Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. John 17:24
We’ve been looking at the promises of Jesus that point us to the core and center of our Christian faith. We’ve been learning that being a Christian is more than adopting a creed, it is more than an ethic, a way of life.
Jesus Christ is risen. His power and presence is with His people by the Holy Spirit. “I will not leave you as orphans” (Jn 14:18). The Holy Spirit will “live with you and be in you” ( Jn 14:17).
Jesus explained the purpose of his death and resurrection when He said, “I am going to prepare a place for you.” That’s why he went to the cross. That’s why he went to the grave. That’s why he rose on the third day.
He did these things to open heaven for his people. He did it to remove all that would keep us out, all that would stand in our way or entering everlasting life. So he says to us: “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me” (Jn 14:3).
Suppose you are buying a new car. You want a particular model. The dealer says to you, we don’t have it here but I can certainly get it for you. But I need you to pay for it up front. If you have paid the full cost of purchasing the car, you will come back to that garage to receive what you have purchased and to take it home. Christ laid down His life to purchase you. You can be certain that He will come to take you home.
That’s where we ended last week. Today I want us to take one more step and ask the question: What will it be like when we get there? What should we expect? What can we look forward to? To answer that question, we turn to John 17:24. John 17 records the prayer of Jesus, immediately before his suffering. If you have the church bible, you will see that there are three parts
- Jesus prays for Himself
- Jesus prays for His disciples
- Jesus prays for all believers,
Our verse is part of our Lord’s prayer for us. Here is something amazing: The Son of God, on His knees, praying for you. Did you know that Jesus prayed for you?
“My prayer is not for them alone” ( ie., not for the disciples alone). “I pray for those who will believe in me through their message” (17:20). If you believe the apostolic message. If you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you have trusted your life to Him, this prayer is for you.
It’s worth noting that Jesus describes believers another way: “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me (17:24). We saw earlier in our series (in John 6:37), that Jesus refers to His people as “those the Father has given to me.”
All that the Father gives me will come to me, and
whoever comes to me I will never drive away. John 6:37
Those who come to Christ, those who believe the apostolic message are the gift of the Father to the Son. And here we have Christ, on His knees praying for you and for me. Now what does Jesus Christ pray for us? Two things
1. Christ wants you to be with Him
The Son of God is saying to the Father, “I want these believers, those You have given me to be with me in heaven.” Christ wants you in heaven. He is about to go to the cross. He is going to wear the crown of thorns. Nails will be driven into his hands and His feet. He is going to be plunged into utter darkness. If you ask him, “Jesus, what do you want to get out of this? Why are you doing this? What is all this about?” He would say to you, “I want those the Father has given me to be where I am.”
If you are a believer today I want you to say this with me. I’m going to say, “I want Colin to be with me where I am.” You say it with your name…
Being with Christ is the greatest joy of heaven
There will be so many things for us to do and to enjoy in the new heaven and the new earth. But being with Jesus will be your greatest joy. Christ Himself will lead you into the joys and splendors of heaven. “The Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd and he will lead them into springs of living water” (Revevlation 7:17).
The Bible uses many pictures to describe our relationship with Christ. One of them is that the church is the bride of Christ. Everyone who has ever been a bride understands this picture. The bride is beautiful, but she is not taken up with her own beauty. She is taken up with the bridegroom. Everyone who has ever been a bridegroom understands this picture. She walks down the aisle. She looks amazing. There is a light in her eye, and that light is for you.
A woman by the name of Ann Ross Cousins wrote about this. She used the image of a bride arriving at her wedding to describe how all our attention in heaven will be focused on Christ: “The bride eyes not her garment but her dear bridegroom’s face.”
The great joy of heaven is that you get to be with Christ
Once, when Paul was arrested and placed in prison, he didn’t know what was going to happen next. It seemed quite possible that he would be executed. He wrote to the Philippians from prison, and this is what he said: “I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” (Philippians 1:23). There is so much still to do in this life, but if I die, it means I will be with Christ, and that is far better.
