Christ in His Excellency, by Witness Lee


John 17:5 says, “And now, glorify Me along with Yourself, Father, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” This tells us that in eternity past the Lord Jesus had the same glory as God. This is difficult to explain because we were not there and do not know what it was like. We all know that John 17 is the Lord Jesus’ final prayer before being crucified. After He prayed this, He went to the Garden of Gethsemane and was betrayed, arrested, and judged in that same night; the following day He was condemned and put to death on the cross. Therefore, this prayer is critical and profound. Even if you read it many times, I am afraid that you will not be able to understand its implications. That is because this prayer was prayed by the Lord Jesus directly to God, and it did not matter to Him whether or not we would understand it. He said, “Glorify Me along with Yourself, Father.” He did not say, “Grant Me to have glory along with Yourself, Father.” It is not a matter of having or not having the glory but a matter of gaining and enjoying it. The Lord Jesus was not without this glory. When He prayed, He already had this glory, but He was not enjoying this glory. Before the world was, before the beginning of time, the Lord Jesus had this glory along with the Father. Also when He was living on the earth, He had this glory, but He did not yet enjoy the glory. This is why He prayed in John 17, “Glorify Me along with Yourself, Father. Now the hour has come that You want Me to enjoy this glory.”


What does it mean for the Lord Jesus to have the glory of God? How was He glorified along with the Father? These are questions that are not easy to answer. We must consider this based upon the context of John 17:5. The first part of the Lord’s prayer in verse 1 says, “Father,…glorify Your Son,” and the second part says, “That the Son may glorify You.” It does not say here that the Lord Jesus asked the Father to uplift Him to the throne that He might have an exalted position and thus be glorified. Instead, it says, “Glorify Your Son that the Son may glorify You.” The Father glorified the Son, and in this glory the Son glorified the Father. Verse 2 says, “Even as You have given Him authority over all flesh to give eternal life to all whom You have given Him.” This verse in the Bible is very precious. The Father gave the Lord Jesus authority over all flesh. The Lord Jesus is the Lord over all things and over mankind. He governs every person for only one purpose, that is, to give eternal life to all those who have been given to Him by God the Father—those who were predestinated and chosen in eternity. Hallelujah! All of us who believe in the Lord are those whom God has given to the Lord Jesus. God has given each one of us to the Lord. Then the Lord gives eternal life to us.

Verse 3 says, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Him whom You have sent, Jesus Christ.” This is a footnote which the Lord Jesus added to His prayer, telling us what eternal life is. This is eternal life, that we know the only true God and Him whom He has sent, Jesus Christ. Today whether or not you have eternal life hinges on whether or not you know the only true God and Him whom He has sent, Jesus Christ. If you say, “Praise and thank the Lord, I know the only true God, and I know Jesus Christ, whom He has sent,” then you have eternal life within you. We can all testify to this. When we believed in this only true God and in Jesus Christ, whom He has sent, we received into us something that was living, and we were made alive from within. This living thing is eternal life.

Verse 4 says, “I have glorified You on earth, finishing the work which You have given Me to do.” This is the key to open these verses. What is the work that God gave His Son, the Lord Jesus, to do? There is only one thing: God wanted the Lord Jesus to live out God Himself on this earth. No one had ever seen God; the only begotten Son of God came among men and declared God to them. To declare God is to glorify God. Declaring God is the definition of glorifying God. To glorify God is to express God.

When the Lord Jesus prayed this prayer, He knew that it was the last evening of His thirty-three and a half years of living on earth. He would soon be crucified. His crucifixion would be a great suffering and a terrible shame in the eyes of men, but He knew that this death would be like a grain of wheat being sown into the earth. If the grain of wheat does not die by being sown into the earth, it can never bear much fruit. The Lord Jesus had to be buried in the earth and to die as a grain of wheat. Superficially, this death appeared to be a shame and a suffering, but actually it was a glorious release. The life and all the riches of life in the grain of wheat are covered by the outer shell and cannot come forth. Likewise, the physical body of the Lord Jesus was an outer shell that concealed the life and the riches of life. Therefore, this outer shell had to be buried in the earth and die that the life within the shell might be released. After a grain of wheat is buried in the earth and dies, it sprouts up a tender shoot and grows a stem and leaves; then it flowers, brings forth the ears, and bears fruit. When it multiplies thirtyfold, sixtyfold, or a hundredfold, that is its glorification.

The Lord Jesus was just like a grain of wheat. His flesh was the outer shell of the seed. Within Him was God, but this God was concealed within the outer shell and could not be expressed. Therefore, the Lord Jesus had to be put into death in order that through death and resurrection He could be released and the God within Him could be expressed and glorified. This is why He prayed in such a way, “Father, glorify Your Son.” To put it plainly, His prayer here was asking the Father to put Him to death! It is as if a seed was begging its master, “Master! Do not think so highly of me; do not elevate me or put me on a pedestal for exhibition. Please plant me in the earth! Once you plant me in the earth, I will be glorified.” The meaning of this sentence, “Father, glorify Your Son,” is that the Lord was asking the Father to put Him into the place of death that He might pass through death and be resurrected. After the Son’s death and resurrection, the Father would be manifested and thus the Son also would be glorified. Moreover, in the glorification of the Son, the Father also would be glorified.

(Christ in His Excellency, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)