VII. The glorified Christ in the Gospel of John
The actions reported in the gospel of John naturally took place before there was a glorified Christ in heaven. Nevertheless, this gospel gives us a very special view in several places of the time when this would be the case.
Moreover, we will still see that the Lord speaks in some passages as if the work on the cross and the glorification in heaven were already completed facts.
34. A source of refreshment in us
“In the last, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried saying, If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly will flow rivers of living water. But this he said concerning the Spirit, which they that believed on him were about to receive; for the Spirit was not yet, because Jesus had not yet been glorified." (John 7:37-39).
Here in chapter 7 Christ speaks of his glorification as being in the future. The Feast of Tabernacles was just celebrated, but it was only "the feast of the Jews" (Jn 7:2). It should have been a festival of true spiritual joy, but it had degenerated into a pious show. Officially, everything went as planned, but fellowship with God and with the one He had sent was missing. On the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles - the "great" day - Jesus stood up and in a loud voice uttered a sentence that must have greatly displeased the leading Jews: He spoke of thirst! This was the truth: behind the pious façade there was no real satisfaction, only "thirst".
But the words that Christ speaks here are an invitation. It is addressed to those who are thirsty, and without reservation to each one of them. Whoever believes in Him will not only be able to drink and quench his own thirst, but whole streams of living water will flow out of him- that is, he will become a source of refreshment for others. The Lord was speaking here - as the next verse expressly states - of the Spirit of God. Anyone who believed in Christ would receive eternal life, but also the Holy Spirit as the source of power of this life. This, however, could not happen immediately, "because Jesus had not yet been glorified" (v. 39; cf. 15:26; 16:7).
This last expression is a kind of gaze into heaven, a gaze at the glorified Christ - or rather at that time still a "view". It was a preview of what would once happen, but which has long since happened today. This passage, then, shows us a magnificent consequence of the fact that Christ is in heaven as a glorified man: he has given the Spirit, so that not only our thirst is quenched, we are not only refreshed ourselves - and this constantly (Jn 4:14) - but we also become a source of spiritual refreshment for those who surround us.
35. He washes our feet
"Now before the feast of the passover, Jesus, knowing that his hour had come that he should depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, loved them to the end. And during supper, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon, Iscariote, that he should deliver him up, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given him all things into his hands, and that he came out from God and was going to God, rises from supper and lays aside his garments, and having taken a linen towel he girded himself: then he pours water into the wash hand basin, and began to wash the feet of the disciples, and to wipe them with the linen towel with which he was girded." (John 13:1-5).
This passage tells of an impressive event. The evening before his death on the cross, Christ washed the feet of his disciples. What humility! He was the servant and He was even willing to do such a lowly service.
But the passage has a deeper meaning. The washing of feet was not only a unique ministry of the man Jesus Christ on earth, but it illustrates a ministry that He does as a glorified man in heaven. This becomes clear from the following considerations.
- In the passage quoted, it is pointed out twice that He was about to go to the Father again, and to God again.
- In John 13 to 17 it is about the fact that Christ would leave his disciples in the world, but not as orphans. He would prepare the Father's house for them, would send them the Holy Spirit and would see to it that they could live in communion with the Father and the Son. It is about His departure and the results of His going to the Father.
- The Lord tells Peter that the washing of feet is necessary to have fellowship with Christ: "Peter says to him, 'You shall never wash my feet. Jesus answered him: "If I do not wash you, you have no part with me" (verse 8). The washing of feet was more than a gesture of hospitality. It was a condition for the enjoyment of communion. It must therefore have a figurative, spiritual meaning.
This figurative meaning can only consist in Christ washing the feet of the faithful with the water of the Word of God, while He is already with the Father. We can only marvel at this: He is the glorified Christ and yet He remains the servant. Moreover, it is an extremely encouraging and comforting thought: even if He would no longer be with the disciples physically, He would still be actively seeking to ensure that they could enjoy fellowship with Him and the Father. The first verse gives the reason: "because He loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end". He proved his love on the cross, but it did not end there. He still loves us today.
On the way through the desert, dust easily sticks to our feet. A thousand things in our environment want to and can negatively influence and pollute us. When this happens, we cannot enjoy fellowship with Him. Therefore, He uses the word to wash our feet. Then we can, as He put it, "share with Him" again.
