Jesus Prays for Himself
1After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:
“Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
John 17: 1-5
Although many, if not most Christians espouse a belief that Jesus was both "fully human and fully divine," as He walked the face of the earth, some find it difficult to connect with the "human" side of Jesus. As we journey through this Lenten season, I'd like to challenge the fears that keep us from experiencing the comfort available to us as we embrace an understanding of Jesus' true ability to relate to our human condition.
Some Christians fear looking at, talking about or even imagining the human side of Jesus because they somehow feel such musings may diminish his divinity. But nothing could be further from the truth. "With His stripes, we are healed!" (Isaiah 53:5)
In our text for today, the human side of Jesus was beat up, bruised, rejected, doubted, falsely accused, disrespected, cast down and out. He was about to face dissertion by his closest companions, the disciples. His closest earthly ministry brother, Peter was about to deny he ever knew him. One in his inner circle, Judas, was plotting to betray him with a kiss. The crowds were gone. Those who claimed to know God were devising plans to destroy him. Unbelievable humiliation, extreme physical pain and the momentary separation from His heavenly Father (as He took on our sins) was looming.
It is in this context that Jesus utters the words, "And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began..." In our common vernacular, "Father, tell them who I am. Father, they have no idea who I am. Father, show them my identity even before the foundaton of the world..."
The bruised Jesus, the rejected Jesus, the betrayed Jesus, the disrespected and humiliated Jesus, the "human Jesus," in this prayer, shows us his vulnerable side, his pain, his longing for the Father to reveal not only to His disciples, but to the rest of the world, His true identity.
In ministry, as we strive to walk upright, to carry the Gospel, to love unconditionally, to glorify the Father, we too will have times when we want to cry, "Lord, tell them who I am!" Those with false humility may cry, "Shame on you! You should not care if they don't know who you are. It does not matter. All that matters is that they know Jesus."
But for those who know how to "keep it real," it is comforting to know that our big brother Jesus, loved us enough to show us His human side - the need to cry out in agony when His dignity was denied, His voice was muted, His human rites were stripped, His gifts were ignored, and His true identity was invisible.
If we find ourselves experiencing any of those emotions during the ministry journey, may we find comfort in knowing that Jesus can relate to our pain because of His human side. May we understand that it is ok to utter the prayer, "Lord, show them who I am that you may be glorified in me."
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Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,