After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all people,[a] to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
Reflection from Reverend Dr. Irene Taylor:
John Chapter 17 is commonly known as the Great Priestly Prayer because Jesus goes before God's intervening on behalf of the people. As Interpreter’s Study Bible suggests, this prayer focuses on God the Father, God the Son, and the community of faith.
Jesus, knowing that His death is imminent, asks God to do three things. First, He prays, asking God to glorify Him; this is not a selfish prayer. Jesus is thinking ahead about His beloved disciples, both present and future. He is asking God to reveal to them the fullness of his nature. Jesus has witnessed the disciples’ faithfulness and commitment, yet He sees their struggle between doubt and faith, between the tension of faithfulness to God and the pull of the world. Jesus knows that this tension will exist throughout their lifetime, so He asks God to "glorify Him so that the Son may glorify you" or, in other words, uncover that which is hidden or that which they cannot fully grasp so that they might believe. For these are those who will be my (our) disciples for the transformation of the world. As contemporary Christians, Jesus reminds us that we too must pray for the faithful among us. For we are the light of God who exist as co-laborers of Christ for the sake of the salvation of the world. The light of Christ must shine in and through us.
Secondly, Jesus, the God-man, asked God to reveal God’s self through Him. Thus, Jesus acknowledges that His mission on earth is to glorify God. The word "glorify" means to make God visible. Jesus's mission then is to make visible to the world the fullness of God’s nature.
Through the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ, the Spirit of God dwelled and walked among God’s people. Yet, God's presence was concealed and invisible to the natural eye. Therefore, Jesus prays that the disciples' spiritual eyes may be opened, allowing them and future disciples to know that He and God are one and the same. Jesus prayed for us as well because this same call is upon our lives. God calls us to live in such a manner that others can see the face of God in our lives.
Jesus asks God to glorify Him because God has given him authority over all people. His mission on earth was to make known to the world who God is, and to draw all the peoples of the world back to God. He is the Light and the Salvation of the world. Therefore, Jesus asks God to confirm this authority and their faith in Him, so that they might believe. The disciples needed something solid to hold onto, to remind them of all that He had taught them when He is no longer present with them in bodily form. They needed a miracle, so that they might believe and that their faith might be made complete, sustaining them through the many challenges of this life. This authority given to Christ to draw all people unto God, is also the command of the Gospel today, to all of Jesus' followers. We have been given the authority to carry on the mission of Jesus Christ. As John Wesley suggested, we must move beyond the four walls of our churches and see the world as our parish or mission field.
Lastly, Jesus prays that all of his disciples may have eternal life and He defines eternal life. He states that to have eternal life is to know God as the only true God and to know Him, Jesus Christ, who was sent by God to save the world. What is eternal life? It is having everlasting faith, hope, love, and trust in God. Thus, true life is a life lived to the glory of God. If God is to be revealed through us, then we must die to self (we must shrink willingly, submitting to God), so that the purpose and mission of our living is to glorify God. As the apostle Paul’s teachings suggest, we must die to self, so that we might live to the glory of God. Eternal life is to fulfill our Christian mission and calling.
Almighty God, we are called to be Your Light in a dying world. May Your light shine brightly through us and enable us to transform the world for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Glorify us, O God, that Christ may be seen reigning in our lives, and that You may draw all the peoples of the world to Your saving grace. Amen!