Archive for the ‘Glory and Beauty of Christ’ Category

The Glory and Beauty of Christ 8

May 5, 2015

John 17:24 “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

This view or sense of the divine glory, and unparalleled beauty of the things exhibited to us in the gospel, has a tendency to convince the mind of their divinity… He that truly sees the divine, transcendent, supreme glory of those things which are divine, does as it were know their divinity intuitively; he not only argues that they are divine, but he sees that they are divine; he sees that in them wherein divinity chiefly consists; for in this glory, which is so vastly and inexpressibly distinguished from the glory of artificial things, and all other glory, does mainly consist the true notion of divinity: God is God, and distinguished from all other beings, and exalted above ‘em, chiefly by his divine beauty, which is infinitely diverse from all other beauty. They therefore that see the stamp of this glory in divine things, they see divinity in them, they see God in them because they see that in them wherein the truest idea of divinity does consist. (Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections, Yale Edition, 298)

The Lord Jesus desired for His people to see the glory which the Father had given Him. If Edwards’ was right, there is a beauty in this sense of divine glory. In fact, in the Gospel there is an unparalleled beauty of the divine glory set out and exhibited to those who hear the preaching of the true Gospel. He goes on to say that God is “distinguished from all other beings, and exalted above ‘em, chiefly by his divine beauty, which is infinitely diverse from all other beauty.” When we see that these things are true, we see with some degree of clarity that rationalism is not the whole story and is just a small piece of it in some ways. We also see why Christ prayed for His people to see His glory. He wanted them to see more and more of the beauty of God on display in the glory that He had given and shared with the Son. But we must also take note that the beauty of God is displayed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and in Christ Himself.

The Gospel is not just a series of facts that a person must give mental assent to, but it is the display of the beauty of God in Christ Jesus. The Gospel is not just some information that we are to tell people about Jesus so they can make a choice about Him, but instead it is the very beauty of God in Christ Jesus. The Gospel is not just a fact of history, but instead it is the display of the very beauty and glory of God in Christ. This is to say that we have not understood the Gospel and we are not speaking of the Gospel until we see and speak of the wonders of the glory and beauty of God. The only way to speak of the wonders and beauty of God is to show how Christ is the beauty and glory of God on display, but that is true primarily in the Gospel.

The stated importance of this will of course be denied by many and that is because they are caught up with rational things and moral things. But when this part is denied, the rational itself becomes ugly and morality becomes nothing more than rules to live by. Christ Himself is our wisdom, our righteousness, our sanctification, and our redemption from God. Those things are not just intellectual things that we grab with our minds; those are things of great beauty when we behold them in Christ. God saves sinners to the praise of the glory of His grace and redemption is a large part of the grace He shows to sinners. His glory is not just the object of intellectual apprehension, it is glorious and beautiful. The Lord Jesus Christ is the display of perfect beauty in the world. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the zenith point of the display of perfect beauty. But of course a person must have eyes to see and ears to hear in order to see this stupendous beauty.

The greatest defense of the Gospel is not by means of rational reflection, science, and philosophy; but the greatest defense of the Gospel is declaring the wonders of the glory and beauty of Christ. Christ is life and His life is the light of men (John 1:-5). The hearts of men have the basic truths of God put in them and when Christ is declared the truths of God that men have suppressed come up and accuse them. When Christ is set forth and His beauty is seen in His Person and in His works, the hearts of men cannot really deny the blazing truth even though most will try. The greatest way to build people up in the faith is for them to behold the beauty and glory of God in Christ and in the Gospel of Christ. Christ is the desire of the nations and Christ is the loveliest of all and can be nothing else. All things were created through Him and so all the beauty in the world puts Christ on display, but again it is the glory of the Gospel where His beauty is primarily seen. How our church services should be in reality nothing more than coming to behold the glory and beauty of the risen Lamb of God. That would, after all, portray heaven.

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The Glory and Beauty of Christ 7

May 1, 2015

John 17:24 “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

There must be a standard of beauty and there can be no standard for the beauty of God but God. It is not a matter of determining if He is beautiful, but simply to behold Him in His glory and to behold His beauty. The Lord Jesus Christ is the brightness of His glory or the shining forth of His glory and as such in Christ we behold the beauty of the living God. The problem with seeing this beauty is our own sin which is a deformity. Sin is the ultimate ugliness (so to speak) which means that those who love sin love what is ugly and so have no discernment toward true beauty. The Scriptures are quite clear that the holiness is the beauty of God, which means that those who love sin see no beauty in God at all.

