<< John XVII: Spiritual Meaning and Commentary >>
Having finished his discourse to his disciples, which may be said to have closed the work of his ministry on earth, the Lord now lifts up his eyes to heaven, and addresses himself to the Father, into whose hands he was soon to commit his spirit. The prayer is in the highest degree sublime and impressive, and deserves our humble and reverential consideration. Several instances are recorded of Jesus praying, on one occasion, of his retiring into a mountain, and continuing all night in prayer to God. But excepting the few words of thanksgiving he uttered on the return of the disciples and at the grave of Lazarus, his short agonizing prayer in Gethsemane, and his despairing cry upon the cross, the gospels contain no record of the subjects or the language of the devotional addresses of Jesus to the Father. That which John has preserved is the only prayer of any considerable length, uttered by the Lord, which He, the Author of inspiration, has seen good to reveal. “Worthy is that prayer of the Being who uttered it and of the Book which contains it. It breathes the very spirit of redeeming love j it is the pattern, as it is the expression, of pure love to God and love to man. Suitable is it as the prayer of Him who was the Mediator between God and man. It contains no trace of a petition, or claim, for the forgiveness of sinners on account of the obedience or sufferings of the Saviour, as a vicarious sacrifice for sin. The burden of it is, the Father’s love for the human race, as the moving cause of the Incarnation, the Father’s love in the Son as the efficient cause of redemption, and the Son’s communication of that love to men, as the operating cause of regeneration, which, as it creates them anew into the image of their Saviour, makes them at one with God, and restores them to union with Him, in whom alone is true happiness.
The circumstance itself of Jesus praying is deeply interesting, though, in some respects, it may seem mysterious. We, who are frail and sinful creatures, need to send our supplications for aid to the Author of our being and our mercies. But that Jesus, who was God as well as man, and was holy, undefiled, separate from sinners, should have felt the need of Divine support, and should have poured out his soul to God, may seem inexplicable. It is supposed, indeed, by some that the Lord’s work in the flesh was vicarious, and that, standing in the place of sinners, his prayers, like his obedience and death, were theirs in him. True, “Jesus, who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, made himself of no reputation, and took upon himself the form of a servant, and humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. ii. 6). But how? As a divine Being, he could not divest himself of his divinity, nor of the consciousness that he was divine. And to act as if lie were a servant would have made his prayers, as well as his obedience and sufferings, unreal. Divinity cannot suffer and cannot pray. There was but one way in which the Lord could come into a dependent state, so that he could be really humble and obedient, suffering and prayerful, and that was by assuming our nature, with its human consciousness and its human thoughts and feelings. . The prayers of Jesus, to have been real prayers, must in their nature have been the same as ours, however much they may have transcended them in depth and purity and trustfulness. True also it is, that, although the Lord’s prayers were in their nature human, they were in their origin Divine. But in this they only resembled all other human prayers. It is a doctrine of the Scriptures, that God is the Author as well as the Object of prayer. Every holy desire and thought that we express in prayer is inspired by Him to whom it is addressed. No prayer can ascend to heaven but that which has come down from heaven. But in order that the prayers of Jesus might have the character of human prayers, the divine thought must in its descent have been changed into, or rather must have clothed itself with, human thought, as it of necessity did, when it came down into the finite faculties of the maternal humanity, which the Lord had assumed. It may be difficult to conceive how Jesus could address, as a separate Being, the Divinity that dwelt within him. The difficulty is not, however, a serious one. Between the Divine and the human consciousness there is an infinite difference, and there is consequently a seemingly infinite distance between those to whom they respectively belong. To the Lord’s human consciousness the Divinity would seem to be separate and remote. In this respect he was like ourselves. Although no one is nearer to us than God, no one seems to be farther from us. It is state, not space, that gives the sense of separateness. Between infinite and finite there is no proportion. When Jesus was in states of humiliation, as in temptation and suffering, it seemed to him as if the Father were a Being separate and remote from himself, for he was then in the maternal humanity, with its finite consciousness; but when he was in states of glorification, he had not the same sense of finite individuality, for he was then in the paternal humanity, and spoke of the Father and himself as one. And perfectly one they now are; and being one, the humanity is incapable of any sense of separation; the Lord is incapable, therefore, of offering intercessory prayer, as he did upon earth.
The first and pervading petition of this prayer is, that the Son may be glorified, and the Father glorified in him – and that in their glorification men may have salvation. When the Lord’s glorification was completed, and his humanity had become divine, Jesus could no longer pray after the manner of men. Still, the same love for the human race, and the same desire for their salvation, which the Lord expressed in this prayer, are infinitely active in Him, and are constantly operating through his Holy Spirit, to reconcile sinners to himself, and draw them into an intimate and everlasting union with Him, as their God and Saviour. As desire is the essence of prayer, the Lord’s desire for man’s salvation, though it can no longer be uttered, is still described as if expressed, in the language and manner of prayer. For the same reason the Holy Spirit, whom the Lord sends, is represented as making intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered (Rom. viii. 26). This supplies us with a satisfactory reason for the use of this language in reference to the Lord himself, as he now is. The intercession of the Spirit, although for us, is really in us, as the inspirer of prayer. He helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us ” (Rom. viii. 26). Although the Lord himself does not and cannot pray,” he still prays in us. That divine influence, which descended into his own frail humanity, and ascended from his human heart and lips in real and earnest prayer, still conies down from his now glorified Humanity into our frail humanity, that it may ascend from our hearts and lips to Him, as his ascended to the Father. When this takes place, the final purpose of this divine prayer is accomplished : ” that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
1. These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee. The heaven of the senses corresponds to the heaven of the soul; and one naturally and properly turns the eyes of his body to the one when the eyes of his mind are turned to the other. To lift up the eyes to heaven is, spiritually, to elevate the thoughts to the throne of God and to him that sitteth thereon, and thus to all that is heavenly and divine. The Lord’s lifting up his eyes to heaven was, therefore, the outward sign of an inward elevation, which gave the humanity a more interior perception of the indwelling divinity. Or, it represented the elevation of divine truth in the Lord’s external man towards divine good in his internal man; the internal man being meant by heaven where the Father dwells, and the external by the earth where the Son then was. For the Lord’s glorification consisted in the union of good and truth in his humanity, and thence in the union of the Divine and the Human in his person.’ The Father, to whom the Son looked, arid to union with whom he aspired, was the divine Good, or the divine Love, in his internal man. Whether we speak of the union of good and truth in the Lord’s humanity, or the union in him of the Divine and the Human, it amounts to the same, for one implies the other. The glorification of the Father and Son, by and in each other, has already been spoken of in chap. xiii. 31, where the Lord delivers to his disciples words similar to those which he now addresses to the Father. We need only further remark, that the Father’s glorification of the Son was necessary to the Son’s glorification of the Father. ” Glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee.” This is according to a law of order. Good operates, truth cooperates; good acts, truth reacts. Good elevates truth into union with itself, truth suffers itself to be elevated and united. Thus the union between them is reciprocal. The union of the Divine with the human and of the human with the Divine is the divine marriage of Good with Truth and of Truth with Good in the Lord, from which comes the heavenly marriage, or conjunction of goodness and truth in man. The union of the Divine and the human in the Lord was thus mutual or reciprocal.
