GLORY IN RESURRECTION
In John 17 the time was at hand for the Lord Jesus to die and then be resurrected. Resurrection, you may not realize, is simply the full expression. Consider a carnation seed. It is small and inconspicuous, yet within this tiny seed the blossom is concealed. As long as it stays where we can see it, there is no blossom, that is, no glory, to be seen. If, however, we sow the seed into the soil and it dies, it will grow up and then blossom. The blossom is the release of the hidden glory. The blossoming of the carnation is its glorification.
The Lord Jesus was a seed. He was a despised Nazarene with no beauty that we should desire Him. That seed, however, concealed the divine glory. Now He was about to fall into the ground and die. Then He would be raised from the dead, and the divine glory would be expressed. Christ, in other words, would be glorified.
The glory released in the resurrection was the Father Himself. For the Son to be glorified meant that the Father too was glorified, because the Father was concealed in the man Jesus. When the glory shone forth, both the Son and the Father alike were glorified.
How, then, could the Son of God be glorified? It was by death and resurrection. How could the Father be glorified in the Son? It was by the Son’s glorification. When the Son was glorified, that glory was the Father expressed. So the Lord prayed, “Glorify Your Son that the Son may glorify You” (John 17:1). To be glorified, then, is to have the divine nature expressed. Dear saints, we are touching something which human language cannot adequately express; I sense that I am short of utterance. I look to the Lord that you may see what I have seen.
GLORY IN FRUIT-BEARING
Many plants, after they blossom, bear fruit. The blossom is a temporary expression; it is followed by the fruit, which is more lasting. In my home province in north China there were many apple groves. What interested us was not so much the blossoming of the trees. Year by year we eagerly anticipated the month of September, when the trees would be laden with fruit! We greatly enjoyed going to see these apple trees in their glorification! Even while we were still far away, we could smell the fragrance of the apples. The aroma was so sweet that we would store some apples in with our clothing for the next few months so that their fragrance would permeate our clothes.
Is Christ in His glorification more like the carnation flower or like the apple tree? He is like the apple tree! The fruit He has borne is even more fragrant and beautiful than the blossom! We are this fruit! If Christ had never produced a disciple after His resurrection, He would have remained a carnation blossom. After His resurrection, however, there were one hundred twenty in Jerusalem (Acts 1:15). Then three thousand were added (2:41). Before long there were five thousand (4:4). Now throughout this whole earth there are “apple groves” which have issued from Christ’s resurrection! From Europe to Africa to North and South America and all the way to the Far East are spread these apple groves, expressing and glorifying the Lord Jesus!
A church is simply an apple grove, bearing the fruit of the resurrected Christ! When the Lord Jesus as the Son of God is glorified by our thus expressing Him, the Father is also glorified. What the Lord Jesus was praying that night in John 17 was for the proper church life, with all His disciples expressing Him the way apples express the apple tree. We are His apples, expressing Him in resurrection that the Father may be glorified! The proper church life, in other words, is the glorification of the Son and of the Father, the glorification of the Father in the Son. The Lord’s prayer, “Glorify Your Son that the Son may glorify You,” is fulfilled in the proper church life.
If we understand this first verse, then we can come to some understanding of this whole prayer.
The Lord goes on to pray four times for the oneness of all believers.
(1)“Holy Father, keep them in Your name…that they may be one even as we are” (v. 11).
(2)“That they all may be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us” (v. 21).
(3)“And the glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, even as We are one” (v. 22).
(4)“I in them, and You in Me, that they may be perfected into one” (v. 23).
(The Mending Ministry of John, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)