A Sermon Delivered By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *11/8/2012
Jesus spoke these words and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour is come; glorify your Son, so that your Son also may glorify you.” [Joh 17:1]
1. This was a prayer after a sermon. Jesus spoke these words and then he lifted up his eyes to heaven in supplication. No discourse should be unattended by prayer, for how can we expect a blessing on what we have heard or spoken unless we ask for it from the Lord. The sower should water with many a supplication the seed that he has sown, and the hearer should diligently seek the favour of him who gives bread to the eater as well as seed to the sower.
2. It was a prayer in connection with the Lord’s Supper. Surely above all things prayer should mix with every part of our attendance at the sacred table! Dare we come to the sacred feast without prayer? Can we sit there without prayer? Can we retire without prayer? If so, let us not wonder if the ordinance should be a mere form and not refreshing to our souls. With sermon and with sacrament let us mingle the salt of supplication, without prescribing how much.
3. Observe the attitude of the prayer. The Saviour, it appears, prayed with uplifted eyes. There is much in this outward display of his devotion. We do not have time to enter into it fully, but this may suffice: the uplifted eye showed to whom he was speaking, and it bore testimony that he was not idly drawing the bow at random, but directing his prayer to God and looking up as the arrow ascended to his Father’s throne. It showed also what he was looking away from, and above his disciples and their sympathy, above all the world and its enmity, and even above himself. His outlook was towards the Invisible: this is for our instruction. He could have prayed with eyes closed if it had so pleased him, but his were the opened eyes of faith and love, which could look into the face of God, and could still look upon all things around without distraction, and hence it was not necessary for him to draw down the curtains of the eyelids, but he gazed into the opened heaven.
4. Notice the beginning of his prayer, for it furnishes our text. He began by saying, “Father.” He did not say “Our Father.” “Our Father” is for us, for we in the filial relationship which we sustain are many; but “Father” is for him, for he is one, and he is such a son as in some respects we can never be. It is not ours to enter into the mysterious doctrine of the eternal sonship, but we know it to be a truth. “Father” is a word appropriate to our Lord’s lips alone in its highest conceivable sense; but how grandly it comes from him. It shows his love for God, his confidence in God, his complete resignation to the divine will, and his sweet acquiescence in it. He is about to be broken in pieces with the iron rod of his Father’s vengeance, but he still calls him “Father.” He is about to drink that cup of wormwood and gall, which would have been hell for us if he had not drained it dry, but he still says “Father.” And by this he sets an example for us: in all times of tribulation let us fall back upon our sonship, our adoption, and the fatherhood of our great God. Let us go to our Father, for to whom else should a child so naturally flee? Where else can we go except to our Father who knows what we have need of before we ask him and who will never desert his own, but like a father pities his children he will pity those who fear him?
5. The prayer itself — the very fact of the prayer, shows us his manhood. Jesus pleads: he must be man. He lifts his eyes to heaven and he cries “Father”; he must be like ourselves, a man. But the prayer in some respects bears witness to the deity which it scarcely veils. Just as in some statues, which you must often have looked upon with admiration, you seem to see the face of the figure through the marble veil, so it is here in the prayer of Christ, the God shines through the man. It is such a prayer as only he might offer who is God as well as man. Dare you say, “Father, glorify me, so that I may glorify you?” That would be a presumptuous expression for lips of a creature to utter. He alone who did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, though he made himself of no reputation, might pray like this. Although he cries to God, “Father, glorify your Son,” yet he may add, and put no explanatory sentence with it, “so that your Son also may glorify you.” He is able to return all the glory God may give, and has the power as much to magnify the Father’s name as the Father may magnify his name. In this I see the humanity, but I admire and adore the deity, of our blessed Lord.
6. The first sentence of his prayer reveals his foresight — “Father, the hour is come” — the hour ordained in the eternal purpose — the hour prophesied concerning which Daniel sought to know, the hour towards which all hours had pointed, the central hour, the hour up to which men dated and from which they shall date again if they read time properly; the hinge, pivot, and turning-point of all human history: the dark, yet delivering hour, the hour of vengeance and of acceptance. “The hour is come.” He knew it. His inward infallible foresight made him know that now was the time for him to offer himself up as a sacrifice for sin.
