Dear radio friends,
Today we are going to consider the greatest blessing that belongs to the child of God, the exclusive blessing that belongs to everyone who is united by faith to the only Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is the blessing of eternal life, of glory, of being with Jesus forever in His glory.
We base our message today on the word that we find in John 17:24. It is part of what is referred to as Jesus’ high priestly prayer, a prayer that He made on Thursday evening of Passion Week, the last week of His earthly life. In the presence of His disciples, the Lord Himself prayed a beautiful prayer for His disciples and for us. He concluded that prayer in these words: “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.”
Think about the fact, first of all, that Jesus prays for us. Over all of our life, every minute, hour, and day, this is the prayer that is continually placed by the Savior Himself before the very throne of God: “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory.”
That is a remarkable thing. It ought to impress itself upon our daily lives. Here is our Savior. As I mentioned, Jesus at that point was under the shadow of the cross. He was about to enter into the agonies of the garden of Gethsemane, where He would fall upon His face and pray three times in sweat and blood. He was about to be bound and crucified and abandoned upon the cross. He was about to be made the sin-bearer for us.
Yet, His concern is for us! He brings our needs to the Father. Our tendency so often, as children of God, is to feel that we are quite alone and that no one really understands. We see ourselves as those who are besieged and attacked and left alone. This must correct us. We must realize that our Savior prays for us, perfectly, powerfully. “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am.” We must not reduce the Lord’s prayer for us to: “I desire.” He did not say, “I desire.” He said, “I will.” He prays, as the Bible teaches us, as One who is equal to the Father, the One who is the victorious Lord and Savior. He prays for us when our hearts are plunged in sorrow and our way is dark and lonely and when the bands of temptation are strong.
If you were to read the entire prayer in John 17, you would see that in His prayer that we be with Him in glory, Jesus has reached the crowning point. He had prayed, in that prayer, various wonderful things. He prayed that we might be kept from the evil of the world and from the devil, who was behind that evil. He had prayed that we might be made holy and have fellowship with Him in the truth. He had prayed that, as a church, we might be unified, and that we would be established in the unity of His truth. He had prayed that His church and His people would be active in missions and the spread of the truth—especially that this would go forth as we live our life together in the unity of the church in the bonds of the truth. If you read the passage, you will find that Jesus’ prayer has reached some very beautiful and high themes.
But now His prayer has come to the crescendo, to the highest point. In His prayer that we are considering at this point (I will, Father, that they be with me where I am), He plants His foot in glory. As the Son of God, as the mighty Savior, He prays in a kingly manner. He brings the petition that we might be brought to the completion, to the apex, of our salvation in Him. “I will, that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am.” Note those words: where I am. He did not pray, “Where I soon shall be.” He was, of course, at that moment in the upper room with His disciples. It was Thursday evening of the Passion Week. But He prays as if He were in heaven: “I will, Father, that they be with Me where I am, that they might behold My glory.”
How do you understand that? The Savior is praying in the certainty of God’s counsel, of God’s eternal plan. He had mentioned that already in verse 4 when He said, “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” Jesus knows the Father. The Father is almighty. For the Father to plan and to purpose is for it to be accomplished. Therefore, praying in the certainty of the power and the love of God, that God will accomplish His heart’s desire and that through the cross of Christ God is going to attain salvation for all of His children—in that absolute certainty He prays, “I will, Father, that they whom Thou hast given to Me be with Me where I am.”
Now, note also that He describes those for whom He prays as “those whom Thou hast given Me.” I do not know of anything more comforting than that. That is a reference to the biblical truth of election, a word that is used in the Bible. It refers to the truth that God chose, purely out of grace, from the fallen world, those who of themselves were undeserving, and of themselves were as worthy of eternal punishment in hell as any other. God chose them, from eternity, to save them.
Jesus believed that. Jesus believed and taught what is called sovereign predestination. That is, God, as God alone, the sovereign ruler, predetermined, chose merely out of grace, those who would be saved. Jesus had prayed about this in verse 6 of the prayer in John 17. He says, “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world.” Again, in verse 9, He says, “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.” There is, of course, nothing more humbling and more comforting than those words: “Those whom Thou hast given me.”
