Dr. S. Lewis Johnson begins his exposition of Jesus' High Priestly Prayer, also called the true "Lord's Prayer."
[Message] Now, let’s turn in our Bibles to John chapter 17. And we’re going to read for our Scripture reading John chapter 17 verse 1 through verse 5. I think also since we have a few moments I’ll turn for a few verses from Philippians 2 because later on I want to use that particular passage in the exposition. But John chapter 17 and verse 1, and we’re beginning the study of the Lord’s Prayer.
“These words spake Jesus and lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify Thy son that Thy son also may glorify Thee. As Thou hast given him power over all flesh that he should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given him. And this is life eternal that they might know Thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom Thou has sent. I have glorified Thee on the earth. I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do. (Incidentally, that may be rendered very truly to the Greek text, “I have glorified Thee upon the earth by having finished the work which Thou gavest me to do.”) And now, O Father, glorify Thou me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.”
There is a quaint remark by one of the old Scottish preachers. Trail was his name and he said, “The best sermon that was ever preached in our world was followed by the best prayer that was ever offered up in it.” I’d like to read just a few verses from Philippians chapter 2. And so if you will turn to Philippians chapter 2 I’d like to read verse 5 through verse 11. This is the great section on the hypostatic union of our Lord and was introduced by Paul to cataracts and difficulties on the practical level, on the ethical level, that were found in the Philippian church. And so Paul exhorting the Philippians says in Philippians 2:5,
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form God thought it not robbery to be equal with God. But made himself of no reputation (Literally “emptied himself.) and took upon him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the of the cross (Or such a death as the death of a cross.). Wherefore, God also hath highly exalted him and given him a name which is above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow of things in heaven and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”
May the Lord bless this reading of his word. Let’s bow together in prayer.
[Prayer] Our Father, we are grateful to Thee for this magnificent prayer that the Lord Jesus Christ prayed. We are indeed grateful when we reflect upon the substance of this petition that he made and how different in some ways it is from the petitions which we thoughtlessly offer to Thee. And we thank Thee that in it there is evidence of the fact that the one thing that was of the greatest concern to him was the will of God. And we ask, Lord, that we too in our prayers may learn to pray that the will of God may be accomplished in our lives.
We are so thankful, too, for all that it reveals to us of the relationship between the persons of the trinity in ages past. We are thankful to Thee that there was a gift of the saints of God to the son and the gift of authority to the son enabling him to give them eternal life. We are grateful Lord and we thank Thee for the reception of the life that has been given to us. And Father, we would especially pray today for the whole body of Jesus Christ, those given by the Father to the son. May the work of sanctification continue to take place in those who have come to the knowledge of salvation through Christ. And for those who have not yet come but who shall certainly come, we pray O God for the consummation of the work of the spirit and the work of salvation in them as well. Complete the body of the Lord Jesus Christ for the glory of the triune God, we pray.
We would also, Lord, ask for the temporal welfare of the saints of the Lord Jesus. Minister to them in a physical way, in spiritual ways. And we would especially ask for those, Lord, whom we know and whom we love and appreciate in Christ. Minister to the sick, and to the troubled, and to the disturbed and perplexed. For those who have serious, very serious, very deep problems and trials we commit them to Thee. And Lord, we pray that Thou wilt minister to the glory of Thy name in their lives. Supply the needs that exist. Give healing in accordance with Thy will and support those who have loved ones with the confident consolation of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
We pray for Thy blessing upon our country and its leadership. May the administration have Thy blessing upon it, Lord, that this land may continue to be a land in which the word of God freely goes forth. We commit this remainder of time to Thee and pray that the exposition of the word of God may be spiritually uplifting for us. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.
[Message] We are continuing our exposition of the Gospel of John and our subject for this morning is “Jesus Praying for Himself”. The Lord Jesus in the Upper Room has manifested his love in striking and wonderful ways to his disciples. He has acted in the remarkable washing of their feet, in the foot-washing incident of chapter 13. He has spoken it in the magnificent spiritual discourse with its choice spiritual teaching. And now he will add yet another jewel in this sublime prayer of chapter 17.