2 Having prayed for the union of his humanity with his divinity, the Lord now prays for that which was its end and purpose. As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many, as thou hast given him. The immediate effect of the Lord’s glorification was to. give him power over all flesh. This is a great and momentous truth. The Lord came in the flesh that he might have power over the flesh. He assumed human nature that he might acquire saving power over human nature. By the prevalence of evil, the divine power, ever in itself the same, was diminished in relation to man. “All flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth” (Gen. vi. 12), and no means of restoration remained but by the Lord taking that flesh, upon himself, and thus bringing himself relatively nearer to man. It was not, however, by the assumption, but by the glorification of the flesh that the Lord acquired power over all flesh. Hence the language of his prayer to the Father, ” thou hast given him power over all flesh.” His power over all flesh the Lord acquired by the glorification of his humanity, and this was effected by the Father. A divine humanity has power over all flesh, to make finite humanity in all who are willing to be regenerated, the likeness of humanity in the Lord. This is the great mystery of the Incarnation, that God has acquired a saving presence with men, and a power over them in and by his glorified humanity, a power which the Divine has given the human by making the human divine. By virtue of this power over all flesh the Lord can give eternal life to as many (literally to all) whom the Father had given him. Need we say that this has no such meaning as that the Father has chosen a certain number of the human race, whom he has given to his Son as his own, to redeem and save 1 The strictly literal meaning is opposed to this. The immediate and limited number whom the Father had given the Son were the twelve apostles, or rather, the eleven who remained faithful to their Lord and Saviour. Yet these were but the first fruits of the gospel, the seed from which was to be produced an abundant and ever-increasing harvest. ” Of the increase of his government and peace their shall be no end.” ” All people, nations, and languages shall serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (Dan. vii. 14). The universality of the Lord’s dominion may not be considered inconsistent with a limit in the choice of individuals. But the words of the Lord are themselves inconsistent with such a divinely appointed limitation, for why should the Father have given the Son power over all flesh, and yet limited the scope of his saving operations? We have had occasion several times to speak of the limit to salvation seemingly expressed in language similar to this, and have seen that those whom the Father gives to the Son are all who suffer themselves to be drawn by the influence of his love to the reception and regenerating power of his wisdom.
3 And now the Lord declares what this promised eternal life is. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. The function of the Son, as it is here implicitly taught, is, to give men the knowledge of the Father, as the only true God, and of himself, as him whom the true God had sent, in which knowledge there is eternal life. The Lord calls the Father the only true God, and speaks of himself as the Saviour, the Anointed whom he had sent into the world. Viewed dogmatically, Jesus may be supposed to teach, not only that the Father and the Son are two distinct persons, but that the Father is the only true God, exclusive of himself as the Son. There is one particular in the language itself that must strike us as inconsistent with this. Eternal life is said to consist in knowing the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he had sent. This makes the knowledge of the Son of equal importance, and equally necessary to life eternal, with that of the Father. The only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he had sent, are the Lord’s Divinity and his Humanity, and his divine Love and Wisdom, which in themselves are perfectly distinct, though perfectly equal and united. The great truth contained in the Lord’s divine words is this, that a knowledge of the Father and the Son constitutes life eternal. Some profess to know and believe in the Father, and consider this sufficient for salvation. And some who profess to know and believe in the Son, believe him to be inferior to the Father, for they believe his humanity, which is the Son, to be like the humanity of another man, thus infinitely inferior to the divinity whom they call the Father. But the knowledge of his eternal Divinity and of his Divine Humanity together constitutes eternal life. The Lord’s divinity is the only true God, and his humanity is the only true man; “for there is one God, and one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. ii. 5). But in the Lord, God and man are one, like soul and body. And not only so, but in him God is man and man is God. The knowledge of the true God, without the knowledge of Jesus Christ, is not the Christian but the Jewish knowledge of God, a knowledge which belongs to a bygone and preparatory dispensation. Under the Christian dispensation the knowledge of God, as manifested in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, is that which contains and gives eternal life, that life which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us. And truly we have fellowship with the Father, and with his son Jesus Christ (1 John i. 3). It is the privilege of the Christian to know and have fellowship with the Father in the Son, which is to know and have communion and conjunction with God in Christ or Jehovah in his Divine Humanity.
4 Still addressing the Father, the Lord now says, I have glorified thee on the earth; I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. The Lord speaks of having glorified the Father upon earth, and finished his work. The glorification of the Lord was not only a gradual but a successive work; it was effected, not only by continuous but by discrete or distinct degrees. This is expressed in the text itself, which, according to some, should be rendered indefinitely, “I glorified, I finished,” which may be understood to relate to a particular act, or, as we have said, to a particular stage, of glorification. The Lord might therefore speak of having finished the Father’s work, although there was yet one other important part of that work to be accomplished. He says to the Father, ” I have glorified thee on the earth.” Jesus had no doubt glorified the Father on the earth in the many lessons of divine wisdom he had taught, and the many divine works of mercy he had performed. But considering the work of glorification as one that was effected in his own person, the earth is expressive of the earthly or natural part of his humanity; and the Father was glorified on the earth, when the Lord had so far made the external of his humanity divine, that the divinity and the humanity were, even then, essentially one. They had yet to become fully and eternally one by that act of glorification for which the Lord next prays.
5. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. These words are very striking, and are most important. To understand them we must consider the origin and object of this prayer. In the introductory remarks to this chapter we have said that desire is the essence of prayer. The present petition leads us to the further and deeper inquiry, What is the essence of desire? Holy desire is the affinity which truth has for goodness and which goodness has for truth. It may not be obvious that this is the case, but it is so. All things in the universe, which are in the order of their creation, have relation to goodness and truth. All perfection arises from their union ; all imperfection from their disunion. And as in human beings perfection of state produces happiness, and imperfection produces unhappiness, therefore the degrees of happiness and unhappiness are according to the degrees of the union and the disunion of goodness and truth, which are the principles of all things. It is the sense of imperfection, and of the unhappiness arising from it, that gives us the desire which we express in prayer. “With the wicked, however, there is not only the disunion of goodness and truth, but the union of evil and falsity; but of them it must be said, that this union produces not only unhappiness, but misery. They too have their desires, and these have their origin in the principles that constitute their life. As holy desire is the affinity which exists between goodness and truth, unholy desire is the affinity which exists between evil and falsity. Good desires truth and truth desires good; so evil desires falsity and falsity desires evil. There are in fact no human desires which are not either of the one or the other. In speaking, in relation to the present subject, of perfection and imperfection of state, and of happiness and unhappiness as their results, we speak of these as they exist in the Christian disciple. If we are disciples of Christ, the sense of imperfection and of the unhappiness arising from it gives us the desire we express in prayer. Whatever be the immediate object of our desire, the union of goodness and truth in our hearts and minds is the first principle and ultimate end of our prayers, if they are sincere. Happiness is the end and aim of our being, and perfection is the only true means by which that end can be attained. The heavenly marriage of goodness and truth is the very and only ground of perfection and happiness. In this, as in everything else, the Lord Jesus is our teacher and pattern, for he was glorified as we are regenerated. He, it is certain, desired and prayed more directly as well as more fervently than we do, for that union in which perfection consists, the union of love and wisdom in himself. And such is the petition he now addresses to the Father: “And now, 0 Father, glorify me with thine own self, with the glory I had with thee before the world was.” It is the Divine Wisdom that prays, and his prayer is ” Glorify me with thine own self,” a prayer which, in its absolute sense, might be offered by him only in whom could dwell all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. It can mean nothing else than that the Father would give himself to the Son, that the Divinity, with all its attributes, might take such entire possession of his humanity, that the humanity would become divine. When this was effected, the divinity and humanity were so fully united as to have that perfect oneness for which the Lord prayed. And whether we speak of the union of humanity with divinity, or the union in the humanity itself of divine love and wisdom, it amounts to the same; for the union of the Lord’s divinity and humanity was consequent upon and coincident with the union of love and wisdom in the humanity itself. Therefore the Lord proceeds to say, ” Glorify me with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” The glory which Jesus had with the Father before the creation of the world was the glory of infinite Wisdom in union with infinite Love. As Divinity cannot pray, the present petition could not be offered up by the Eternal Word, as it was in itself, but as it was in humanity, and indeed in humanity not fully glorified. It was the Incarnation that gave Jesus, as the Divine Wisdom, a sense of separation from the Father, as the Divine Love, and which gave rise to this aspiration after union, or reunion with him. This union was glorification, and the Lord’s glorification was the return of the Divine Wisdom into the glory which it had with Divine Love before the world was, but it returned with and in the humanity which the Lord had assumed and glorified in the world.
6 The whole of the present prayer, so far as it relates to the disciples, is in conformity with the view we have now presented. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. The name of God is expressive of his nature. Jesus manifested not only the name but the nature of God—the divine attributes, the divine will and wisdom, and this he did both in his person and in his words and works. He had manifested these to the men which the Father had given him out of the world. Those whom the Father gives him out of the world, are those who have allowed themselves to be drawn by the love of God from the love of the world. All whom the Lord can hold in connection with himself by the power of his love, are those of whom he says to the Father, ” Thine they were;” and, when drawn by the Lord’s love to the reception of his truth, are those of whom the Lord says, “And thou gavest them me.” All who are in simple good, whether they be adults or children, Christians or heathens, are so far receptive of the Lord’s love as to be preserved in connection with himself and heaven. But good alone does not make the true Christian and angelic character; this can only be formed by good and truth united. It is therefore the constant object of the Lord’s providence and grace to draw all who are in good to the knowledge and acknowledgment of his truth. It is thus that the Father is ever drawing men to the Son, and that the Son is ever leading men to the Father: for through good the Lord disposes men to seek after and receive truth, that by the truth He may spiritualize their good, and make it such that his love may dwell in it and be manifested by it. Those who are given by the Father to the Son being such as the Lord draws by his love to his truth, he therefore adds, ” and they have kept thy word.” The Lord’s word is his truth. When this is called the Father’s word, it is truth from love that is meant. Those who are drawn by love to truth, “keep” the Lord’s word; they not only know it but live it, and by living it they realize it in themselves.
7 The hearing of the Lord’s words gives the knowledge of the Father to the Son. Now they have known that all things, whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. All things that the Son possessed he had received from the Father; they were therefore divine. The disciples had now come to know this. The acquisition of this knowledge belongs to a corresponding stage of all true discipleship. The true divinity of Christ, which is the divinity of his humanity, is not known, in the Scripture sense, till the disciple keeps the Father’s words. We never truly know or believe in the divinity of the Lord’s humanity till its image is reflected in our own experience. Spirituality in us is the image of divinity in the Lord. To know that all things which the Son hath are of the Father, is also to know that all things of divine truth are of divine good, the express image of its substance (Heb. i. 3). The essence is the all of the form, the substance is the all of the image. The Lord’s divine truth, or his divine humanity, is nothing but Divine Love in its form. And the disciple knows this when Ids own faith in Jesus is the form and image of his love for Jesus, or when his own truth is the form and image of his own goodness.
8 The Lord continues, For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. The Lord’s words, though human in their expression, were in their origin and in their nature divine; and though words of truth, were also words of love. The Lord’s words are to the disciple words of love when received in love. It is this which gives the disciple to know surely that Divine Truth itself came out from Divine Love, and to believe that on whatever mission it comes, it is a messenger sent by infinite love and mercy for the salvation and happiness of man. Divine truth, we have seen (chap. viii. 42), came not of itself, but divine love sent it. If Divine Truth had come of itself and alone, it would have condemned all; it was because Love sent it, and dwelt within it, that it came to save all, and that it saves all who receive it in love. Truth received without love still condemns; for those who know, but love not, are liable to the judgment: ” The words that I have spoken, the same shall judge you in the last day.” Hence the Lord’s joy that now his disciples knew surely that he came out from God. Even this, however, was but half the knowledge which, as true disciples, they were required to possess. They knew surely that Jesus had come out from God; but they did not yet know, and were unwilling to learn, that he returned to God again. They knew not that he must be glorified. Because he had told them this, sorrow had filled their hearts.
9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. The people of the world were not now the objects of the Lord’s prayer; the world itself, in its abstract sense, as consisting of the principles of the world, was not, and could not be. Those given by the Father to the Son were the opposite of those of whom the world consisted. The Father’s were the good, the world’s were the evil. The objects of the Lord’s present prayer was, that those who had been raised out of and above the world, and had been brought by goodness to the acknowledgment of the truth, might be preserved in it. The Lord prayed also (for this is included in the prayer) that in the mind of every disciple the affections of good which had been united to perceptions of truth, might be preserved and perfected. But the Lord prayed not for the world, not for the worldly element that yet mingled with, the heavenly principles which the disciples had received from Jesus; this was rather to be deprecated than prayed for.
