Before us is a text packed so tightly full with deep doctrine, if you prick it anywhere God in His glory bursts forth in wonder. Though doctrinally full and thick, this text does not leave us feeling cold or clinical. No, for many this has been and for many this still is a doorway to paradise itself. One saint of old said of this passage, “Every verse is sweet and cannot be read without some ravishment and leaping of heart. I would not for all the world that these verses should have been left out of the Bible.”
Goodness gracious…let’s pray that God would show us such sweetness.
We’ve come now to the end of our tour through John 17:24-26. In these three verses both Jesus’ great desire and Jesus’ great work are put forth for us to see. Let’s take the one at a time.
His Great Desire (v24)
“Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, may be with Me where I am, to see My glory that You have given Me because You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”
As Jesus begins unfolding His great desire do not too quickly move past the fact that Jesus desires. This word desire in Greek could be translated ‘will’, ‘longing’, ‘want’, ‘yearn for’, even ‘to take great delight in’ or ‘to be greatly pleased with.’ Too often we have a cold and remote view of God, that He is above desire or want, but see here in Jesus a true longing. That He desires isn’t an element of His humanity, no it’s divine. We see it in all three Persons of the Trinity. The Father expresses His desires in many places, for example after giving Israel the Law for a second time and hearing them confess their sins and acknowledge Him as God we see God say in Deuteronomy 5:29, “Oh that they had such a heart as this always, to fear Me and to keep all My commandments, that it might go well with them and with their descendants forever!” The Father truly desires His people to trust Him and take Him at His Word. We read of the Spirit desiring strongly when, in James 4:5, we see the Spirit Himself yearns jealously within us when we get too friendly with the world. And here in our passage, v24, shows the Son of God having strong desires for us. Do not mishear this, and think that God is therefore just like us, He isn’t. Yes the Godhead has very strong desires and being creatures made in His image we too have very strong desires. The difference is that while we are often ruled by our desires, God never is, and He often brings things to pass that deeply sadden Him or that go against His desire. But desire He does.
What then is this great desire of Jesus in v24? Well we’re not there yet, see what comes next in v24. “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me…” In reference to the apostles in v6 Jesus says the Father gave them to Him. He says it again in v9 clarifying that He isn’t praying for the world but only for those the Father sovereignly chose and graciously gave Him. Both of those references deal directly with the apostles. Notice as Jesus begins to pray for us in v20-26 He uses the same language of God choosing and giving. This means that when Jesus stops praying for the apostles and starts praying for those who’ll believe in Him through their word, for us, He still isn’t praying for the world as a whole, but for those the Father chose and gave to Him. So, in this regard as it was with the apostles it is also with us. When we heard the word and message of the apostles, we received it and believed it. Why did we choose to believe that message when we heard it? Because God long ago chose us and at the appointed time He gave us to the Son.
Now, knowing who is in view in v24, we come to His great desire. There are two parts to it.
First, “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, may be with Me where I am…” Jesus wants those whom the Father gave Him to be with Him where He is. You could read this as Jesus wanting the disciples to be with Him during His near trial and suffering on the cross, but I don’t think that’s in view because He’s not praying for the disciples in v24, but for those who’ll believe in Him through their word, for us. It’s a more fitting read to see this in line with 17:11 where Jesus says “I am no longer in the world…” meaning, as Jesus is almost done with His redemptive suffering work in the world and will soon ascend into the heavens to sit at His Father’s right hand, He wants us who believe in Him and witness to Him in this world to be with Him in heaven.Here see Jesus’ longing to be with His people. We understand this. Anyone who is human understands this desire to be with their own people, with their own family, and here Jesus expresses His yearning to be with His, specifically those whom He laid down His life for. And when the end comes, that moment will be great indeed as Christ ushers in His kingdom in full measure, and in all the glory of that day He desires us to be there with Him. Unquestionably this will be a sweet reunion, a wondrous celebration, a day like no other. Despised in this world we may be, but take heart suffering Christian, you are desired in heaven!And is this not heaven most purely described? If we could be in heaven without Jesus, it would be hell. And if we were in hell with Jesus would it not be heaven to us? He is all the heaven we want!