7. His expression is, however, very choice. “The hour is come.” His faith thinks it is only an hour: the midnight of Gethsemane, the morning of the scourging, the day of the crucifixion, all are only an hour, a short time. Now he is in trouble, for his time of travail is come; but he considers it as an hour, for the joy of what shall be born into the world by his grievous pangs. Thus his love and patience make him despise the time of shame and consider it only a brief interval.
8. The foresight of which we have spoken makes him look beyond the hour. You and I look into the hour of darkness, as a frequent rule, and see no further, for our eyes are dim through unbelief; but he goes on beyond the hour, and his prayer is, “Glorify your Son, so that your Son may also glorify you.” He fixes his eye upon the glory that was yet to be revealed, and for joy of that he considers even his death to be only an hour, looking upon it as soon to be past and lost in the glory of his Father. In all this, brethren, let us imitate our Lord, and let us keep our eye, not on the present, but on the future; not on this light affliction, which is only for a moment, but on the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory which will come from it all; and let us with holy confidence whenever our hour of darkness arrives resort to our God in secret. The best preparation for the worst hour is prayer, the best remedy for a depressed spirit is nearness to God. In this, then, let us follow our Master, and may the Holy Spirit help us to do so.
9. Let us now consider the essential words of the prayer. They are twofold; and in them we find first a petition for himself: “Father, glorify your Son”; and, secondly, the motive for that petition: “so that your Son may also glorify you.”
10. I. Begin, then, with THE PETITION FOR HIMSELF; and I invite you to observe it as an answered petition. Almost two millennia have passed since those divine words fell from our blessed Master’s lips, and they have been answered, and are still being answered. We shall not look upon them from the standpoint of the apostles, but from our own, and regard the prayer as one which is granted.
11. And, first, it was answered in and during his sufferings. Some of the early fathers confined the sense of these words to the passion of our Lord, and I like their strong expressions when they say that his cross was his throne, and Gethsemane was as glorious as Olivet, if not more so; for the glory of the cross would be a wonderful theme if man had mind and words enough to expound upon it. Do we speak of ignominy? Doubtless he died a felon’s death. Do we speak of shame? No doubt they spat upon him and derided him. Do we speak of weakness? No doubt he slept in a grave. But in his ignominy, shame, and weakness Jesus is most honourable, adorable, and strong. Faith sees a moral and spiritual splendour about her crucified Lord which outshines all the previous glories of his eternal throne.
12. I shall not so confine the sense of the words, but that sense must still be included. The Son of God was glorified while he was dying, and it was one part of his glory that he should be able to bear the enormous load of human guilt. As a race we lay crushed beneath it. A thousand Samsons could not relieve us. Angels and archangels, cherubim and seraphim must have failed to lift the stupendous mass; but this one man alone, unhelped, in weakness of body and in death pangs, bore away the enormous load of human guilt. The chastisement of our peace was upon him; the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. What a load it was! And that he could bear it was indeed a display of his glory. The lost in hell cannot bear the wrath of God; an eternity of suffering will not have discharged the dreadful penalty, and yet he bore that burden in an hour. Oh, marvellous strength of the incarnate God! You are glorious, indeed, oh Christ, upon your cross; more glorious than even in that moment when with a word you shall shake not only earth, but also heaven, for now the weight of angry heaven rests on you, and you stand firm beneath it. Glorify him, beloved, you for whom he bore that weight, glorify him that he was able to endure it.
13. He was glorified also in the manner in which he bore it, in that he sustained it without shrinking or recoiling. There was no guilt or guile in him, though questioned again and again before Caiaphas, and Herod, and Pilate. There were no angry speeches when he was browbeaten, and buffeted, and blindfolded, and spat upon; he displayed nothing except gentleness, even when his enemies had pierced his hands and his feet, nothing but triumphant pity and almighty love even when they mocked his agonies. They could not anger him with all their revilings, and when they cried, “Let him come down from the cross, and we will believe on him,” yet he did not loosen a hand from the cruel tree to strike the scorners nor shake his foot free from the nail to spurn the blasphemers.
