“So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.”
~John 17:5 (NRSV).
This is an important theological fact that is missed on many. Before the world, Jesus was. Perhaps it’s because Jesus came to this earth, God incarnate, to live as a man, that we humanise the Son, not recognising he’s every bit ‘God’ as the Father and Holy Spirit are. And then we get entwined in ruminating over the Holy Trinity...
Surrendering the Glory of God – An Enigma Eternally Understated
An entire lifetime of meditation on the concept of God’s glory could not plumb the least of its depths. We can then find it understatedly stark the tensions produced for the Father to send the Son into human form, devoid of any glory. But then that’s our human way of looking at things; the sacrifice required. This is why we feel so indebted to God.
The surrendering of Glory to live a human life was required possibly for many reasons, not least of which to outwit—with more finality than we can comprehend—the shrewdness of Satan.
For humankind, the act of the Son surrendering his glory is unimaginable; yet for the Godhead it was entirely necessary. The span between those two concepts—our agony that God would need to separate for a time consummate Unity, and God’s complete and eternal acceptance of the need to—cannot ever be measured; just marvelled at.
What’s the Glory of God Like?
This means many different things to many different people. How many shades of Glory could there be? And besides, it doesn’t really matter what individual humans think Glory is, or what it’s like. It is what it is—something we’ll know about soon enough!
One thing we can know with absolute assurance is Glory’s nothing like earth. A good example of this would be the concept of light. Humankind can only envisage light as a physical energy. Could “light” in Glory be something else? Jesus spoke of light only by means of holiness... nothing about physics. Glory must be other than that we presently know.
Jesus’ Resumption in Glory
Could Jesus be praying to the Father for this very fact—for the inception of his resumption in Glory, for eternity?
A plain reading of John 17:5 gives that impression.
What to us speaks volumes of pain—Jesus’ journey to the cross—was paradoxically something, in human terms, which the Godhead sought in removing the separated tension. The Trinity is complete again. (Was it ever truly incomplete?) How enormous a concept is it to conjure images of God split? Yet, as we attempt to comprehend what eternity is like when we only have time as a yard stick, we can’t imagine what really happened. But it’s our inquisitive nature to want to know.
The point? These concepts help believers comprehend how incomprehensible are the matters of God. And how worthy is God of our fullest worship? From unmerited to sanctified by one fact are we.
From the surrendering of glory to the cross, grateful for Jesus are we to be.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.
General Reference: Donald Guthrie, New Testament Theology (Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press, 1981), pp. 78, 91, 131.
Graphic Credit: Anglican Church League website: http://acl.asn.au/resources/eternity/.
 Indeed, in John’s use of the Greek kosmos (for “world”) in John 17:5 he means “created order,” i.e. Creation.