One of my favorite characters is John Knox, the great Scottish reformer. And Mr. Knox on his death bed said with reference to John 17 that, “This is the place where I cast my first anchor.” We can imagine from that comment that it is a great chapter, and it surely is. The other Gospels speak frequently of the prayers of the Lord Jesus Christ but actually we know very little of the content of them. The other prayers that are mentioned in Scripture are usually brief and pointed prayers such as in Gethsemane. “O my Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done.” Or the prayer that the prayed on the cross, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” Or the prayer in John chapter 11 which he prayed, also a very brief and pithy on at the graveside of Lazarus.
We read often that the Lord Jesus went out and prayed for lengthy periods of time. He usually sought out a mountain. In fact, one commentator said that perhaps the first thing Jesus said when came to any village was, “Where is the closest mountain?” because he was so interested in prayer. He prayed all night before he chose the 12 and so we know that he prayed often and prayed long, but we actually know very little about the contents of his prayers. He gave us a model prayer in Matthew chapter 6 and verse 9 through verse 13. He said, “After this manna pray ye,” then gave a pray which can be read in about thirteen seconds.
P.T. Forsythe once said that, “Thou Jesus Christ prayed for the disciples he never prayed with them. He never invited them to a prayer meeting. He never said, ‘Let’s have a prayer meeting and pray to our Father.'” That was something that was unique about our Lord. He never prayed with them although he prayed for them. He gave them the so-called Lord’s Prayer, but actually he never prayed the Lord’s Prayer. One of my friends, a Bible teacher, likes to entitle his sermon on the so-called Lord’s Prayer “The Prayer our Lord Did Not Pray.” Well, actually he could have entitled it also, “The Prayer our Lord Could Not Pray” for in it it has room for the confession of our debts or the confession of our sins.
Marcus Reinsford, a great student of the Bible said with reference to John 17 that it is “emphatically the Lord’s Prayer”. So when we come to John 17 the prayer that is called the high priestly prayer of our Lord, although it more than that, we come to a prayer that is emphatically the Lord’s prayer. It therefore is a very valuable thing for us. It is valuable first of all because it gives us an example of the method of our Lord. The disciples had said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Evidently they had seen him pray and they evidently had heard things that he said and they saw things that were accomplished through prayer. And so they asked him, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Well, this is one of the richest lessons that our Lord has given in prayer, his own prayer time. It also is an illustration of spiritual pedagogy; the teacher, the lecturer, the professor of the preceding chapters now becomes the intercessor. And of course, that is the proper way to teach. We should teach and we should accompany our teaching with prayer. Even when we are witnessing, just giving the simple Gospel to our friends, or neighbors, or relatives, we should accompany that with intercession. That’s a great illustration for us. And then of course, in the prayer itself we have a tremendous incentive to prayer. It’s encouragement for us that we have this — what someone has called the holy place of the Bible; to tell out our desires across all mystery, and to bring us to the acknowledgement of our need, and to give us some idea of how we ought to approach him.
One of the students of this 17th chapter who has written a book upon it has said, “So let us learn from our chapter at least this, to pray.” It would be wonderful for us to approach it in the spirit of the prayer of King Edward the VI. We normally do not think of English kings as being outstanding for spirituality, nor any kings for that matter. But Edward the VI prayed a remarkably scriptural prayer and I love this prayer. It’s a very beautiful prayer. “Oh gracious God,” the sovereign said, “and most merciful Father which has vouch saved us the rich and precious jewel of Thy holy word. Assist us with Thy spirit that it may be written in our hearts to our everlasting comfort to reform us, to renew us according to Thine own image, to build us up and edify us into the perfect building of Thy Christ sanctifying and increasing in us all heavenly virtues. Grant this, O heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ’s sake.” That’s a good spirit in which to approach this great 17th chapter of the Gospel of John.
Now, looking at it in the first two verses of the 17th chapter we have a prayer regarding his messianic place. We read, “These things (or these words) spake Jesus and lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify Thy son that Thy son may also glorify Thee as Thou has given him power over all flesh that he should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given him.” Put very simply this prayer is a prayer for glory. First, prayer for mediatorial and messianic glory for the son, and then second for the restoration of the son to the essential glory and its manifestation that the enjoyed with the father before the world was. We shall explain that in further detail later on.