14. When you think of his physical agonies, of his mental torture, of his spiritual darkness — when you consider that all the powers of earth and hell were let loose upon him, and when, worst of all, you remember that the Father’s face was hidden from him until he cried, “Why have you forsaken me?” and yet consider that our champion having begun the redeeming work, went through with it, and never drew back his hand from the covenant which he had made, nor flinched under the strokes he bore, — I say he was glorious in his passion, and his prayer was heard. The Father glorified his Son even on the tree. It was an hour of glory that might dazzle angels’ eyes — that hour when he said, “It is finished,” and gave up the ghost. For what had he finished then? He had finished what has saved his people, has populated heaven with immortal spirits who shall delight in him for ever, and has shaken the gates of hell. God indeed glorified his Son in enabling him to bear, and bear so well, all the weight of sin and the penalty that was due to it.
15. And now today, beloved, we see that God glorified his Son in his death, because in dying he saved his people. I do not believe for a single moment that the result of Christ’s death ever was or ever could be uncertain. What he intended to do by it will be done, and has been so far done to the last jot and tittle up to this moment. His great object was the redemption of his chosen; “Christ loved his church and gave himself for it.” It is said of a certain company that they sing, “He has redeemed us from among men.” Now, when he died he did not render the redemption of his people possible, but he ransomed them completely. By his agonies and death he did not merely give a mere hope of the pardon of sin, but he hurled the sin of all his elect into the depths of the sea in that very same moment. He did not merely make the salvation of men a possibility if they would, but he saved his people then and there, and finished the work which he came to do, in proof of which it is written that “this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God,” and he would not have sat there if his work had not been done. According to the words of the prophet he had finished transgression, made an end of sin, and brought in everlasting righteousness, for he had offered an effective atonement which no one can dispute; and so the Father glorified his Son, even when he died, since he accepted his redeeming blood on the behalf of his people.
16. The Father glorified his Son by making him, even in the hour of his passion, to be victorious over all his enemies. That nailed foot bruised the serpent’s head, so that he could never resume his former power; that nailed hand grasped the serpent of sin and strangled it; and that dying head as it bowed itself struck death with its own sword, as David struck Goliath, for he “death by dying slew.”
17. The powers of evil were tremendous. Think of sin, of Satan, and of death, but all their beleaguered hosts were defeated in that one pitched battle, of which the cross was the banner and the dying Redeemer the champion. Oh glorious Lord, you have led captives captive, making a show of your adversaries publicly even on your cross, and nailing up to the accursed tree the handwriting of ordinances that was against us. Yes, the Father glorified you even there while you were still in the agonies of death.
18. Besides this there were some outward signs of the glory of Christ even in his death which we can scarcely stop to mention. Did not the temple rend her veil? Did not the sun conceal its face? Did not the rocks open, and the dead arise? Was not all Jerusalem filled with tremor, and did not the centurion cry, “Truly, this was the Son of God?” Yes, the Father glorified his Son, even when it pleased him to bruise him and to put him to grief. With one hand he struck, and with the other hand he glorified. There was a power to crush, but there was also a power to sustain working at the very same time. The Father glorified his Son.
19. And now, beloved, what shall I say concerning the Father glorifying the Son after his death, and as the result of it? I will not attempt to elaborate, but I will simply say that the rending of the veil at the moment of his death was the glorifying of Christ: for now there is a way to the throne of God made plain for us, which previously had been closed. Then the opening of his pierced side was another glorifying of him, for today the double fount is to believers the effective cleansing of both the guilt and the power of sin; and thus the Saviour’s pierced heart glorified him in its power to bless. Then that poor body lay in the grave — I call it poor, for so it seemed — wrapped in the linen and the spices. But, beloved, the Father glorified even that dead body which men thought to be corruptible, for it saw no corruption. During the three days and nights no worm could come near it, nor trace of decay. That crystal vase in which the rich ointment of the Saviour’s soul had dwelt must not be injured. “Not a bone of him shall be broken.” Beautified by those scars as when a skilful artist renders an image more lovely than before by marks of the engraver’s tool, that body must be safely guarded by watching angels until the morning came. It barely dawned. As yet the sun was rising, and lo the Sun of righteousness himself arose! As a man arising from his bed puts on his clothes, so our Lord put on the vesture of the body, which he had laid aside, and came again into the world, alive concerning his body and his soul, a perfect man. Oh, it was a grand glorifying of Christ; when the Father raised him from the dead, and he was seen by his disciples once again. Death had no bands with which to hold him. The sepulchre’s guard could not confine the unique and matchless prisoner. Declared to be glorious by the resurrection from the dead, his prayer was heard.
