Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 17:2a (Holman) “. . . for You gave Him authority over all flesh;. . .”
The whole world needs to know God has made Jesus ruler over the human race. Christ has authority, the right of dominion, the right to rule and command.
“All flesh” is not a complimentary description of us. It marks us as weak and transitory, as opposed to the majesty of God.
“Flesh” pictures us from the side of our nature in which we are akin to the lower world. Jesus has authority over the only thing in creation that disappointed God, the hardest thing in the world to control – our stubborn nature.
John 17:2b “. . . so He may give eternal life to all You have given Him.”
Jesus could have used His authority to destroy us. This is what we deserved, but Jesus chose to use His God-given authority over all in a way that He might offer eternal life to all. Jesus could exercise a harsh authority over people as earthly kings do, but chose to use His sovereignty to distribute life.
Hear a solemn warning. Since Jesus has chosen this as the chief expression of His sovereignty, any who resist it are guilty of rebellion.
To refuse the gift of salvation is an act of our own will to refuse the sovereignty of Jesus over us. If we serve him as King, we act as servants and accept eternal life on His terms.
John 17:3 “This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent – Jesus Christ.”
The New Testament defines eternal life as knowing God the Father and God the Son. Eternal life means having a personal relationship with Jesus. It means Him living in us, and we in Him.
Eternal life is God-life. It means sharing the life He lives. Since eternal life is God-life, we are assured of three facts about it.
One, It lasts forever. Since God can never die, any life connected with Him can never die. Eternal life includes all of time; it is actually a negation of time.
Prolonged time is no matter of concern to a believer. “The end” does not “compute” in the mathematics of Heaven.
Two, eternal life is the best life. As God-life, it refers to quality of life as well as quantity. This is vital.
The unending duration of existence is not necessarily a good thing. Hell has no end, but annihilation would be welcome there.
Three, eternal life belongs to believers now. It begins not in Heaven, but when God enters us.
“I assure you: Anyone who believes has eternal life” (John 6:47). We who know Christ already live in the suburbs of Heaven. We have God-life.
John 17:4 “I have glorified you on the earth by completing the work You gave Me to do.”
These words tell us what made eternal life possible for us. In God’s eyes, the cross was as good as done. The resolve was there. The actual stroke is yet to come, but the decision to carry on had been made.
The word “completing” has the same root verb as was used on the cross, “It
is finished.” Jesus came to glorify the Father by finishing the task appointed Him.
Jesus had to go all the way to the cross. If He had shunned it, we would have thought there is a limit to God’s love. It would have in essence said there are certain lengths to which the love of God will not go for us.
Jesus was determined the world would know how much God cares. He wanted to picture, as much as possible, God’s love. To deliver the message fully meant death, He delivered it anyway.
Derek Bellfall, a messenger boy in World War II, was sent with a message to another station on his bicycle. As he reached his destination, a bomb exploded, mortally wounded him.
Those who ran to rescue him heard his last whispered words, “Messenger Bellfall reporting. I have delivered my message.” This pictures what Jesus did. He knew the message had to be conveyed at all cost.
A famous World War I painting depicts an engineer who had fixed a field telephone line so an essential message could get through. He was immediately shot.
Beneath the picture, which shows him in the moment of death, is one word, “Through!” He died that the message might get through. That is what Jesus did for us.
Jesus had assigned work to do, and in doing it He glorified God. Each of us also has work to do to glorify the Father. The Christian slogan must be, “Know your work and do it.” Find and fill the place God has ordained for you.
Many never seriously consider the meaning and purpose of their life. Many have “Destination Nowhere” written on their lives. They are “Sunday drivers,” not going anywhere in particular – just clogging up the roads and getting in the way of those who are trying to go somewhere specific.
William, Prince of Orange, father of the Dutch Republic, was driven by the belief that God had called him to his special work, and that he had to finish before he died.
Columbus was inspired to heroic endurance by the same conviction. He once said, “Man is an instrument that must work until it breaks in the hand of Providence, who uses it for His own purposes.”
Knowing our work is for His honor encourages us to do our best. Do whatever we do to the best of our ability, for the Master’s sake.
There was once a Godly blacksmith who felt his work was a part of his spirituality. Everything was done at its best to please the Master. Asked to make a chain for the anchor of a sea-going vessel, the blacksmith welded the links together with extra care.
Years after the blacksmith was dead and forgotten, the ship was caught in a terrible storm. The anchor was dropped. The safety of every man, woman, and child depended on the chain. All through the night the storm raged. The chain held.
Next morning the people gathered on deck and appropriately held a service thanking God for their deliverance. They also had cause to thank God for a God-fearing, God-honoring blacksmith who put his conscience in a chain.
John 17:5 “Now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence with that glory I had with You before the world existed.”
The cross was Jesus’ pathway back to His original place. He was like a knight who leaves the king’s court to perform a dangerous deed of valor. Once the victory is won, he returns in triumph to enjoy the glory.
The Father gained glory by the Son’s humiliation. It was appropriate the Son should be no loser in His glory because of it.
Jesus did not pray to be glorified as the princes and great men of earth are glorified. He knew both worlds, and preferred the glory of the other world.
Everything hinged on what happened after the death of Jesus. God pointed at a cross and said, “This is what people think of My Son.” He pointed at an empty tomb and said, “That is what I think of My Son.”