John (Part 63): Faith First (ch 17)
We have discussed the point of shared glory between the Father and the Son. The Son glorified God in his movement toward death—he had walked the road of God’s salvation plan by manifesting God’s truth, goodness, and beauty in all his life. The Father glorified the Son in the many ways he confirmed the Son’s righteous walk—in miracles and in pronouncements. But most significantly, God would glorify the Son by resurrecting the Son, pronouncing him, even in death, purely faithful to the covenant.
As Jesus continues to pray, we must continue to bear in mind this shared glory in death and resurrection. Jesus prays in verse 4, stating again that he glorified the Father through his life on earth. When we get to verse 5, we cannot change horses in midstream. Most commentaries would have us do so, explaining that verse 5 is Jesus’s longing to go back to the Father. Verse 5 reads, “Now, Father, glorify me in your presence with that glory I had with you before the world existed.” Although this may seem like Jesus’s longing to return to his pre-incarnation dwelling with the Father, notice carefully that he is praying for the glory he had with the Father before the world existed, not before his incarnation.
The reason for this wording is only a puzzle if we assume he was simply longing to be back in heaven. But the context has had us moving in a different way. Yes, he has been talking about glory, but glory related to his death and resurrection. In verse 4, he had just said that he had completed the work God gave him to do. Actually, that completion would be after his death. Because that time is near and all events leading to it have been put in place, Jesus is speaking as if that event has happened—as if his death (the ultimate means for how he is glorifying God) has been accomplished. With this understanding he turns to the next obvious thing that must happen. He has given his life for this purpose; now he prays that God would do next what needed to be done—resurrect him from the dead. That’s the glory to which Jesus refers in verse 5. He is asking that once he offers up his life, that God would return to him the glory that he has always enjoyed with God forever—from even before the world began.
In verses 6 through 10, Jesus moves from the narrower focus of glory between Father and Son, by including the disciples. He concludes in verse 10 that he has been glorified in them. How is that?
The answer is not difficult if we remember the definition of glorify, which is to make manifest the truth, goodness, and beauty of the one being glorified. Therefore, in glorifying him, the disciples had made manifest the truth, goodness, and beauty of Jesus. They did so through their faith, believing what Jesus had revealed to them of God.
This is an important point in the discussion of election. The Calvinist says that not even faith is a condition for election. They say so because they reason a person’s state in spiritual death cannot respond to spiritual matters. God must first bring them to life—regenerate them—in order for them to exhibit faith. Yet in his prayer, Jesus speaks of revealing truth to his disciples (17:6, 7, 8), and those disciples are not yet regenerated. They could not precede the firstfruits—Jesus (I Cor 15:22-23)—in regeneration, and Jesus had as yet to be resurrected. Thus, revelation is given to these non-regenerated disciples, and they believed the truth as revealed. Therefore, insisting that the logical order of salvation must have regeneration precede faith simply does not hold up to Scripture’s (Jesus’s) claim.
These that have believed are God’s. It is by condition of faith that God keeps. It is by condition of faith that they belong to God. And these who belong to God by faith (including all those of the OT who believed God) are the ones given by God to Jesus to redeem. The intimation of the passage is clearly (at least, to me) stressing the importance of faith in the revealed Word of God (that reception of the truth, goodness, and beauty that is God) as the condition for relationship, which necessarily requires redemption through immersion into the death of Christ and the raising, then, to newness of life (regeneration).