Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
April 15, 2001 (Resurrection Sunday)
This morning is Resurrection Sunday when we celebrate the most glorious event in the history of mankind. Jesus Christ rose from the dead just as He said and in doing so proved His claims to be the Messiah to be true and that all of His promises would be kept.
This day is commonly known as Easter, but more properly we should refer to it as Resurrection Day. Easter is not a Biblical word and does not convey the importance of the day. The term, “Easter,” became associated with Jesus’ resurrection due to a mistranslation in the King James Bible in Acts 12:4. In that verse Passover is mentioned as a time reference, but the translator stuck in the word, “Easter,” instead since that particular pagan holiday of fertility among the English occurred about the same time as Passover. The English speaking world has been pretty much stuck with the word ever since. I prefer to refer to this as Resurrection Sunday because it puts the emphasis back on the importance of the day – Jesus Christ is no longer dead. He has risen just as He said!
The Resurrection of Jesus
This morning we have focused our attention on that wonderful event with our special music and presentations as well as our scripture readings. Jesus Christ has been crucified on Friday as the atonement for our sins. He was the substitute sacrifice which payed the penalty of our failure to obey God in everything. He was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Aramathia. The chief priests and Pharisees were concerned about Jesus claim that He would rise from the dead, so they had the tomb was sealed a guard was stationed to make sure that no one could steal the body and then claim that Jesus was resurrected. The guard was there all day on Saturday. The guard continued its task of making the tomb secure on Sunday morning until something occurred they did not expect. Matthew 28:2-4 records the event as follows:
And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. 3 And his appearance was like lightning, and his garment as white as snow; 4 and the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. They were willing to fight people who might want to steal the body, but how do you fight an angel? At what would you do if you saw someone who was supposed to be dead walk out of the grave? Jesus kept His promise. He was alive again!
There are those that would like to deny Jesus’ resurrection as being a myth or wishful thinking, but it is a documented fact of history with many eyewitnesses attesting to it. Jesus appeared to Mary, the two on the road to Emmaus, to disciples, and eventually to more than 500 at one time (1 Cor. 15:5-6). The change in the disciples from cowering men hiding when no one was looking for them to towering men who boldly proclaimed Christ regardless of the persecution they received also demonstrates the reality of their claim to Jesus’ resurrection. They would not undergo persecution and be martyred for a lie. They proclaimed Jesus’ resurrection because it was true.
This morning I want to take a look back to something that occurred just prior to the Jesus’ death and resurrection in order to understand its purpose. Turn in your Bible to John 17. On the night before Jesus was crucified, He had celebrated the Passover meal with His disciples. During the course of the meal He had washed their feet and given them a very practical example of the humble service that His followers were to have to one another. Judas had been revealed as the betrayer (at least to John) and had left to carry out his evil deed. Jesus had instituted the ordinance of Communion by changing the meaning of some of the elements in the Passover meal to represent Himself and the sacrifice He was about to make in order to free them from the bondage of their sins. He then sought to prepare them for the events that were about to occur.
He not only warned them again that He was about to depart, but detailed how that it would be to their advantage. He would be preparing a place for them in His Father’s house and promised to return again for them that they might ever be with Him (14:1-4). He explained their relationship to Him and therefore also with the Father. Jesus gave them several promises concerning answered prayer. He promised them they would have His peace and His joy if they would abide in Him and demonstrate their love for Him by their obedience. And He instructed them on the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, the Comforter, and the ministry He would have to them. They would face tribulation in the world, but they could take courage because Jesus would overcome the world.
In John 17 we now find that Jesus has finished His discourse to His disciples and begins to pray just before they leave for the Garden of Gethsemane. This is often called the high priestly prayer for in it Jesus not only prays concerning what He is about to face Himself, but intercedes for the disciples and all those that would become His followers in the future. This morning we will be looking at the first section of this prayer in which Jesus concerning His crucifixion.