2 Chr 20:21 And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness,

Psa 29:2 Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

Psalm 96:9 O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.

Psa 50:2 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God has shone forth.

Clearly, and without any question at all, holiness is beautiful and sin is hideously ugly. The Lord was to be praised by special singers for the beauty of His holiness. Interestingly enough, we don’t have songs written like that in our day and hardly a record of what they sang in the biblical days. We have songs that sell millions of copies about human beauty and human love, which is really fallen and sinful beauty and fallen and sinful love, yet where are the songs about the beauty of the Lord and His holiness? It would appear that the songs that are so popular have nothing to do with the true God but instead are man-centered and focused on sinful forms of love.

From Psalm 29:2 we can say with some degree of certainty that the glory of the Lord that is due to His name is to worship Him in the beauty of holiness. This would require, at the very least, two things. One, that human beings would worship the Lord in regard of His holiness and glory. Second, human beings would seek to be holy as a way of glorifying the Lord and in order to worship Him rightly. Is it possible for human beings to worship a thrice holy God without pursuing holiness themselves? Is it possible for human beings to love a thrice holy God unless they love Him in His holiness and therefore seek to be holy? There can be no doubt that the Lord loves holiness and it is His holiness that He swears by, so we cannot worship God unless we love and adore holiness.

The Lord is to be worshiped in the beauty of holiness, but of course no man can work up holiness in his own strength and power. Holiness must come to human beings who seek humility, death to self, and then long for Christ to be their lives. The beauty of a human being is really Christ Himself. Apart from Christ no human being has any true beauty and yet with Christ any human being is beautiful. It is Christ who adorns the human soul. It is Christ who beautifies the soul as He is the salvation of that soul. It is Christ who is the beauty of righteousness and it is Christ who is the beauty of wisdom. Ugly sinners can become beautiful with Christ. Those who don’t have Christ, regardless of how much they are praised for beauty in the eyes of fallen man, are truly ugly because of sin.

In John 17:24 Christ prays for His people to behold His glory which was given Him by the Father and part of that is that He was loved by the Father before the foundation of the world. That glory what Christ wants His people to behold is that which shines out in Him from the Father. It is the beauty of real and infinite holiness. It is the beauty of a triune love which flows from the Father to the Son and from the Son to the Father. All who have Christ in them share in that love that flows between the Father and the Son and it flows by the Holy Spirit who works in us the fruit of love. Oh the darkness of the human heart when it prefers sordid ways of sin to being ravished by the infinite love of God. Oh how dark is the human heart that prefers honor for self rather than seeking the honor and glory of God in and by Christ. The very beauty of all things came into being through Christ and all things reflect His beauty, but the very beauty of God is what shines through Him more than anything else. Let us adore and worship.

The Glory and Beauty of Christ 6

April 30, 2015

John 17:24 “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

One of the attributes of God is His beauty. While we don’t often think of God and His glory in terms of beauty, when we think of what true beauty is there can be no doubt that God is glorious in beauty. How can God be anything but utterly beautiful since He created such a beautiful universe? He created all true beauty and it reflects something of Himself and His glory. In a sense the beauty of God is His symmetry with Himself and within Himself. His beauty does not refer to a physical appearance, but it refers to His delight in His majesty and the loveliness of His own being to Himself and of the appearance of His own glory. Jonathan Edwards put it like this: “His infinite beauty is his infinite mutual love of himself” (vol 6, Yale, p. 363).

When we meditate upon the thought of Edwards (just above), what else could be beautiful but how God is in Himself? Scripture, speaking of women, says that true beauty is from the inward person (I Pet 3:3-5). The true beauty of God also comes from His inward nature, that is, the Trinity. People will pay money to watch a “love story” and people will weep upon watching plays and movies about what they think of as love. Can there be a more glorious love story in Scripture than the love of the Father for the Son and the Son for the Father? Can we think of a greater love than the love of an infinite God and how He loves Himself within His being which is the basis, source, and origin of all true love?

What can be more beautiful than beholding the infinite love of God (as triune) in His eternal being who took human flesh and made that human flesh His tabernacle of glory? What can be more absorbing to the soul than to behold the glory of God shining forth in Jesus Christ? Can the soul that sees itself in truth as sinful and unholy fail to behold the beauty of God in the Gospel of grace alone? Can the soul that sees itself in truth as utterly without merit and utterly without ability to gain merit or do anything spiritual fail to see the Gospel of Christ alone which is built on His merit and ability without any found in the sinner?

