“Father, I want those you gave me to be with me where I am. Then they can see my glory, which you gave me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” (John 17.24 CEB)
Sharing what I know of God, through words and ways, is my great privilege and joy every day of the week. Bringing light into realms of darkness and helping add fuel to the lamps of others who burn for God, well, this is my bread and butter.
But what, pray tell, I ask, does it mean to “be” where Jesus is? Or to “see” Jesus’ “glory?” What on earth – or wherever Jesus is – is the glory the Father gave him “because” he loved” him? Do, please explain to me the glory our Father God gave his Son Jesus “before the creation of the world,” if you can.
I tell you, you can’t do it. And neither can I.
For to read and reflect and on these words sets our collective mind to reeling. Our brain goes on tilt. It’s as if we need someone to hit the reset button, for we don’t even begin to understand what all these words of our Lord must mean.
And that’s okay. Actually more than “okay” … glorious. Really.
For these words from our Lord were not recorded to give us greater clarity of knowledge about God, but to deliberately deepen the mystery that surrounds – indeed, is – our God, as well as our faith in him. They were not intended to answer our questions (as if we even naturally know what are the best questions to ask to begin with!), but rather to give rise to more and different questions in our heart. Truly, this is the purpose of these words from our Lord: to increase the volume of our wonder, not vaporize it.
What’s that you say? You ask, “Why is that?” Quite frankly, because we don’t need a god we can completely figure out.
Oh, we might think we want such a god, but a god who doesn’t transcend us is no brighter or greater than us and thereby, no god at all. Such a “god” would only be an extension of us or a projection of ourselves. Such a god would be a god far too small to be God. God knows this world has enough puny-pretend, lazy-and-lame gods already, thank you very much.
No, our deep need is a God we can’t get our arms completely around. Not even close. We need (and in our saner moments, we know we want) God to be a God who can – and always has, and always will – do far more than we can ever begin to even ask or imagine. We understand that what we want God to be is holy and wholly “other;” nothing but good and radically distinct from us. We need God not to be One who can be naturally understood by all, but supernatural in all his ways. A God who is far, far bigger than just what we know in this moment, but all of what is past and all of what is future, too.
Only such a God as this is truly “glorious” and can (and would) lovingly long to share his glorious presence with us.
And he has. His name is Jesus.
And he will. Through Jesus.
This he began before he created this world. As he works this still in his re-creation of things now. And he will still be doing it when he completely and gloriously brings heaven and earth together in his glory forever to come.
This is mind-blowing stuff that words alone are all too insufficient to convey! And so … like the One who interceded/intercedes for us … we should engage this mystery with the mystery that is p-r-a-y-e-r, and do so with his glory in view.
Father in heaven, hear this prayer of the One who intercedes for us. We echo his prayer and we mingle our prayers with his: bring us into his presence and Yours. Grant that we will be enabled to see your glory. The love and glory that alone is of you and has always been. So be it. Though we – gloriously – can’t begin to fully comprehend it.
Glory be to God!