John 17:1 These things Jesus spoke; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Thy Son, that the Son may glorify Thee, 2 even as Thou gavest Him authority over all mankind, that to all whom Thou hast given Him, He may give eternal life. 3 “And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent. 4 “I glorified Thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which Thou hast given Me to do. 5 “And now, glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.
Jesus finishes what He wanted to say to His disciples and now directs His attention to His heavenly Father. He assumes the common position of prayer among the Jews. Our common practice is to bow our head and close our eyes so that we do not become distracted in prayer, but their practice was to lift their head and look up toward heaven. They would often have their hands raised too. That is the reason for Paul’s comment in 1 Tim. 2:8 that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands.
The prompting for this prayer is because the hour was come upon Jesus. The word “hour” here is not a reference to 60 minutes on a clock, but to a short time period when definite things were going to happen. Jesus has spoken about this time period coming throughout His ministry. This was the time for which Jesus had come into the world (Jn. 12:27). His hour was not the public ministry, He had for it had not yet come when He turned the water into wine in Cana of Galilee (Jn. 2:4). It would be an hour in which the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God. Those who hear shall live (John 5:25). It was an hour that was set by God and could not be forced to come earlier. That is why all the efforts that had been made to kill Jesus earlier failed (Jn. 7:30; 8:20). It would be the time in which the Son of Man would depart from this world be glorified (Jn. 12:23; 13:1). It would be a time in which Jesus disciples would desert Him. It was the time of Jesus arrest, trial, crucifixion, and burial and which would climax in the resurrection and culminate in the ascension.
Glorify the Son and the Father
Jesus stated request is that the Father would glorify the Son, but this was not from a selfish desire, but for the purpose is for the Son then being able to glorify the Father.
Some years ago I pointed out in our study of Titus 1:2 that the Father and Son had made promises to one another even before time began. While we cannot comprehend the full nature of the inter-trinitarian relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we should be able to grasp the concept that they have perfect love for one another and exist in perfect harmony being one godhead.
The Father’s plan for mankind was set before man was even created (Eph. 1:4,5). Mankind, or at least those who would be redeemed, would be for the Son’s glory and the Father would give them to the Son. We will see this in some detail when we get to John 17:23-26. In response, the Son would lose none of those given to Him (John 6:37-40), and would willingly redeem man from his sin through His own shed blood as a demonstration of His love for the Father (John 10:17,18; 14:31). That love will further be demonstrated in heaven when the Father exalts the Son bestowing on him the name which is above every name and every knee bowing and every tongue confessing Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil. 2:9-11), but in return this is done to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:11) and Jesus subjects Himself and all that belong to Him to the Father that God may be all in all (1 Cor. 15:28).
In short, every saved person is a love gift from the Father to the Son who does the work of redemption and in return gives everything back to the Father. All this was promised and confirmed between God the Father and God the Son before the world was created and time began. (And some people think their existence is purely the chance collision of molecules over billions of years!) The redeemed are part of an eternal covenant demonstrating the love between two members of the Godhead
Jesus prayer is for this to happen. Jesus was about to pay the price of sin so that He could redeem man as a love gift to the Father. In doing so the Father would glorify Him and Jesus in turn would glorify the Father.
Glory Through Giving Eternal Life
Both the Son and the Father would be glorified through the redemption of man that would give him eternal life. The source of this eternal life would be in Jesus and its nature would be found in the relationship with God that salvation would bring.
Its Source: In verse 2 of Jesus’ prayer the source of eternal life is brought out. The Father gives to the Son authority over all mankind. Jesus would state this again after the Resurrection in Matthew 28:18 saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” It would be on the basis of this authority that Jesus would give the Great Commission to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that He commanded.
Jesus’ authority over all gives Him the right to save and to condemn. The emphasis on this passage is upon salvation since He was about to purchase that salvation through His own blood. But it should be kept in mind that this authority is also for judgement. As early as John 5:22 Jesus had taught that the Father had committed all judgement to the Son.