Psalm 19:1 tells us that the heavens are telling of the glory of God. Is that beautiful to the soul? But if the heavens are telling of the glory of God and that is beautiful to the soul, then how much more is Christ who is the very shining forth of the glory of God beautiful to the believing soul. How utterly adorable is this Messiah who was forever in the bosom of the Father and then took human flesh out of love for the Father and then out of that same love for the Father went to the cross to suffer the wrath of the Father for the glory of the Father. How utterly and indescribably beautiful is the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. It is there that we see the beauty of the justice of God and the love of God on display.

The King James Version on 1 Chr 16:29 gives us this: “Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.” The Lord loves holiness and there is a beauty in holiness. A holy man or woman is not one who is better than others as such, but is one who is partaking of the holiness of God more than others. There is no merit or credit to us in holiness since we only share in His holiness (Heb 12:10), but instead a holy person is holy by grace alone and when God looks upon us He sees the beauty of Himself in us. Christ, His perfect image, is the mirror which He beholds the beauty of Himself and His glory. When sinners are regenerated and are joined to Christ, God looks upon sinners and sees the beauty of His own holiness in them.

How wonderful it is to worship God in the beauty of holiness because we can know that He is beholding Himself and the beauty of His own holiness in us. How this should humble us and drive us deeper and deeper into self-abnegation and the denial of self. It is only to the degree that we die to self that His self or His glory of His beauty is in us. No, we cannot deny self by the work of self, but self must be denied by the work of a true holy One and that is the work of the Holy Spirit. We should seek Him to work this death in us that we may have more and more of the life of Christ in us and that life of Christ is a holy life. The more of Christ we have the more we will have the beauty of God shining in us and through us. The more we have of Christ the more beautiful we will be in the eyes of God. After all, Psalm 149:4 tells us that “the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.”

The Glory and Beauty of Christ 5

November 21, 2013

John 17:24 “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

So we now have great numbers who oppose the person and glory of Christ under a pretense of sobriety of reason, as they vainly plead. Yea, the disbelief of the mysteries of the Trinity and the incarnation of the Son of God—the sole foundation of Christian religion—is so diffused in the world that it has almost devoured the power and vitals of it. Not a few, who dare not yet express their minds, give broad intimations of their intentions and good will toward Him, in making the object of their scorn those who desire to know nothing but Him and Him crucified.    John Owen

It is important if not vital to note the importance Owen puts on the person and glory of Christ. It is not necessary to deny the important teachings of Christ openly, but instead if people don’t stress them and don’t teach them as Scripture sets them out they are denying them in practice. II Corinthians 4:3-4 sets this out quite clearly for us.

3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

It would appear from this text with that the devil fights and blinds people from the glory of Christ and His gospel by blinding people to the glory of it. It does not say that he blinds them to the intellectual awareness or knowledge of it, but to the glory of it. When the Gospel of Jesus Christ is drained of its glory by well-meaning people, they are doing the work of the devil as much as if they intended to do so. Christ prayed for people to see His glory, yet pastors will not preach the glory and so many academics deny it outright. There is no Gospel of the glory of Christ or the Gospel of the glory of God apart from the glory of God in the face of Christ being declared and set out.

The intrusion of fallen reason into theology starts off a chain of destruction. It is not just that unbelieving theology can be destructive to true Christianity, but professing believers and conservative professing believers can be destructive as well. It matters not what a person claims to believe or actually believe, fallen reason that has not bowed to the authority and glory of Christ can intrude into theology. The higher fallen reason is lifted the lower it will cause (in perception) the glory of the Gospel to fall. We must never forget that human nature is fallen and that includes its reasoning powers and the desires that drive the practice of reasoning.

Any doctrine or theology as such that is not primarily flowing from and back to the glory of God is false. The Gospel flows forth from the internal glory of God and is intended to point all hearts back to the glory of God. A so-called gospel that does not do that is false at some point if not all points. Preachers and those who practice something called evangelism can preach Christ crucified in such a way that it is nothing but a transaction and is not the very glory of God on display. Yet, when this is done the heart of the cross is gutted and the devil has succeeded in blinding people from the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.

