Jesus: The Glory of God and Our Salvation

John 17:1-3 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

It is a great time of year as we think about the first coming of Jesus Christ as He entered our world as a baby, of all ways to enter our world, as a baby to grow and mature and minister and to give of Himself in a pre-planned redemptive way for the glory of the Father and for our salvation. He came into our world as a baby. He didn’t come into being then, He has existed since all of eternity past, but at the appointed time, He came to us, to humankind, to be our Savior.

We have been singing about His first coming this morning. This is what we celebrate as Christmas. Today, however, I want us to talk about the implications of His first coming. What are the implications for us? The greatest is our salvation, which is for the glory of God. I know of nothing better to talk about today than this salvation that Jesus brings to us through His life and death and resurrection. This salvation puts on display God’s glory as it also saves our souls from a severe punishment that we deserve.

Today I want us to look at John 17, a portion of John 17 where we can hear from Jesus Himself, not as a newborn baby but as a mature man who was about to complete the plan of ministry for His life. In John 17, Jesus prays and as He prays we get to hear from Him the purpose of His coming as a baby into our world.

17 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

As Jesus prepares for His arrest and execution, He lifts his eyes to heaven and He begins to pray to His Father. His prayer is meant to prepare Him for what was soon to come. His prayer was meant to prepare His followers for what was to come. And His prayer was meant to teach all who will humble themselves before God and seek to know Him. God has said that He resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. My prayer is that we will humble ourselves before God this morning and approach Him, approach His word with a spirit and attitude of a learner.

My prayer is that God’s word might be fresh to us this morning and its relevance will be clearly seen. If there is any doubt in your mind as to whether or not God’s word is relevant for you today then my hope is that you mind will be renewed and changed from that kind of thinking.
Let me ask you a question that might help you to see whether or not this message of God’s word from John 17 is relevant for you. Are you ready? Answer this question in your mind to determine whether or not this message will have any significance to you. Is life relevant to you? Do you have any interest in life at all? If you do, then this message if for you.

We are going to see in a moment the importance that Jesus places on life in His prayer and the view of life that Jesus has in this prayer. The importance will be clear as we do. But first, Jesus begins praying with a desire that God be glorified. There is nothing greater nor more beneficial to all of creation and to man in particular than that God be glorified. For God to be glorified simply means that He be seed for who He is. If God were never glorified, if He was never seen by man for who He is, never know, If His attributes were never made known then we would have no hope of knowing Him for who is and would never be saved from eternal destruction that we so deserve.

We talk much about God being glorified and I understand that many just don’t get that. Many think, well that must be good for God! That He be glorified… that must be great for Him, He must really enjoy being made much of, making Himself known. And that is true, but we must be clear that we are the ones who most benefit from God being made known, and glorified.

God does not need His ego stroked. God gains nothing by our making much of Him. We cannot add to His self-worth or His self-image. God being glorified is not about us making Him feel better or making Him think more highly of Himself. No! When God is made much of and glorified we are the ones who benefit. It is God revealing Himself, being glorified so that we may know Him.

If God, who is the most glorious thing in the universe who has the most glorious plan for our redemption, if this God hid himself in the darkest corner of the universe never to be seen, If is plan as never made known if His love and His grace and His might was hidden away from us then we would have not hope it would be better if we were never born. It is God glorifying Himself, making Himself known that makes our salvations possible and is the only way that we know right from wrong good from evil He is the only reason we know of anything that is good at all.

If God is glorified in your life – then we get to rejoice and be glad in that and benefit, and others around you get to see God and work and worship Him. If you think and act rightly in a way that pleases God in good times, in bad times, in tragedy, in times of celebration in all of life then you are putting on display the worth of God, the truth of who God is, you are glorifying Him and giving opportunity for those who observe your life (and there are always those who are observing our lives) to see Him and to say, wow! What a great God, how can I know this God who carries His people faithfully through all of life whether good or bad? How can I know this God who gives this kind of strength, this kind of joy, this kind of power to believe and obey? That is the witness to God’s glory that we are to present to the world. Jesus does that in the first sentence of His prayer. Father glorify your Son, that Your Son may glorify you! Do you see that? Father, glorify Me, raise Me up on the cross for the world to see, so that you will be made known, so that being made known many will be drawn to you. Again, who benefits? The God who becomes known, who is put on display or the ones who now know God? What I want us to see is that it is extreme, unfathomable grace and mercy on the part of God, that God is glorified and made known in the world. Would you know God if He had not revealed Himself to you in His Word, in the world, in other people’s lives? Would you know Him if He had not put Himself on display for you to see?

