Bible Society of South Africa

Jesus’ return to glory – 24 April 2023

By Ewald Schmidt

Bible text(s)

Jesus Prays for his Disciples

1After Jesus finished saying this, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your Son, so that the Son may give glory to you.

Jesus has set the perfect example of servant leadership. The Gospel of John began where Jesus was introduced as “the Word” and he was already instrumental in the creation of the earth at the beginning of time. The apostle John took great care to introduce him as the Son of God and of being God himself (John 1:1). He was accustomed to the honour and glory of a heavenly existence. However, he was willing to leave the heavenly behind, to become a human being, to come and share God’s message of love to every person in a way that we would understand.

The suffering of Christ did not begin with the Palm Sunday or at the Garden of Gethsemane, when he was captured by the guard of the high priest. His suffering already started with his birth, being born in a stable, in an obscure part of the world. His suffering included 33 years of living amongst people who did not believe in him and would not listen to his message. When Jesus prayed this prayer, it was the evening before his crucifixion. This was the beginning of the end of his suffering. The deepest test would lay ahead the next day, when his obedience to the will of his Father would be tested to the extreme. His obedience would bring redemption for all believers.

In the Gospel of John, the event of the cross is already part of the glorification of Jesus. John describes the victory of the cross, rather than the suffering it brought. When Jesus prayed this prayer, he and the disciples had concluded their Passover celebrations. They left for the Garden of Gethsemane, where they would find a place of quiet in the midst of the influx of pilgrims who came to celebrate the Passover at the temple. Here, Jesus would continue to wrestle in prayer over the cup of wrath that he would drink. In this prayer and in Matthew 26:34, we see Jesus accepting the way of the cross. He surrenders himself into the hands of his Father, to be obedient until the very end.

His sacrifice on the cross would be accepted. He would die and rise again on the third day. He would ascend to heaven to take up his crown of glory and sit at the right-hand side of his Father’s throne. Jesus prayed that his Father would enable him to endure the way of suffering ahead. He prayed for his glorification, not for himself, but to guide the way for us. We, who follow in his footsteps, gain free access to the throne of God (Hebrews 10:19-20). His victory paves the way for our victory over sin and death; it brings eternal glory for us to share with him.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for enduring in obedience until death. Thank you for setting me free from sin. You were glorified by your victory on the cross. You overcame the stranglehold of death, for me. Thank you for opening a new way to my Father’s house. Amen

Bible Society of South Africav.4.14.1
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