Peter asked, "Lord, you wash my feet?" Then he even added, "Never wash my feet!" (V. 6.8). He must have felt instinctively that this servant deserved the highest place. That is why he refused at first. But after hearing the Lord's explanation, he was quite enthusiastic: "Lord, not my feet alone, but my hands and my head! Again, he was not quite right, but he was honored to see fellowship with the Lord as a precious treasure from which he could not get enough. The Lord explains: "He who has bathed has no need to wash himself except his feet but is completely clean; and you are clean...". (V. 10). The unique bathing speaks of rebirth. It cannot and does not need to be repeated. But the refreshment and cleansing through the foot-washing we need repeatedly. He does this service - even as the glorified Christ!
36. God's answer, which could not wait
"If God be glorified in him, God also will glorify him in himself, and will glorify him immediately,” (John 13:32).
It is a historical, tragic and at the same time solemn moment. It is the evening before the crucifixion of Christ. Together with his twelve disciples, He celebrates the Passover (not the Lord's Supper - that comes later, after Judas has left). He knows that one of them was a traitor and with the sign of the host's favour (the dipped bite) He unmasks him: Judas Iscariot. Judas leaves the room and goes out into the night.
The Son of God had always known it - but as a perfect man, the thought of this betrayal had "shaken Him in spirit" (Jn 13:21). It was precisely in this situation, when Judas had left the room, that Christ opened his lips to an extremely unexpected, profound and far-reaching statement: "Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in him" (v.31). One might have expected the sentence: "Now the Son of Perdition is revealed". Instead, He says: "Now the Son of Man is glorified". Here He is not speaking of His imminent glorification in heaven, but of the Cross. There the Son of Man would- and He stands on the ground that it has already happened - be glorified, there His character traits and perfect qualities would be made visible.
For this purpose - and this is what happened - God would be glorified on the cross: "And God is glorified in him". God's characteristics also became visible on the cross: He is light and He is love, He is just and holy and yet merciful and gracious. All these things were seen and proved on the cross, in a way that could only happen on the cross. Only there could all the characteristics of God be represented without contradicting each other (there, and only there, could goodness and truth meet, justice and peace kiss (Ps 85:11)). And only on the cross could the full extent of these characteristics be shown. Let us take an example: the love of God. He had often shown love - to creatures, to Israel, to individual believers, etc. But never has the extent of God's love become so visible as on the cross (1 John 4:9,10).
This could not remain without answer. He who so glorified God on the cross - in the place of greatest shame, the place of curse and contempt - must also be glorified. It is true that He will receive a glory that will be seen publicly in the 1000 year kingdom (cf. Jn 12:23). But God could not and would not wait for this. What happened on the cross demanded a prompt, immediate, immediate response. God glorified Him, He gave Him the place at His right hand and exalted Him above every power in the universe and crowned Him with glory and honour (cf. Eph 1:20-23; Heb 2:9).
We see this too when we look at the glorified Christ in heaven: it is God's answer to his work on the cross. It is the proof that God has accepted the work (not only as a basis for saving sinners, but - this is what is at stake here - as a certain restoration of the glory of God, i.e. as the glorification of God). It is the answer that was so urgent that it could not wait. Such a perfect glorification of God on the cross requires a corresponding exaltation, and without delay.
37. A place prepared
"In my Father’s house there are many abodes; were it not so, I had told you: for I go to prepare you a place;" (Jn 14:2).
In his farewell words to the disciples, the Lord makes it clear not only that He is going away, but also for what purpose. It is a twofold conclusion, so to speak:
- When He goes away, it is to prepare a place for us. This, by the way, has already been done long ago, and that is because He went as a human being to this place, the Father's house.
- But when He goes there to prepare a place for us, it is obvious that He will come again to take us to Himself so that we can occupy that place of residence.
The goal of this is heartwarming: "so that where I am, you also may be".
This is also a preview. Christ was still with them. They are still preparatory words. But they show us a special side of his absence on earth, or rather, of his presence in heaven: he went there to prepare a place where we can be and see the Father in Him. For this He had to enter the Father's house as a human being. That is what the Father's house is all about. The expression "where I am" occurs five times in this Gospel and in each of these places it means the Father's house (7:34,36; 12:26; 14:3; 17:24). For this purpose it is once referred to as "with yourself" (John 17:5). The Father's house has been called the "home of eternal life" - the place where the Father is and the Son and eternal love is enjoyed.
His leaving does not mean, therefore, that He is indifferent to his OWN, but just the opposite: He loves them and wants to have them with Him and let them see His glory there (cf. Jn 17:24). He goes to the Father to make this possible.