The Son desired glory for Himself and for His Father that many will know Him. Now I want to continue that thought with you, that is that God the Father and Jesus the Son are desirous to make their glory known so that we, and others will benefit, by looking at Jesus very next sentence in His prayer to the Father. Now remember it is Jesus who is about to suffer with the sins of the world on Him. And even now in His prayer He is quick to mention what the result will be His death. As He is glorified on the cross, (sometimes we want glory, right? Selfish glory. Look at how Jesus was glorified, how He brought glory to His father… on the cross, when we pray that God may be glorified through us, what exactly do we mean, to what level are we willing to go? Do we really want God to be glorified through us? Do we really want our all wise God to choose how He can be best glorified through us? Or do we want to choose our path for His glory?)

In Philippians chapter 1, Paul was praising God from prison, Paul was rejoicing exceedingly while in chains. Why? Because it was the path that God chose for him in order that many may know the true God. God was glorified, made known to many as a result of Paul’s imprisonment. That was God’s means for drawing some to the gospel and so Paul said, “in this I rejoice, yes, I will rejoice.”

Not to mention Paul’s thorn in the flesh which could have been an illness or could have been person harassing him, you can grapple with which it was, but in either case Paul embraced it…why? Because God could be seen through it. “God be glorified”, “God draw men and women to yourself”, that is what we say, but to what degree do we mean that? For Jesus there were no limits, raise me up on the cross, crucify Me, lay upon me the sins of the world, to God be the glory. For Paul, prison was ok if God be made known.

I am troubled by many who teach that obedience = circumstantial ease in life. That obedience = pain free living, plenty of money, peace with all men. Obedience does bring joy, no doubt, but often times joy in the midst of circumstantial discomfort.
Now let’s get to Jesus next sentence in this prayer. In the next sentence Christ mentions the benefit of His and the Father's glory and that is eternal life for His children.

, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

A result of the death of Christ is a giving now of eternal life. Apart from God’s glory being revealed there would be no eternal life for you or for me. And Jesus continues that thought and I want you to see this from verse 3. Look at verse 3 again.

3 And this is eternal life, that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

In verse 3 Jesus shows us what eternal life is. He is not primarily instructing here on how to receive eternal life but is describing eternal life, He is sort of defining eternal life. And the way He describes it here is very important and is consistent with His previous desire that He and the Father be glorified or be lifted up and be made known. Here is why.

When Jesus speaks of eternal life here, He speaks of it within the context of a relationship. “And this is eternal life, that they may know You.” Do you see the relationship aspect of salvation of gaining eternal life? This does not mean that eternal life is merely having a knowledge of God, or that one knows something about God, for the demons have that. No, the word “know” here is from a Greek word which speaks of intimacy. It is a word sometimes used even to speak of sexual intimacy between a husband and wife. It is an intimate knowing. Jesus is speaking of one who has entered into a close intimate relationship with the Father, those who really know Him.
Sometimes we may say that we know someone when what we really mean is that we know of that person. I have met many people, but I really know very few people. Some say that they know the God of creation but what they mean is they know something about Him. Jesus says that eternal life is to know God.

Now I want to try and tie all this together for you that is these ideas of God’s glory, eternal life and relationship.

Here is the quick tie in of these things. It is in God’s glory, God’s revelation of Himself to us that we can begin to know Him, have a relationship with Him and in that is eternal life, meaning full abundant and everlasting life. We could not know Him apart from His self-revelation. We could not know Him apart from His making His glory known to us. His making much of Himself is what has brought us to where we are in Christ, into eternal life. And the more He makes much of Himself before us the deeper we then can go with Him in this close, intimate fellowship of which Jesus speaks.

