After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:
“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
God talks to God, in prayer. And Jesus’ disciples are invited to listen in on this conversation at the heart of the universe. This prayer captures the moment in time when Jesus turns himself over to enacting the Father’s eternal purpose, fully aware of the cost, desiring entirely to glory him.
Prior to his arrival in Jerusalem at this time, Jesus’ “hour” had not arrived (John 2:4, 7:30, 8:20). But now his “hour” has come (John 12:23, 27, 13:1). All of history, all of time, converges at this point. At the crossroads of eternity, God gives glory to God.
Jesus’ prayer shows us that reciprocal giving of glory— Father, to Son, to Spirit and back around again— is central to the life of the Godhead (John 7:39, 8:54, 11:4, 12:16, 12:23, 13:31, 14:13, 16:14). It’s what God does by nature. Each honours the other in the exercise of authority. And so when Jesus gives eternal life to those the Father had predestined for it, Jesus is included in the Father’s circle of honour— the recipients of eternal life display the glory of God’s mercy, through Jesus, back to the Father. God, in himself and intentionally, includes others in his glory.
Verse 3 affirms that the fundamental nature of ‘eternal life’ is relational: knowing God and being known by him. The best thing about us is that we are known by God and allowed into relationship with him, for ever, in glory. And since it is God’s nature to share and include, the status of our shared life with God exceeds our ability to grasp it all now. We simply hope in it and prepare for it, in his strength, provided by the Spirit.
And it is this that is on Jesus’ heart as his passion begins: God’s glory and our eternal life.
Dear God, I feel I am stumbling my way into truths too rich to comprehend. Please allow me such grace in this day so as to grow in my living of this eternal life. Amen.