38. Works Greater than these
" Verily, verily, I say to you, He that believes on me, the works which I do will he do also, and he will do greater than these, because I go to the Father." (John 14:12).
At first sight it seems impossible: how can it be true that those who believe in Christ should do greater works than He Himself? We know from the Acts of the Apostles that it did indeed happen: men and women came to faith in droves - 3000 in one sermon! Even the shadow of an apostle or a cloth he touched healed the sick or cast out demons. Extraordinary miracles" (Acts 2:41; 5:14,15; 19:11,12) took place. We are not told anywhere that such things happened while Christ was still on earth. The question is not whether greater works happened, but why.
The Lord Himself gives the answer, and it is in the short sentence "because I go to the Father". Of course, He far surpasses all who came after Him, both in personal glory and in moral beauty. The reason for the greater works that were to follow was by no means about the servants who were used to do them, but for the glory of Christ. They had to take into account the fact that He was no longer in lowliness on earth, but glorified by the Father.
We do well to internalize this connection: The fact that the Lord is no longer on earth in no way limits His power. A glance at the glorified Christ makes this clear.
39. Ask in my name
" And whatever you will ask in my name, this will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you will ask anything in my name, I will do it." (John 14:13,14).
The disciples would not only be able to do greater works, but they would also be given the authority to make requests in the name of the Lord Jesus - and the promise that He would answer them. Of course, we often have requests that are not (or not yet) answered because God has a different plan for us. This is how even Paul went, who first asked the Lord to deliver him from the "thorn for the flesh" (2 Cor 12:7,8).
But if we recognize His will and then make requests that are in harmony with it, then we can rely on the promise that He will hear or "do" them. This is a tremendous resource for the time we are still on the journey: We may make petitions in the name of Him in whom the Father is pleased and who is now with Him!
40. I'm coming to you
" And I will beg the Father, and he will give you another Comforter, that he may be with you forever, I will not leave you orphans, I am coming to you (John 14:16,18).
These words give a double consolation to the disciples whom the Lord left behind in the world. First, Christ would send them the "other comforter". This is an adviser or intercessor. He would take care of all their needs. He would remind them of everything, guide them into the whole truth and even proclaim what is to come. In particular He would present to them the glory of the Son (John 14:16; 15:26; 16:13).
But by this He did not mean in any way that it was a kind of "exchange" in which they lost one divine person and gained another divine person in return. Rather, He wanted it to be so that Christ Himself would come to them, through the Holy Spirit! He would not leave them as orphans but would send the Spirit of Truth AND be with them Himself!
41. You will see me
" A little while and you do not behold me; and again a little while and you will see me, because I go away to the Father." (John 16:16).
The second part of this verse is especially not easy to understand: "You will see me because I am going to the Father". Perhaps one would have rather expected the corresponding negation ("you shall not see me"). How can one understand this verse correctly?
The first part of the sentence reads: "A little while, and you will not see me". This "little while" was indeed short. The very next day the Savior was to be hung on the cross and from that point on he would disappear from the eyes of the disciples. If He then continues, "again a little while and you will see me", then one could think of the resurrection (and this is certainly not wrong (see Jn 20,20)). But this cannot be the whole meaning, because the epilogue reads: "because I go to the Father".
This last statement contains the key: because He went to the Father, they would see Him. This could only be the case because the Lord would go to the Father and from there send the Holy Spirit, of whom He had just said before: "He will glorify me" and: "bear witness to me" (Jn 15:26).
It is not, then, a matter of looking with the natural eyes of the body, but a matter of spiritual contemplation. In fact, in the basic text of our verse (Jn 16:16) two different words are used for "seeing":
- "You no longer see me": this is about the seeing of an observer or spectator.
- "And you will see me": this word means so much as to recognize.
From this it becomes clear that they would see Him in a new way. Through the Spirit they would be able to "see" much more of Him than they had ever "seen" on earth.
The sentence "And you will see me" - namely through the Holy Spirit - is an apt paraphrase of this commentary. It deals (departing from the example of Stephen) to a large extent with spiritual vision, the view of the glorified Christ in heaven, invisible to the physical eye.
