“I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.”
In this high priestly prayer of Christ, the Lord Jesus asks God the Father to glorify Him in the sight of the disciples, and in the eyes of the Church. The foundation for this appeal for honor and recognition is established upon two facts.
First, Jesus glorified the Father on earth. Jesus brought honor and respect to the Father by obedience to His will. He always did those things that pleased God.
Second, Jesus finished the work that the Father gave Him to do though He had to die a horrible death at Calvary. The death of Christ produces salvation, but salvation must be properly understood.
True saving faith sees in Christ, not only a Good Man, or a Wounded Man, but the very Son of God dying as a Substitute for sinners. Saving faith understands Christ was made sin, and a curse, on behalf of guilty souls. As a result, Christ is ultimately desirable because He is the only Lamb of God that can take away the sins of the world. The distinction is significant.
If people look only at the outward sufferings of Christ, if people only see His moral excellencies, they can be moved with sympathy that such a good Person had to suffer unjustly, or, people can be moved with anger against the Jews for turning Christ over to be killed. Neither of these emotions saves. Perhaps one reason why Catholics and Protestants do not see more true conversions is because both tend to emphasize the outward sufferings of Christ (Psa. 22; Psa. 51).
“See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?”
As important as it is to survey the wonderous cross, a compassionate understanding of the Cross will not save. A spiritual comprehension of the death of Christ must be understood. More focus should be placed upon the spiritual work of Christ. That is what the apostles emphasized. Over and over in the New Testament we read about the spiritual work of Christ.
“Christ was made sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).
“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners “(1 Tim. 1:15).
“God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Cor. 5:19). One great phrase of apostolic preaching is found in such passages as Romans 8:3.
“God sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin [there is the legal phrase, for sin] condemned sin in the flesh.”
Christ was not sent so that individuals might protest the malice of the Jews, the betrayal of Judas, the weakness of Pilate, or the cruelty of crucifixion. Christ was sent for sin. He was sent to condemn it, which means to break its power and persuasion over us. Instead of sin condemning us forever, Christ condemned sin. Sin is often personified in Scripture as being a cruel Tyrant.
Christ comes to this Tyrant and says,
“Why are you so mean? Why are you so cruel? Why do you hurt my people? What right do you have to encourage others to break the Moral Law of God and cause shame and death? I condemn you. I charge you with evil and you must die!”
But how does sin die? Who is strong enough to kill this ruthless, unfeeling, and fearless Tyrant?
There is only one Conquering Hero, Christ Jesus the Righteous One. In the book of the Revelation John sees a Great Personage riding on “a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer” (Rev.6:2). Christ can conquer every sin that surges in the body, soul, and spirit. This is what the Christian must believe, or despair.
How did Christ conquer sin? How did the Son of Man put Sin to death? The answer is this.
Christ conquered sin by being made Sin and dying Himself. Jesus was put on a Cross and judged so that Sin does not go unpunished. Christ died for Sin, and for our sake He suffered death in order to silence the clamor of evil against us. Jesus destroyed that which He hated most, which was sin. Now, He is free to offer what He delights most to do, and that is to show mercy.
When the Christian thinks of Calvary the heart can think beyond the five bleeding wounds to the greater spiritual death that was taking place in the soul. When we do, we shall speak with Paul in astonishment. “What then shall we say to these things? Who is he [that] shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? Who shall condemn. It is God that justifies [declares righteous], It is Christ that died. We are more than conquerors in all these things” (Rom 5:31).
Question. “Does the burden of sin weigh you down?”
Response. The obedience and death of Christ can lift you up again!
Question. “Is your sin great?”
Response. The righteousness of Christ charged to your account is greater.
“Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount out-poured–
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.
Grace, grace God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin!”
~Julia H. Johnston
Question. “Is the sin of your heart greater than the sins of your body?”
Response. Look at the heart of Christ dying, and you will find the sufferings of His soul more than those of His body and therefore a perfect sacrifice to God.
Question. “Have you committed sin with delight?”
Response. Christ offered Himself more willingly to Calvary, than anyone was every willing to sin. “Lo, I come,” says He “I delight to do Thy will” (Psa. 40).
Question. “Have you sinned presumptuously and entered into a covenant with death and hell?”
Response. Christ also offered Himself, by a covenant with His Father, and His covenant is greater than your contract with hell.
Question. “Do you make provision for sin so that though a church member, it would be a great scandal if your sin were exposed?”
Response. The death of Christ was great shame. “It was of death the most accursed, at a time most solemn, in a place most infamous, with company most wretched” (A.W. Pink). The Christian will find in the sufferings of Christ exactly that which will answer to anything in sin.
How then should believers act? Christians should be relieved. There is no sin too great for the grace of God. Furthermore, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1). Christians should be thankful. To whom much is given much should be expressed in gratitude. Therefore, “Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms” (Psa. 95:2).
Christians should sin less. “What? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound. God forbid!”(Rom. 6:1) Christians can sin less by making no provision for the flesh (Rom 13:14).
Christians can sin less by memorizing the Bible (Psa. 119:11). Christians can sin less by fleeing from evil at the first moment of temptation (James 4:7). Christians can sin less by making a conscious choice of good over evil. It is the Adam and Eve moment revisited. Christians can sin less by being still and knowing God (Psa. 46:10). We would not sin as much in the presence of God visibly, and so we practice the presence of God.
The sufficiency of Christ to cover all our sins is not designed to encourage more sin when properly understood. Rather, grace produces glory and honor to Christ who brought redemption forth. Jesus has a right to ask for honor due Him because of what He did at Calvary and because of who He is, the very Son of God. The Lord continues His great prayer asking the Father to glorify His Son because of the accomplished work of redemption (John 17:4) and because of the eternal relationship between the Son and the Father (John 17:5).
Jesus argues from a third basis in (17:6), saying, “I have manifested Thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world.” Who were these men which the Father gave to the Son? Who were those who belonged to the Father? In context, the immediate reference is to the Twelve Apostles. Their names are listed in several passages.
Many things could be said about these men, but we want to focus attention on their nature. Looking at the twelve apostles as a unit they represent two basic categories into which all men in the whole world are divided. Using biblical terminology, all of humanity is divided into those who are saved and those who are lost.
The saved apostles included Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James, Simon, and Jude. Judas Iscariot represents the unregenerate. The critical point to understand is that by nature all twelve disciples were alike until the Lord changed the hearts of eleven of them. Eleven disciples needed, and received new natures. All people need new natures because the heart of the natural person is in a state of depravity.
The Sufficiency of Christ
Does our burden of the obedience of sin weigh us down? Christ can lift us up. Is our sin great? The righteousness of Christ has been charged to our account. Are the sufferings of our heart greater than the sufferings of His body? No, of course not. Have we committed sin with delight? Christ offered to be a sin offering, with delight. Christ was more willingly to go to Calvary than we are willing to go to our sin. Have we presumptuously and entered a Covenant with death? Christ has entered a greater covenant with God. Have we made provision for a secret sin that would be a scandal if exposed? We find in the sufferings of Christ exactly that which will answer to anything in our sins!