As I said, that means that of themselves, the people of God are undeserving. To be saved does not mean that you distinguished yourself above another; that you did something that another person failed to do. Oh, no. You, of yourself, cannot lift yourself up one inch, one iota, from another. To be saved means that the source of salvation is to be found in the eternal, gracious will of God; that God, out of mere grace, has chosen from before the foundation of the world (as we read in Ephesians 1) those whom He will give to Christ.
Jesus prays, “Father, those whom thou hast given Me.” That, too, is very important: “given Me”—that is, entrusted to Me. You see, we cannot enter into heaven of our own. We have a terrible debt of sin. We have an awful hatred in our hearts against the living God. But to be given to Jesus means that God has given these elect to His Son to redeem them. God has sent His Son on the great mission, the great task of time, to make the way straight, to open the prison, to bring out those who are bound in sin, to save them. Jesus says, “I pray for these. Father, I pray for those whom Thou hast entrusted to Me, those whom Thou hast given to Me, that I might save them. And I pray, not only that I might now save them and make them holy people on earth but, Father, I pray that they may be with Me: that they may be brought to the apex, to the completion, to the culmination of salvation; that they might be brought to that eternal purpose and that eternal goal that Thou hast in Thy heart; that they might be brought home to be with us.” You see how glorious a prayer it is?
That prayer answers our questions about sudden death, a sudden death of a loved one who has been snatched away from us. We ask, Why? Why does God take them? Why does God take a prospective husband from me, killed suddenly in the war in Iraq? Why does God take from me a son? Why does God take from me a beloved wife? Here is the answer: “Father,” prays Jesus, “I will that they be with Me where I am.” You see, the believer belongs to Jesus Christ. Salvation means that the union of our life is with Christ and His Father. We live now in this present world. But we live as those who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is within us and He has loved us from all eternity. He has done everything for us and He desires that, when the will of God for our life is accomplished, we be brought to Him.
You see, so often our will is diametrically opposed and runs contrary to the Lord’s will. So often we are praying, “Father, I will that those who belong to Jesus, and I love them, that they be with me on earth where I am”—while Jesus prays: “Father, I will that those whom Thou hast given Me and for whom I have laid down My life, that they be with Me where I am.”
Do you know the love of God in Christ? Do you know how deep and how powerful and how compassionate is that love? As a mother, you love your son. As a prospective bride, you love that young man. As a husband, you love your wife. But our love, as children of God, is that which is given us of Him. It is a reflection of His love for us. He loves perfectly. And He wills that, when the will of God is accomplished for His own, they be brought to Him in glory. You see, death, for a believer, is not caused by heart stopping, by car crash, by cancer, by aneurysm, by bomb or explosion. It is caused by an answer to the prayer of Jesus: “Father, I will that they whom Thou hast given Me be with Me where I am. And when Thy will, O Lord, is accomplished in their life and they are as that jewel fitted and polished according to Thy purpose and are now ready for glory, I will that they come to be with Me.” That is the cause of the death of every child of God.
But we ask another question. We can understand now what happens at death. We can understand that the child of God is purchased in that wonderful blood of Jesus and, therefore, must go to be with Him in glory. We rejoice in that. But we ask another question: Why is it so important that the child of God be taken to be with Jesus? That is, how is it so important that it outweighs the pain, the sorrow, and the crushing grief that we experience in death?
Here is the answer again. First of all, if Jesus had only said “that they also be with Me where I am,” and He had left it at that, that would have been enough. To be with Jesus, children, is that not reason enough? To be brought into the immediate presence of the King of kings and Lord of lords, into the presence of Him who is our elder Brother, the great Shepherd, the Bishop of our souls, who is the Living water, the Everlasting bread, whose love none can measure; and then to be not only with Jesus but with all of His saints, ten thousand times ten thousand, all together with Him? Oh, that is reason enough.
But Jesus goes beyond. He says more. He gives an even greater reason. He says, “Father, I will that they be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me.” Jesus yearns for all those given Him to be with Him, that they might see His glory! That is the thing that makes heaven so bright and so wonderful and so worth it.
The Bible says that when we see that glory of Christ, in an instant we will understand the reason for all of the sufferings of this present time and we will be ready in an instant to dismiss them as a light thing. Those things today that are so crushing, that are smashing our souls, what we believe now comes to us without any rhyme or reason and is just too much and we say, “There is no answer,” and we cry out, “Why, O Lord? Look at the mess of my life. My daughter, my wayward son. My path is impossible, O Lord.” God says (I don’t say) to you, “When you see Jesus in glory, you will say, ‘It was all worth it. I’d undergo more to see such glory!’ ” Jesus wants us to behold His glory!