But we note, first of all, the content of this prayer. “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Thy son.” One might be inclined, if he did not look at this in the light of the context of the Gospel of John and the preceding context, to think that Jesus is simply praying, “Show the world my moral perfections. Glorify Thy son.” And of course, that is a legitimate kind of prayer because our Lord’s moral perfections were not only profound and beautiful, but they are sublimely revelatory of the nature of God. We learn the nature of God from the contemplation of the Lord Jesus Christ. I don’t think that is, however, what our Lord is praying. The context does not seem to be particularly appropriate for that interpretation. Some have said he was praying for persuasive power over the minds of men so that they would be responsive to the Gospel. Glorify Thy son in the sense that accompany the truth with persuasive power. But again, it does not seem to be harmonious with the context to take that view. Though, of course, that would be a legitimate prayer.
What he is saying has to do with the son. Now, sometimes we fail to remember that the term “the son” is a messianic term. Now, he doesn’t say, “Glorify me,” in verse 1. That he will say in verse 5. But here it is, “Glorify Thy son.” It is likely that what he has in mind in the light of the immediate context is the glorification of the moral perfections of the son on the cross, and particularly for the triumph of the son in his mediatorial work. “Glorify Thy son that the son may glorify Thee,” put in simply words means, “May I accomplish the work which Thou hast given me as the mediator, as the messianic son, to do on the cross, through the empty tomb and on into the ascension to the right hand of the Father.” In other words, he’s speaking primarily about his death that shall soon take place.
Now I think that is true in the light of the preceding chapters in this Gospel and especially, for example, chapter 12 and verse 23 where we have much the same language and the glorification is linked with the cross. We read in chapter 12 verse 23, “and Jesus answered them saying, ‘The hour has come that the son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall onto the ground and die it abideth alone. But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” So under the figure of a corn of wheat put into the ground dying, like being buried and then springing up in fruit, the Lord Jesus speaks of his death. And here in chapter 17, “Glorify the son that the son may also glorify Thee,” means enable me to successfully complete the mediatorial work of the cross, the resurrection and the ascension that as a result of that the Father or you may be glorified as well.”
Now, let us look at some of the details of it. Notice first of all that Jesus in this prayer addresses God as Father. Now, that is of extreme importance to us. We do not realize, of course, what a transforming thing it was for the Lord Jesus to speak of God as Father. That’s so common for us now nineteen hundred years later. Do you know that in the Old Testament the term father with reference to God is used about fourteen times and never of any individual addressing the Father or God as his own father? So when the Lord Jesus came and said, “After this manner pray ye, ‘Our Father who art in heaven,'” that was something new and striking. They would have been astonished to hear that they are able to address God as their own Father.
Now, the Lord Jesus addresses God as his Father. It made such an impression upon them that later on the Apostle Paul twice says that when the Holy Spirit is given to us and comes to indwell us he enables us to call God aba or father. In other words, that we are able now to call God Father is the result of the ministry of the Lord Jesus in the fulfillment of the new covenant. So Father, it tells us that the God that we worship is a personal God. He is not an abstract cause. He is not a blind tendency. He is not solace nature personified and deified by fancy or by our wish. He is a father, nothing less than all that can be denoted or implied by that wonderful name father must be attributed to our God in heaven, the father. That’s a great thing to learn from the Lord Jesus Christ that God in heaven is a father. That means, of course, that he is greater than anything that is made for he is a personal God and further that we too are more significant for him than anything that he has made by the strength of his hands. We are the object of the creative work of a personal God. And when we come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ we enter into his family and have this tremendous personal relationship of father. And every time an individual comes given this right by God and says, “Father,” it’s a confession of the fact that he knows that he is never to be an orphan. Isn’t it great to realize that? That we can come to God as Father and address him that way when we are in the family of God through faith in Jesus Christ.
