IT CAUGHT ME BY SURPRISE last week, while I was prepping to teach Sunday’s Bible study session.
I was sitting in my chair in my office when my jaw dropped and my eyes began to fill.
I was working with John 17. It’s the prayer Jesus prayed for himself, his disciples, and the people who would become his followers in the years to come…me among them.
This isn’t just the longest prayer Jesus prays in the Bible. Many scholars say it’s also the one chapter in the Bible more than any other that reveals the deepest feelings of Jesus. It’s a very personal prayer. Almost private.
Our Bible study group has been working its way through the entire Gospel of John, listening to every word read out loud, compliments of Bible Gateway. If you click the little speaker icon, you’ll hear someone read the chapter out loud.
In prep for the class, I listened to it read from the NIV and then from The Message.
The verse that walloped me was 17:22,
“I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one.”
Remember the story of God’s Glory on Mount Sinai?
“The glory of the Lord settled down on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days. On the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from inside the cloud” (Exodus 24:16).
Afterward, God’s Glory left.
Later, God’s Glory filled the tent worship center that Moses and the Exodus Jews used as a portable temple.
“The cloud covered the Tabernacle, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle” (Exodus 40:34).
It was rare in ancient times for God’s people to experience his Glory. When they did, the event left them in awe. That’s how the writers describe the Glory.
- “The awesome glory of the LORD” (Exodus 16:10).
- “All around him was a glowing halo, like a rainbow shining in the clouds on a rainy day. This is what the glory of the Lord looked like to me. When I saw it, I fell face down on the ground” (Ezekiel 1:28).
God’s glory settled in the one and only Jewish temple – the temple in Jerusalem. But after the Jewish people abandoned God and rejected the prophets he sent to try to restore the peoples’ relationship with him, “The glory of the LORD moved out” (Ezekiel 10:18).
Some 600 years later, along comes Jesus, praying.
- “Father, bring me into the glory we shared…I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one” (John 17:5, 22).
- “As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us” (John 17:21).
God’s Glory came to earth in the flesh and blood of Jesus.
Before Jesus left, he gave God’s Glory to us.
The Glory of God on Mount Sinai is the Glory of God in us.
When I realized that last week, it was more than I could take with composure, more than I understand today, more than I would have ever asked for.
After all these years of covering the Bible beat, I had never connected these dots.
What do you think, folks?
Did I connect the dots right, or did I get it wrong?
And if I got it right, what on earth do you think we’re supposed to do with the Glory of God in us?