

“That they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me:”

I don’t think that the Lord Jesus is talking about His divine glory in this case. I believe that He’s talking about the special glory that has become His through redemption. This is the glory of the Messiah, and our Mediator. And we shall behold that glory with real, all-be-it slightly different eyes. The sight which is by faith today will be replaced by the sight of sinless eyes. The sight which is at a distance today will be so close that I won’t need these silly lenses over my eyes.

What does I John 3:1-2 say? “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: But we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”

What does Job say in 19:26-27? “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.”

Doesn’t this sound rather proudful on Jesus’ part? “Lord, I want those people whom I have saved to witness me in my ultimate glory.” Coming from the lips an ordinary human being I suppose that this might indeed be pride. But first, there is no sin in Christ, and pride is sin. And secondly, I think that it points out that our glorification comes about through the glorification of the Saviour.

There is a sense in which it was essential for us that we see the Lord in His glory. And just as Moses’ face radiated the glory of the Lord, so will ours, but with a slight difference.

As my family and I viewed that great waterfall, the glory of that sight, not only covered us in mist, but it also evoked from inside us thoughts, and words, and hearts of praise and wonder. We were changed in a tiny way by viewing one of the glorious works of our great God.

In a sense, to see the Saviour glorified will be a part of our glorification.

“For thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.”

The Lord mentions once again this special relationship between Himself and the Father. That relationship is a part of the reason for Jesus’ anticipation and expectation of His glorification. “I anticipate that glory because of your eternal love for me.” And it might be called up right here as an argument that He be heard in His prayer for us.

Certainly as our High Priest the Saviour is constantly referring to Himself as reasons for the Lord’s blessings on us. It is not our sacrifice which is plead before the Father, but the sacrifice of the Son. It is not the blood which we have shed striving against sin, but it’s the blood of the Lamb of God .

There is one other thing that struck me thinking about this verse: Jesus said that the “Father loved the Son before the foundation of the world.” That is the same language that He uses to speak about us. “We are those whose names were written in the book of life from the foundation of the world” – Revelation 17:8. We are those to whom the King will say unto them on his right hand, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” – Matthew 25:34.

But the reason that these sorts of things can and will be said of us is seen in places like Ephesians 1:3-4,”Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:”

I Peter 1:18-20 – “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.”

This is a fantastic and wonderful verse, worthy of our meditation for the rest of the week, the rest of year……..Or until such time that it is fulfilled in our Saviour on our behalf.

Go to Chapter Seventeen »