“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” —John 17:22-23
A couple years ago, I went with family on a tour of Wrigley Field. We got to stand on the right field warning track, got to sit in the press box, and got to try to avoid hitting our heads in the dugout. As we were walking out of Wrigley, Jade and I paused to take a look at the 2016 World Series trophy. It’s a beautiful piece of work featuring 30 gold-plated flags and a silver baseball. But the real beauty of it is the way it brings back memories of watching the Cubs win Game 7 of the Series, of not even trying to hold back tears of joy, of celebrating with my family. The trophy symbolizes victory and triumph and—even more powerfully—family and community. In some ways, it’s a glorious item that points beyond itself to glorious events and glorious memories.
When I think of “glory,” I tend to think of something like that trophy—of victory over opponents, of triumph, of something or someone standing out as better than the things or people to which they might be compared. I think of the celebration that comes when we know we’re on the victorious side.
What I don’t think about often enough when I think about “glory” is love. Today’s Daily Text verse from John’s Gospel is from Jesus’ prayer to the Father just before he is to face arrest and execution. In verse 22 Jesus says this amazing thing, that he has given to those who believe in him the glory that the Father has given Jesus. When I read this, my mind immediately goes to glory on the world’s terms—victories and status and riches. But that’s not the heart of what Jesus describes as glory. Glory in Jesus’ view is about unity and love.
In Jesus we see with crystal clarity that the nature of God Almighty is eternal love. For all eternity the Father has loved the Son and the Son has loved the Father. Now Jesus, in communication with the Father, lets it be known to his disciples listening in that his people are, in being united to Jesus, also brought into that divine love. And in being brought into the divine love of God, we’re able to have complete unity with one another in that love.
This is one of the most lofty statements in all of Scripture about what it means to be a follower of Jesus. The glory of divine love is now available to us by following Jesus. So may we be encouraged to participate in that love more fully, in complete unity and purpose and joy. Amen.