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Father, Glorify Your Son

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
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July 22, 2021 12:01 am

Father, Glorify Your Son

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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July 22, 2021 12:01 am

One way we can intimately know someone's heart is by listening to that person's prayers. This was the privilege of Jesus'; disciples as they overheard His prayer for them before His death. Today, Sinclair Ferguson examines Christ's High Priestly Prayer.

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In John chapter 17, we read the moving words of Jesus' high priestly prayer. And in these verses, we are given the privilege of overhearing the second person of the Trinity, telling the first person of the Trinity what He most wants in all the world. Can you imagine what it must have been like to actually hear Jesus pray? Welcome to Renewing Your Mind on this Thursday.

I'm Lee Webb. Today and tomorrow, we are pleased to feature messages from Dr. Sinclair Ferguson's series, Lessons from the Upper Room. Jesus made this passionate plea to His Father just before He was arrested and sent to the cross. It gives us a revealing glimpse into Jesus' priorities and His relationship with His Heavenly Father.

Let's learn more. You know, sometimes in churches, we feel that we really want to get to know each other. And so we have social occasions and social gatherings so that we can get to know each other. But there is a principle, I think, that's important in pastoral ministry. And that is that the place of all the services in the church where people get to know each other is the prayer meeting.

And the reason for that is you really get to know somebody's heart. Best of all, not when you're talking to them face to face, but when you're listening to them face to face with the Heavenly Father and hearing how they approach Him, what they say to Him, what they feel about Him, what they desire from Him. People who are not Christians find it very embarrassing to be in situations where they hear Christians pray to their Father in heaven.

It's a world with which they are entirely unfamiliar. But it's part of the privileged world in which we live as Christian believers, isn't it? We are in some ways so accustomed to that that we scarcely notice the privilege that we enjoy of listening to the intimate desires of our brothers and sisters for the advance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And if that's a privilege that we share in the church, there could surely be no greater privilege for Jesus' disciples than to listen to Him pray. And so it's a very striking thing that this farewell discourse in John 13 through John 17 ends with an elongated account of our Lord Jesus Christ at prayer.

Now the disciples have become completely silent. There is only one voice that speaks and He no longer addresses the disciples, but rather He allows His disciples to overhear Him addressing His loving Heavenly Father. And it brings to a conclusion these chapters that in many ways provide us with a gospel within the gospel. They're actually shaped the same way the gospel is. The gospel begins with a prologue, ends with an epilogue, and in between there are two volumes, the book of the signs and the book of glory. And John 13 through 17, as we come near to the end of it now, looking back we can see that it's shaped in the same way. It begins with a prologue, the action of Jesus in washing His disciples' feet. It ends with an epilogue, in which having had their feet washed by the Savior, they overhear the Savior praying for them. And in between there are two sections, what we call chapters 13 through 14, in which Jesus is speaking to them about His departure and how He will send the Spirit in order to strengthen them. And then in chapters 15 and 16, their need to abide in Christ and the promise that Christ will keep them through the tribulation. And now it's as though Jesus gathers all this together in His heart and in His words as He turns His attention now from the disciples to His Heavenly Father and prays in what has so often in Christian history been described as His high priestly prayer. This prayer in John 17 was known from about the fifth century as the priestly prayer of Jesus, and then from the time of the Reformation it's come to be known as the high priestly prayer of Jesus.

Nowhere is it specifically said that Jesus is engaging in a high priestly ministry here, but there's so much about this prayer that is reminiscent of the prayerful ministry of the high priest. The high priest had a particularly great function, as you know, on the Day of Atonement. He was to go into the very presence of God in the holiest place of all, and there He was to bring a sacrifice that had been made and to intercede for the people. No one else in Israel was permitted to do this.

He was permitted to do it only on one occasion every year. It was the high moment of the Jewish calendar. You know probably that the high priest wore a garment that had little bells on it so that when he went into the presence of God, as he made any movement, the people outside could hear the little sounds of the bells and feel a deep sense of relief that perhaps the sacrifice was again being accepted and that the high priest was not being struck down. On later occasions, they actually tied a rope around his leg in case he was struck down in divine judgment so that they would be able to bring his body out of the presence of the holiness and judgment of God. And in order to engage in this ministry, the high priest went through a ritual by which he was prepared for it. And part of that ritual was engaging in an extended season of prayer. And when he prayed, he was expected to pray for three concentric circles of people. First of all, he was to pray for himself and for the ministry that he was about to exercise. Secondly, he would pray for his more immediate family, those who were round about him, who knew him best and whom he knew best, that they might be consecrated with him to the service of the Lord. And then the third of these concentric circles was the way in which he would intercede for all of the people of God.

And strikingly, this is the form in which John 17 comes to us. You'll notice in verses 1 through 5, the Lord Jesus is praying for himself and about himself. And then in verses 6 through 19, he's praying for his immediate disciples, those who have been with him in these three years of ministry. And then in a most remarkable way towards the end, in verse 20 through verse 26, he's actually praying for all who will become Christian believers. I don't ask for these only, he says, but also for those who will believe in me through their Word.

