January 11, 2017
John chapter 17 records the prayer of Jesus, sometimes called the “Farewell Prayer” or the “Priestly Prayer.” It is filled with comfort, challenge and encouragement. In a recent look at this Scripture, I noticed something in a new way. In verse 5, Jesus said: “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.”
When Jesus made this statement, He was within hours of His death on the cross that would pay the ransom for our sin. It was His ultimate example of submission. Just a short time later, according to Luke 22:42-44, Jesus was praying again, this time at the Mount of Olives. He prayed: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done . . . and his sweat became like drops of blood, falling down to the ground.” This sounds so very human, but it is Jesus – God in human flesh – Who is agonizing over this experience.
It is in this context that Jesus talked to Creator God about the glory He had with the Father “before the world existed.” This is an absolute claim to deity. Jesus said He was with the Father before there was any shape or form to the world as we know it. Colossians 1:17 tells us that Jesus existed prior to all things. He was there with the Father prior to Genesis 1:1.
It appears that being with the Father was the priority on Jesus’ mind as He faced the cross to purchase our redemption. It is important for me to know that when Jesus died for sin, I was on His mind – along with all humans. But perhaps it is accurate to say that the top item on His mind was to be with the Father. I could paraphrase His prayer on the Mount of Olives: “If there is a way, Father, to get our plan accomplished without this awful experience – please! But if not, then let’s get it done so I can be with You where I have been forever – before the world existed.”
I suppose what really strikes me about this is my humanized view of heaven – all the positive things about health, happiness and security. They are all good things to anticipate. But I need to be focused on what heaven is really about – it is being with Creator God – forever! That hope puts all of life on Planet Earth – the good and the awful – in perspective. Let’s get the work done so we can be with God forever.
Pastor Bill Ehmann