CHRIST GLORIFYING THE FATHER
“I have glorified Thee on the earth”. John 17.4.
Our Lord’s petitions in this prayer are first for Himself and then for His own. As Aaron appeared before the Lord in the Holy Place, with the names and circumstances and conditions of Israel borne upon his heart on the breastplate of judgment, for a memorial before the Lord continually, so Christ appears before God in this prayer. A greater than Aaron is here; Christ is all in all, the altar, the sacrifice, the incense, the priest, and intercessor all in Himself; and He there presents Himself before His Father’s throne in all the inestimable worth, preciousness, and perfection of His mediatorial work and office, He pleads ‘I have glorified Thee on the earth’ . . .
The person of the Lord Jesus Christ is the greatest of all the revealed mysteries of God. He was and ever will be, God and man in one person, He was the Word of God by whom all things were made, without whom nothing was made that was made. He was made flesh and dwelt among us. The brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express image of His Person, Heb. 1.3. ‘We beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth’ John 1.14. ‘In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead, bodily’. Col. 2.9.
Therefore, the majesty, the holiness, the blessedness, the preciousness, and the glory of the God-man Christ Jesus can never be conceived or expressed. The Father’s love for Him and His delight in finishing the work which the Father gave Him to do, are utterly beyond comprehension. His love to sinners in working for them, in living for them, in dying for them, must be infinite and the dignity of His Person must stamp eternal value, power, and efficacy upon His words and upon His works.
The circumstances under which He here presents Himself before God was in consequence of covenant agreements, engagements, and settlements between His Father and Himself in that He undertook the office of mediator between God and man and consented to take our nature and our place. ‘Who being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation and took upon him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men, and being found in fashion as a man he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death’ Phil. 2.6-8. He was also to see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied in the salvation of those for whom He was born and lived and died. The Father covenanted to accept the Offering; the Son covenanted to present His whole Self upon the altar of divine justice as an atonement for sin, and the Holy Spirit undertook to reveal the great salvation and apply it with power to the hearts of those whom the Father had given to Christ, and this covenant runs all through Scripture. In Ps. 89 from v.l9 onward all refers to Christ. The king of Israel, David, was but a picture and type and shadow of the David meant here v. 22-29. Verses 30-35 was the Father’s part of the covenant. Christ’s part was to glorify Him upon the earth ….
In Acts 13 the apostle Paul teaches that the promises to David were fulfilled when God raised Christ from the dead, because this was the seal and confirmation of the everlasting covenant, Isa. 42.1-8. This was God’s part of the covenant – His engagement to Christ; Christ’s engagement was to glorify Him on the earth ….
In Luke 1 we come to the fulfilment in the song of Zacharias, vv 68-75. This was the provision of the covenant; God’s part being to give His only begotten Son, the Son’s part being to glorify Him upon the earth, and the Spirit’s part to reveal and apply this salvation to the hearts of His people by His Word and by His grace.
The ground upon which He rests His plea is, ‘I have glorified Thee on the earth’. The Saviour pleads the performance of His part of the contract. He was at this time standing bound with the cords of everlasting love beside the altar of burnt offering. The last act was as good as done. He was on His way to Gethsemane, He stands at the bar of God’s justice, faithfulness, and holiness. He represents His people and He gives them the whole credit and benefit of all the infinite merit belonging to His person, work and office as mediator in His life and in His death, and on this ground He claims an equivalent from His Father’s justice for Himself as their Head, and for His people as members of His body, for Himself as the Son, and for them as those whom the Father had given Him – the people of His love, and on whose behalf He had descended from heaven to earth to glorify His Father ….
‘I have glorified Thee on the earth’, my Father; I have, according to the good pleasure of Thy will, according to the riches of the glory of Thy grace, and according to the covenant engagements between Me and Thee, performed all that was in Thine heart, and all that Thou didst require of Me for the accomplishing of the salvation of Thy people given to Me. I have opened all Thine heart, I have expressed Thine eternal and everlasting love to poor sinners, I have manifested Thy faithfulness to Thy promises, I have displayed the riches of the grace Thou didst bestow on a lost world. I have come down from heaven to make known the holiness of Thy nature and Thine unspeakable gift, I have magnified the perfection of Thy law by descending from heaven to obey it. I have demonstrated Thy justice and Thine abhorrence of sin to the uttermost as I am about to lay down my life upon the cross to expiate it; I have revealed and displayed Thine infinite love, for Thou didst so love the world that Thou didst give Thine only begotten Son, that Thou mightest be just and the justifier of Him that believeth in Jesus. All that remains to be done I am prepared to do and to fulfil to the uttermost…. I have glorified Thee here and will glorify Thee again.
Verily! none but the Son of God Himself could have truly uttered what is here expressed; not all the angels and archangels in Jehovah’s presence, even though they excel in strength, though they do His commandments, hearkening unto the voice of His word; not all those ministers of His that do His pleasure, could say individually or collectively, ‘I have glorified Thee’ in heaven or earth: the great Jehovah has glorified them and glorified Himself in them and by them; but they never glorified nor could they glorify Him who ‘dwelleth in the light which no man can approach unto.’ His name, His blessedness, His majesty, His truth are beyond all expression and surpass all thought; He is the God of glory, and He cannot but be what He is – essentially happy, holy, glorious and incomprehen-sible. Universal nature, the course of Providence, the displays of grace, even Christ Himself could add nothing to God’s essential glory. It is utterly impossible. God is most blessed for evermore, and His glory is incapable of increase or decrease; and, therefore, while we desire so to explain these words as to put immortal crowns upon the head of the Mediator, we must take heed in doing so not to overlook the essential glory of the Godhead which even He could only manifest but not increase.
Our Lord Prays for His own; Thoughts on John 17. Chapter 5.