42 The glorified Christ - according to John 17 (part 1)
In the prayer that the Son addresses to the Father in John 17, we find five references to the glorified Christ, which we would like to touch upon briefly:
1. "These things Jesus spoke, and lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify ŷour Son, that ŷour Son may glorify ŷou;" (John 17:1)
Chapter 12 was about the glory that Christ would receive in the future when He would be recognized as the Son of God (already today, see John 12:1-8), as King of Israel (John 12:12-19) and as the Son of Man (John 12:20-23). Before this could happen, it was necessary for Him to go to death (Jn 12:24).
Chapter 13 was about the glory of Christ as the Son of Man on the cross, the glory of God that He revealed there, and God's response to it, namely the immediate glorification of the Son of Man in heaven.
Here in chapter 17 it is now a question of His being glorified as the Son. In verse 1 He asks as a human being to be glorified by the Father, that is, to be received into heaven as a human being. This place was of course due to Him, but in perfect humility He asks for it. The goal is for the Son to glorify the Father. He would do this as a glorified man - primarily by giving eternal life to people on earth, so that they may glorify and make known the Father on earth (John 17:3).
2. " and now glorify me, ŷou Father, along with ŷourself, with the glory which I had along with ŷou before the world was." (John 17:5).
However, He would take this place in heaven as a human being. The glory that He had always possessed as the eternal Son, He would now also possess as a human being. This glory was due to Him, He had possessed it from eternity, but in the knowledge that He became man ("This is what Jesus said" (v. 1)) and in perfect dependence He does not take this glory for Himself, but He asks for it from the Father.
3. "And I sanctify myself for them, that they also may be sanctified by truth" (Jn 17:19).
Verse 19 provides a very special expression and thought: Christ takes his place in the glory to "sanctify" himself there for us. Here we see that sanctification does not mean to get rid of sin (for He had no sin), but to be set aside for a specific purpose. So here too: He is with the Father so that He may be the object, the great subject, the heart and affections of the faithful. Whereby the theme in itself is still too weak - unless one considers that it is about a person. That is the point. The Lord Jesus had already said: "Sanctify them by the truth: your word is truth" (v. 17). The Word of the Father would have an attractive and therefore sanctifying effect on them - but verse 19 goes even further. Here it is a person we know, for whom our hearts beat, to whom we are attracted.
To the extent that their heart is aligned with Christ, the Son of God, the glorified man with the Father, they would be sanctified by the truth.
43 The glorified Christ - according to John 17 (part 2)
4. " And the glory which ŷou have given me I have given them, that they may be one, as we are one; I in them and ŷou in me, that they may be perfected into one and that the world may know that ŷou have sent me, and that ŷou have loved them as ŷou have loved me.". (John 17:22,23).
We have already seen that Christ received glory as a human being. He had asked for it (v.1) and the Father had heard Him. But now He says: "The glory you have given me I have given them. He does not say "will I give them", but "have I given them". How is that possible? We have not yet been taken up into heaven, and in this sense we are not yet de facto glorified. Only at the Rapture will we be glorified, and only at the appearing will this become visible ("that the world may know..."). But the Lord expresses himself in this way to show that it is absolutely certain - as certain as if it had already happened. He sees the glory as already given to us (cf. Rom 8:30).
At this point we look into the open heaven and say: there is the Son, the Lord Jesus, to whom the Father has given the glory that He well deserved. But He had the desire to give us also of this glory! And that even the world shall see. He will appear with us (He glorifies and we glorify with Him) and will make the whole world see it: He, the Crucified One, has been glorified and we, the despised disciples of the Crucified One, have also been glorified, together with Him. The world will have no choice but to recognize and acknowledge: The Father must have loved these people as He loved Christ as man.
What an unimaginable panorama opens up to us when we dare to take this look into the open heaven!
5. "Father, as to those whom ŷou have given me, I desire that where I am they also may be with me, that they may behold my glory which ŷou have given me, for ŷou loved me before the foundation of the world." (Jn 17:24).
We now come to the fifth vision of the glorified Christ (in John 17). As glorious as the first four views were, what comes now puts everything in the shade.
In verse 1 and verse 22, the glory consisted in the fact that He was received into heaven as a man. Here, as in verse 5, the point is that Christ as a human being receives the glory that He as a son had always possessed. This is the "glory that I had with you before the world was" (v.5). This is confirmed by the next sentence in verse 24: "For you loved me before the foundation of the world". Verse 5 is about the fact that in verse 24 we learn that we are enabled to look at this glory.
Here we notice that we are missing the words. What is certain is that it will be indescribably beautiful. It is, so to speak, a view into the Father's house, into the home of eternal life. And that is now also our home!
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