Yes, it is true; there are many, many people today who deny the Trinity and the incarnation of the Son of God. In doing so, they have denied the very heart and glory of Christianity. Yet there appear to be many who do not openly deny the Trinity and the incarnation of Christ and yet they do deny it by not openly and clearly teaching these things. But again, it is possible to preach, teach, and evangelize of a crucified Christ and yet leave out the very glory of the cross by not setting out what makes the cross glorious. It is not just a man on the cross; it is the very Son of God on that cross fulfilling His promise to the Father to save the elect. At the cross we see the very glory of the triune God on display and so the glory of the cross is not just that Jesus went to the cross, but that the Father from all eternity had covenanted with the Son to be sent and that the Son covenanted to take human flesh and suffer and die on the cross. How easy it is to simply set aside the glory of the cross, the Gospel, and Christ Himself while preaching the basic truths of Christianity. How many pulpits across the land preach the cross each Sunday and yet the glory of Christ is simply not set forth? Satan is pleased when that is done.

The Glory and Beauty of Christ 4

November 12, 2013

John 17:24 “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

One of the greatest privileges and advancements of believers, both in this world and unto eternity, consists in their beholding the glory of Christ. This, therefore, He desires for them in this solemn intercession, as the complement of all His other requests in their behalf: “That they may behold my glory,” that they may see, or contemplate my glory.       John Owen

It does not appear that people think of beholding the glory of Christ as one of the greatest privileges in this work and then unto all eternity. If they did, they would seek a sight of His glory. Moses is said to have considered “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt” (Heb 11:26). Moses then went on to cry out to God with His desire to behold His glory. The glory that Moses caught a glimpse of is that glory that believers are privileged to behold with greater light. Christ Himself is the glory of God shining forth in the new creation of God. Christ Himself is the very glory of the Church. Christ Himself is the very shining forth of the glory of God in the Gospel of God. We are told that God is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (II Cor 4:6).

People will go to great extents to see a particular sporting event, a movie star, or a politician. But the greatest privilege is to behold the glory of Christ. The most a football player can do is to catch, throw, or run a football for a short distance. The most a basketball player can do is to throw a ball through a hole. The most a baseball player can do is to throw a baseball, catch a baseball, or hit a baseball. But Christ upholds the entire universe by the word of His power. Christ has purchased the eternal souls of an entire people. Christ was the tabernacle of the glory of God and Christ is very God of very God. The athlete strives for records and money that last for a few years at the most, but Christ earned and won eternal salvation. There is nothing an athlete can do that can be compared to the glory of Christ.

What is it that movie stars and actors do? They pretend to be someone and act like someone. They play a part that someone has written and that another directs. But what are they really doing that is worthwhile? Christ did not just play a part, but He was and is involved in the greatest drama that can possibly happen for all time in all of creation. The drama of redemption was played out from the Garden of Eden until the cross as the Old Testament gave us little dramas and pictures of the coming Christ. Christ has accomplished salvation and it is an eternal salvation, while a television show may last a few years at most. Movies usually are not popular for very long at all.

What is it that politicians do? They make laws, they have political power, and they put on a show as they run for office. But how is the comparable to the Lord Jesus Christ who raises up and then blows down all politicians as He pleases? He has all power in the entire universe and He does as He pleases. What kind of power does the Lord Jesus Christ who is the King of kings have? The hearts of all kings are in His hand and He turns them as He pleases. Every breath of every king and ruler of all lands are in His hand and He can give it or take it as He pleases. What an absolutely glorious Lord is King Jesus!

Why are men so taken with the world rather than the Lord Jesus Christ? It is because they are blinded by the allure, apparent beauty, and false promises of the fake things of the world and so those things appear so much better than the eternal things which they are blinded to. The things that bring some sense of pleasure to the soul now appear better than words that appear to be only effective for eternity. It is hard to get a person to turn from present pleasures to seek the One that s/he hates (God) for eternal life which appears to be so distant and not all that great. When the scales are removed from the spiritual eyes of the soul, oh how ravishing Christ is to the soul. How delightful the things of eternity appear, but also how delightful holiness and love for Christ are in the present world. If only people would take time and effort to either behold or seek to behold the wonders of Christ perhaps the things of the world would appear dim and ignoble to them. The things that people spend so much time on would appear to be nothing but a waste of time when seen in the light of His beauty.