10 Having said of those he prayed for, ” they are thine,” the Lord adds, And all mine are thine, and thine are mine: and I am glorified in them. In reference to the Lord himself, these words mean, that the divinity of the Father belongs to the humanity of the Son, and that the humanity of the Son belongs to the divinity of the Father, thus that, in Christ, God is man, and man is God. As all things, so all persons, that are truly the Son’s are also the Father’s, and all that are really the Father’s are also the Son’s. All who are really in truth are also in goodness, and all who are really in goodness are also in truth : all who have faith have also love, and all who have love have also faith. While being regenerated, the disciple has both good and truth, but they are both imperfect, and imperfectly united. Each is perfected by the other. Truth purifies and enlightens good, and good exalts and warms truth. When the one is purified and the other is exalted, then are they united, and their union constitutes regeneration. Then it is that whatever one has is the other’s. Good belongs to truth, and is its life, and truth belongs to good, and is its light. This is the state in the disciple to which the Lord’s words refer : ” All mine are thine, and all thine are mine.” And as the Lord is glorified in those who are regenerated, in the regenerate are fulfilled the divine words, ” and I am glorified in them.” Glory, when it relates to the Lord, properly means the divine truth proceeding from him, because divine truth is the light of heaven, from which angels and men derive not only all intelligence and wisdom, but likewise all happiness. And since this is glory, it is therefore the glory of the Lord to enlighten angels and men, and give them intelligence and wisdom, and bless them with everything happy and delightful, and give magnificence to all things in heaven. Divine glory has therefore nothing in common with human glory; for in human glory men seek their own splendour, but in divine glory the Lord seeks to make others illustrious.
11 The Lord continues, And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. The Lord was no longer in the world (chap. xvi. 33). The disciples had not yet overcome the world; therefore they were yet in it. But Jesus overcame the world, that he might enable his disciples to overcome also. While his disciples are yet in the world, passing through its tribulations, striving to overcome it in their own hearts, the Lord’s desire and his prayer is, ” Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me.” Jesus, who had hitherto addressed the divinity by the simple name of Father, now calls him Holy Father. God is appropriately called Holy, when the preservation of the members of the church is the desired blessing. The Lord prays that the Father may keep the disciples through his own name. In the highest sense Jesus himself is the Father’s name, because he made him known; and holiness is eminently characteristic both of Jehovah and Jesus. ” Thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel” (Ps. xxii. 3). Jesus prophetically is called the Holy One (Ps. xvi. 10); from his conception he was holy (Luke i. 35); and in heaven he is glorified as that One who only is holy (Rev. xv. 4). As the Lord himself is holy, heaven is the throne of his holiness (Ps. xlvii. 8), and holiness becometh his house on earth (Ps. xciii. 5). The Lord is a holy God, and the members of his church are a holy people. To keep the disciples in the Holy Father’s name is to preserve them in a state of holiness. The holiness which characterises the disciples of Jesus, is that which characterised Jesus himself, the holiness which he alone is, and can alone impart to men. That holiness is in his humanity, as being the name or form of his divinity; in his truth, as being the name or expression of his love. But the Lord prays for the preservation of those whom the Holy Father had given him; that those who have been drawn by love to truth may by the same influence be maintained in faith. The object of this is, ” that they may be one as we are.” The unity of the disciples is an effect and image of the unity of the Father and the Son. The Father and the Son, the divinity and the humanity, are one, as the soul and the body are one, as the will and the understanding are one, as good and truth are one. This unity of divinity and humanity in the Lord is the grand archetype of unity in man, and of unity among men. All discord in men’s minds and among men has its cause in the disunion and enmity of the spirit and the flesh, of the will and the understanding. To reconcile these the Lord took upon himself the likeness of sinful flesh, or humanity, in its natural discordance with the spirit. When the Lord had effected the reconciliation and union of the flesh and the spirit in himself, he provided for reconciliation and union in and among his disciples. How beneficent the work that provided for this! how merciful the prayer that desired it! This is the grand consummation, that our unity be like that of the Father and the Son; that we all may be one as they are one. The Spirit and the flesh are one, when we have overcome the lusts of the flesh, and the old man with all his natural lusts has given place to the new man with all his spiritual affections; when the desires of the will and the thoughts of the understanding are in a state of concord; when man wills as he thinks, and thinks as lie wills ; when goodness and truth, charity and faith, are united in every act of the mind and life. This is the unity which is to result from the unity which the Lord effected in himself, and which alone can reconcile all things in him; unity in each, unity among all.
12 Our Lord says, While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition ; that the scripture might be fulfilled. While the Lord was in the world, he kept the disciples in the Father’s name, and he now prays that when he is no longer in the world, the Father himself may keep them in his own name. The two periods our Lord speaks of are analogous to two states that occur in the experience of all disciples. The first is a state in which they are kept in goodness by the power of truth, the second is a state in which they are kept in truth by the power of goodness. The Lord himself is both Father and Son, both Good itself and Truth itself. In the first state he is with the disciples as truth leading them to good, in the second state he is in them as good leading them by truth. The Lord had thus kept all whom the Father had given him—all who had been drawn to his truth by the influence of his love. Among the disciples there was one exception in the son of perdition. Judas is mentioned as one of those whom the Father had given to the Son; for he represents those who are drawn to the truth by love, but afterwards fall away, and are thus guilty of profanation, which is the greatest of all sins. In the general sense, Judas represented the Jewish Church, which, while it possessed the Word, perverted its truths, as Judas betrayed the Incarnate Word in the person of the Lord. Judas represented also the carnal principle of human nature, in which all perversion of truth originates, and therefore also the carnally minded among men, who turn the truth into an instrument of advancing their own interests. When, instead of using the truth to purify their hearts, men employ it to advance their selfish and worldly purposes, they profane the truth; and then, instead of being sons of God, they are sons of perdition. The word translated perdition means utter destruction, and is the same that occurs in Revelation (ix. 11) as the name of the angel of the bottomless pit, who was king over the army of locusts, that came out of the ascending smoke of the abyss. Locusts are emblematical of the sensual principle; and when this principle rules, the perdition or utter destruction of all good and truth is the result, for when one is the slave of his senses, he either denies or perverts every spiritual good and truth. Therefore the locusts had a king over them, whose name is Apollyon, the destroyer. Now Judas represented the lowest sensual or corporeal principle of human nature. The loss of the son of perdition is said to have been the fulfilment of Scripture. When one is called a son of perdition, or a child of the devil, it indicates that he has, by confirmed principle and habit, acquired as a second nature the character of which these terms express. For, as we have seen (chap. i. 13), no one is naturally either a child of God or a child of the devil, but becomes so by being born in the likeness of him who is the object of his ruling love. In a more specific sense, a son of perdition is the false principle which is an outbirth from evil; in as truth is the offspring of goodness, falsity is the offspring of evil. The son of perdition is said to have been lost, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. The prophecy respecting Judas occurs in the 109th Psalm, where the Lord’s deep temptations are treated of, and where the severest imprecations are uttered against his enemy.
