by Mike Phay
“Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” (John 17:1b-5)
This is the beginning of what is called the “High Priestly” prayer, spoken by Jesus mere hours before his arrest, trial, and crucifixion. As Easter approaches—when Christians around the world annually celebrate our Lord’s resurrection—we are offered an appropriate time to meditate on these words.
Surprising to many, Jesus begins by praying that his Father would “glorify him,” which is kind of a strange thing to ask for. Like an ancient Greek warrior on the eve of battle or a Roman gladiator entering the arena, was Jesus simply out to gain fame? Was he so self-infatuated as to pray that he would be worshipped? Is Jesus simply an egocentric, glory-hungry narcissist?
Most of us dislike a braggart. Arrogant people get on our nerves. Self-centeredness is rarely attractive.
However, with Jesus, things are different. There are a million reasons for you and me to be impressed with him. If he is truly who he says he is—who the Bible claims him to be—then he deserves not only all of our adoration but his own as well. If Jesus is God, then there exists nothing more worthy of his affections than himself.
So Jesus can and should pray for his own glory because he deserves it. There are at least five reasons why:
Jesus deserves glory because of his very nature
Jesus’ glory—his intrinsic worth and value—isn’t something he grew into. Jesus had (as he states in his prayer) glory “before the world existed.” This is a crucial statement, in which Jesus expresses his divine nature as the Son of God, his essence as the eternally existent second person of the Trinity. From before time began Jesus was “very God of very God.” The Apostle Paul wrote in Colossians 1:15 that Jesus is “the image of the invisible God.” As such, he is worthy of our praise.
Jesus deserves glory because of his obedience to the Father
Jesus prayed to his Father: “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.” In other words, Jesus honored his Father by being completely obedient to him. He did this by becoming a man, living a perfect life, and then dying on a Roman cross. Just as a pleasantly compliant child makes her parents proud and receives praise from friends and family, Jesus’ obedience brings honor to both himself and his Father. As such, his obedience is praiseworthy.
Jesus deserves the glory that comes with an epic victory
In the ancient world, sovereigns, kings, generals, and warriors sought and gained glory in battle. It wasn’t out of the realm of the ordinary for men to desire and attain the fame and renown that accompanied great feats or notable victories. According to the biblical story, the greatest victory ever won was accomplished when Jesus “disarmed the rulers and authorities”—that is, the evil spiritual powers—“and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them” (Colossians 2:15). On the cross, Jesus has won a great victory over death, sin, and Satan. He deserves all of the glory and honor that comes with such a victory.
Jesus deserves glory because of what he’s done for us
For Jesus to be glorified is for him to go through with his work of saving a people for himself. He has earned salvation for rebellious, dead, and wretched sinners who don’t deserve a single ounce of his grace. And yet he gives it anyway. Such unmerited favor and gratuitous love deserves our praise.
Jesus’ deserves glory because it is good for us
In the end, to praise Jesus—to give him glory and honor—is the best possible thing for you and for me. It is what we were made for. The biblical story tells us that Jesus’ prayer was fulfilled when he was exalted to the right hand of God: “glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” As such, he is in the place he was always meant to be: on his throne, reigning over the universe. For Jesus to be in charge of the cosmos—overseeing the unfolding of history and every element of our lives—is the best possible thing for each of us. And that, truly, is worthy of our praise.