And among others, that includes us, doesn't it? Because by whatever means it has come to us, the knowledge of the Lord Jesus has been a knowledge we have gained from the apostolic Word. We have no knowledge of the Lord Jesus apart from the pages of our New Testament. And these are the testimonies of the apostles. So in a most amazing way, Jesus' prayer begins immediately with himself. And then, almost like the Great Commission, it's almost as though he is undergirding the Great Commission with prayer, that he prays for all those who will come to faith in him in every place and at every stage of future history. So this, in a sense, is the most sacred moment thus far that the disciples are experiencing as they gather with Jesus on the evening of his Passion, and they overhear Jesus' prayer.

And this is a high moment of emotion for Jesus, isn't it? The time has now come for him who has been obedient to his Father all through his ministry to become, as Paul says, obedient now to death, even the death of the cross. And he's now praying to his Heavenly Father.

And I want us to look in this session at what it is that Jesus prays about himself. He is conscious, you'll notice, first of all, that the time has come. He says, Father, the hour has come. Interesting that this takes place in the context of a meal, because twice before in the context of a meal and then a feast, the Lord Jesus has said, my time has not yet come. Remember at the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee in John chapter 2, he says to his slightly bossy mother at that point, now he says, don't you be telling me what to do.

My time has not yet come. But then he transforms the water and the wine, and as John says in John 2, 11, he begins to show his glory. And then there is another moment later on in John chapter 7, when Jesus says that for the moment he is not going up to the feast.

It was the Feast of Booths he was referring to. And he says, because my time has not yet come. But now his time has come. There has been this hint of the Gentiles wanting to see him. There has been this sense that Satan has now virtually stepped out into open conflict with him and has, as it were, embodied himself in one of Jesus' disciples, Judas Iscariot. And all the pieces are in place.

All the players are in position. The Scriptures of all the ages are about to be fulfilled. And not just the Scriptures of Isaiah 53, that he would be wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. Not simply the promises of the Psalms that one would come who would suffer for the sake of others. But that ancient promise, that most ancient of promise, that the day would come when the coming Messiah would crush the head of the serpent. And now, says Jesus, the hour has come.

And yet, do you see what it is that he believes this hour holds for him? When Jesus had spoken all these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, John 17 verse 1, Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son in order that your Son may glorify you.

First of all, what is it that Jesus is asking for? It's a very remarkable prayer, isn't it? Father, glorify me. This is one of those statements from the lips of the Lord Jesus that actually highlights and pinpoints his consciousness of his own deity, doesn't it? He knows the Old Testament Scriptures. He knows that at the heart of the Old Testament Scriptures lies the statement of Yahweh, of Jehovah, I will not give my glory to another. My glory is absolutely the property and possession only of God. And Jesus is in this way giving expression to his consciousness that he is the Son of the Father, that he is the Word who was with God and was himself God. And sweetly, not stretching beyond his rights, he is saying to his heavenly Father, Father, will you now glorify me so that I may glorify you?

It's such a touching word, is it not, that Jesus here prays. What does he mean, his glory? Well, of course, in Scripture, the glory of God is the external expression or manifestation of all of his attributes and perfections. It's almost like the kaleidoscopic burst of the colors of the magnificence of God's character. And there are occasions, of course, in the Old Testament Scriptures where this seems to burst forth as though God himself were saying, you cannot see me because I am the invisible God, but I want to clothe myself in some marvelous way that will give you a sense of just how magnificent and glorious and beautiful and perfect I really am.

And so we have these marvelous moments. For example, in the Psalms, there's that marvelous psalm in which there's the sense of the people of God watching a thunderstorm and the lightning crashing through the sky. And as they watch this, they watch this firework display of the majesty and power of God. And the psalmist says, in God's temple, everybody cries, glory, as though they're saying, I've seen something of the glory of God. And Jesus is praying that something of that glory will be seen marvelously in Him.

As I said, He had given little glimpses of it. He gave another glimpse of it, didn't He, when He stilled the storm. And the disciples were left wondering, who is this that even the winds and the waves obey Him?

And there were three of them in the room, three of these eleven apostles who had accompanied Jesus up the Mount of Transfiguration. And there they'd seen something that none of the others thus far had seen. There was something happened to Jesus as He entered into the presence of His Father in prayer, and He seemed to be full of light. His clothes seemed to take on this amazing brightness. There was a whiteness, a purity.

And it really overwhelmed them. And Jesus is now praying to His Heavenly Father. He's really praying to His Heavenly Father as though He were saying, Father, I not only emptied myself into the incarnation, but there is a sense in which I have hidden my majesty in the incarnation.

