“The Hour is Come”

John 17

At the close of John 16 the hour had come in which the work should be finished that would bring to a close the sojourn of Jesus on this earth. He has before Him now His departure out of this world to the Father. He has told His disciples in a plain way about it, He says, “I came forth from the Father and am come into the world; again I leave the world and go to the Father” (chap. 16:28). In another place He speaks of His way there as “the path of life,” but it is “In Thy presence there is fullness of joy,” and it is “At Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16:11). It was a rough journey for Him, to that fullness of joy, and to those everlasting pleasures, but rough or smooth it was the path of life for Him

To this home our Lord was now about to take His departure, and His one concern seemed to be about His disciples, who were being left by Him in this world; but He says, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer: I have overcome the world.” The world was not a foe to be dreaded, except we felt inclined to give it a warm corner in our most foolish hearts. Should we feel inclined to do that, instead of overcoming the world we should be overcome by it. It would be the victor and we should be the vanquished. Let us have no dread of it; neither let us have any love for it. The love of the world is not to be harboured in our hearts, but let us see to it that the love of the Father is there. These two cannot exist together in one heart. “If any man love the world the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). The Lord delights to establish our hearts in the love of the Father. He tells us, “The Father Himself loves you, because ye have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God.

And all these things He has spoken for the joy and peace of our hearts, as He spoke them in the first instance for the joy and peace of the hearts of His disciples who were filled with sorrow because they saw He was leaving them. And how could it have been otherwise with them? Had He not been everything to them? What could His departure mean to those few who for His sake had lost the world, and now were about to lose Him also? He says, “I will not leave you orphans: I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world sees Me no more; but ye see Me: because I live ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you” (John 14:18-20).

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.” All that was necessary for Him to do on the platform of this world was done, and now He looks up to heaven where He may glorify the Father in a way in which He could not glorify Him on earth. He says, “I have glorified Thee on the earth; I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do. And now, Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.” His desire is to return to the glory that was His before He took the form of a servant and became in the likeness of men. He glorified the Father upon earth, and now He desires to be glorified by the Father, but with a glory that was His in the past eternity, if we can speak of eternity as having a past character, an unbegun or unbeginning condition. This was a glory that He laid aside when He emptied Himself, taking a bondman’s form, being made in the likeness of men. Nothing other than this could have been suitable for Him in His bondman condition. But now He goes back to the Father to resume that glory that He had before the world was. In Manhood He desires to be brought back to resume the glory that He had with the Father before the beginning of time.

Power over all flesh has been given to Him of the Father that He should give eternal life to as many as the Father had given Him. And this is the life eternal, that they should know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent. This is a life in which lies the true knowledge and blessed character and power of this that never had beginning. And which never can end; a life now possessed by men, who know and enjoy it as the Father and the Son do.

How infinitely blessed this life is! We know that the Son of God has come, and has given us an understanding that we should know Him that is true; and we are in Him that is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the True God and Eternal Life. How wondrous that we should be able to take account of ourselves as possessors of this divine life; to be able to say that we have it; that we have it by the quickening power of the Father and the Son, that we have it by the indwelling Holy Spirit of the living God; and that we have it by the power of the revelation given to us from the Father through the person of the Son; and in the Son this life is. Therefore he that has the Son has the life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life (1 John 5:11-12).

By the voice of the Son of God the one that hears, even though he be in moral death, without life toward God, is made alive. He says, “The hour comes, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live.” His voice is the testimony which in this world He rendered in the ears of men. And here He says, “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. 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.” And for these He prayed, not for the world, “but for them which Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine.” How dear therefore they were to the heart of Jesus, seeing they were the Father’s and the Father’s gift to the Son. But He says, “All Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine; and I am glorified in them.” And thus were they of double interest to both the Father and Son. The disciples of Jesus were the gift of the Fattier to Him, and they were also His own, and He adds, “I am glorified in them.”

And now He was no longer in the world, but His disciples were in it, and He was coming to the Father. And He addresses Him as Holy Father, and says, “Keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one as We are.” They were not to be in this world as so many units, but in one eternal bond in unity, as the Father and the Son; He says “as We are.” In that name, the name of Holy Father, the Son had kept them, and not one of them had perished, but the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

And now He was coming to the Father, but speaking these things in the world, that His disciples might have His joy fulfilled in them they were allowed to hear the words that broke from the heart of the Son, and which came with all the love of His faithful heart into the ears of the Father, and also into the ears of His disciples.

