Most of the time from a human point of view, the events of this world appear chaotic. It is not that a blind, pitiless, impersonal fate awaits all people, but everywhere there seems to be a destructive evil, intent on bringing devastation to what we assume is the normal quest for peace and happiness. Murders, terrorist acts, hatred, betrayal, exploitation, and oppression fill the headlines daily. Around the globe, people seek to ruin others for their own pleasure and profit. If people are not personally involved as agents of havoc or as victims, they try to hide the pain through ignoring what’s happening or by numbing their perceptions of it by pleasure, by mind-altering substances, by ignoring it, or by hiding.
However, on the verge of the darkest hour of history, Jesus prays to God the Father. And in this great prayer of Jesus, we can hear the divine point of view. As he is on the brink of being arrested and quickly crucified, the Lord Jesus prays about the plan of God. Let us listen to the certain confidence of Jesus as he prays this great prayer to God the Father.
Exposition: We learn about…
I. Christ’s completed mission
A. What Jesus means by “the work you gave me to do”
1. It includes all that already happened from the time of his incarnation and birth, through his development as a human, to what he accomplished in his earthly ministry by revealing the Father, teaching the Father’s message, and showing the power of God by the signs and wonders he performed. In everything, he pleased and glorified God by fulfilling the mission the Father gave him (Jn 3:16-17; Rm 3:25; Gal 4:4; 2 Cor 5:18-19; etc.)
2. It includes all that would shortly occur: his arrest, his suffering at the hands of sinners, and his dying for sinners on the cross. Jesus views his mission as one great whole, including what was still to be accomplished. Later on the cross, we hear his great cry of “It is finished” (19:30).
3. It also indicates the confidence that Jesus the Son of God had in what he accomplished. He knew that all that God Almighty had given to do he had totally fulfilled. His obedience to the Father was complete.
B. We need to recognize that all history is structured around the triumph of God’s glory in Jesus Christ. As we often say, “It’s the story of God’s glory in Jesus Christ.” It’s a story in six acts.
1. Act One: God establishes his kingship – Creation – God creates in order to display his glory; he shows it by bringing a very good world into existence
2. Act Two: Rebellion against God’s kingship – The Fall – at this point God might have justly ended humanity; instead, he began to make known his plan in Christ to bring greater glory to himself in redemption; he will bring about something better—salvation
3. Act Three: God prepares for his coming King – Redemption initiated – God sets in motion his plan revealed through successive covenants and by preparing a people for the Son to redeem. This was a time of types and shadows.
4. Act Four: God’s King arrives – Redemption accomplished – This is what Jesus is talking about in this text
5. Act Five: Spreading the good news about the King and his cross –The mission of the church – This is our time; we are to be his temple where God is praised and people of all nations are blessed
Apply: How are you doing in living to bless others?
6. Act Six: The return of the King – Redemption completed – This is the final victory Jesus includes us in; we will forever marvel at and rejoice in the King’s glory
Apply: We ought to be able to tell this to people. In other words, memorize this outline, so that you can explain to others the big picture of God’s plan in Christ. This will provide a context in which others can understand the purpose of Christ’s death and resurrection. It will also lead us away from our hyper-self-centered way of thinking about life and ourselves.
II. Christ’s return to glory
A. The glory that Christ prays for is linked with the pre-incarnate glory he had with the Father. Having carried out his mission, Jesus looks to return to be with the Father in glory. Some facts to notice:
1. The Son of God is plainly speaking about his pre-human existence here (cf. 1:1-2; 8:58; 16:28).
2. The Son longs to be back with the Father in that partnership of glory. This glory is in no way dependent on anything created, because it was God’s essential glory “before the world began.” God knows and enjoys his glory—and he wants to share it!
3. Though sinful people are about to do their worst to him, he has confidence that the Father will bring him back to glory.
B. Christ the Son of God views his return to glory as contingent upon the act of God the Father. He prays for the Father to bring him back to glory.
1. This return to glory began at Christ’s resurrection (Rm 1:4).
2. The resurrection of the Son to glory was achieved by the Father’s glory (Rm 6:4). When we speak of Christ’s resurrection, we ought always to glorify God the Father for raising his Son from the dead. The gospel events, while structured on Jesus Christ, the Son of God, were nevertheless actions of the Triune God.
Apply: This revelation about the Son’s return to glory, which happened in his resurrection and ascension, ought to increase how confidence in God first of all. And then it ought to build our confident expectation of glory, since in his great prayer, Jesus prays for his learners to be with him (17:24). So in your grief or struggles with sin or labors on mission with God, keep focused on this destiny of assured glory.
III. Some important consequences
A. Our view of Jesus must agree with this truth – This might sound rather simple or sound like something that all of us know. But does it really affect us?
1. It is certainly true that our lives are to be formed by the cross of Christ, and so we encounter suffering for Jesus’ sake, and in Paul’s words fill up in our flesh the measure of Christ’s afflictions (Col 1:24). And it is true that Christ counts our sufferings as his (Ac 9:4). But do we actually think about our circumstances this way. Do we functionally divorce ourselves from Christ when we experience suffering by thinking, “Does God care about how rotten my life is now”? Does it even enter into our view of what is happening that this might be an opportunity for us to show the glory of a gospel-formed life?
2. We must remember that the Lord Jesus is seated in immeasurable glory right now. He rules over everything for the good of the church (Eph 1:22). So then, in our struggles in the flesh, we must not think of him as defeated. He never is. He rules over the problems of his people to bring about a greater good.
Song: See the Lamb of God by Lou Fellingham
B. Our security in Christ – How does this section present our certainty of the salvation of every believer in Jesus Christ?
1. We are told the Christians have been chosen by God the Father and given to the Son to save. Clearly, if the Son completed that task then our salvation is secure.
2. Jesus has fully completed whatever God required to save us. He left nothing undone. He removed all obstacles to our final salvation. We have nothing to pay.
3. This work that he completed involves eternal life—life of an endless duration and great quality of knowing God and being loved by him.
4. To accomplish our salvation, the Lord Jesus endured many kinds of suffering, including the task of propitiation. If Jesus satisfied the wrath of God to save you, he will never let you go.
5. To do this task, the Father gave the Son all authority over everything. Therefore, nothing can separate you and me from him (Rm 8:28-39).
Apply: Therefore, we ought to grow in assurance of eternal life.
Pastor Dave Frampton
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teachers and student alike will profit much from his labor in the God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.