And before long, when a few weeks had passed, there came another
glory; for from the brow of Olivet he gently ascended, floating in
the air from the company of his disciples, rising up in the midst of
angels until a cloud received him out of human sight.
They brought his chariot from on high
To bear him to his throne;
Clapped their triumphant wings and cried,
“The glorious work is done.”
His Father glorified him, and now he sits at the right hand of God. Words, you are dumb things, you cannot describe his present glory. Early the other morning there came to my bedside a brother to awaken me whose face seemed to beam with joy, as he said, “In my sleep last night I thought I saw the Lord upon his throne; and oh, the glory which the Father put upon him! I wish I could fall asleep again so that I might continue to dream on.” The tears were in his eyes, as he said, “Oh, the glory of Christ! Oh, the glory of Christ!” I reminded him of how Mercy laughed in her sleep, and Christiana asked her why; and when she told her dream, the matron said she might well laugh if she dreamed like that. Happy are those who, sleeping or waking, living or dying, may only get a glimpse of his glory. Nothing ever ravishes my heart like the thought of my Lord’s being glorified. Oh, if I could by some means help to honour him! If I may only be the earthen vessel in which his treasure should be stored, or the trumpet by which his name might be proclaimed! This is joy enough for me. And you all feel the same, you who love him. You delight to think how high his throne is, and how bright his countenance is, and how resplendent his courts are. Have patience. You shall see him soon, for the Father will glorify him in the second advent. He tarries, he tarries long, as we think; yet he says, “Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me.” He is coming to be glorified, even among the sons of men. So shall the prayer of the text be fulfilled in the golden ages yet to dawn, and then throughout eternity.
21. II. We pause for a moment, and then we shall briefly think of THE MOTIVE FOR HIS PRAYER.
“Father, glorify your Son, so that your Son also may glorify
you.” Please notice this. When you pray, it is a grand thing to
pray with a clean heart; but selfishness is uncleanness. In our
blessed Lord there was no selfishness. He said, “I do not seek my own
glory”; and even in this prayer that word of his is true, for he only
seeks glory so that he may glorify the Father. Beloved, the desire of
our Lord is granted, for God is glorified in Jesus Christ more than
in any other way. The glory of God in nature is inconceivable. This
round world and all who dwell in it; the open sea calmly mirroring
the sky or ruffled with tempests; the wondrous expanse of heaven,
fleecy with clouds, or blue beneath a torrid sun, or lit up with
innumerable stars; those hills with all their woods, those laughing
valleys with their lowing herds and bleating flocks, —
These are thy glorious works,
Parent of good, almighty,
you get glory from every flickering blade of grass or frond of fern, and every flitting insect and creeping worm speak your praise; there is nothing except what glorifies you, from leviathan to a minnow. Yet all nature put together fails to reveal all your glorious attributes. The divine faithfulness, and justice, and truth are scarcely revealed in nature though traces of them may be seen; but in the face of Jesus, who is the express image of the Father, God is glorified to the full. In the death of Christ, above all things, God is glorified, for there all the attributes of God are seen. There was the power which sustained Christ beneath his more than Herculean task; the love which surrendered the darling of its heart so that he might die instead of traitors; the justice which would not, could not forgive sin without satisfaction; the truth which had threatened to punish, and did punish; which had promised to give a Saviour, and did give him; the faithfulness to the covenant which kept that covenant at such a dread expense; the wisdom which planned the marvellous way of salvation by a substitute: indeed, let me put it all together, the wholeness, the holiness of God, yes all his attributes are seen, each one equally magnified in the death of Jesus Christ. He is glorious, and the triune God is glorified in him.