13 And now come I to thee: and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. The union of the human with the divine in the person of the Lord was now at hand. In this and other parts of this holy prayer, Jesus speaks as if this union were already accomplished. It is not unusual in the Word to speak of future events, especially when they relate personally to the Lord, as if they were present; as, ” unto us a child is born—thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee.” But there was an additional reason in the present instance. The Lord’s glorification, as we have remarked, was effected by successive degrees; and each of these consisted of two distinct acts, one internal, the other external. The glorification of the Lord’s internal man was now effected; and all that was required to complete the great work was the passion of the cross, by which his external man, even to the body, was to be made divine. His words, ” and now come I to thee,” express the complete union of the human with the divine, .which was now at hand, and which he speaks of as already accomplished. Although he was thus no longer in the world, his disciples were yet in it. Hence the words, ” and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” In the spiritual sense, not the world only as a place, but the world also as a state, is that of which the Lord speaks. Literally, he addressed his prayer to the Father while he was present with his disciples. Spiritually, this describes what he does now, and will ever continue to do, while his disciples are yet in the world, and the world is yet in them, not entirely overcome. In reference to the disciples in all times, this prayer of the Lord is the aspiration of his truth in the understanding after union with his love in the heart, and for the fulness of heavenly joy as the blessed result of that union. This joy the Lord calls his joy. That which the Lord calls his own joy is that which truth has when united with good. The force of this will be better seen if we reflect, that regeneration is a work of labour and sorrow. Truth is the active agent by which regeneration is effected, and it performs this work by combating the evils of the natural mind, and removing them. The conflict with evil is a time of sorrow. But when the conflict is ended, and truth is united to goodness, or faith with love, this sorrow is turned into joy. This joy being as yet prayed for, but not realized, implies that truth is yet in the natural mind, which is the world individually and experimentally considered. The joy for which the Lord prayed is his own, not only because our regeneration is an image of his glorification, but also because the joy of the regenerate state is the Lord’s own joy fulfilled in us.
14 We have said that regeneration is effected by divine truth combating against the evils of the natural mind. This our Lord now speaks of. I have given them thy Word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. The truth which is the instrument of regeneration is not truth alone ; truth from goodness is that which forms the real commencement of the new life and of Christian experience. This truth is that of which the Lord speaks in the present case, for the word, which he gave his disciples, was the Father’s word. It is truth from this origin and of this quality that is antagonistic to worldly love, and makes the disciple not of the world. The world within us does not rise up in opposition to truth in the form of knowledge, but to truth as the form of goodness. The world hates those who receive the Father’s word; for truth from heavenly love is the opposite of falsity from worldly love, and never fails to excite its hatred and hostility. Such truth makes the disciple not of this world, even as the Lord, as the Truth itself from Goodness, is not of this world.
15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. This prayer, regarded in its natural sense, teaches a most wholesome and useful doctrine. The world is a school for heaven. Its duties, its satisfactions, its trials are all divinely appointed or permitted, as means for educating us into a life of usefulness and happiness in a higher world. It is in these that the Christian finds a field for the exercise of his principles of love to God and to his neighbour. A life of seclusion may be more favourable to mental religion and habits of outward piety. But religion does not consist in thinking of God but in doing his will; nor does it consist in formal but in essential piety. God should be in all our thoughts, words, and deeds. And he is so, when we think, speak, and act under the influence of his love and truth, whether the world or heaven be the immediate object of our attention. The notion that the labours and cares of this world are inimical to the cultivation of the heavenly life originates in an entire mistake as to what the heavenly life is. The Lord’s kingdom is a kingdom of uses. And the whole economy of our present life is so ordered by the laws of creation and providence, as to be the most suitable means of initiating us into the duties and uses of the kingdom above. Being a school for the practice of righteousness, the world has its temptations to vice as well as its incentives to virtue. The tree of death still grows by the side of the tree of life; and true virtue consists in choosing the good and refusing the evil Jesus, while he desires not that his disciples should be taken out of the world, prays that they may be kept from the evil. He does not even desire that the evil may be kept from them; but only that they may be kept from the evil. The evil that is in the world as sinful acts, is also in ourselves as sinful inclinations ; and unless we could be separated from ourselves, our removal from the outer world would do us no service. Nay, it would do us injury; it would deprive us of the opportunity of overcoming the world, because it would cut off the connection between the love of the world and the world itself, during the action and reaction of which the love of the world is overcome. “We do not become virtuous by fleeing from temptation, but by overcoming it. We do not become unworldly by retiring from the world, but by living an unworldly life in it. It is only in the world that we can really overcome the world, for it is only there that our principles are brought to the test of practice. Besides the benefits lost by the recluse, we are also to consider the benefits he might confer. We are brought into this world, not for our own sake only, but for the sake of others ; not merely to press onward ourselves, but to help others, in the Christian journey. While, therefore, the sphere of the Christian’s life is in the world, it is the Lord’s desire that he should so live in it as to make its very evils a means of good; for he only is truly good whose goodness has resisted temptations to evil. The purely spiritual sense we have partly anticipated in speaking of the world as being within us. In this sense, the disciples are the principles of goodness and truth, which have been implanted in the mind by the Lord; the world is the natural mind itself; and the evil of the world is the hereditary and acquired evil of which the natural mind is the seat. That spiritual good may become a principle of life, it must be lived. It is not enough that it exist as an intention of the mind; it must exist also as an act and habit of the life. Good is not, therefore, to be cultivated as an abstract principle, unconcerned with the world and its affairs, but is to be kept from the evil that exists in connection with them. That it may be able to do this, it is necessary that the good should not be mingled with the evil, so as in any degree to be confounded with it, or contaminated by it. The Lord exquisitely separates good from evil in the human mind; and his Providence is constantly operating to preserve what is from himself unmixed with anything that is from the world. To mix good and evil is to profane what is holy, which brings the soul into the deepest misery. That the disciples may be in the world, but that they may be kept from the evil, is, therefore, a prayer which the Lord, who once uttered it himself, now inspires into the heart of every true disciple, and the object of which every disciple should strive to realize.