Now of course, he says, “The hour has come,” and we have seen that that is a reference to the cross. All through our Lord’s ministry he has said, “My hour has not yet come. My hour has not yet come.” But now as he approaches Calvary the hour has come. “Glorify Thy son,” notice the third person. It’s not me. It’s “Thy son”. Emphasis rests upon his position, upon his place as the messianic son. Remember, John’s whole purpose in his Gospel is that men might believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that in believing they might have life through his name. So John has written him Gospel that we might come to believe that Jesus is the messianic son. His messianic sonship is the thing that is in his mind at this point. And so he’s saying, “Glorify me in my representative relationship. I stand for the people of God. Glorify me by Thy divine enablement, enabling me to finish the atoning work of the death, the resurrection and the ascension that Thy purposes may be consummated in the earth.” The glorification here is the glorification of the lamb that was slain. Only deity could pray a prayer like this. Now, you could never pray a prayer like this as a sinner. Something would have to be done about your sins. No one could in his own merit come before God and say, “Glorify Thou me.” “Condemn me to eternal hellfire would be proper,” but “Glorify Thou me that I may glorify Thee,” is a prayer that only a divine son could pray.
Now, I want you notice the correspondence of that petition with the next statement. “As”. Now, it is possible to render this Greek conjunction “since” but it is a very rare meaning relatively. The comparative meaning is much more common so we’ll leave it that way. The Revised Standard Version has “since” but “as” is probably correct. “As Thou hast given him power over all flesh that he should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given him.” In other words, “My prayer that you glorify me as the messianic son accomplishing the atoning work of the confirmation of the new covenant is in harmony with the messianic authority that I have been given grounded in the mediatorial work. Because of what I am doing I have authority over all flesh.” So just as, “Father, glorify Thy son that Thou son my glorify Thy, just Thou hath given him power over all flesh that he should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given him.”
Now, notice the threefold gift. First, Jesus has been given absolute authority. Secondly, Jesus has therefore the power to give eternal life. And thirdly, the Father has given a certain people to the son. Three gifts. Three great gifts: gifts of sublime boundless authority to the son, the gift by the Father to the son of a specific people, and then the Lord Jesus Christ’s gift of life to that special people. Notice it very carefully. “As Thou hast given him power over all flesh that he should give eternal life to all without exception”? No. To his people, to the particular people, to as many as Thou hast given him. In other words, the Lord Jesus has sovereign authority to give life and he gives life to those to whom the Father has given to him. Three magnificent gifts.
It’s a mystery, of course, but ultimately what our Lord is talking about is the mystery of divine election. There is a sovereign choice of God. Now, I’m willing to grab that it is possible to understand this gift of people to the Lord as the gift of efficacious grace rather than specifically divine election. But in that very fact we nevertheless have implicit divine election. So if we have a specific group of people who are given by the Father to the son in efficacious grace we have that divine selection made. We cannot argue against it. We will not make since of the Bible. It is no use for us as Paul did so long to kick against the goads. It is what the Bible teaches and so we should bow before it. And if we don’t completely understand we should remember that we are finite and God is infinite, and when we get to heaven we shall be given Theology 101 and then we shall understand. But of course, we hope you’re able to be given Theology 102 because you attend Theology 101 at Believers Chapel. But if it doesn’t happen we’ll all be happy in heaven and we’ll also recognize each other there to. [Laughter] So anyway, “As many as Thou hast given him,” to these the Lord Jesus has authority to give eternal life.
I mentioned this the other night I think that about three weeks ago on Saturday afternoon I had a call from an editor of a denomination paper. It’s not a large paper. The denominations are fairly large denomination and very popular in this area. But he called me and said that a friend in the organization here had been sending him some of the little studies that we put out on the tables every Sunday morning. And he had in his magazine which has about a twelve hundred circulation, he had been putting some of these messages in his magazine and asked me did I know it. And I said, “Well, I may have been told that but frankly I had forgotten about it.” He said, “Well, I have a little bit of a problem. We’re just about ready to go to the press and I have one of your lessons that I would like to give in our journal and it’s John chapter 6 verse 31 through verse 40. And it’s the passage in which there is found the text — John 6 and verse 37, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me and him that cometh to me I will and no wise cast out.”