The gospel message is a two-edged sword. It is a message of life to those who believe and turn from their sin to faith in Christ, but it is a message of condemnation to those who will not believe. All that the Father gives to the Son will be given eternal life by the Son, but all who will not believe will be judged by the Son.
Its Nature. The nature of eternal life is bound up in the relationship with God that redemption restores. Too often our tendency is to think of eternal life as a quantity of life instead of a quality of life. The fact is that even the wicked will exist eternally. The difference is the quality of life, not quantity.
Jesus speaks of both heaven and hell in Matthew 25. To the goats, those who did not believe and follow Jesus, He said in verse 41, “‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.” To those who did believe and followed Him, Jesus said in verse 34, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Jesus spoke of the time element of both in verse 46 stating, “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Eternal life is not a reference to how long a person exists, but of the quality of that life because the person is brought into a loving relationship with their creator. Here in John 17:3 that is brought out be describing eternal life as knowing the only true God and Jesus Christ whom the true God sent. The word for “know ” here is the knowledge gained by experience. Life is not found in academic knowledge about God, but in the living knowledge of having a relationship with God. Even the demons have a good theology of God, but salvation is not brought about by having good theology. It comes by having a personal relationship with Christ brought about through His sacrifice for your sins. That is eternal life.
Those that are given this eternal life will then exist to the praise of the glory of both the Father and the Son. The eternal promises made between the Father and the Son will be accomplished in the redeemed. We find our eternal purpose in the glory of God and will continue in that forever. While we cannot understand why God would choose to do all this, or why such would please Him when He is self-sufficient and not in need of us in any way or manner, we can be grateful that He has, out of His own character, extended His love to us in giving to us eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.
Glory on Earth
Jesus had glorified the Father while on earth by accomplishing the work the Father had given Him to do. Jesus did the will of the Father and manifested Him to the world. That is why the apostles can later say that Jesus is the “image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15), and “the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature” (Heb. 1:3). Jesus’ own claim was that to have seen Him was to have seen the Father (John 14:9). Jesus’ teaching declared the Father’s word to the world (John 14:10). Jesus’ miracles in which He demonstrated authority over sin, disease, demons, nature and even death manifested the Father’s power and majesty (John 14:11).
Jesus’ obedience unto death and the subsequent resurrection from the dead Himself would be the culmination of glorifying the Father on earth for it would be the display not only of the Father’s power to raise Him, but also of the Father’s righteousness and justice in accepting Jesus’ sacrifice for sin (Rom. 3:25,26).
Glory That Was Before the World Was
Jesus concludes in verse 5 this section of the prayer concerning Himself by asking the Father to restore Him to the glory He had with the Father before the world even existed. Again, this glory is not for Himself alone, but that the Father might be glorified in it too. Jesus is the perfect example of humility, for even in such a prayer to simply be restored to what He had previously had, the glory is not centered on Him, but includes the Father as well. Jesus is never self-centered.
What a thought it is then that God is conforming us to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29)! As we mature in our walk with the Lord, we too become less self-centered and more centered upon Him and doing His will. This directly corresponds with our increasing faith in Him, for it is that faith that causes us to step forward in trust of His promises to do His will instead seeking our own. Our increasing faith makes it possible to willingly submit our will to His.
We cannot begin to imagine the full glory that Jesus had with the Father before the world began simply because we cannot comprehend the full majesty of God’s glory. We know that Moses’ face shown from it for a long time in just seen the “afterglow” of God’s glory after He had already passed by (Ex. 34:29). God could not reveal His full glory to Moses for no man could even withstand the glory of God’s face and still live (Ex. 33:20). We know that when the glory of God filled the Temple in 2 Chronicles 7 it drove everyone out. When the glory of an angel causes a man like Daniel to fall on His face (Daniel 10), then how much greater is the glory of God?