And in this sense the second part of His great desire flows forth.
Second, “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, may be with Me where I am, to see My glory that You have given Me because You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” In a limited manner John 1 tells us many have seen the glory of Jesus, the only Son of God full of grace and truth (John 1:14). John 2 tells us many have also seen His glory in His teaching and in His miracles and wonders (John 2:11). The beginning of John 17 tells us many are about to witness the hour of His glory on the cross (John 17:1). And 2 Corinthians tells us all Christians to varying degrees behold His glory here and now and are transformed by it (2 Cor. 3:18-4:6).All of this seeing is limited. Only the Father and the Spirit have fully seen Jesus’ unveiled, eternal, pre-incarnate glory He mentioned back in v5. A glory that He defines here in v24 as flowing out from the love between He and the Father. This is, in sum, Jesus’ great desire for us and His highest gift to us. Not streets of gold or loved ones gone on before us, no, He has more in store for us. That we would be with Him to see His great glory.
But ask one little question. Ask the question toddler’s ask their parents time and time again, a question that we get tired of hearing but a question that everyone should keep on asking because it yields such fantastic results. ‘Why?’ Why does Jesus greatly desire us to see His glory? Answer: because He loves us with a great love.
Think about it. Isaiah 43 says we were created for God’s glory, and yet because of the fall Romans 1 says the hearts of all mankind are by nature wicked and in our fallen nature we give ourselves to an outrageous exchange, exchanging the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man. Or put it like this: the glory of God is intended to be the sun of our solar system, bringing all the planets of our life into orbit and order, but the result of our natural sinful bent is making all the planets of our life orbit around self, with the result being disorder. We were made for God’s glory and made to live for God’s glory and instead of coming to Him and living for Him we turn away to what we think is a more glorious image, an image often reflected back at us in our mirrors. Yet, deep down we know what’s true. We know our soul will find a truer rest in beholding Christ’s splendor than in beholding self.But sadly, we turn all that’s in the gospel and make it about us, about our fulfillment or about our purpose which then makes us think of the Church not as theater of God’s glory but as a stage for our potential, an arena for our gifts, with an audience for our vanity. And the ironies of ironies is that the fulfilled and purposeful life sought for in other things truly comes to us when we stop pursuing fulfillment and purpose and pursue God, and find that He in His glory is the very satisfaction we were made for.
So what was the most loving thing Jesus could do for us? Come among us? Live for us? Die for us? Rise for us? Save us? Adopt us? Ascend to rule and reign over us? Come back to get us? Aren’t all these marvelous realities means to something greater? Something higher? Something that Jesus asked the Father to give us in v24? Indeed they are. This is why the gospel is called “the gospel of the glory of Christ” because the aim of the gospel is reordering the disordered human heart by beholding the glory of Christ. This is why the gospel is such good news.
All of this to say: Jesus desires what He does in v24 and asks what He does in v24 because He loves us with a great love. He knows what man is prone to do, to think little of God’s glory (of His glory) and much of our own. He knows that’s an empty endeavor, so because He loves us He asks for the greatest thing we could ever have. A sight of His glory! Seeing His glory in this life leads to transformation, seeing His glory in the life to come, what v24 is after when we are with Jesus, is nothing short of eternal exhilaration.
This is Jesus’ great desire, to see His glory, therefore, it must be our great desire in all of life as well.
His Great Work (v25-26)
“O righteous Father, even though the world does not know You, I know you, and these know that You have sent Me. I made known to them Your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which You have loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
While these two ending verses of Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer can be seen as a true conclusion to the whole prayerthey also fit very well as a continuation of what we’ve just seen in v24.Five times in these two verses we hear Jesus speak of knowledge. The world doesn’t know, Jesus knows, His own people know, He made the Father’s name known, and He will continue to make it known. We just saw Jesus’ great desire that we’d see His glory, here we see His great work, and His great work is all the knowledge of glory. Specifically, v25-26 are all about Jesus’ commitment to continue to expand and extend our knowledge of Himself and the Father for the purpose of us dwelling with the Godhead in love.