He said, “As you know our denomination does not believe in the security of the believer or the perseverance of the saints. And if put this in our magazine I know I’m going to get some response, and perhaps some heated response.” Now he said, “There is a particular paragraph that would be disturbing to our readership. It’s largely a quotation from John Calvin, although you make some points too and have cited him as an authority.” Well, it is a paragraph in which Calvin argues for the security of the believer and the certainty of salvation if we belong to the people of God. And I was sitting in my family room and of course did not have it before me, and actually did not have a Bible for me. So I said, “Read the paragraph.” And he read the paragraph and he said, “I would like to eliminate that and wanted to know if you would mind.” And so seeking to try to keep the paragraph and keep the editor satisfied I just suggested, “Well, go ahead and put a footnote there, an editors note, and say you don’t agree with that particular paragraph. That would perfectly all right with me because I know that there are people who will not agree. Although, I think it is right.”
So that seemed to please him and so he said, “You know, in our group” — oh, he said, “Yes?” I said, “I think that would be alright. And I think I will put down there, ‘See Hebrews 6; 4 through 6′”, which is a notorious passage over which people have differed. [Laughter] Then he said, “You know the people in our group do not believe that everybody who has come to faith in Christ is going to be saved. And furthermore, we believe also that there are some people, while we know all the givens one shall come to the son, we think that there might be some who are not given who shall also come.” And I said, “Well, now that’s interesting. Do you have a Bible there?” And he said, “Yes.” He was evidently sitting at his desk. And I said, “Read verse 65 of John chapter 6. And so he read it over the phone, “Therefore said I unto you that no man can come to me except it were given to him of my Father.” “So all the given shall come,” John 6:37 says. But, “No one can come except the given.” And he replied, “Well, that looks like an ironclad argument.” [Laughter] I said, “I think so, too.” [Laughter] So I don’t know what’s going to appear in his magazine. Probably the footnote. [Laughter] But I was very interesting to me anyway. I know he’s thinking.
Now, one thing that we notice from that 6th chapter by those that are given is that they not only are given but they have certainly of salvation because in verse 39 of chapter 6 he says, “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing but should raise it up again at the last day.” Now, what an interesting thing. “No one can come except the given, all the given shall come. And furthermore, of the given not a single one shall be lost.” That is an ironclad argument. That’s an ironclad argument for unconditional elections and it’s an ironclad argument for eternal security. The eternal security of the believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our Lord prayed about these things. They were important to him. They weren’t simply theories but they were important things. “As Thou hast given him power over all flesh that he should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given him.” He gives, my dear friend, not life but eternal life. The gift of eternal life in itself means that we cannot lose it. It’s eternal life.
Now, all authority has been given to the son for this purpose and all attempts to thwart the authority of the Lord Jesus are, as one of the commentators said, “Weaker than a cobweb before the loaded cannons mouth.” Now, it would be natural at this point for someone to say, “What is eternal life?” And so in verse 3 of John chapter 17 we have John’s footnote concerning eternal life. And this is life eternal that they might know the, the only true or genuine God in Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent. There are two words in the Greek language translated true in the Authorized Version of the New Testament. One means true as over against false. One means true as over against spurious. So one of them means true in the sense of true. The other means genuine as over against spurious. This is the word that means genuine. “So this is life eternal that they might know Thee, the only genuine God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.”
Now, I’d like for you to notice first that our Lord says that eternal life is qualitative, not simply quantitative. Everybody lives forever. Some in the presence of the Lord, some in the lake of fire according to Scripture. Eternal life is qualitative. It is continuous life in the knowledge of the Lord God. It’s an experiential knowledge too for this word know is the know of experience. Not simply intellectual but intellectual and experiential. And furthermore, you will notice that this knowledge of the Lord cannot be severed from the knowledge of Jesus Christ. “This is life eternal that they might know Thee, the only genuine God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” We cannot acquiesce with those who say, “I do not worship the Christian God but I worship our god. The god of the Buddhist, or the god of the Mohammedan, or the god of the Unitarian, or the god of anyone, even professing Christians whose god is not the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no such genuine god. The genuine god is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, the other gods are not God at all. The authority for this is the Lord Jesus Christ. One might say, “My, what a bigot the person is who said this?” But it is our Lord who has said this. This is one of these uncomfortable onlys, as some contemporary theologians have called them. Uncomfortable onlys of evangelical Christianity. “This is life eternal that they might know Thee, the only genuine God, and Jesus Christ who Thou has sent.” But our Lord is responsible first and foremost for the uncomfortable onlys of the Christian faith.