The Glory and Beauty of Christ 3

October 21, 2013

John 17:24 “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

One of the greatest privileges and advancements of believers, both in this world and unto eternity, consists in their beholding the glory of Christ. This, therefore, He desires for them in this solemn intercession, as the complement of all His other requests in their behalf: “That they may behold my glory,” that they may see, or contemplate my glory. John Owen

Human beings who swell in pride long for, live for, and deeply desire for others to see their glory, but do so for their own selfish purposes without a true regard to God or other human beings. But Christ prayed for His people to see His glory and that to the glory of God and the highest good for other human beings. True humility, which Christ had in and to perfection, desires to see the glory of God and to have others behold that glory as well. The Gospel of the glory of God and of the glory of Christ is quite consistent with this prayer. The Father had given the Son (or shared with) perfect glory from all eternity and the glory of the Father was and is shining forth in the Son. So the Son wanted others to behold His glory out of love for the glory of God and for others.

In this the two Greatest Commandments shine forth in their beauty as well as setting forth the greatest example. We see the Son seeking the glory of God in all that He did and we also see Him seeking the highest good for His people. We see the Son wanting others to behold Him in order that they may behold the glory of the Father in Him. We see the prayer of the Son and notice His greatest desire and then His desire for His people. The two desires are never really separate in reality, but in desiring the glory of God He wanted others to behold it and then to manifest it. So the Son is our example in what He loved the most (the Father’s glory) and how He sought that (for others to see and manifest that glory).

This prayer of Christ sets forth the Lord’s Prayer as well. In it Christ taught His disciples to pray for the name of the Father to be hallowed and glorified. This is, more or less, a prayer for at least the third commandment. The desire for the Father’s name and glory to be revered and glorified should be the chief love and purpose of the believer. If Christ sought that in what He did and sought that in prayer as well, then each person redeemed by Christ should give him or herself to prayer and seeking that same goal. It is more than a mere duty, but it is a great privilege beyond all compare.

If we could but draw back the curtain and peer into the heavenly realms, what would we see? We would see the seraphim singing in praise and worship to God of His glory at all times. We would see all of heaven bowing in worship as others sing of the holiness of God and how worthy He is of praise. The greatest thing and purpose for human beings is to join the Lord of the universe and the heavenly throng in praying for and seeking the manifestation of the glory of God. While it is a privilege to do so, it is a privilege far greater than we can imagine. So enough of dutiful Christian living without worship and adoration, but let us see that it is part of our duty to bow before the living God and seek His praise both now and forever. After all, this is what the Lord Jesus prayed for.

The Glory and Beauty of Christ 2

October 14, 2013

John 17:24 “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

And this is the subject matter of what the Lord Christ here desires in the behalf of those given Him by the Father, namely, that they may behold His glory…This alone, which is here prayed for, will give them such satisfaction, and nothing else. The hearts of believers are like the needle touched by the loadstone [magnetic]m which cannot rest until it comes to the point where it is directed. For being once touched by the love of Christ, receiving therein an impression of secret ineffable virtue, they will ever be in motion and restless until they come to Him and behold His glory. That soul which can be satisfied without it, that cannot be eternally satisfied with it, is not partaker of the efficacy of His intercession.                         John Owen

If Christ desired and prayed to the Father for His children to see or behold His glory, then this is a greater thing than possessing the whole world. We can see this by taking Matthew 16:26 and showing the connection of one word (used twice) with what is best for that soul. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul [beholding the glory of Christ]? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul [beholding the glory of Christ]? If heaven essentially consists in beholding the glory of Christ, then those who do not go there and behold His glory are lost. What an infinite loss if a person trades away beholding the glory of Christ for the entire world! Yet we can clearly see how many people trade the glory of Christ for sin.

The Gospel itself is all about the glory of God in the face of Christ and the believer desires and longs to see that glory that s/he would be transformed more and more into that image (II Cor 3:18). It is also true that the Lord Jesus spoke stern word (John 5:44) when He said: “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?” How can a person truly believe in the true God and have the glory of God shining in the face of Christ in his or her heart and not seek the glory of God? How can a person truly see the glory of God in Christ and still seek the honor of men? How can a person truly see the glory of God in Christ and still love the things of the world?

The beauty of Christ is so beautiful and desirable that the whole world is nothing in comparison of Him or what He has done in life and at the cross. The beauty of the Person of Christ is glorious in His divine nature and then how He was united to a human body. The beauty of the Person of Christ is seen in His emptying Himself to take human flesh, but even more taking that human flesh to the cross and there suffering the wrath of the Father for all the sins of all the elect. This Lord Jesus is better than silver and gold. This Lord Jesus is far better than all the honors of the world. This Lord Jesus is far more glorious than the most beautiful and valuable treasures of the richest of men and of entire nations.

