John 17:22-23, “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
Well, I finished John 17 this morning. It has been slow going, but this chapter is so full of interweaving themes and patterns and draws together the central message of the John’s gospel as a whole, it really is an amazing section of scripture.
Today I spent a lot of time on Jesus’ prayer for specifically for US (“those who will believe in me through [the disciples’] word” (17:20). And the center of my focus was thinking about what the glory is that the Father has given to the Son that the Son subsequently gives to the Church, and which in turn causes the Church to be one and to bear witness to the world….
Long story short (I wrote a number of pages in the Journal this morning, perhaps they’ll find their way to a blog post in the future), it seems that the glory the Father has given the Son is the glory of being the One who perfectly, infinitely and eternally makes the Father known. This seems to be the glory that the Father has given the Son because He loves Him (John 17:24, John 5:20), and this is why the SON being glorified, glorifies the FATHER (17:1). The glory (that is, the internal fullness, the richness of His identity), the glory of the Son IS the glory of the the Father (16:15), so that when the Son is revealed, the Father is revealed in Him…
So…if the Son’s glory is to perfectly reveal the Father (which He accomplishes climactically and definitively at the cross, John 17:26, etc.), two questions….first, how does He give this to the Church and how does it make the Church one?
It seems that the son “gives” this glory to the Church by 1) making the name of God fully known to them in His life, death, and resurrection. By making God known to the Church in this way, the Son “gives” His glory to the Church….but then 2) by receiving and believing in the Son as the revelation of God, the Church herself (corporately and as individuals) becomes the Spirit-filled revelation of God to the world, thus sharing (as it were) the glory of the Son.
When the Spirit-filled Church does the God-revealing works of the Son (14:12)–chiefest among them being self-giving love, 1 John 4:12–as she loves like this, Jesus as the God-revealing Son of God is made known through her witness.
And how does this make the Church one? Well, as Jesus said in 17:11, it is by receiving and remaining in the Name (identity, glory) of God as made known in the Son that the people of God are made one. So, when Jesus “gives” the Church the glory of knowing and showing the Father in the Son, He also gives them the heart of what it means to be one, namely, to hold to who God is revealed to be in the crucified and risen Jesus.
Now….the last thing I ought to say is that there is a lot of talk about “love” and “God made known” in the paragraphs above, and that can start to sound a bit philosophical and disconnected from well known theological categories…..what about–you might well ask–what about sin and wrath and justification?
Yes! all of these things are KEY, in fact, OUR sin being borne and and OUR punishment being absorbed by Jesus on the cross is at the very CENTER of God made known in the Son (John 4:10)…..The thing to note here is that the cross is an act of Revelatory Redemption…..and the Redemption (wrath absorbed, sin’s forgiven, reconciliation wrought, righteousness achieved) serves the Revelation (God made known)….the redemption is the means of revelation…..and John is focusing here on the revelation side of things. However, we ought never lose sight of the specifics of our redemption because without it we have NO revelation!