And finally, the knowledge of God has an objective factual side. “This is life eternal that they might know Thee, the only genuine God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” The God who is the Father of the incarnate son, who has visited our planet and has accomplished the atoning work — why anyone would want to fight against this when it means eternal salvation is difficult to understand unless we understand the nature of the rebellious character of the human heart.
Now finally, there is a prayer regarding his eternal sonship. We have had the prayer in verse 1 and 2 of the messianic sonship, but now the eternal sonship. “I have glorified Thee on the earth by finishing the work that Thou gavest me to do.” This is the foundation of the following prayer. The earthly work is finished. The father has been glorified ideally. It will be accomplished in a few short hours, actually less than twenty-four hours and our Lord will be hanging upon the cross. He writes it seems to me he prays from the standpoint of the cross by saying that he has glorified the Father by finishing the work that he gave him to do. If he speaks from this vantage point in a moment he will add, “On the cross it is finished and the atoning work will have been accomplished.” Look at the petition. “And now, O Father (verse 5), glorify Thou me.” Now, he has just said, “Glorify Thy son that the son may glorify Thee.” One might think that these are identical prayers but they are not. Look carefully. The Bible is the inspired word of God. It is worthy of the closest scrutiny.
He says, “Glorify Thou me with the glory that I had by Thy side before the world was.” “Glorify Thy me by the side of Thyself with the glory which I had by They said before the world was.” Now, in this Gospel he had said, “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God, and the word was God. And then at a point in time the word became flesh.” Our Lord’s Prayer stretches back into the ages of the past long before the creation of this material physical universe and long before the incarnation of the Son of God. What we have here is a prayer regarding the preincarnate glory that the Son of God possessed.
You know, we read in Philippians 2 that he emptied himself. What does that mean? That he emptied himself of his deity? Oh, no. That is impossible for the second person of the trinity. It means simply that he surrendered the voluntary use of his divine attributes. He surrendered the insignia of his majesty, his glory. He allowed the Father to direct him in all of his thoughts and actions while he was here in his mediatorial work. He still is subject to the Father’s direction as the reigning messianic king at the right hand of the Father in heaven. And so our Lord is thinking far beyond that in the past. He’s thinking back to the time when he, the eternal son, was with the eternal Father and the Holy Spirit before the eternal purpose came to be begun in the accomplishment of the will of God. So, “Glorify Thou me with the glory that I had with Thee before the world was.”
At Christmastime we sing, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and we sing “Mild he lays his glory by, born that man no more may die.” This is the reversal of that. He is praying that the glory may be assured again. Glorify me with the eternal glory that I had by the side of Thee. And he says that I used have. Now, those of you who are students of the Greek text will notice that that expression in verse 5, “Glorify Thou me with Thine own self with the glory which I had.” That verb is in the imperfect tense which looks at durative action past time which I sured to have with Thee before the world was. So he is looking back to that time and he is saying, “Restore me ultimately to the place that I had as the eternal son after the messianic sonships work has been finished. Incidentally, the messianic sonship’s work will be finished and also this glorification of the son will be accomplished.
Paul writes about it in 1 Corinthians 15. We learn from that a simple little thing. It’s not wrong to pray for something that is sure to come to pass. Jesus is one who prays for that which is sure to come to pass. People often say, “If you believe in the sovereignty of God then why pray?” You do not realize that it is prayer that is the divinely directed means for the accomplishment of his certain goals. That’s why we pray and it’s perfectly alright to pray, “O God, save all the people of God.” It’s wrong to pray, “O God, save everybody,” because you’re going contrary to the revealed word of God. It is right to pray, “O God, save the people of God,” and to do everything that the Holy Spirit leads you to do in the accomplishment of that purpose. Jesus will in a moment say he doesn’t pray for the world. This is the Lord Jesus Christ. We should pay attention to him. He is our teacher.