How can it be that Christ would pray for a person to see His glory and then that person not be able to see it? It cannot be. We must behold the glory of Christ if we are to be converted. We must behold the glory of Christ if we are to be sanctified with the sanctification that is from Christ. We must long for and seek this glory because Christ has prayed for His people to see it. There is nothing else we should seek but to see His glory and then for His glory to be manifested in and through us. When the beauty and glory of Christ dwells in and shines through a person, that person is beautified by the beauty of Christ. That is a far greater beauty than all the things that people try to make themselves look good with.

The Glory and Beauty of Christ 1

October 13, 2013

John 17:24 “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

The High Priest under the law, when he was to enter into the holy place on the solemn Day of Atonement, was to take both his hands full of sweet incense from the golden table of incense, to carry along with him in his entrance. He also had a censer filled with fire that was taken from the altar of burnt-offerings where atonement was made for sin with blood. Upon his actual entrance though the veil, he put the incense on the fire in the censer until the cloud of its smoke covered the ark and the mercy seat (see Lev. 16:12, 13). And the end hereof was to present to God, in the behalf of the people, a sweet-smelling savor from the sacrifice of propitiation. In answer to this mystical type, the great High Priest of the Church, our Lord Jesus Christ, being to enter into the “holy place not made with hands” (Heb 9:24), did, by the glorious prayer recorded in this chapter, influenced from the blood of His sacrifice, fill the heavens above, the glorious place of God’s residence, with a cloud of incense, or the sweet perfume of His blessed intercession, typed by the incense offered by the high priest of old. By the same eternal fire wherewith He offered Himself a bloody sacrifice to make atonement for sin, He kindled in His most holy soul those desires for the application of all its benefits to His Church which are here expressed and wherein His intercession consists.          John Owen

The prayer in John 17 is the prayer of Christ just before He went to the cross and put the glory of God on display purchased a people to manifest and display the glory of God. Before Christ went to the cross He offered a prayer for His people and this prayer was pictured by the incense of the Old Testament tabernacle and temple. But the body of Christ was the very tabernacle of God on earth (John 1:14) and in that tabernacle the very glory of God shone forth, and it was a glory full of grace and truth. We should see this prayer as not so much consisting of words alone, but as the heart of the eternal God in human flesh. He had covenanted with the Father for a people and these were the people He wanted to behold His glory. But again, He wanted these people to see His glory so much that He glorified the Father by going to be a sacrifice for sin. He wanted these people to see His glory so much He displayed it at the cross and purchased the sight and taste of glory for them.

The love of the Father for His one and only Beloved Son may indeed be hard for most to see, but in fact it shines in this passage. In reality, the love of the Father for the Son and the Son for the Father are both put on display and in fact are part of the glory that shines in this passage. This eternal transaction can be seen from John 17:1-2 where Jesus prayed, “”Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, 2 even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life.” Christ came for all that the Father had given Him and He was praying for the Father to glorify the Son that the Son may glorify the Father. In this we can see the great connection between the eternal transaction between the Father and the Son and what Christ did by going to the cross. He purchased those whom the Father had given Him. He purchased eternal life for those people and now they will be able to behold and share in the glory of God because that is what eternal life consists of. To know God is eternal life, but we cannot know Him apart from beholding His glory in Christ.

One can be caught up in some issues of the text and in some theological controversy, but at some point one should stand back and utter “wow” or “behold your God.” How utterly beautiful it is for the Father to love the Son and the Son to love the Father and in that eternal transaction to agree to purchase a people who would share in that love and enable them to delight in their eternal glory. How glorious and beautiful it is that Christ Himself went into the Holy Place in heaven with prayer and then offer Himself and a propitiatory sacrifice for His people that they would be able to behold the glory of God and know that God in tasting of the knowledge and delight in knowing Him. How matchless it is to think of this Christ having holy desires for His people that came from His love for the Father in wanting them to see His glory and to have His joy in them. How can it be that the Jews who were raised in the system of types could miss the glory of Christ who fulfilled those types? It is because they missed the glory of God in the types and so missed the glory of Christ too. At times we must stand back from all the details of the Bible (as such) and simply behold the glory of our God. After all, Jesus prayed for His people that they would behold His glory. He then went to the cross and displayed that glory. Let us behold in awe and wonder.