Jesus’ Prayer to Glorify God

Pastor Bruce Simpkins
Renewal Community Church
Caldwell, ID
Preached:  May 9, 2010

Here is Jesus prayer.  John 12:28-30  Father, glorify your name!”


Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.


30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine.


This is the only prayer of Jesus in scripture where God the Father speak back . . . and it wasn’t even for Jesus.  In a minute, we will look at who it was for when we see the context of the prayer, but lets first recognize that this prayer does not have its full meaning if we pull it out and make it stand alone.


Eugene Peterson made the observation that it is impossible to separate Jesus’ prayers from the action going on around Him.  You can not extract the words, Father, glorify your name! and understand it outside of its context.  All of Jesus’ prayers are inextricably woven into His life so that His prayers are like breathing to Him.  This is the example He set for those who follow Him and desire to be like Him.


Sometimes you hear someone say, “that person is a real prayer warrior”.  As though some people were called to pray and others . . . not so much.  We don’t single people out and say, “That person is a great breather”.  We might say, “that person is gasping for air to breath”.  But for everyone else, if you are breathing, there is little time spent looking for really good breathers.  So it is with prayer in our lives.  Our prayers are the natural fiber of who we are.  If not, you may be gasping for spiritual air and wondering why your spiritual life is feeling a bit anemic.  You don’t come to church on Sunday to breath and then hold your breath all week.


1 Thess 5:16-18

16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually;(without ceasing) 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.


Eph 6:18

The armor of God . . . and then:  18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.


One of the first things you learn in the martial arts is that you must keep breathing.  The tendency when you are working hard, is to hold your breath.  But you must CONSCIOUSLY keep breathing.


Jesus was a good breather.  He keeps His prayers constant, whether He was spiritually working vigorously or spiritually resting.  Prayer was as natural, and connected to His life as breathing.


So now, lets go back a few verses and look at the context of what Jesus was responding to in prayer.


John 12:20-28


20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.


23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.


27 “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.   Then comes: Father, glorify Your Name.


I gotta tell you.  This reply of Jesus really puzzled me at first.  Some Greeks came and asked to see Jesus.  And Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”  What in the world does that answer have to do with some Greeks wanting to see Him?  It seemed like He ignored the request and started in on giving an unrelated prophesy.


So I let it cook in my mind for about two days and then, it seemed as clear as day.  THEN I checked with a few commentaries to see what other people thought, and found out there are 3 varying views.  (It is always a good practice to read a passage and let the Spirit speak to you first, before looking for someone else’s point of view.)


These Greeks could have been 1. Jewish proselytes, or 2. real Jews living in Greek provinces, or 3. regular gentiles who heard about Jesus and were curious.


The commentaries were all over the map on what they thought about this, but one had come to the same conclusion I did, so that is enough confirmation for me to say what I think.  I think the Greeks were gentiles who were seeking for Jesus.  This seemed to be a sign to Jesus.  I think that Jesus’ disciples were the first fruits from the Jews, but these Greeks were the first fruits from the gentiles.


When He realized He had broken through the gentile barrier, He knew His work was nearing the end.  The news of gentiles seeking after Him was probably like hearing that D-Day was victorious for the allies.  There was this “aha” moment.  The end is in sight.  The hour had finally arrived when Jesus would be glorified.  It was like He was saying, I get to die so that many new spiritual lives can be produced!  Unless a seed dies, many more can not be produced.

Not that Jesus was looking forward to dying.  He said His heart was troubled, but He said that His entire life was devoted to reaching this final time.  I apologize to those you who don’t care for football analogies, but I can’t help myself.


When Jesus realized He had broken through the gentile barrier, it was like it was the 4th quarter and He just got a 1st down and goal to go!  He had played a perfect offense and a flawless defense and now the game was almost over.  He has scored many times and His opponent had zero.  But He still had to finish the game.  To ask the Father to call the game off now would be foolish.  Victory was in sight!  No matter the price, He would finish the game.


And so He breathes His prayer to God the Father . . . glorify your name!


Yes Jesus would be glorified in this process, but His desire was that the Father in Heaven would get the ultimate glory.  It wasn’t a selfish glory He was focused on, but God the Father’s glory.  When we glorify the Son, we glorify the Father because Jesus was the Father’s crowning glory!  It is the coach who accepts the trophy not the players.  The players receive their glory in good time, but this final break through was for the glory of God the Father.  And on this important occasion God decided to speak.  And everyone around Him heard it.  The Pharisees, the Jews, the gentiles, and the Romans.


God the Father said, I have glorified it, and will glorify it again .  the article “it” refers to the Father’s glory, not the Son’s.


This word “glory” is one of the most repeated words in the New Testament.  This word glory or glorify comes in many forms in the English.  Sometimes it is referred to as glorify, but some times referred to as praise.  The root Greek word for all of these is “doxa”.  In the church we are familiar with the song we call the Doxology.  It is the combination of 2 Greek words meaning “Glory” (doxa) and “Word” (logos).  It literally means glory words.


In the English language, we say glorify or glory or glorious:

Glorify (verb):      worship, adore, lionize, exalt, deify, elevate, venerate, praise

Glory (noun):       magnificence, splendor, beauty, wonder, grandeur, brilliance

Glory (noun):       credit, fame, praise, laurels, triumph, success, admiration, stardom

Glorious (adjective):      magnificent, wonderful, splendid, celebrated, superb, famous


Human language does not have enough words to adequately represent the full glory of God.  When Jesus says glorify your name! we can not grasp how truly glorious that really is.  Its better than the glory Luke Skywalker got at the end of star wars.  Its better than the glory the American Idol finalist gets.  Its better than the glory JFK got in his eulogy.  There is no human experience that can compare to the glory of God the Father.


And God the Father said, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again”.  His name had already been glorified, was in the process of being glorified, and would continue to be glorified.


Phil 2:9-11 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


Jesus is exalted so the God the father will be glorified forever!  And that is what Jesus prays.

When Jesus was tempted in the desert Matt 4:8-10 says:


the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”


10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'”


Jesus came to serve God so that God the Father would be glorified.  If He served Satan, He could have glorified Himself, but He passed the test of His temptations.  Unlike Adam.


Jesus prayer breathing showed His heart in the end just as it did in the beginning which was for the glory of God the Father . . . not Himself.  The perfect example of humility.  When we recognize how important it is for God the Father to be glorified, Jesus words make such perfect sense.


Matt 11:29

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.


Luke 14:11

everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”


Matt 18:4

whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.


1 Peter 5:5-6

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble .” 

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.


God the Father glorified God the Son so that God the Father would be glorified.  Jesus did not seek after His own glory, but the Father’s and in so doing, He was Himself glorified.  And if we are Jesus followers, how much more should we then be interested in glorifying God the Father than glorifying ourselves.


How much of your prayer breathing glorifies God the Father?  How much of your prayer breathing is about you and your circumstances?  God sees everything and knows what you need before you ask it.  If it glorifies God, like Jesus, lets not ask Him to end the game.  Even though we may suffer and be humbled (or humiliated), if God gets the glory, that’s good enough for me.


Let pray.

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