Death for the Christian is not a slump into unconsciousness. It is an entrance into the presence of Jesus. “To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (1:21). If you live for this world, to die is loss, because everything you lived for gets left behind. But if you live for Christ, to die is gain, because you get more of Christ, you go to be with Christ and that is far better.
2. Christ wants you to see His glory
Jesus tells us that this glory is given to the Son by the Father. Jesus is not speaking about His own glory as the eternal son of God. That was not given to him. The glory that the Father gives to the Son is the glory He received when as the God-man, when He ascended to the right hand of the Father.
Jesus is speaking here about His glory as the risen, exalted Redeemer. Paul describes this glory in Philippians 2:
[He was] in very nature God, [but He] did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. [He] made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant… And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross.
Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:6-11
What does it mean to see Christ’s glory?
Will this be seeing with your eyes, or will it be understanding with your mind? One of the great puritan writers, Thomas Manton, says it will be both.
There is a glorified eye as well as a glorified mind. Job said, “Though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh I will see God” (Job 19:26). You will see the Son of God as the disciples saw their risen Lord.
But Manton says, there’s more.
The angels do not have bodies, (they are spirits and spirits do not have eyes) and yet the angels always behold the face of the Father in heaven (Matthew 18:10). So not only we will we see Christ’s glory with our eyes, we will perceive and know and grasp His glory with our minds.
F. F. Bruce points outs that the disciples had seen the divine glory in the incarnate Word on earth (John 1:14):
They will see it [Christ’s glory] more fully when they live in the presence of the glorified Lord – not, perhaps, because He will then be endowed with more of that glory but because they will be better able to behold it.
Is this not what Paul is getting at in 1 Corinthians 13:12
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror;
then we shall see face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:12
It’s not that Christ is somehow waiting to be glorified. He is crowned with glory and honor. Christ’s glory is already seen in heaven. Christians see something of Christ’s glory now. We have the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Cor. 4:6). But we see this by faith. What we see is like a poor reflection in a mirror.
The mirror is the problem. Faith is a poor mirror, so we long for faith to be turned to sight. Then you will see Christ’s glory. You will know Him fully, even as He fully knows you.
One of the greatest writers on the glory of Christ, outside of Scripture was a man named John Owen. He wrote a massive work called The Glory of Christ and it was published just after his death, and when Owen was dying, the publisher, a man called Mr. Payne came to visit him.
“Doctor” he said to Owen, “I have been putting your book on The Glory of Christ to the press.” Owen said, “I am glad to hear it; but, oh! Brother Payne, the long looked for day has come at last, in which I shall see that glory in another manner than I have ever done yet; or was capable of doing in this world.”
Christian, one day soon you will know more of the glory of Christ than any pastor or teacher or theologian or writer can ever tell you.
Use this truth to…
1. Release loved ones who are with Christ already
Losing a loved one, is always painful. Some of us are working through the grief or an irreplaceable loss. Someone you love has been taken from you. If the one you love was a Christian, use this truth to help you. They are with Christ. One day you will be there too. They can’t come back to you, but you will go to them. There is only a short interval between their going and your arriving.
Use this truth to…
2. Anticipate your own future happiness
Here’s the marvelous thing for us: Jesus says, “I want those you have given me to see my glory.” When we see Christ’s glory we will not be spectators. When we see Him we shall be like Him (1 Jn 3:2). Not only will you be in glory, but glory will be in you.
Use this truth to…
3. Deepen your love for other believers
When Jesus says, “Father, I want those you have give me to be with me where I am.” He is praying for the whole company of the redeemed–the whole church, in every place and in every age.
When John saw the vision of heaven he saw a great multitude of people that no one could number. Jesus is praying not just for you, but for us. His prayer is: ‘That all of them may be one” (John 17:21). He wants us to be one on earth as we will be one in heaven.
Christ will draws us together in heaven. It is Christ who draws us together on earth. We can’t be united around a personality, or around a program. Its difficult even to get people united around a task, because as soon as you focus on the task there are different way of going about it.