So, “Glorify Thou me. Give me back the place I had before we began this mediatorial work.” It’s magnificent to think about. You know, people often debate the age of the earth. Scientists say they’ve discovered this and we read that the earth is now not three billion years old but it’s ten billion years old. And man is not a recent creation, we are often told, but man is himself an aged creation and began in very strange ways. Now, of course, I do not say — I do not profess to be any kind of scientist whatsoever. The only thing I have is some interest in science. But I know this: that the Scriptures are true and if we shall discover someday that the earth is really ten billion years of age that will not disturb me. It only causes me to realize again how old the Lord Jesus Christ really is. Why, when the earth was formed he was the eternal son. When the earth reaches its concluding purpose in the determination of God the Lord Jesus will still exist. So in a sense it only magnifies the greatness of the Son of God to realize, if it were true, how old the earth is for he is the eternal son. He is the ancient of days and our Savior who appeared in our midst one day and bled and died on the cross at calvary for the people of God.
Now, I think that Paul’s words are a sequel to this and I think you can find both of these prayers and in Paul’s statements in Philippians 2. I’d like to just make this suggestion to you. Looking at Philippians chapter 2 and noting particularly verse 9 though verse 11, remembering our Lord prayed, “Glorify Thy son that Thy son may glorify Thee.” And now in verse 9, after having finished his atoning work, Paul writes, “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him (that’s the glorification of the son) and given him a name which is above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow of things in heaven, and things in earth and things under the earth, and that every son should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” So he is exalted because of his saving work successfully accomplished and men call him Lord to the glory of God. “Glorify Thou me that Thy son may glorify Thee.” That has come to pass in his messianic work.
Now secondly, he has prayed, “Glorify Thou me with the glory that I had with Thee before the world was.” I read these verses again and in them we read, “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him and given him a name which is above every name. (What name is that?) That at the name of Jesus (What name is the name of Jesus?) every knee should bow of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is (Here is his name. Yahweh the eternal God).” The God of the covenant, the God by whom there is no one else. Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the father.
So his name is Lord and he will be restored to his place as the Lord. We have the Father who is Lord, the son who is Lord, the spirit who is Lord and yet one God. This is the God Christians worship. And what a name he has.
Now a few years ago, about 1981 I think, the Prince of Wales married Diana. Lady Di. And in the paper, of course, we read of lots of things because Americans are intrigued with Royalty. Many of our presidents have sought to be royalty. [Laughter] Have not succeeded. Can you not imagine King Jimmy? [Laughter] But we read lots of things in the paper. And when the prince married Di there was a little note in the paper about his name. I didn’t realize he all of these names and titles. I knew he had a fairly lengthy one but I didn’t realize it was this. Prince Charles’ full name with his titles is Charles Phillip — you know we have names like Joe, Sam, Frank. Well, I wasn’t too old before I knew my name and could say it. and some of you probably by the time you were ten or twelve could remember your name, too. [Laughter] But suppose you had to remember something like this. What’s your name? Charles Phillip Arthur George Windsor, Knight of the Garder, Prince of Wails, Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall and Rothsay, Earl of Carrie, Baron Renfue, Lord of the Isles and Great Steward of Scotland. Save the best for last. Great Stewart of Scotland. [Laughter] What a name. But our Lord has a name that is greater. King of kings and Lord of lords. Lord of Charles. Lord of Elizabeth. Lord of presidents. Lord of Czars. Lord of Dictators. King of kings and Lord of lords. That is his name.
Well, I said in the beginning he prayed for glory. How different our prayers are. We pray for wisdom and some rather small thing that we may be interested in. We pray for health. We pray for social and vocational difficulties. We pray about financial pressures. We pray about our sins. Now, there is biblical warrant for these things but will you notice that Jesus’ prayer is primarily concerned with the Father’s pledged will? He prays that what he knows about the Father and his purposes will be accomplished. What a lesson. What a lesson for praying saints. And don’t forget he, the exalted second person of the trinity — he, the messianic son prayed. How much more we? And he now, the exalted messianic son and the eternal son still is praying at the right hand of the Father for us.
If you’re here today and you’ve never believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, why do you reject such a Savior as he? Come to him. Believe in him. Receive the forgiveness of sins. Join the flock of the people of God, those who have the certainty and assurance of eternal life. May God help you to come.
[Prayer] Father, how grateful we are for these magnificent words of…
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For over 30 years, Dr. S. Lewis Johnson led the congregation of Believer's Chapel in Dallas, TX. In loving recognition for all he has done, we dedicate this site to preserving his work.