The description of heaven given in Isaiah 6 and Revelation 4 is beyond our understanding. What kind of creature are the Seraphim that have six wings and fly about crying, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts,” and which have eyes around and within? What is this throne which is high and lifted up with a rainbow around it like an emerald in appearance. What amazement there must be to behold an throne from which proceed flashes of lightning and peals of thunder and upon which sits someone who is described as a jasper stone and sardius in appearance? What majesty is there to see not only these living creatures with different appearances, but the 24 elders also present around the throne clothed in white garments and wearing crowns on their head who call out “Worthy are Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created” ?
Can we really understand the glory Jesus had with the Father before the worlds began? Can we really understand what it must have been like for Him to set that glory aside to become a man, dwell among us and then willingly die for our sins? Yet, as Phil. 2 points out, that is exactly what He did and why the Father exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in the heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Jesus prays here that this former glory would be restored as He completes the final aspect of the redemption plan. That is why Hebrews 12:2 can state of Jesus that “for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down on the right hand of the throne of God.”
The resurrection of the Lord Jesus is the answer to Jesus’ prayer here. God the Father glorified God the Son and God the Son glorifies God the Father. In the process the redemption price of man’s sin is paid and we are offered the hope of eternal life.
If you have placed your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, then proclaim your joy to everyone. Jesus Christ is alive. Your sins are paid for. You have a personal relationship with the creator of everything that will last throughout eternity.
If you do not have the confidence that if you died today that you would be with the Lord, then I have good news for you. You can. 1 John 5:13 says, These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life. Please talk with me or one of our other church leaders. We would love to show you how Jesus’ resurrection not only brought about glory for Himself and the Father, but enables you to have eternal life.
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times the word “glory” is used 2) Talk with your parents about how Jesus is glorified and how He glorifies God. How can you glory Jesus?
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What is the meaning of “Easter” and how did it come to be associated with the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus? Recount the events of the resurrection of Christ. How does the presence of the guards at the tomb verify the resurrection of Jesus? What historical evidence is there that Jesus was raised from the dead? Why do people try to discount this event? What is the context of John 17? What was the common position of prayer among the ancient Jews? What does “the hour” in John 17:1 refer to? How does regenerate man fit into the plans made between God the Father and God the Son? How does the Son glorify the Father? How does the Father glorify the Son? What is the source of eternal life? What will be the result of the gospel for someone that will not believe in Jesus? How long will those who are sent to hell exist? What is the nature of eternal life? How did Jesus bring glory to God while He was on earth? How would His death bring glory to God? What was Jesus’ glory like before the world was? What are some of the Biblical descriptions of God’s glory? What is your relationship with the Lord Jesus like? How can it improve? What steps will you take this week to implement those improvements?
The Resurrection of Jesus
Practice of Prayer (vs. 1)
The Hour (vs. 1)
(John 12:27; 2:4; 5:25; 7:30; 8:20; 12:23; 13:1)
Glorify the Son and the Father (vs. 1)
Every saved person is a love gift from the Father to the Son who does the work of redemption and in return gives everything back to the Father. All this was promised and confirmed between God the Father and God the Son before the world was created and time began.( Titus 1:2; Eph. 1:4,5; John 17:23-26; 6:37-40; 10:17,18; 14:31; Phil. 2:9-11; 1 Cor. 15:28)
Glory Through Giving Eternal Life (vs. 2,3)
Its Source (vs. 2)
The gospel is a two edged sword. It is a message of life to those who will believe and condemnation to those who will not.
Its Nature (vs. 3)
Eternal life is not a reference to how long a person exists, but of the quality of that life because of the person’s relationship to their loving creator.
Glory on Earth (vs. 4)
Glory That Was Before the World Was (vs. 5)
The resurrection of the Lord Jesus is the answer to Jesus’ prayer in John 17:1-5. God the Father glorified God the Son and God the Son glorifies God the Father. In the process, the redemption price of man’s sin is paid and we are offered the hope of eternal life. Do you have this life? He who has the Son has the life – 1 John 5:12,13
For comments, please e-mail Church office