In the last article, I noted the love that some puritans expressed for John 17 and for verse 24 in particular. Verse 24 is special because it teaches that Jesus desires us. He wants us to be where he is. In the present article, I want to look at the reason Jesus wants us to be with him. Jesus says he desires our presence so that we might see his glory.
To see Christ’s glory is not merely to observe it as a bystander. To see means to share or participate. Peter speaks of being a partaker of the glory that is to be revealed (1 Pet. 5:1). When your child runs and wins a race, you watch him compete and receive his gold medal from the bleachers. You see your child’s glory, and rejoice in it, but you don’t share in it. You aren’t up there on the stage getting a gold medal too. Jesus doesn’t merely want you with him so that you can see his glory as a bystander. He wants you with him so that you can see his glory as a fellow participant. He wants you up on the stage with him. He wants you to be glorified with him (Rom. 8:17).
Sharing in Christ’s glory comes in stages. The New Testament speaks of experiencing glory now (2 Cor. 3:18), at death (2 Cor. 5:6-8; Phil. 1:21) and then finally in its fullness at the second coming (1 Cor. 15:51-52; Phil. 1:6; 3:20-21). Since Jesus talks of glory in reference to where he is, which is in resurrected glory, the primary reference is to the glory we will experience at his second coming. Presently, Jesus is the only one to have experienced the fullness of glory. He is the only one to have been raised from the dead and to have put on immortality and incorruption. But he doesn’t want to be alone. He wants us, his bride, to be with him in that perfected state. He wants us, including our bodies, to be raised from the dead so that we might be like him and reign with him (1 John 3:2).
Thomas Manton said that Christ’s “heart is not satisfied till we be in like condition with himself.” Similarly, the 19th century Scottish preacher R.M. M’Cheyne said that heaven would be no heaven to Jesus, if we were not there. We are his jewels, his crown, and his joy. Jesus would not be happy in glory if we were not there. When a loving husband and father is promoted and required to move across the globe to a beautiful country, and to live in a beautiful house, he is going to want his wife and children to move with him. Life in that new and beautiful place won’t be complete until they join him. Heaven is not heaven for Jesus until we are there with him.
Although Jesus is primarily referring to the glory of the second coming, what he says here equally applies to our death. Jesus wants us with him. Since to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, the moment of our death is, at least in part, an answer to Jesus’ prayer. This is why I think that Manton was on point when he rhetorically asked, “Can a dying man have a sweeter meditation than Christ’s words? ‘Father, I will that those whom thou hast given me may be with me where I am.’”
Not all verses are equal. Some are sweeter than others. Deciding which one is the sweetest, however, is a fool’s errand. Nonetheless, John 17:24 is up there with the best of them because it reveals to us an amazing truth: Jesus wants us to be where he is so that we might share in his glory.