“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”
Jesus says in His High Priestly Prayer that He received glory from the Father that He then gave to His first disciples (John 17:22–23). We have seen that this glory consists essentially in the truth of God, that is, the revelation in the person of the incarnate Christ regarding who God is (1:14). John and the other Apostles saw this glory—received this truth about God—and then handed it down to us through their inspired writings in the New Testament (17:20; see 1 John 1:1–4).
Because we have received and believed in the Apostolic testimony, we can say that we, too, have seen the glory of Christ (John 17:20, 24). But there remains an aspect of the glory of Christ that we have not yet seen. We know that from today’s passage, where Jesus expresses His desire that everyone given to Him by the Father would see the glory He has had from the foundation of the world (17:24). There remains a glory to be seen that is yet future for God’s people, at least for those who have not yet entered the eternal state in heaven.
This glory is the refulgent glory of the triune God, to which Jesus has already referred in His prayer (v. 5). At the start of His High Priestly Prayer, Jesus anticipated His return to heaven and to the glory He had with the Father before the creation of the world, and this must be the glory of which He speaks in verse 24. Although we know much about our Savior now because we have the sacred Scriptures, we have not seen everything. Jesus has yet more to show us, but this will not be done in the here and now but only when we go to be with Him. Jesus refers to what we will see at our deaths or at His return in glory, whichever comes first. John mentions this in one of his epistles, for he says that “when [Jesus] appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
We shall have a direct, unmediated view of the Son of God in the full glory of His deity, and this vision will not destroy us. It will, in fact, purify us (v. 3). And remarkably, Jesus wants this for us. He does not want to remain hidden from His people. He does not want us to live forever without having the privilege of seeing Him with our eyes. He does not want to be in the Father’s presence without having His people there to see Him as well; such is His love for us.
Coram DeoLiving before the face of God
We must beware of an inappropriately man-centered theology that says God does what He does merely for our sake. And yet, we must also beware of a theology that misconstrues God-centeredness to mean that we are of low importance to our Creator. As we see in the High Priestly Prayer, Jesus wants His disciples with Him in glory. God wants His people in His presence, where we will be blessed forever.