I have given them Thy word.” In verse 8 He says, “The words which Thou hast given Me I have given them, and they have received them, and have known truly that I came out from Thee, and they have believed that Thou didst send Me.” These words were, I think, more the various communications received from the Son to set before His followers for their observance and growth in the mind of God; but “Thy Word,” as we have it here is I have no doubt His Testimony, and therefore does He say, “I have given them Thy Word; and the world has hated them; because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”

It was that which separated them entirely from this world, and therefore have they the hatred of the world. He does not pray that they should be taken out of the world, but that the Father should keep them out of the evil. They are not of the world, He says, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy word is truth. And this word was the separating power between them and the world. But this awoke a storm of godless wrath against those who had received that word. As a great power used to bring this separation to pass He says, “For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” He leaves this world altogether and ascends into heaven, that their hearts should follow Him into that home where He had gone.

But if He did not pray for the world, He did for all them who would believe in Him through their word; “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.” It is here, and in this, that we have so miserably failed. That the Son will give eternal life to all that the Father has given Him cannot be questioned. But this is that which He does, not that which He may use us to bring to pass by our faithfulness, or by any other means; but as no one can come to the Son, except the Father who has sent Him draw each individual soul by His own almighty power. It is also true that “They shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that has heard and learned of the Father, comes unto Me” (John 6:44-45). The operations of Divine grace are Sovereign. It is Jesus who gives eternal life, and it is to as many as the Father has given Him that He gives it. New Birth—Eternal Life—and Salvation, are of the free-giving of God. Were it not so, it were not found in the possession of one single soul. We cannot therefore wonder when we see souls wandering in their crooked and blind way in the black and dark night of their unbelief, as though the light and salvation of God had never visited them, and not one footprint of Christ had been left on this naked earth, and as though the earth was but a playground for hell and for death, a rendezvous for all fell, invisible and infernal spirits, but though things we see may appear like this, it is not true. It is all the result of man’s natural hatred of God, and of his hatred also of every one who cleaves to Him as the One Holy and True God. Christ was refused, persecuted, cast out, crucified, and slain of men. Of course they keep Christmas, but with the devil himself as master of ceremonies. But after all these have but a name to live, and are morally dead, dead in their sins. They are believers in name only, but as to the life of God, there is not a pulse of Divine life in their whole moral being.

As to those who believe on Him through the word of the apostles, He says He prays for them, “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.” “As Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee.” This is, I think, in life and nature, aim and object. One in us, without one divergent thought, one mind, heart and nature. John says in his first epistle, that what they had seen and heard in Jesus they reported to the disciples, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1). That these may be one in us, that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me. One in the Father and the Son in the unity of the Spirit. This we should have been, and had we been faithful it would have had a great effect upon the world. Whether the world would have believed had believers given it this mighty evidence, or whether it would not we cannot say. The world did not get that mighty evidence, but the unfaithfulness of the many who had but a name without one pulse of divine life spread abroad their corrupting influence, so that Christendom has become like to Israel in the days of the prophet Malachi. “Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another; and the Lord hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name. And they shall be Mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up My jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” All the others shall perish without mercy.

And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one; 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.” And the world that can only be onlookers as to the place the saints shall have in the Father’s love, only onlookers, not participators, shall see the greatness of the blessing that shall be theirs who are partakers of the same love wherewith the Father loves the Son. And the desire of the heart of Christ is that those given to Him by the Father, might be with Him where He is, “That they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given me; for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world.” Here the Son’s existence with the Father is declared—Son of God and Son of Man, one Person and loved by the Father, before the world’s foundation!

And now His appeal is to the righteous Father, and He has to say, “The world has not known Thee.” He had been in it, had passed through it, and it had seen Him, but all He has to say of them is, “They have seen and hated both Me and My Father.” But of His followers He can say, “These have known that Thou hast sent Me.”

He had known the Father, and had made Him known to His followers. He can say regarding Himself, I have known Thee. And He says, “I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare it; and the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” When we turn to John’s first epistle we see this verified; and how very beautiful, captivating and humbling when we meditate upon this fellowship into which we have been called, and realise into what a little measure we have entered into the blessedness of it. The apostles say “The life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us. That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.”