Our Lord's High-Priestly Prayer: Part 5 -- Joh_17:22-26
And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.
Some very wonderful truths are brought before us in these verses. In Joh_17:22 our Lord speaks of sharing His acquired glories with His own. You remember we saw that there is a difference between the essential glory of the Lord Jesus Christ and His acquired glory. When He spoke in Joh_17:5 of the “glory which I had with thee before the world was,” and back into which He was going, He was speaking of His essential glory that you and I will never share. He is God-God the Son, with God the Father, and God the Spirit. He is God, and we, of course, will never be exalted to Deity. We do not in any sense share that glory, but we are to behold that glory when we see Him. We shall see Him in all His glory as the Eternal Son.
There are other glories that He won by His cross, that accrued to Him because of the work He did when down here in this world of sin, and those glories we shall share. He speaks of the glory that He had won when He says, “The glory which thou gavest me” (Joh_17:22). He has given us a share in all that He won by His death on the cross. In view of that, He prays a third time for the unity of His people. In Joh_17:11 He prays for a unity in testimony: “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.” Thank God, through His grace they are kept in unity of testimony.
In Joh_17:21 He has in view unity in fellowship, and this, of course, is based upon the unity of life, which is shared by all saints. For, after having prayed for those with Him at that time, He says, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word” (Joh_17:20). There is a unity of life. We today have exactly the same divine life that He had, so that prayer has been answered. The people of God are one. It is perfectly true we do not always act as though we are one, but we are all members of His blessed family.
He desires us to so live in that unity that the world may believe. When people of the world see that we Christians love one another, they are impressed with the reality of our profession. When they see us quarreling, it gives them a reason to question the reality of our profession.
Now in the verse before us He says, “The glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one [as the Divine Trinity are one]: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one [that they may be perfected into one]” (Joh_17:22-23 a). What is this? It is displayed unity at the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ. “That they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent me” (Joh_17:23). During the present time, as we manifest our unity, the world believes. At His coming, it will no longer be possible to question the fact. The world will know this unity when all the saints are revealed in the same glory as the Lord Jesus Christ. “That the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” In that day the world will awaken to the realization of the fact that Christ is indeed the Sent One. It will then be too late for many of them who refused to believe to come into harmony with Him.
The second part of this verse is so marvelous that if it were not in the Word of God we would not believe it: “Thou hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” Just suppose somebody stood up and declared this without scriptural authority. It would be too much to take in! “That the world may know that thou has sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me.” Is that really true? Does God the Father love me as much as He loves Jesus Christ? Do you believe it, my sister? Does he love you, my brother, as much as He loves Jesus Christ? What an amazing truth this is! I can understand that because He loves His Son He will take me into favor and give me a measure of affection because I believe in His Son. But here I find there is no difference between the love the Father has for His own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love He has for His children of faith in Jesus Christ.
So near, so very near to God,
Nearer I could not be;
For in the person of His Son,
I am as near as He.
So dear, so very dear to God,
Dearer I could not be;
The love wherewith He loved His Son,
Such is His love to me.
There is a verse in John’s first epistle that long puzzled me. It contains just nine monosyllables. We like to use big words with which to set forth our poor poverty-stricken thoughts. But when the Holy Spirit sets forth the most profound truth He often clothes it in the very simplest language. He wraps it up in little words, so easy and plain that all can take it in. In the latter part of 1Jn_4:17 we read, “As he is, so are we in this world.” Look at that. Nine monosyllables, and some of them contain only two letters. “As He is.” I could not make that out. I wondered if that were the correct translation. Might it not mean, “As he is, so ought we to be in this world?” I read the context and looked it up in the original. No, that was not it. Could it be that this is to be carried into the future? Could it mean, “As he is, so will we be when we get through with this world”? No, that was not it. “As he is, so are we in this world.” But I am not pure in thought and word and deed as He is. I am not as considerate of the feelings of others as He. I do not love God as He does. I do not love the lost world as He does. There must be something wrong.
Then my attention was directed to the fact that John had just been talking of the day of judgment. I used to be afraid of the day of judgment. How terrible it would be after many years of service to come to the judgment, and find I had failed and might be lost after all! But I read, “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world” (literal rendering). It began to open up to me. My relationship to the coming judgment is the same as His. Is He ever coming into judgment for sin? He has been judged already in my place. Is He to give an account for the sins laid on Him at Calvary’s cross? No. Then what about me? “As he is, so are we in this world.” “Perfect love casteth out all fear” (1Jn_4:18). I had been looking for perfect love in myself, trying to pump it up; looking for perfect love, but never finding it. The Lord led me to look for perfect love in the blessed Lord Jesus Christ. I found it there, the love that brought Him to Calvary’s cross. Perfect love is there and only there. It casts out all fear. It was on my behalf He suffered.
Death and judgment are behind me,
Grace and glory are before;
All the billows rolled o’er Jesus,
There they spent their utmost power.
