Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Glory and Authority of Jesus (Jn. 17:1-3)

This is my personal summary of Rev Dr Stephen Tong's sermon on 3 March and 10 March 2013 in STEMI Expository Preaching at True Way Presbyterian Church Singapore. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: John 17:1-3

‘After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.”’ Jn. 17:1-2

John 17 recorded Jesus’ prayer after His last teaching to His disciples.  In this prayer, Jesus asked to be glorified.  This raises two questions.  Why did God ask us to glorify Him?  And why did Jesus ask God the Father to glorify Him?

The most fundamental thing to understand is that God’s glory is already perfect in eternity, before He commands us to glorify Him.  So why did God ask us to glorify Him?  What is the purpose of adding something to what is already perfect?

This is consistent with the teaching of the Bible.  We ought to give glory to whom it is due, and honour to whom it is due.  When He said to glorify Him it is not because God needs it, but it means you ought to give the glory back to God who is worthy and not to others.  In Psalms, it says glory be unto God and not unto others.

God wants to correct our emotions, our reason and our will back to the source of truth.  When our reason is in line with the truth, our emotions are based on the love of God, and our will conformed to the will of God, this is faith, this is spirituality.

Why did Jesus ask for God’s glory then?  When Jesus was born, angels said “Glory be to God in the highest.”  When Jesus came on earth, God was glorified.  In this passage, when Jesus was ending His ministry, He asked to be glorified.  On earth, He was humilisated, despised and was called the son of sorrow.  He was unjustly treated.  His prayer was to ask for confirmation.  It was as though He prayed: “These who have rejected Me think I am rejected by You.  But You delight in Me, let them understand I am your beloved Son.”  Christ prayed to God to confirm Him, to confirm He has been sent by God.

God already knew this.  During His ministry, twice God’s voice thundered from heaven and declared “Behold My beloved Son.”  The first time was when Jesus was baptised and the second time was during the transfiguration.  Confirmation was needed during baptism because people might misunderstood that Jesus’ baptism meant He needed to repent of His sin.  Thus God the Father said, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”

At the transfiguration, Moses and Elijah appeared before Jesus.  It is a temptation to give honour to the past prophets, but again, God confirmed that it is Jesus who is to be honoured.  God said, “this is My beloved Son, listen to Him.” 

When Jesus was suffering during His life on earth, when did He most need Father to confirm Him?  When He was crucified.  At that time, people jeered, “If you are the Son of God, if God delight in you, let God save you now.”  But it is as though God did not listen now at that moment.  We did not see Jesus’ prayer to be glorified fulfilled.

After the coming of the Holy Spirit, the apostles were given understanding.  When the apostle preached the crucified Christ, people then finaly understand that Christ was to be glorified.  And when Jesus comes back again His light will be brighter than the sun.  There will be double-edged sword from His lips.  In Rev 5 it says that all honour, glory, power, wealth, wisdom and strength belong unto the Lamb on the throne.

However, the thief on the cross had the faith to see the glory and power of God through weaknesses.  Christ’s incarnation and death on the cross bring glory to God.  Christ must suffer to enter into glory.  The one who truly understands God’s grace is  not the prodigal’s brother but the prodigal son.  He knew he was not worthy.  A true Christian is one who has repented.  The people God uses are those who know they are not worthy.

In John 17:2, Jesus said, “For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.”  The authority over all creation was first given to Adam.  In Psalms it says God is above all things, but God made man in His image and likeness.  Man is created to be a prophet, an interpreter of nature.  It was man who named all the animals.  Man is also mandated to have dominion over all creation, thus this defines man’s kingly role.  And as man stand between God and creation, man is also a priest.  The cultural mandate given to man in the garden of Eden, but man never achieved the ideal due to the Fall.

Yet just before Jesus went to the cross, He said God had given Him all authority.  The time is coming where the Fall of man will be rectified.  Was Jesus given authority above all things before this?  Do all descendents of Adam lose it?  Jesus did have power over all creation as He walked on earth but His people did not want to see it and cannot see it. 

Did Jesus rule over all creation?  While reading chapter 17, we need to recall what has happened before. He cursed the fig tree.  He calmed the storm. He healed the sick, opened the eyes of the blind, made the lame walk, drove out evil spirits, rose the dead to life.  Animals, wind, trees, the sea, storm, the spirits and the dead, all listened to Him!

So Jesus does have authority above all things.  And God the Father has given Jesus a chosen people of all nations.  Jesus loves the chosen people God gave to Him and He gave them eternal life.  We are the treasure and heritage God has given to His Son Jesus Christ.  And Jesus purchased us with His blood and offered us to God.  We are the most blessed indeed.  Jesus paid the ransom to the Father to deliver us from the devil, and we receive eternal life.


Post a Comment

<< Home