Will you not now, by your power, unveil that majesty so men and women will see who I really am, and as they see who I really am face to face with you, able to look into your effulgent glory? Remember how God had said to Moses when He asked to see the glory of God, Moses, you can't see the glory of God and live. But Jesus is saying, I can look into your glory and reflect that glory and live. And so, Father, unveil that glory that I had with you before the world began. And it's an amazing expression of His consciousness of deity. You know, sometimes when people say, well, does the New Testament really teach that Jesus was God? We go to some of the big texts like Romans chapter 9 verse 5 or to other verses, but here are words straight out of the mouth of our Lord Jesus that are either expressions of His deity or the worst conceivable expression of blasphemy. And it's all to be found in His prayer, Father, the hour has come, glorify your Son. I have authority over all flesh to give eternal life to all whom you have given me.

Now, this is interesting, isn't it? How is it that Jesus is going to be glorified? And this is the marvelous thing for us as believers. He is going to be glorified by the way in which He gives us eternal life.

I think this is such a great thing for us to understand as Christians, don't you? People who are not Christians, it seems to me, always think that the glory of God is bound to be the antithesis of my blessing and my good, don't they? Why would you want to glorify God when that undoubtedly is going to diminish your life? Actually, most people seem to think about the Christian life that way, don't they? Glorifying God is wasting your life. But here Jesus is saying, I think this, Father, I want my glory to be seen, but I don't want my glory to be seen without them receiving blessing from that manifestation and coming to know me and coming to know you as the only true God who has sent me into the world. Father, in order that they may be blessed, will you not manifest my glory in this world? Why did Jesus pray like that? I think because His glory had been hidden. It's hard for us to understand that, hard, I think, for us to understand that, in a sense, He'd been living His life as an alien resident in this world. And because we are sinners and we're so used to a sinful world, because we're not really capable of breathing the pure atmosphere of heaven, we're very insensitive to how sensitive the Lord Jesus must have been to the polluted atmosphere of earth. I once tried to write a little allegory.

It's hidden away somewhere in my computer banks and I'm quite sure we'll never see the light of day. But it was called The Stranger and the Smokers. And the allegory was about someone who has lived in the penthouse suite, who has been, as it were, served night and day in the purified and rarefied atmosphere of the penthouse suite. And he comes down from the penthouse suite on the elevator and the elevator doors open and there is a crowd of smokers there and he has never breathed in smoke. And they take him, they drag him from the elevator and they breathe on him and they smoke more and more and they seek to stick their cigarettes into his mouth and they breathe into his eyes and they seek to destroy him because he is not one of them. He is not like them. And here is this one who has never breathed polluted air.

Here is this one who has never experienced antagonism. Here is this one who has been loved from all eternity, surrounded by angels and archangels and cherubim and seraphim and sharing in the blessed fellowship of the whole eternity and in the joy that they have in one another. And now he's come down into a world where he is demeaned, where the pollution of our sin has poured upon his Holy Spirit day after day after day after day.

And now towards the end, as they will breathe their pollution on him in order to destroy him rather than to trust him and to be changed to be like him, he's coming to his heavenly Father and he's saying, Father, you know that these 33 years have brought such homesickness to my soul. Will you not now glorify me in your own presence with the glory I had with you before the world began? And so he prays that what he once knew, he will again know that the Father and the Son will live in this most intimate of fellowship with one another, where the Father will gaze upon him and say to him, my son, I have watched you every single day. I have felt, as it were in my soul, the pollution of the atmosphere into which you have gone to fulfill our purpose and to save these polluted sinners. That's why I want highly to exalt you and give you the name that is above every name, that at your name every knee will bow and every tongue confess that you are Lord. And in these verses, we are given the privilege of overhearing the second person of the Trinity, the first person of the Trinity, what he most wants in all the world. Does that make you love him, that he has done so much for sinners like ourselves? And doesn't it make you rejoice that his Father will give him all the glory?

If he does that, why wouldn't we do that as well? Amen. That is Ligonier teaching fellow, Dr. Sinclair Ferguson, and you're listening to Renewing Your Mind.

Thank you for being with us. What we just heard is one of the many powerful insights that Dr. Ferguson conveys in his new book, Lessons from the Upper Room. This volume reveals Jesus' deep humility as well as his love for his Father and for all believers like you and me. Today, for your donation of any amount to Ligonier Ministries, we'll be happy to send you the paperback version and an e-book copy of Dr. Ferguson's new book, along with a digital download of the teaching series by the same name. Ask for Lessons from the Upper Room by Dr. Sinclair Ferguson. You can call us at 800-435-4343, but you can also find us online at We hope you'll join us again tomorrow as Dr. Ferguson shows us what Jesus' prayer revealed about his deep love for his disciples. The elaborate nature of his description of them is an expression of the extent and intensity of his love for them, and it's almost as though he is saying, Since they mean this much to me, Father, there's only one thing I want for them, and that is that you will keep them for me. Please make plans to join us again tomorrow for Renewing Your Mind. Copyright © 2020, New Thinking Allowed Foundation
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-20 20:14:15 / 2023-09-20 20:22:41 / 8

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