Revelation does not mean man finding God, but God finding man, God sharing his secrets with us, God showing us himself. In revelation, God is the agent as well as the object. It is not that men speak about God, or for God; God speaks for Himself, and talks to us in person.  The New Testament message is that in Christ God has spoken a word for the world, a word to which all men in all ages are summoned to listen and respond.  J. I. Packer

“We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” [John 1:14] The word “seen” is a strong word. It means “to be engaged in careful and deliberate vision which seeks to understand and interpret its object.” Scrutiny is a good word to characterize what John was saying. That is what I am committed to do this year. I am scrutinizing the Word of God so that I may more perfectly know him, love him and rejoice in him. So, I have hunkered down in the gospel of John. The great hope that I have in my study is that he wants to be seen and rejoiced in. That is why he gave us the written Word. God has spoken through the Word and we see him through the Scriptures.

We see God through our ears. God communicates Himself to us by words. God speaks, prophets write, preachers preach, teachers teach, and the Bible communicates, through words. We Christians are “verbifores.” We eat words. God designed us with ears to hear and a mind to understand and a heart to respond to his words. So Prophets declare, “Hear the word of the LORD,” [Isa 66:5] and Jesus demands, “He who has ears, let him hear.” [Matt 13:9] God wrote the Bible so that we would always have his words in precise and powerful pronouncements. “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. [Rom 10:17]        

 “I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. John 17:8-10

 Here we are reminded of how God communicates his glory to us. He reveals himself in words. The words Jesus spoke came from the Father. They were true. They were good. They were power. Eleven common men heard the words of Jesus and three things happened: 1] They were enabled to accept Jesus’ words as divine words; 2] They were enabled to be certain that Jesus’ origin was divine; and, 3] They were enabled to believe that the mission Jesus was on was divine.       

As sharp as you are, you probably have already discovered the profound implications of this passage. When our faith hears the words of Jesus, we are so intoxicated with his beauty that we gladly accept him with all of our heart. When faith hears the words of Jesus, we are so captivated by his truth that we resolutely honor him with our mind. And, when faith hears the words of Jesus, we are so stimulated by his call that we joyfully make his glory the center of our will. So, when we scrutinize the words of Jesus our lives are illuminated by the same sweetness and sureness and seriousness that characterized Christ’s glorious ministry on earth.   

There is one obvious problem posed by this passage. If the words of Jesus bring acceptance and certainty and belief, why are there only eleven disciples at the end of Christ’s ministry? One commentator makes this observation: “The harvest seems scanty, no doubt: eleven Galilean artisans after three years of labor! But this is enough for Jesus: for in these eleven He beholds the pledge of the continuance of the divine work on the earth.”

There is some truth in that. Concern for numbers was not the driving force of Jesus ministry as it is in the church today. He devoted himself to a few that they might be thoroughly captured by his beauty and his truth. [Mark 3:13-14] Then, it was out of their love and joy in Jesus that they went forth with passion to share what they had found in him. The numbers grew out of a view of the glory of Christ and a passion to spread it to the ends of the earth. Too often the church has stooped to methodology at the expense of theology. Showmanship has replaced genuine worship. We think we must attract with the atmosphere of a circus instead of declaring the awesome beauty of Jesus. Crowds have become the standard of success rather than a transformed life which is saturated with holiness.

Early in my ministry I was greatly influenced by a man who was very gifted in motivational speaking. His seminars were very inspiring and filled with great tips on how to be a man of influence. He constantly pointed to the great leaders in our church that were making a difference in ministry. I read his books because I wanted to be a leader like that. But, I confess to you that I would not cross the street to hear this man speak today even though he is a good man. Why do I say that? Because I have found another who does not show me the greatness of man but displays for me the beauty of King Jesus. I will travel across the country to hear a man like that!     

One writer commented on this passage and spoke of Christ’s strategy for winning the world. He wrote, “Jesus has two things- a belief in God and a belief in man.” Then, he added, “It is one of the most uplifting things in the world that Jesus put his trust in men like ourselves.” No he didn’t! Jesus didn’t put his trust in men like us. That is why he prayed: “I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.” [John 17:8-9] The disciples were no different than us. We may have accepted and have certainty and believe, but we are still tempted by lusts and doubts and tragedies. We have an enemy that prowls around, looking for an opportunity to devour our faith.

No, we should not be uplifted because Jesus “puts his trust in men like us,” but that he prays for us. “Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” [Rom 8:34-35] “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” [Heb 7:25] We should be uplifted because he is always lifting us up in prayer. Whatever we are going through and whatever he sends us to do, he is there in heaven praying for us.  

We are special, not because of our inherent worth or even because of the faith we exhibit. We are special because we are God’s possession. Jesus prays for us in a way that he does not pray for the world. Why? By grace through faith we have been brought into the family of God. [Ephesians 2:8-9] Whether you believe that God chose you in eternity past out of his own free will, or chose you because he looked ahead and saw your faith in time, you are elected [Ephesians 1:4]. You and I were first the Father’s and then were given to the Son. [9] He prays not that we would be saved or that we would be kept saved. He prays that we would be protected from the evil one [11,15]; so that we would attain unity with God [11,21-23]; and experience the fullness of joy in Jesus [13]; and be set apart unto holiness [17]; and in the end see Jesus in all of his awesome glory in heaven [24].   

We have every reason to be uplifted and filled with courage and boldness. Not because God can trust us but because we are his. Jesus prays for us so that all that we are in God will become a reality in our walk with him. We are not chosen to live in retirement or comfort or security. We are chosen and called to live a life so exciting, so satisfying and so filled with rejoicing, that we become a testimony to the glory of God that has captured our heart. Scrutiny of His Majesty will do that. God has chosen. God has spoken. Christ is praying. May your life be a constant testimony to the beauty and majesty of Jesus Christ our glorious Lord!