16 The Lord places this truth in still clearer light, by saying, They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. The Lord’s example is a practical reproof of every form of abstract religion, whether pious or sentimental. He lived in the world among men, teaching them wisdom and doing them good; he met them in the synagogue and in the temple, in the marketplace and in the street, entered with them into the house of mourning and sat down with them at their social feasts. His life in the world was short; he was thirty years old before he began his public ministry. Yet it is remarkable that although he lived till then in retirement, hardly anything is recorded or even hinted as to the mode or tenor of his life. His unwritten was preparatory to his recorded life. “What its particular form may have been, we know not; but this we do know, that it was to find its result in a life of unbounded beneficence and of the purest holiness. While he lived in the world, he could, truly say, ” I am not of the world.” He was neither actuated by its principles nor stained by its impurities. He was holy, undefiled, and separate from sinners. Such, in his measure, should the Christian disciple be. And such the true disciple is. Of his own disciples, and of all true disciples, the Lord says, ” They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” All that comes from the Lord is like himself; and one of the means we have of knowing that we are really his disciples, is the unworldly character of our own minds and lives. In the world, but not of the world, is the description the Lord gives of his true followers. So is it of the principles themselves which make men true disciples. They are not of the world though in it. In this respect they are like the Lord himself. Every truth that comes from the Lord is unworldly in its nature, like the divine truth itself from which it is derived, and it guides the disciple into an unworldly life.
17 The disciples, by being not of the world, are capable of advancing in spiritual purity and perfection. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. To sanctify is to make holy. Sanctification is effected by divine truth; yet not by divine truth alone, as received into the understanding only, but by divine truth proceeding from divine love, and received also into the heart. The divine truth which thus sanctifies is the Word—the written Word, which is the immediate fountain of all regenerating and saving truth; and eminently the Lord himself, as the Word made flesh, the Source and Giver of truth. All the efficacy of the written Word is from the living Word who dwells within it; and the Lord, as the Word, is Divine Wisdom from Divine Love. Divine love or goodness, which is called the Father, is the origin of all sanctification and salvation; but divine -goodness always acts by the understanding. When we hear, in this and other parts of the Old and New Testaments, of the Word of God, we are liable to think of it as we think of a word uttered by a human being, as at best the expression of a thought by one mind, that conveys -an idea to another. Words are not so limited in their scope as this. The words which a man utters contain his whole mind, for the very essence of his thought and affection is embodied in every expression. But the mind of man is finite, and his words partake of his finiteness and imperfection. This is the case even when he speaks the truth, and speaks it in love. With the Divine Being the case is different. He not only speaks the truth, but he is the Truth itself which he speaks; he not only speaks the truth from love, but he is the Love itself from which he speaks. In the supreme sense the Lord himself is the Truth, through or iii which the disciples are sanctified; and he himself is the Word which is truth, and in whom there is sanctification. The Father sanctifies the disciples by his word, when the Lord from his divine love purifies and regenerates his people by his divine truth.
18 After being sanctified by the truth the disciples are to be sent forth to proclaim it. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I sent them into the world. The disciple is to follow his divine Master in the work of evangelizing the world, as in every other work. But there is another and deeper meaning in the Lord’s words than this. The world into which the Lord descended, and in which he laboured, was the world of fallen humanity. In the humanity which the Lord assumed from a daughter of fallen Eve the whole world was comprehended. The Lord came into this world as Divine Truth, to save it from sin, and restore it to righteousness. But he did not simply come, he was sent, and sent of the Father. He did not come as the .Divine Truth only; he was sent by the Divine Love. Divine Truth proceeded from Divine Love; and coming, as it did, forth from the bosom of Love, Truth acted under the influence of Love, and in all its operations carried out its beneficent ends. As the Father sent the Son into the world, so the Son sent, and still sends, the disciples into the world. In all things they are to do as Jesus did. They are not to go of themselves and by themselves: they are to go as those sent of the Lord, and are to work in the spirit of his love as well as in the strength of his truth. And this they are to do, whether they enter into the world in themselves or go into the world around them. Their work, whether it be for their own regeneration or for that of others, is an image of that which our Lord performed. As the Father sent him, so does he send us.
19 The Lord had prayed the Father to sanctify the disciples through his truth. In this, as in all other things, the Lord himself was their example, as he now declares. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. This declaration of our Lord contains the essence of Christianity—the immediate purpose of the Incarnation, and the ground of human hope for salvation. It teaches the sublime but simple truth, that the Lord sanctified human nature in himself, that in his disciples human nature might be sanctified. We have often had occasion to remark that the Lord assumed human nature in its fallen and degenerate state, that he might restore it to perfection in his own person: and that this was the only means by which even infinite power could restore fallen humanity to something of its original order and happiness. In. no part of the Word is this truth declared more directly or clearly than in those blessed words. We learn from them, that the Lord sanctified himself; and that he sanctified himself that he might sanctify his disciples. So long as men understand not this great truth, they are ignorant of the real purpose and use of the Incarnation, and of the very nature of salvation. Christians rightly believe that the sanctification of men was the end and purpose of the Lord’s coming; but few if any seem to know, or even to conceive, that before the Saviour could sanctify men, he had first to sanctify himself. So far from this being the case, it is commonly believed that he came into the world free from all the hereditary effects of sin, and that the very circumstance of his being already holy was the ground of his capability of being a Saviour. For it is believed that Jesus redeemed his people by bearing their sins, laid upon him by imputation, and dying as a sinless victim in their stead. This declaration of our Lord seems irreconcilable with such an opinion. It makes the case of the disciple run parallel with his own; of which it is at once a resemblance and an effect. This has been felt as a difficulty by those who hold the view, that Christ died as a substitute for sinners. Thus one remarks on this passage:—”To sanctify, in application to Christ, means only to consecrate; whereas in application to the disciples, it signifies to consecrate, with the additional idea of previous sanctification, since nothing but what is holy can be presented as an offering.” It is assumed that the sanctification of Christ does not mean to make holy, but only to consecrate; and the reason given for this is, that Christ could not have been made an offering unless he had been pure. This is perfectly true. Jesus could not have made himself an offering for sin if he had not himself been sinless. The law of the Jewish church, that every animal offered on the altar must be without spot or blemish, was a law that looked through these offerings to the Lord, whom they all represented. The great error consists in supposing that Jesus was born without spot or blemish, free from the corruption of nature which we all inherit. As the Son of God, he was, indeed, a holy thing, but as the son of Mary, he was the inheritor of all human frailty. The imputation of sin being-impossible, he bore our sins in his own body, in the only way in which they could be borne, by taking upon him human nature as it then existed, containing in it the seeds of all evil. In consequence of inheriting our fallen nature, Jesus could be tempted in all points as we are. In overcoming these temptations he sanctified himself. He made himself spotless by living a spotless life. In this consisted the efficacy of his sacrifice; for “when he had by himself purged our sins, he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. i. 3); “for such an high priest became us, who is holy, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needeth not daily to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s; for this he did once, when he offered up himself” (vii. 26). Christ’s purity did not consist in being free from hereditary evil, but in being free from practical sin. There would have been no merit in being born without hereditary evil} but there was great merit in living without actual sin. not would there have been any great merit in Christ living a sinless life, if he had had no hereditary tendency to sin; but there was great merit in living without sin, when the ordinary tendency and ground of temptation to sin were in the human nature he assumed. Had Jesus been without those tendencies to sin, which all other men have, there would have been no real parallel between the Saviour and the saved. Not only so, but the disciple would, in one respect, have been above his master. For surely it is more difficult to become righteous, where there is the inclination as well as the temptation to sin, than it is to become righteous where there is no tendency to evil. But to take the Lord’s words without human glosses upon them, there is nothing more plain than that his work is to be repeated in his disciples, always understanding that their works and the Lord’s are very different in degree, though perfectly similar in kind. It is the perfect parallel between them that gives point to the Lord’s words, and which constitutes the great truth which our Lord inculcated. The Lord came into the world for the very purpose of doing for man what man had become unable to do for himself, that he might enable man to do as he had done. The Lord consecrated himself by making his humanity holiness itself; and from that humanity, made holy, he is now able to make man holy; in his own measure perfect even as he is perfect. Such is the sublime truth which the Lord here teaches. It is one that we can never sufficiently appreciate, which we can never too carefully treasure up in our hearts, or strive to realize in our experience. ” For their sake I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified through the truth.” Jesus himself is the Truth through or in which we are sanctified : he himself is also our sanctification. ” Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption; that, according as it is written, he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord ” (1 Cor. i. 30).