The unity of Christian believers lies in Christ alone. And that is why keeping Jesus at the center is essential to the unity of the church. We will be together with the Lord: If you are not yet a believer in Christ, come with us. Join us in trusting this Savior and living for Him.
Use this truth to…
4. Heighten your worship and devotion to Christ
When Moses received the commandments from God, at Mount Sinai, his face shone. It was as if something of the brightness of God’s glory rubbed off on Moses simply because he was in the presence of the Lord.
Paul uses this story to explain how we grow in the Christian life: “We, who… behold [reflect] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
The principle here is simple: Beholding is transforming. You never come out of God’s presence the same as you went in. Being in the presence of God changes a person. That’s the power of prayer, that’s the privilege of worship. The more you see of Christ’s glory the more like Him you become.
Here’s what that means: When you see a little of Christ’s glory you become a little like Him. When you see more of Christ’s glory you become more like Him. When you see a lot of Christ’s glory you become a lot like Him. When you see the fullness of Christ’s glory, you will become fully like Him.
John says, “When he appears, we shall be like him.” This is how growth in the Christian life happens. Beholding is transforming. The more you see of Christ’s glory the more you will become like Him.
Use this truth to…
5. Strengthen your assurance of final salvation
What assurance do you have of heaven? The Bible says that a cord of three strands is not easily broken. The assurance of heaven for a Christian believer hangs on a three stranded cord that no power in heaven, earth or hell can ever break
The will of Jesus
The Son of God says, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory.” Christ is going to the cross and He says to the Father that this is what He wants! Spurgeon says, “The Lord Jesus is making His last will and testament…”
‘Our Savior’s testament will assuredly be carried out…for this cause, that though he died, and thus made his will valid, yet He lives again to be his own executor, and to carry out His will.
Here’s your first assurance of heaven – Christ wants you there.
The death and resurrection of Jesus
On the same day as He prayed this prayer, He also prayed another using the same word. Here Christ says “I will (thelo) that those you have given me be with me…” Then he says, “If it be possible let this cup pass from me, but not what I will (same word thelo), but your will be done.”
Christ accomplishes His will for us by submitting His own will to the will of the Father. Here’s your assurance of heaven: The Son of God wants you there. He has gone to the cross, to bring you there.
The love of the Father for the Son
“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” John 17:24
The Father glorifies the Son because of the Father’s love for the Son. The Father’s love for the Son is the ground and assurance of His love for us. Read the book of Revelation, and look at all the glory of heaven, the angels, the redeemed from every tribe and nation, the new heaven and the new earth.
What is all this for? Why is it there? Why will we be there? There’s only one answer: For the glory of the Son of God. The Father loves the Son, and out of this love glorifies Him as the God-man for all eternity.
God created the world so that the Son’s glory would shine in it. God permitted the catastrophe of sin, because a redeemed creation will reveal Christ’s glory more than an innocent one ever could. Christ came into the world, taking our flesh as our Redeemer so that the love of the Father for the Son and the love of the Son for the Father would find full expression in this everlasting glory
You will be in heaven–for the glory of the Son of God who redeemed you, for the pleasure of the Son of God who loves you. How strong is the assurance of your salvation? As strong as the will of Christ. As strong as His death and resurrection. As strong as the love of the Father for the Son, that goes back before the creation of the world.
 From the hymn, The Sands of Time Are Sinking, Ann Ross Cousins.
 F. F. Bruce, The Gospel of John p.336.
 Cited in P. B Power, The ‘I Wills’ of Christ, p.360.
 Ibid. p. 224.
© Colin S. Smith
Permissions: You have permission and are encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format you choose, as long as you do not alter or change the wording in any way and do not charge a fee (beyond the cost of reproducing these materials). For posting on the web, a link to this document on our website (OpentheBible.org) is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Open the Bible, 1-877-673-6365.
Please include this statement on every copy distributed:
By Colin S. Smith. © Colin S. Smith. Website: OpentheBible.org