6. The Instrument of the Ultimate Purpose (continued)
The glorifying also is threefold. In verse 1, there is the glorifying of the Father in the Son: "These things spake Jesus; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, "Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that the Son may glorify Thee." Then, in verse 10, the glorifying of the Son in the Church: "And all things that are Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine: and I am glorified in them." Finally, in verse 24, the glorifying of the Church in the Son: "Father, I desire that they also whom Thou hast given Me be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me: for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world."
Now all this is gathered up into "The Hour" which is the hour of the Cross; and the Cross is necessary for it and basic to it. The common participation in the life of the Lord demands the end of the self-life. It i the self-life that obscures the glory of Christ. The whole trend of the flesh is to take the glory from Christ. The flesh is the principle of the fallen humanity by which initially and continuously the adversary robs God of His glory, and mars that which was made for His glory.
This prayer of John 17 takes account of the evil one who works through fallen human nature, splitting it into unholy rivalries, schisms, factions, partisanships, by jealousies, suspicions, hatreds, conflicts, and what not. Christ has come to deal with this spiritual background, and to lay a new foundation of a oneness which is deeper than intellect or emotion.
If there is one element in John 17 more notable than another, surely it is the spirit of selfless humility. It is just as important if not more so - to get into the spirit of this chapter as into the words, and this humility so deeply breathed is the key to all the teaching. It is the offset to the pride which is the world-spirit, and from which the disciples themselves needed deliverance. Pride is the root and cause of all divisions. There has never yet been an external rift among the Lord's people which did not have its source in pride somewhere. Pride blinds, and therefore provides a ground for deception. Often this deception makes the proud believe that they are the humblest and most selfless. Pride's firstborn is jealousy, and jealousy tears in fragments and gets on with no one.
The spirit of subjection to Christ, as Christ is subject to the Father, is the most potent force in fellowship. A "holding fast the Head" is a vital law of the Body of Christ, for thus all the members find their oneness.
Thus when the Lord Jesus prayed "Father ... glorify Thy Son ..." He linked His request with "The Hour" when by the Cross, through utter consecration to the will of the Father, in the power of an endless life, "through the eternal spirit," He met the great arch-enemy of God and of His ultimate purpose for the people out of whom all the discord and enmity is utterly eliminated, and who live in a love which has been made perfect; and He secured that end when He destroyed the works of the devil by His Cross. The means by which that testimony may be veiled are legion, but in every case the contradiction is by reason of something either less than or extra to that Divine Life and its operations.
When 'movements' as the enterprises of men take the place of the spontaneous movement of the Spirit of God: when 'teaching' as such moves in advance of real spiritual hunger and becomes merely mental: when 'men,' instead of the Lord Jesus, become the center of an encirclement: when even a 'testimony' is more than the Person of the Lord: then divisions are bound to come.
Thus we arrive at the supreme note of John 17, "Father, glorify Thy Son." Only as he is the object of all glory, Sovereign Head, with all things coming up to Him, can the oneness be realized and manifested. For this the believer - as a man, a woman, a worker, a preacher, or in any other capacity must know the Cross as having slain him or her, and everything must be henceforth "unto Him Who for their sakes died and rose again."
The prayer of this wonderful chapter followed immediately upon a forecasting of the scattering of the whole company of the disciples, and was the prayer for a regathering beyond that, upon such a basis as would be more secure than that which was then present. That scattering was because they were all "offended" (Matthew 26:31; John 16:1). That offence was occasioned by personal disappointment. Such disappointment would have been impossible if there had not been false motives, false expectations, and a wrong spirit. All these were manifested by the disciples in a frequent concern for their own personal interests. It was 'my position,' 'my ministry,' 'my rights,' etc.
It was when "not one of them said that aught of the things which he possessed was his own" that a spirit prevailed which afforded Christ His supreme opportunity for being glorified That spirit must extend to everything in life - ministry, position, salvation, revelation. All must be held for Christ and unto Him.
(continued with # 8 - (7. The Cost of the Ultimate Purpose)