20 Jesus had just said of himself and his disciples, ” As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.” He now addresses the Father on behalf of those who should receive the message of salvation, which his servants were to carry into all lands, and preach to every creature. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word. The universal redemption which our Lord accomplished restored to all men the capacity of accepting life eternal, which he came freely to offer to all. Redemption and salvation are distinct. All men are redeemed, for redemption was effected by the Lord subduing the powers of darkness, and delivering mankind from the state of spiritual bondage in which Satan had held them, even to having possession of their bodily organs. All men are therefore restored by redemption to a state of spiritual liberty. As the subjugation of the powers of darkness by the Lord effected man’s redemption, the glorification of humanity by the Lord provided for his salvation, for man is saved by being regenerated, and he can be regenerated because the Lord was glorified, the lesser work being an effect and image of the greater. As all men were redeemed, all may be saved. Salvation is offered to all. Jesus does not here pray for all universally, but for those who should believe in him through the teaching of the apostles; but his object at present is, not the salvation of man, but the unity in Him of all who accept the offered gift of his grace and mercy. This is expressed in the words which now follow.
21 That they all may be one; as thou, father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. There are four interesting points included in this petition. The Lord prays for the disciples that they all may be one. Peace on earth, good will among men, was the angels’ song of glorification on the birth of Jesus as the Saviour. The purpose of the gospel is peace, and peace will be its effect so far as it is received in spirit and in truth. Discord and war are the fruits of evil, concord and peace are the fruits of righteousness. As the Lord is our righteousness, he is also our peace. The Lord prays also that the disciples may be one, as he and the Father are one. That of which the Lord speaks is not the oneness that existed between God and the Word before the incarnation. This was not the cause and the pattern of Christian unity. Had it been so, there would have been no need for the “Word to have come into the world. The cause and pattern of Christian unity is the union and oneness of the Lord’s divine and human natures. It is from this union that union among men comes. It is by virtue of the Lord having reconciled and united man’s nature to himself, that he can now reconcile and unite men to each other. Yet, we are to reflect that unity among men is only a likeness of the unity that exists between the divinity and humanity of the Lord. In him they are one person. The unity among men, which is produced by this unity in the Lord, is according to the nature of the unity of which men are capable. The Lord prays also, respecting his disciples, ” That they may be one in us.” Several times he had had occasion to quiet their contentions, and teach them the duty of being united among themselves. And he now makes their unity the subject of his prayers. Union with the Lord, like unity among brethren, is produced through spiritual unity in their own minds. The union of goodness and truth, or of love and faith, in the minds of the members of the church, is that which disposes and enables them to become united to the Lord and to each other. Without it there can be no true unity. The union of goodness and truth in the minds of men is the proximate and the truest image of the union of divinity and humanity in the person of the Lord ; ‘and union among men is its secondary image. It is through their individual likeness to the Lord that the disciples can be one in him. The oneness among themselves and in the Lord is desirable for this end—that the world may know that Jesus had been sent by the Father. The Lord had said, ” By this shall all men know that ye are? my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Union among the disciples of Jesus is a testimony that he was sent of God ; that he was indeed from heaven. There is something more than this taught in these divine words. As unity among brethren arises from the union of charity and faith in them individually ; so also general belief in the world is produced by particular belief in the individuals that compose it. Spiritually, the world is the natural mind of man. Union among the disciples is the harmony and unity existing among the principles of the spiritual mind; the result of which is, that belief is produced in the natural mind also, which is man’s little world. When the natural mind becomes spiritual, the Lord’s will is done on earth as it is done in heaven.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one. In the 14th verse the Lord says of the disciples, ” I have given them thy word :” here he says, he had given them the glory which the Father had given him. Glory is the splendour of divine truth. Truth, when it irradiates the mind, is glory, and is called the glory of God. Nor is there any other glory given by the Divinity to the Humanity, and by the Humanity to men, than the lustre of divine truth. It is, however, from good that truth has its lustre or glory. The Father being the divine Love and the Son the divine Wisdom, the glory which the Father gives the Son is the glory which divine Love gives to divine Wisdom. This glory the Lord gives to his disciples when he regenerates them, the glory of the regenerate being an effect and image of his own. Hence the words, “that they may be one, even as we are one.” The unity of the Divine and the Human in the Lord is the origin and the pattern of man’s conjunction with God, and thence of all unity, harmony, and peace among men.
23 The Lord explains the nature and manner of this union. I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. The divinity in the humanity, the humanity in the disciples. How clearly does this express the great gospel truth, that the humanity which the Lord assumed and glorified in the world, is the medium through which the power and glory of the divinity descends into the minds of men ! It was because men had separated themselves from God, that God assumed humanity, as a medium of communication and conjunction with mankind.; that he might be in his humanity, and through his humanity in and among his people. Jesus is the Mediator, not as a second divinity, pleading with God to be reconciled to sinners, but as a Divine Man, pleading with sinners to be reconciled to himself. The humanity is the true Mercy-seat or Propitiatory, where God and man meet, and commune with each other, and where, over the ark of the testimony, and between the cherubim of love and mercy, they can enter into an everlasting covenant of peace. “I in them, and thou in me” is the explained mystery of the Incarnation. It is the means of perfecting in one the church on earth and in heaven, and reconciling all things unto himself, whether they be things 011 earth, or things in heaven (Col. i. 20). But all things in man are capable of being made perfect in one, as well as all things in heaven and the church. And all the affections and thoughts are made perfect in one, when they are thus united under one ruling love, and that love is love to the Lord. And the disciples are thus perfected. Taken even in the literal sense, the Lord’s words are very instructive and encouraging. They teach us that the disciples are objects of the same infinite love as that which the Father bestows upon the Son. Divine love must indeed be the same to all and in all. The only difference is in the nature of the recipient and in the measure of the reception. The Son receives the Spirit without measure; the capacity of every man and angel is limited, and reception is with no two alike. Yet the divine Love is such, that it desires to impart itself to all, without limit and without partiality, and if it were possible, the Lord would raise all into an equality with himself. While the Lord’s words, in their plain literal meaning, teach this heavenly truth, in their spiritual meaning they contain another lesson. They teach what we have already had occasion to state, that the disciples are not merely the objects but the subjects of the divine love, of which the Lord’s Divinity is the Source, and his Humanity is the Fountain.
