God’s Priority and Our Joy (John 17:1b)

[The following is a sermon point that I made over a year ago.  Of course, I am greatly indebted to the writing and preaching of John Piper for much of this material.]


John 17:1b


Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you,


            Now we begin Jesus’ prayer.  “Father, the hour has come.”  Jesus has made mention of his hour on multiple occasions in this gospel.  Jesus says the hour has not yet come in chapter 2, chapter 7, and again in chapter 8.  But in chapter 12, when some Greeks asked to see Jesus, he said his hour was at hand.  IN chapter 13, Jesus again told his disciples that his hour was here, the hour for him to accomplish the mission for which God had sent him to earth.  And now, in his prayer, he says that the hour is here.


            Now, when you put the fact that Jesus had been predicting his death for the last several chapters together with the fact that Jesus says that he is entering the hour, the big moment, the one crucial period in eternal history when the Son of God would do the thing for which he came to earth, you must conclude that Jesus is standing in front of a moment of colossal importance.  He is standing and looking forward to a moment that is the most important moment in all of history, in all of eternity.  There is no way that we could go too far in saying how big and important and serious a moment is to come.


            So, it would make sense, wouldn’t it, that Jesus would pray for something of utmost importance.  Whatever Jesus prays when turning his eyes to the most important time in all of eternity is clearly the thing that is of highest importance to him and to God the Father.  Whatever comes out of Jesus’ mouth first will be what is of first importance. 


            Jesus prays, “Glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you.”  The prayer is “Dad, glorify me.”  Would you think this is the prayer that should come to the lips of the Savior when standing before the moment when he is about to suffer the greatest agony, feel the greatest pain, bear the weight of sin, and save our souls?  Would you think that the first and highest thing, the most important thing, is that Jesus would ask God, “Glorify me so I can glorify you?”


            Well, you would think this is the right prayer if you knew God the way Jesus knows the Father.  You would think this prayer perfectly consistent with God’s nature and character.  Why?  Because, and I say this with all seriousness and all importance, the most important thing to God is the glory of God.  Is there evidence of this?


Why did God create people?

Isaiah 43:6-7 ()


6     I will say to the north, Give up,

and to the south, Do not withhold;

bring my sons from afar

and my daughters from the end of the earth,

7     everyone who is called by my name,

whom I created for my glory,

whom I formed and made.


Why did God do the miracle at the Red Sea?

Exodus 14:18


And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”


Listen to God say why he spared Israel instead of destroying them in their rebellion:

Ezekiel 20:14


But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I had brought them out.


Why did God bring his people back from captivity?

Isaiah 48:9-11


9     “For my name’s sake I defer my anger,

for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you,

that I may not cut you off.

10     Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;

I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.

11     For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it,

for how should my name be profaned?

My glory I will not give to another.”


Why does God forgive sins?

Isaiah 43:25


“I, I am he

who blots out your transgressions for my own sake,

and I will not remember your sins.


What is the end of all things?

Philippians 2:10-11


10     so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11     and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


            Do you see the point?  Everything, absolutely everything that God does, is primarily for the sake of displaying the glory of God.  And so it is no surprise that, when Jesus comes to this hour and prays, he asks for God to glorify him so that he can glorify the Father.  This is what Jesus is about.  He is dying to pay for our sins in order to protect God’s name as being merciful, loving, and just.  Everything is about God’s glory.


            Would you like to be like Jesus?  If so, you must find the center of your life in the glory of God.  God’s glory is his weightiness, his worthiness of praise, his awesomeness, his magnificence.  If you live for God’s glory, you do what you do so that, when people see it, it shows them that God is good, big, and of utmost importance.  So, live for God’s ultimate purpose, his glory.  Before taking action, ask, “How will this action make God look to others?”  Before saying something, ask, “Will my words show the world that God is real and important?”  Before spending time in worry, ask, “How am I showing God that I think he’s powerful right now?”  Find ways to check your life and to live for God’s glory, his ultimate priority.


            And, know this, when you live for God’s glory, you will find joy in him.  When you see God’s glory, you find that being part of giving God glory is what you were made for. 


Psalm 63:2-3


2     So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,

beholding your power and glory.

3     Because your steadfast love is better than life,

my lips will praise you.


Psalm 16:11


You make known to me the path of life;

in your presence there is fullness of joy;

at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.


Seeing God’s glory is what gives us the pleasure and the joy that David wrote of in those two Psalms.  It is to be in God’s presence, to experience his glory and his love that David says is better than life.  If you want that kind of joy, live for God’s ultimate priority, his glory.