John 17:24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”
Inevitably, the time must come to say, “Goodbye.” The holidays are over, and the visit must come to an end. After four years of school together, graduation day has arrived, and classmates will all be going in different directions. Junior is all grown up now, he has his first job, and it is time for him to start living on his own, anyway. After 45 or 50 years in the workforce, you are ready hang up your spurs and start drawing on your retirement accounts. The time has come to say, “Goodbye.”
Some goodbyes are more permanent than others, humanly speaking. The holidays will come around again next year. Class reunions will gather the old gang together again from time to time. But death is “goodbye” for the last time on earth. It is a “goodbye” that provokes some serious thoughts. What do I want to say? What do I want to leave behind? Maybe you remember the Michael Keaton movie “My Life.” A terminally ill father-to-be is video-taping himself in all kinds of activities, with all kinds of messages, for the son who will never know him face to face. What might our parting wishes be for the people we leave behind?
Jesus’ parting prayer takes place the night before the cross. He and his disciples have finished the Last Supper. The conversations around the table are over, and they are about to leave the upper room for Gethsemane. In less than twenty-four hours, Jesus will be dead. Before they go, he prays for them.
Jesus prayed for their faith that night. “Protect them from the evil one…Sanctify them by the truth.” He prayed for their unity, “…that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.”
But near the end, Jesus prays that those who have trusted and loved him on earth might see him again in glory. “I want those you have given me to be with me where I am.” “Bring them home,” Jesus prays. His desire in calling you to faith and uniting you to himself was never just about squeezing some cheap labor out of you here, while you are alive. You are so much more to him than just a workforce–a nameless, faceless labor force he will never know or care about as the CEO of this organization.
You are his friend, his brother or sister, and he wants you home. It is why he came. It is why he lived. It is why he died. He wants to see you and be with you as much as he wants to rule over you. He wants you to share the heaven he enjoys, to see the glory he received, as his everlasting guest at the feast that never ends.
Samuel Johnson once noted, “I know of no thought that more wonderfully clarifies a man’s mind than the thought that he must hang in the morning.” Jesus understood the urgency of the moment and the shortness of his time in a way we rarely do. He prayed about the most important things as death drew near—not for himself, but for those he would be leaving behind. The next day he made it possible that death would not be the last time anyone saw him, or we see each other. His death removed sin and defeated death.
Who knows which day will be our last in this world? “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom,” Moses prays in Psalm 90. Give your attention to God’s grace today, and God’s word will make you the answer to Jesus’ prayer.