“Father, I will 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.”
~ John 17:24
Our devotional verse is found in the high priestly prayer of Jesus Christ. He exercised His intercessory office praying to the Father for His people. He declared, “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine” (John 17:9). Now Job said of God, “For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment” (Job 9:32). Job realized there was a difference between himself and God, “for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth.” He also realized that he could not stand in the breach. Eli saw the same predicament when he said, “If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall intreat for him?” (1 Samuel 2:25). Job further observed that not only could he not stand in the breach but also no other man could stand there for him. “Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both” (Job 9:33). Who could lay his hand upon God?
In John chapter 17 we see Christ standing in the breach, laying His hand upon man and laying His hand upon God. He is the fulfillment of the type we have in Moses with Israel. “Therefore he said that he would destroy them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath, lest he should destroy them” (Psalm 106:23). Jesus “thought it not robbery to be equal with God” and He “lifted up his eyes to heaven” and prayed to the Father as the Son. He had power to lay hold on God and man, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). He stood in the breach and turned away the wrath that His people deserved by giving Himself as a ransom. What a blessing to know there is an advocate, a days-man! What a blessing for His people to know “he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”
Let us turn now to the particular request made in our text. Firstly we notice that Jesus said, “Father, I will.” Now during His earthly ministry, Christ declared, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38). He also said, “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (John 5:30). Jesus is the perfect servant. He was totally submerged in the will of the Father. It must then be of great significance when He expresses His will as in our text: “Father, I will.” Read John 6:39-40 and you will find this expression of Christ’s will to be in harmony with that of the Father, revealing the unity of the purpose of the trinity in the salvation of men.
It is noteworthy to observe that Jesus expressed His will. It is also worthwhile to note the substance of His petition. Secondly we see His request was “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.” Christ here reveals His desire for His purchased people to be with Him and behold His glory. He longs for the consummation of His work when He presents His people spotless before the throne saying, “Behold I and the children which God hath given me” (Hebrews 2:13). He will stand victorious; having accomplished the purpose where unto He was sent.
Christ does not only joy in His accomplishment. He also has joy in His people. “For the LORD’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance” (Deuteronomy 32:9). He manifested His great love by laying down His life. He “loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Revelation 1:5). And He desires us to be with Him. It is no wonder that we love Him, “Who gave himself for us.” But it is a great mystery that He should love us. Surely the love of Christ “passeth knowledge.” We are constrained to sing the old song,
I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me, A sinner, condemned, unclean.
How marvelous! How wonderful! And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! How wonderful is my Savior’s love for me!
It is a great comfort to know these truths when our saved loved ones have departed. We see that Jesus is fetching them home to be with Him. The shepherd says in Solomon’s Song, “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away” (Song of Solomon 2:13). We have a picture of the Good Shepherd beckoning His beloved sheep home. We cannot weep for the departed righteous. They are in the presence of the loving Shepherd beholding His great glory.