He took my place; He bore my judgment. “There is… no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Rom_8:1). “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (Joh_5:24). My fears are gone. “As he is, so are we in this world.” An English brother said:
John’s nine monosyllables all in a row,
Are my joy and my comfort while here below.
Suppose I am passing the courthouse and see the police taking in different ones. I ask, “What is going on here?” “Oh,” they say, “they are trying a lot of gangsters.” I say, “I think I’ll go in.” They tell me, “You had better stay out. You may get into trouble.” “What for?” I ask, “My case is not coming up.” I have boldness in the day of judgment. So it is here. I have boldness in the day of judgment because my case is not coming up. I have been judged in my Substitute. All my sins are settled for. I do not mean that I will not be judged for my works. That is a different occasion.
We stand now before God in relation to the judgment in the same place as His blessed Son stands. He has made us “accepted in the beloved” (Eph_1:6). We are accepted in Him. Don’t let any one cheat you out of the joy of that. The Father loves me as much as He loves the Lord Jesus Christ. Isn’t it wonderful to be a Christian? “That the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”
Now notice the next portion. “Father, I will [that is, ‘I desire’]” (Joh_17:24 a). You know the Lord Jesus said, “I came… not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (Joh_6:38). He never asserted His will. He says, “I [desire] that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou Iovedst me before the foundation of the world” (Joh_17:24). Do you think the Father will grant Him His desire? Do you think when the saints are gathered the Lord will be looking around and saying, “Some I thought the Father had given Me are missing?” No, they will all be there. “I will that they also, whom thou hast given me [seven times He uses that expression], be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou Iovedst me before the foundation of the world.” There is one glory we shall share, another glory we shall behold. We shall behold the glory of the only begotten Son, one who was loved of the Father before the world was created. “Thou Iovedst me before the foundation of the world.” This tells not only of the preexistence of the Lord Jesus Christ but also of the blessed fellowship of the persons of the Trinity.
Now the Lord closes His prayer thus: “O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me” (Joh_17:25). When He speaks of God in view of the world, He says, “Righteous Father.” When thinking of His own relationship, it is simply, “Father,” or “Holy Father.” What blasphemy it is to call any man on earth “Holy Father,” when the blessed Lord reserves that title for God the Father! Here He says, “O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee.” How true it is, “the natural man [understandeth] not the things… of God: … [but] they are spiritually discerned” (1Co_2:14). The world imagines it knows God. The unsaved talk about God, but know not the One revealed by the Lord Jesus Christ.
I was reasoning with a man who called himself a Unitarian. I gave him Scripture to prove the preexistence and Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. He did not accept the testimony of the Scripture. As he left me, he said, “Well, good-bye, brother. I cannot accept your faith, but we can shake hands because we both believe in God the Father, if we do not agree about Jesus.” I answered, “If you had offered your hand simply as a man, I could shake hands with you. I do not want to be discourteous, but I cannot shake hands with you on your statement that we have the same Father but disagree about the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The world does not know the Father. The world has many lords and gods, but only in the Lord Jesus Christ has the Father been revealed. “The world hath not known thee, but I have known thee.” He knew the heart of God, for He came from God and went back to God. He was one with the Father. Now this wonderful Lord is revealed by the Spirit to every one of us, His own. “These have known that thou has sent me.” Here on earth He took the place of the Sent One. He said, “I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me” (Joh_8:16). “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world” (Joh_17:18). We can go into a lost world with the consciousness of being sent by the Son to carry the gospel to lost men and women.
In Joh_17:26 He says, “I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it.” In Joh_17:6 He said, “I have manifested thy name.” Here He says, “I have declared unto them thy name.” That was a part of His mission, to make known the Father’s name. He manifested it in His life, for He was “the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (Joh_1:14). He manifested it by His doctrinal statement: “I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it.” What does He mean? He is just going to the cross to die, to seal His testimony by giving His life for the redemption of mankind.
In resurrection, what is the first thing He does? He appears to Mary, and says, “Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God” (Joh_20:17). He had declared the Father’s name here on the earth. He declares it again in resurrection. So we have a double testimony as to our relationship to God.
“I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.” How is that love in us, the love wherewith the Father loved the Son? Turn to Rom_5:1-5 and read, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” The Spirit of God has come down from glory to witness to the acceptance of our blessed High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is entered into the holiest, and He it is who sheds abroad the Father’s love in our hearts. That love is not merely human, it is that which is divine. That is why the Scripture says, “Every one that loveth is born of God” (1Jn_4:7). It does not mean, if you are an affectionate person you are born of God. We have such a low conception of love.
I remember hearing of a young man who came to his pastor as he was leaving for another field, and said, “Before you came here I did not care for God, man, or the Devil. Now I have learned to love them all.” That is the idea some people have of love! But divine love is holy love, the love of God to sinners, the love the Holy Spirit puts in the heart. It is this love that enabled Christ to triumph over all circumstances and to love lost men, no matter how they treated Him. May we all enter into it more fully for His name’s sake.