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John 17:4–5

“I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.”

In the first part of His High Priestly Prayer, our Lord asks for the Father to glorify Him now that the hour of His atoning death has arrived (John 17:1–5). This is an interesting request, for glory is a divine attribute, and since the Son of God is fully God, He possesses an inherent divine glory that cannot be augmented or diminished (1:1–18). So, if Christ possesses glory at the time of His High Priestly Prayer, how can He pray for God to give Him glory?

We must first note that although the Son of God possesses infinite glory according to His deity, He veiled that glory in His incarnation. He humbled Himself, hiding the full manifestation of His divine glory from human eyes, allowing it to shine forth only on occasion, most notably in the transfiguration (Phil. 2:5–11; see Matt. 17:1–7). So, we can see His prayer for glorification as a prayer in which He asks the Father to allow His inherent divine glory to be seen clearly once again.

Jesus’ prayer for His glorification is also a prayer for His humanity to share fully in the divine glory. As the incarnate Mediator between God and humanity, He asks to be glorified in both His divine nature and in His human nature. Consider the basis of His request. Jesus prays for His glorification because of the authority given to Him to give eternal life to the elect and because He has accomplished the work given to Him (John 17:2–4). Christ refers to His work of securing righteousness for us and atoning for our sin, which the Son of God could accomplish only as the incarnate Mediator. Why? Because atonement requires the Son to possess a human nature, since it is impossible for the Son to suffer according to His divine nature. Humanity can suffer; God cannot. Without the incarnation, the Son does not have a human nature, and without a human nature there is no atonement.

The Father gave the incarnate Son the mediatorial authority to do the work needed to save us and to give that salvation to His people. The Son of God accomplished the work of salvation as the incarnate Savior, so that work involved the operation of both His humanity and His deity. As Christ, the Son of God, acts according to His deity and His humanity to save us, and as His human nature belongs to God the Son, Christ prays for His glorification, for Himself as the whole, incarnate Christ—divine nature and human nature—to receive glory. John Calvin says Jesus asks that “the Divine majesty, which he had always possessed, may now be illustriously displayed in the person of the Mediator, and in the human flesh with which he was clothed.”

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Returning to the presence of God, Christ had to be glorified in His humanity in order to dwell before God’s face as the incarnate Mediator (John 17:5). His humanity had to participate in glory in order to see God in glory. The same is true of us, which is why we will be glorified. We will share in God’s glory not so that we will be worshiped but so that we will reflect that glory and enjoy the beauty of God as we see Him face-to-face.

For Further Study
  • Isaiah 49:3
  • Romans 8:16–17

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From the October 2018 Issue
Oct 2018 Issue