John 17:1-26, Isaiah 42:8, 1 John 5:20
Back when I was doing youth ministry, there was this one night I was teaching in Romans. There were many nights when I would teach and I would know I had their attention. They were with me and the Holy Spirit was moving among them. Something was happening and I knew it. Those were special nights.
This was not one of those nights.
I knew I was not getting through, no matter how hard I tried. The metaphors fell flat and the examples were not connecting. I could hear their souls longing to reach for their phones. I was frustrated.
What was I trying to get them to see? We were discussing the glory of God. And I was struggling to get them to understand what God’s glory was and why it was so important. And then something happened that I will never forget. This young girl leaning back in her chair spoke up and made it clear.
“Do you mean His wonderfulness?”
In that one word she had made clear what I, the seminary-trained pastor, could not. And ever since, I have used her definition and that story when communicating what the glory of God means. Her definition holds up, even when I set it against those of the theologians throughout history.
So when I see Jesus in His “High Priestly Prayer” (which He prayed right before His arrest, death, and resurrection) say, “glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You,” I read Jesus’ words through the lens of that girl’s definition of glory.
When Jesus prays that He would be glorified, He is praying that we would see His wonderfulness and that He would then, in turn, show off the wonderfulness of the Father to us. Now, if I were to pray this, that would be awful. My wonderfulness—if there is any—would not do you any good. It would be an arrogant prayer for me or any of us to pray. So why is it not arrogant for Jesus to pray this?
Because apart from us seeing Christ’s wonderfulness, we have no hope. We must see the wonderfulness of His perfect life. There are many wonderful things in His life to see, not the least of which is His perfect obedience to the Father and His ability to never sin. We must see the glory of His death. It is gruesome and tragic, but we must see the wonderfulness of how loved we are in His giving His life so that we could be saved from our biggest problem, our sin. And we must see the wonderfulness of the resurrection. Even though He was as dead as dead can be, He rose from the grave; and we are given the wonderful promise that because He rose, we will, too, if our faith is in Him.
See this in full wonder: when Jesus prays that we would see His wonderfulness, it is the most loving prayer He could have prayed. Wonder of wonders. May the Lord give us eyes to see the wonder of who He is.
Written By Matthew B. Redmond