24 Having uttered in prayer what he desires his disciples might be, the Lord now expresses his desire as to where they may be. 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. The Lord desires two things—that his disciples may be with him where he is, and that they may behold his glory. It is the Lord’s desire that his people should be with him in heaven, as the eternal home he has provided for them. But the prayer includes more than this. To be with him where he is, his disciples must be not only in the place, but in the state, where he is. Where the Lord is, there is heaven ; but heaven is a place of happiness because it is a state of holiness. In the eternal world, state and place are coincident and concordant. No one can be in any other place than that for which his state has prepared him. The righteous go to heaven, and the wicked go to hell, simply because each one has his heaven or his hell in his own bosom. The Lord’s prayer that his disciples may be with him where he is, has a deeply practical sense. It is a prayer that they may be regenerated as he was glorified. Hence his further prayer, that they may behold his glory. By this is meant, not that they may be spectators of the personal glory to which the Saviour has them raised, but that they may see intellectually the splendour of his wisdom, as exhibited in his works of redemption and glorification, and as displayed in the increased lustre of the Sun of heaven, as it shines in the minds of angels and men, and illuminates all the objects and subjects of human interest and intelligence in either world. Considered more minutely, this prayer may be clearly seen to have still another object. The Lord asks this blessing for those whom the Father had given him. His prayer, spiritually understood, is the expression of His desire, that all who have been drawn to him by the influence of His love may be brought into the full light of his wisdom, that they may see his glory by understanding his glorification, as the cause and the archetype of their own regeneration. We may be where the Lord is, and behold his glory, even while we live on earth; but in heaven, the glorification of the Lord’s Humanity is the highest theme of angelic contemplation, and the knowledge of it is the highest attainment of angelic wisdom. The Lord prefers this petition on the ground of the Father having loved him before the foundation of the world. Jesus had spoken of the glory which he had with the Father before the world was; now he speaks of the Father’s eternal love for him. To the Son pertains glory, to the Father love. The Son’s glory is from the Father, the Father’s love is in the Son. Wisdom is the glory of love, love is the life of wisdom. So were they before the foundation of the world. Can we think of this divine subject in a personal sense? There is no meaning worthy of the subject, in the Son’s being an object of the Father’s love; but there is a sublime meaning in the Son being the subject of the Father’s love. Divine Wisdom was that in which Divine Love delighted ; for wisdom is the consciousness of love; and is that in the Deity by which infinite love created and governs, and by which it redeems and saves, the world. Even under the Jewish dispensation they had some perception of this truth, so well set forth in the Book of Proverbs, where Solomon says of creative Wisdom, ” When he prepared the heavens, when he appointed the foundations of the earth, then I was by him as one brought up with him; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him ” (chap. viii. 27).
25 The Lord now speaks in the language of thanksgiving rather than of prayer. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee ; but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. The world, because it knew not righteousness, knew not the righteous Father, for none can know God as a righteous Being but those who have something of his righteousness in. them. Jesus knew the Father under this character, because he himself was the righteous or just One. In one of his petitions (ver. 11) the Lord addresses the Father as Holy; here he calls him Righteous. He addresses the Father as holy, when he prays him to keep through his own name those he had given to the Son; he calls him righteous, when he declares that the world had not known him, but that the Son had known him. God is the Holy One more especially in relation to his church, and the Righteous One more especially in his relation to the world. One of the acts of the Holy Spirit was, to convince the world of righteousness; and this he was to do because Jesus was going to the Father. But although the world knew not the righteous Father, Jesus knew him. With the Lord to know was to possess. In this eminent sense Jesus alone knew the Father, and he alone knows him as the source of righteousness as of every other divine attribute. No one can see and know God as he is in himself; the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath brought him forth to view. It is sufficient for the disciples to know that the righteous Father sent Jesus into the world, to declare and manifest his righteousness before men. It is an essential mark of discipleship to know Jesus as that One in whom the righteous Father has been manifested. This is the knowledge that belongs and is profitable to the disciple. Jesus knows the Father; the disciple knows Jesus as the Son of the Father, and thus he knows the Father in the Son. This is the strain that runs through the whole of this prayer. ” I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.”
26 The Lord now, in the conclusion of his divine prayer, sums up the whole truth he has expressed in its several petitions. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it; that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. It is very evident that the divine name here means the divine nature, the divine attributes, the divine character. The Lord not only declared this in words and in miracles, but in his own spotless and beneficent life, which was the exhibition of perfect God in perfect man. But the Lord not only declared the name, the character, of his Divinity in his humanity, but he still declares it; for he himself is that name. The humanity is the manifested form of the divinity. The divinity, with all its perfections and operations, is brought near to us, and made apprehensible by us, in the Lord Jesus Christ. But what is the Lord’s purpose in thus declaring the Father’s name ? ” That the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.” The end and purpose of the Lord’s declaring and being the divine name is, that the love which he received from the Father might be communicated to men. It was the Lord’s desire that his divine love might be brought down into the hearts of men, that they might love one another even as the Lord had loved them. But there was one other object the Lord had in view. He desired, not only that the Father’s Love might be in them, but that he, as the Divine “Wisdom, might be in them also. He desired that his love might dwell in their hearts, and his wisdom in their understandings. The truth expressed in this part of the prayer is similar to that which the Lord elsewhere declared, when he promised that both he and the Father would take up their abode with his perfected disciples. But here the truth is enunciated in greater fulness. The love wherewith the Father loved the Son, as communicated by the Son to the disciples, is the Divine Love as brought near to them in the Lord’s Humanity ; the Divine Love made human by the human life of the Lord Jesus ; and having made his humanity the very form of Love, He is now the Fount of love to sinful and suffering man. Wisdom is given, however, as well as Love, that we may have the law of Love inscribed upon our understandings as well as the affection of love infused into our hearts. The union of love and wisdom in the mind, and their united operation in the life, form the new man, the highest image of the divine man, the lord and saviour, jesus christ.
Author: William Bruce –1870
Pictures: James Tissot—-Courtesy of the Brooklyn museum