“O righteous Father” is how it begins, reminding us the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is the righteous God revealed by the Law and the prophets and now fully revealed in the righteous Son. Although Jesus came to make the Father known we’re immediately reminded of the next thought, that the God of righteousness isn’t known by the world because the world in its fallenness and wickedness suppresses the truth about God in unrighteousness. So the unrighteous world rejects the righteous God, but was Jesus’ mission therefore a failure? No, far from it. The world may not know God, but Jesus knows Him, and so do all who believe in Him from the disciples down to us. We truly know God, and more, we know the righteous God sent His righteous Son to us. How do we know this knowledge? Jesus tells us, “I made known to them Your name…” Name again doesn’t mean just a name but the character, quality, and nature of a thing. This is how Jesus revealed the Father. John has already told us of this in 1:17-18 when he says, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, He has made Him known.” Jesus made His Father known, but is Jesus done revealing the Father’s glory? No, “…I made known to them Your name, and I will continue to make it known…” Now we see this great work of Christ’s, knowing the Father and making the Father known.
That Jesus will continue revealing the Father is a thing of great encouragement, because He will finish what He begins. But how will Jesus continue to make the Father known? Surely and most immediately He’ll do so through His cross, where on display for all to see is the love of God for sinners, the wrath of God toward sin, the mercy of God for the guilty, the justice of God toward law breakers, and the grace of God given to those who don’t deserve it. The cross reveals much of God to us, it is the centerpiece of His great work even. But even then Jesus doesn’t stop revealing the Father to us. The revelation of the Father continues through the Spirit of the Son who will indwell, equip, empower, nourish, and grow God’s people in bold witness and holy living. All of this means the revelation of the Father through the Son isn’t a thing to be dissected in a lab or a mere era of history, but an experience to be lived, a doctrine to be known, and a communion to enter into and enjoy.From the Father to the Son to the Spirit to the Church to the world.
And all of this leads to a goal. First, “…that the love with which You have loved Me may be in them…” and second “…and I in them.” All of this knowledge revealing work is meant to bring us up into the Father’s love. Ironically many today claim that knowing doctrine is a hindrance to Christian love. Do you see how Jesus puts a vast experiential love after all this talk of deeply knowing? Don’t be duped…sowing deeply into the knowledge of God leads to vastly reaping the love of God. The very love that He loves the Son with. We saw something of this in v23 and see it again here. But here we see more. This love between Father and Son will dwell within us, among us, all around us drawing us further up and further into God Himself, because God Himself will dwell with us. This not only creates a heavenly unity in our earthly assembly, it is the fulfillment of an ancient promise, that God will be our God and will dwell with us forever.
In this life the promise of God dwelling with us, as wonderful as it is, is but a foretaste. One day it shall be finalized.
As we saw earlier in v24 all of this then is a means to an end. There are many benefits to being a Christian, the greatest benefit, the benefit of all benefits, is dwelling with God forever. This is the end for which we were made. To know Him, see His glory, to love Him, and to be with Him forevermore!
Thomas Manton, An Exposition of John Seventeen (Evansville, Indiana: Sovereign Grace Book Club, reprinted 1958) page 403.
The doctrine of God’s impassibility is in view here. It’s often merely stated that God has no passions, but what’s in view when that is said isn’t that God is passion-less but should rather that He does indeed have passions, He just isn’t ruled by them as we are.
Grant Osborne, John – Verse by Verse (Bellingham, Washington: Lexham Press, 2018) page 404-405.
Richard D. Phillips, John 11-21 – Reformed Expository Commentary (Phillipsburg, Pennsylvania: P&R, 2014) page 470-471.
Samuel Rutherford, quoted in Phillips, page 471.
D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John – PNTC (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1991) page 569.
John Piper, Collected Works of John Piper – Vol. 5 (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2017) page 200-201.
Michael Lawrence, Conversion: How God Creates a People (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, (2017) page 44.
Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John – NICNT (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1971) page 737.
Carson, page 570.
Ibid., page 570.
Osborne, page 406.
Ibid, page 407.