23. And now, beloved, God is glorified in the death of Christ by the love of all those whom Jesus saves, by the sacred awe and filial fear of all whom Jesus brings to the Father’s feet, by the ardent, patient devotion of all who are consecrated in heart, and feel the sacred flame of love for Christ setting their souls ablaze. Up there in heaven, where the white-robed saints never cease to sing, and here below where martyrs were burned for the love of God, where confessors defied all adversaries to spread abroad the glory of his name, where humble Christians suffer in patience, or labour on with diligence, or walk in holiness, the Father’s name is glorified through the passion of the Christ of God.
24. We had many things to say, but time fails us; and therefore we close with these three observations, which we want to leave upon your minds.
25. The first is this. Christ’s motive should be ours. When you ask for a blessing from God, ask it so that you may glorify God by it. Do you pine to have your health back again? Be sure that you want to spend it for him. Do you desire temporal advancement? Desire it so that you may promote his glory. Do you even long for growth in grace? Ask for it only so that you may glorify him. If there is anything that you dare to wish and pray for, put it like this: “Father, bless your child, so that your child may, in return, bless you and serve you.” Those are clean prayers which have such a motive, all others have the taint of self about them. May God help you to do everything for his glory, to speak of his glory, to live for his glory, to die for his glory, and then you shall rise again and live for ever for his glory. Happy, happy is the man whose lot this shall be. Let this be the constraint which masters you, even what moved your Lord.
26. Next, Christ’s theology should be ours. What is that? Why, first that he is to be glorified, and secondly that the Father is to be glorified. Error sometimes blows one way and sometimes another. In the past the difficulty was to bring men to glorify the Lord Jesus; they would worship God, but not the Christ of God; and so there came the great Arian [a] fight, and afterwards Socinian [b] controversies, for they would not glorify Christ. Oh, you who have been saved by him, I am not afraid of you on that point; but nowadays there appears to be in some minds a forgetfulness of the Father. Christ is loved, for he died, but many seem to look upon the Father as having no share in the wondrous work of redemption; whereas, beloved, they are one in our salvation. Father, Son, and Spirit agree in one in our redemption, and it would be fatal indeed for us to set one person of the divine Trinity above the other two. Let all men honour the Son even as they honour the Father; and honour the Father even as they honour the Son. It would be traitorous to Christ’s innermost wish if we were to glorify the Son and fail to reverence and love the Father.
27. Lastly, let every believer here see his security. Is it not a most wonderful guarantee of the safety of everyone for whom Christ died, that the glory of Christ and the glory of the Father — I may add the glory of the blessed Spirit — are all equally concerned in the salvation of the believing soul? Dare I say it? It would be a blot upon the everlasting glory if one believing soul were ever lost. Then God’s truth would no longer be sure, his faithfulness no longer firm, his love no more immutable. His power might be doubted: his changeableness would be proved. But, beloved, it cannot be. Christ will not lose a sheep of his flock, nor will the Comforter lose a spirit in which he has once begun to indwell. Rest then in this. Remain without doubt or fear in Christ; for the mountains shall depart and the hills be moved, but the covenant of his love shall not be removed from you, says the Lord who has mercy on you.
Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, dear hearers, and these divine
privileges shall be yours; and as I prayed just now, so I pray still
again, that these things may belong to every soul in this house
without exception, through faith in Christ Jesus, by the work of the
Holy Spirit. Amen. Amen.
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Joh 17]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, His Praise — ‘Worthy Is The Lamb’ ” 416]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, His Praise — A New Song To The Lamb” 412]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Work of Grace as a Whole — ‘Grace Reigns’ ” 233]
[a] Arian: Of, pertaining to, or adhering to the doctrine of, Arius, a presbyter of Alexandria in the 4th c., who denied that Jesus Christ was consubstantial, or of the same essence or substance with God. His opinions were embraced by large sections of Christendom, and the dissensions by which the church was rent lasted for nearly a century. OED.