Now hear the prayer: “Father, bring them whom Thou hast given Me, for whom I have died, bring them all to be with Me where I am in glory, that they might behold My glory which Thou hast given Me.” To behold that glory is much more than just to see. It is to gaze in wonder and in awe, to be shaken to the very core of your being. It is to see into the heart of God. It is to see grace in God’s eyes.
When you go to heaven it will be something like hiking in the Cascade Mountains of Washington or some other very beautiful place and you come around a corner and out of the woods and you get above the tree line and suddenly you see it: a vast view all out in front of you of mountains covered with snow and you gasp in wonder. Now multiply that by infinity. We shall see Him as He is. Job, in the Old Testament, said, “I shall see Him with my own eyes.” Paul said, “I will see Him face to face. I will see His glory.”
What is glory? Glory is the outshining of God. Glory is the radiant and the shimmering and the outshining of all that God is, of His love and grace, holiness, righteousness, and truth. Jesus is referring to the glory that the Father hath given to Him—that is, not only the glory that belongs to Him as the eternal Son of God. For, as God, He is glorious! But He is referring to that glory that was crowned upon Him—the glory which Thou hast given Me—the glory the Father gave to Him as the Son of God in our flesh, the One who has taken our body upon Himself and humbled Himself and rose and ascended and God has highly exalted Him (Phil. 2:9). Jesus did not leave that human body behind, but when He ascended as Lord and Savior, all the glory of God is now revealed in Jesus Christ. It is all to be seen right in His face. The glory of God, who forgives sins; the glory of God, who in compassion draws us sinners to Himself—we will see it. We will behold it. We will keep on beholding it.
Listen to Him pray: “Father, My people have seen Me in the flesh. They have seen Me, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. They have seen Me, in the words of the psalm, a worm and no man. They have seen a crown of thorns. They have seen Me crucified upon a cross with blood and water oozing from My side. Now, Father, My people throughout the ages have journeyed in faith across the valley of the shadow of death, through the roads of trial to purge them. They have endured grief. Father, I will that they be with Me where I am, that they might behold My glory, that they may gaze and gaze on Me.”
Children, and I trust children are listening, I do not know very much about what it is like to enter into heaven and what it is like to be there. I cannot comprehend that. But, you know what, when we die, we will see Jesus. And our hearts will be at peace and it will feel just right. Then, do you know the next thing that is going to happen? You will see that you are changed. His glory will be shining out of you. Now Jesus prays, “Father, bring them, direct their steps. Rule over their hours and over their minutes, over their smiles and over their tears, and bring them to see My glory.” Then we shall be satisfied.
Brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ, it shall happen. We shall see Him and we shall be satisfied. This is no “hope so.” This is certain. This glory is ours. It belongs to everyone, by grace in Jesus Christ, brought to faith and repentance in Him today, being united to Him through faith. This is ours. This glory belongs to us. The prayer is going to be answered. Jesus says, “For thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” Jesus was confident. He was certain that everyone that belonged to Him will be brought to be with Him to behold His glory, because He was confident of the love of God. “Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world.” Can anything break the eternal love of God for His Son? Can any hand reach up to heaven and break the bond that is between the Father and His Son? No! Well, so sure it is that we shall be with Him in His glory.
How are you living? For what are you living? What is important to you? What are you pursuing? Where are you going? Are you concerned about the world and its pleasures, its parties, its drinking? What is your weekend all about? Do you apologize to others for your attachment to Jesus Christ? Let this word, let His prayer, enter into your hearts today with all of its power—power for a holy life and all of its beauty to comfort your souls. Do not let one day pass without thinking that Jesus has prayed. He has prayed that you might go home soon to be with Him and see His glory. Pitch your tent a day’s journey closer home tonight and be ready when He summons. Be ready for His call, for He will call to the earth, and we shall be with Him, and we shall see His glory!
Father, thanks for Thy word. Now write it on our hearts and give us to live in hope, the hope that will never make us ashamed. In Jesus’ name, Amen.