So, to have eternal life is to know God, it is to fellowship with God, it is to have a relationship with God. It is not cold, it is not simply process, it is not merely a formula, it is not gained through a class, or by well-crafted prayer. Evidence of salvation is not a documented experience, evidence of salvation is not a certificate from a church or a degree or a written testimony. It is not - did I know Him once. Did I have some experience with God at one time? It is never that. No, the question is do I know Him! It greatly concerns me when a person’s testimony is limited to something like “Oh yes, I did this or that at one time in my life.”

Eternal life, salvation is knowing God and Jesus Christ according to His self-revelation, according to His word. You may ask, “I read my Bible, I pray, and I go to church, does that count?” Does that mean that I know God? If I do those things do they constitute a relationship with God and eternal life for me? Does that constitute a relationship with Him according to His Word?

Well, let’s consider that question for a moment. What does it mean to really know God? If salvation, eternal life can be described as knowing God, then we need to know what it means to really know God. Have you ever really asked yourself that question?

Let me give you some guidelines and these will be some guidelines, it is not my intention to be exhaustive in answering the question but here are some things that may be helpful for you. Do I really know God and Christ in the way that Jesus speaks of knowing them? Do I have a relationship with God as the Bible defines what my relationship with Him should be? Do I know Him in a Biblical way, is it in a biblical way that I relate to the God that I claim to know? Let me begin answering that question by noting that our relationship with God is not a relationship of equals. Some think God should be our buddy. Almost life one of the guys. No, God is holy, He is like no other in power and in wisdom. He commands with winds and the seas. In Job we read that the pillars of heaven tremble at His rebuke. Our relationship with God is not peer to peer. We are to have a relationship with Him but only according to His terms. We are to relate to Him as He tells us to relate to Him and in that way alone.

So the to answer the question to we really know Him, do we really have a close relationship with Him the answer to that question is not found in looking to human relationships to see how we fair but to look at His word and by it to judge if we know Him. Not a relationship of equals – a relationship of dependence It is a serious relationship, a very serious relationship. How so?

In John 14:15 Jesus says,

15 “If you love me you will keep my commandments.”

Jesus is saying that if you want to have a relationship with me, with Me and My Father, a true meaningful relationship then you can if you keep my commandments. In other words, He is saying it is in obedience that you can relate to Me. If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

Or how about Luke 14:26-27

26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.

Or John 12:25-26

25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

Do you know God? Are you relating to Him on His terms? Is Salvation a serious matter to you? Do you know what a real relationship with God and Christ is? Are you striving to Keep His commandments? Have you weighed the cost and chosen to follow-Him at all cost if not, the Bible says you are not His.

Are we worshipers of God? Paul speaks of true believers in Philippians 3:3 when he says,

“For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and put no confidence in the flesh.”

He is saying that those who know God are worshipers of God. In other words, to know Him as in a special relationship as a believer is to worship Him.

We worship that which we adore, what we treasure, what we consider as having the greatest value. This is eternal life, that you know God.” To truly know Him is to worship Him. Or how about this, do we sacrifice self for Him? If we know God, then we know of His worth, we desire to keep His command, we worship Him and we are willing to regularly sacrifice ourselves for Him in service.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”

To know God is to take the step of letting go of self and giving of ourselves to Him and to His service. It is in our knowing Him truly knowing Him that makes the desire to sacrifice for Him rich and strong.

One more. Are His goals our goals? Do we see Him as wise in all things? Are we embracing His ways, His path, delighting in what He delights in? Are our minds being renewed? Do we have the mind of Christ? Is our thinking in sync with His thinking? Are we striving against Him or are we willingly going with Him? Do we want what He wants for us? Is our relationship with Him based on our embracing His will for us? Here is the point of it all. Jesus says,

“And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

Do we know Him? Are we keeping His commands? Are we worshiping Him? Are we giving ourselves to Him sacrificially? and are we embracing His goals in our lives? Each of these point to a real living relationship with God based on His criteria of relating to Him. Obedience, worship, sacrifice, submission. These are not the way to salvation but are merely evidence of it.

Don’t be discouraged by challenging words. Never be discouraged by words that challenge you even to the core. We need to be challenged to examine our walk. We need to know if we know God. We need to know if eternal life is ours! Thank God that He has made Himself known and that we can know Him according to His revealed word. By His grace we can know Him and believe in His Son!

John 17:1-3 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.