[b] Socinian: One of a sect founded by Laelius and Faustus Socinus, two Italian theologians of the 16th century, who denied the divinity of Christ. OED.
The Colportage Society conducted by Mr. Spurgeon supports 82 men in
needy districts, and does a great work in selling Bibles and healthy
literature. Owing to the depression of business and the falling off
of subscriptions this branch of holy service is at this moment in a
difficult position, and will soon be in urgent need unless the Lord
should move some of his stewards to help. It seems necessary to give
this intimation, so that friends may know that there is a channel for
their gifts, and a reason for bringing them; but Mr. Spurgeon feels
confident that by some means or other the present necessity for the
Lord’s work will be graciously supplied, and furnish fresh occasion
for gratitude and increased faith.
Jesus Christ, His Praise
416 — “Worthy Is The Lamb” <126.96.36.199.6.6.4.>
1 Glory to God on high!
Let earth and skies reply,
Praise ye his name:
His love and grace adore,
Who all our sorrows bore,
Sing aloud evermore,
Worthy the Lamb!
2 Jesus, our Lord and God,
Bore sin’s tremendous load,
Praise ye his name:
Tell what his arm hath done,
What spoils from death he won:
Sing his great name alone:
Worthy the Lamb!
3 While they around the throne
Cheerfully join in one,
Praising his name:
Those who have felt his blood
Sealing their peace with God,
Sound his dear fame abroad:
Worthy the Lamb!
4 Join all ye ransomed race,
Our holy Lord to bless;
Praise ye his name:
In him we will rejoice,
And make a joyful noise,
Shouting with heart and voice,
Worthy the Lamb!
5 What though we change our place,
Yet we shall never cease
Praise his dear name;
To him our songs we bring,
Hail him our gracious, King.
And, without ceasing sing,
Worthy the Lamb!
6 Then let the hosts above,
In realms of endless love,
Praise his dear name;
To him ascribed be
Honour and majesty;
Through all eternity:
Worthy the Lamb!
James Allen, 1761, a.
Jesus Christ, His Praise
412 — A New Song To The Lamb
1 Behold the glories of the Lamb
Amidst his Father’s throne;
Prepare new honours for his name
And songs before unknown.
2 Let elders worship at his feet,
The church adore around,
With vials full of odours sweet,
And harps of sweeter sound.
3 Those are the prayers of the saints,
And these the hymns they raise;
Jesus is kind to our complaints,
He loves to hear our praise.
4 Eternal Father, who shall look
Into thy secret will?
Who but the Son shall take that book,
And open every seal?
5 He shall fulfil thy great decrees,
The Son deserves it well;
Lo! in his hand the sovereign keys
Of heaven, and death, and hell.
6 Now to the Lamb that once was slain,
Be endless blessings paid;
Salvation, glory, joy, remain
For ever on thy head.
7 Thou hast redeem’d our souls with blood,
Hast set the prisoners free;
Hast made us kings and priests to God,
And we shall reign with thee.
8 The words of nature and of grace
Are put beneath thy power;
Then shorten these delaying days,
And bring the promised hour.
Isaac Watts, 1709.
The Work of Grace as a Whole
233 — “Grace Reigns”
1 Grace! ‘tis a charming sound!
Harmonious to the ear!
Heaven with the echo shall resound,
And all the earth shall hear.
2 Grace first contrived the way
To save rebellious man;
And all the steps that grace display
Which drew the wondrous plan.
3 Grace first inscribed my name
In God’s eternal book:
‘Twas grace that gave me to the Lamb,
Who all my sorrows took.
4 Grace led my roving feet
To tread the heavenly road;
And new supplies each hour I meet
While pressing on to God.
5 Grace taught my soul to pray,
And made my eyes o’erflow;
‘Twas grace that kept me to this day,
And will not let me go.
6 Grace all the work shall crown,
Through everlasting days;
It lays in heaven the topmost stone,
And well deserves the praise.
Philip Doddridge, 1755;
Augustus M. Toplady, 1776.