Calvary Road Baptist Church

“FATHER, GLORIFY THY NAME”

John 12.28

John 12.28 begins with one of the shortest prayers in the Bible, a mere five words uttered by the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet it is one of the most profound of His prayers, with implications that reach far beyond our comprehension. My text will be that brief prayer, “Father, glorify thy name.”

By way of introduction to my sermon this morning, I will establish the historical context in which my Lord’s prayer is uttered, I will try to establish in your thinking what this word glorify means, and what it is my Lord actually urges His heavenly Father to do. Then, we will take a step back and consider what God does to glorify His name, as He indicated to the Lord Jesus Christ He would do when He said, in a way that sounded to some like thunder and to others like the voice of an angel, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.”

It is Monday in Jerusalem. Earlier in the day, the Lord Jesus Christ has reentered the city, cursing a fig tree along His way in for having leaves as though it bore fruit while having none, and then cleansing the Temple as He had done three years earlier. He did this by overthrowing the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of them that sold doves, as well as by prohibiting anyone who carried a vessel through the Temple courtyard, forbidding its use as a shortcut and as a common thoroughfare. Some Greeks who came to the city to worship with the Jewish men who were there to celebrate Passover approached one of the apostles, Philip, and asked, “Sir, we would see Jesus.” Philip then led the Greeks to Andrew, who in turn took them to the Master. That occasion provoked a reaction from the Lord Jesus Christ, perhaps because it was reminiscent of the wise men who had come looking for Him in Bethlehem years earlier, but went first to Jerusalem asking, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we . . . are come to worship him,” Matthew 2.2.

Jesus said in response to their approach, “The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.”[1] However, it would assuredly surprise them how the Lord Jesus Christ was about to be glorified, by crucifixion in four days, rather than the exaltation of this king that they likely expected. The Savior was certainly disturbed by what lie immediately ahead for Him, for He said, “Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour,” whereupon He prayed, “Father, glorify thy name.”

Be mindful that this prayer was not only the culmination of the dramatic events of that day. The day before, a Sunday, the Lord Jesus Christ rode into the city on the foal of an ass, a donkey colt, a clear fulfillment of Messianic prophecy that electrified the multitudes that had assembled in Jerusalem to purify themselves before observing Passover. Only three days earlier, the Lord Jesus had passed through Jericho, where He had not only given sight to two blind men who cried out to Him, “Thou Son of David,” a well-known messianic title, but also where He accepted the hospitality of a man named Zacchaeus, the chief among the publicans, over against the many priests who lived in the city. Thus, He not only demonstrated miracle-working power, but He scandalized the multitudes of pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem for Passover.

Thus, on Friday His actions provoked great excitement about Who He was and what He might do, on Saturday He was certainly the topic of conversation among all who were observing the Sabbath day’s rest, on Sunday His entrance into Jerusalem as the King coming in peace with palm branches and clothing placed in the street along His way, and then on this Monday when He overturned furniture and otherwise exerted His authority in the Temple, there can be no doubt that everyone was nervous, breathing rapidly, and pulses were racing. What will He do next?

To this point, everything has been Jewish and within the context of Israel. However, now the Greeks enter the picture and seek Him out. Yet just as they are brought into His presence, or perhaps because they are brought into His presence, the Lord Jesus Christ prays, “Father, glorify thy name.” Just as events seem to be climaxing, with Christ as the focal point, He prays to His heavenly Father and pleads, “Father, glorify thy name.” Amazing. We have all this horizontal activity and excitement, and with five words our Lord exposes everything as actually being vertical, and in relation to the Father.

Do you realize that my foolish Christ-denying friend, my foolish God-ignoring friend? Everything, ultimately, eventually, eternally, relates to God. Yet you can only properly relate to God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore, it would be a wise decision on your part to pay careful and cautious attention to this message, because your routine thoughts, and certainly your style of life is lived as though nothing relates to God, eventually, ultimately, or eternally. What a surprise you will face someday, unless you address this matter with all the diligence you can muster.

In this brief prayer, there is this one word that routinely causes people a great deal of difficulty, the word glorify. It is the verb form of the word from which we get doxology. You may not realize that we sing The Doxology every service here at Calvary Road Baptist Church: “Praise God, from whom all blessings flow; Praise Him all creatures here below; Praise Him above, ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! Amen.” That brief hymn is very commonly referred to as The Doxology. Why so? The word found in our Lord’s brief prayer is doxason, the imperative form of doxazw. It refers to praising, honoring, and extolling someone.[2] So, to glorify in the Biblical sense has to do with expressing your exalted opinion of someone, or doing what you can to cause someone else to share your exalted opinion about someone. Thus, when we sing The Doxology we are expressing our exalted view of the triune God and urging upon others our high estimation of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

So, what is the Lord Jesus Christ urging His heavenly Father to do at this crucial point? He is imploring His Father to do what needs to be done, to do what is properly done, and to do what all creation exists to be done. After all, Revelation 4.11 reveals the divine purpose behind all creation, with the four and twenty elders in heaven singing these words: “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” It is a good thing, it is a noble thing, it is a beneficial thing, it is a right thing, and it is a fulfillment of the ultimate purpose of creation, for God to receive from His creatures the loftiest opinion of Him, for God to be praised in the highest for His attributes and for His deeds, and it is only right and proper and good for God to bring to pass His Own glorification in the sight, in the minds, and in the hearts of all His creatures.

The Lord Jesus Christ, then, is throwing His considerable weight behind the proposition that everything is to be brought to bear in convincing you, and me, and everyone else that God is the ultimate good, that God is to receive all praise and adoration and worship, and that everything and everyone exists for His pleasure. In other words, my friend, just in case you thought everything was about you, and just in case you know someone who thinks it is all about Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ shows us that it is really all about His Father. Thus, this perfect Servant of God publicly and prayerfully places Himself at His Father’s disposal with respect to this great venture of bringing glory to the Father. Notice the Father’s response to His Son’s prayer and plea of commitment and consecration: “Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.”

Rather than taking this opportunity to review how God the Father had glorified His name, wherein He said, “I have . . . glorified it,” let us consider the last phrase, “I . . . will glorify it again.” Many things transpired during Christ’s Passion Week, from this Monday until His death on the cross on that Friday, and then in the days following. To summarize, God the Father glorifies His name in four ways in answer to His Son, Jesus Christ’s prayer:

 First, GOD GLORIFIED HIS NAME BY SUBSTITUTING HIS SON

 Though all salvation by works schemes ultimately deny the substitution of a just One on behalf of the guilty one, real salvation can only result from God’s grace, meaning substitution is indispensable. Thus, works oriented religions such as Buddhism, such as Hinduism, such as Islam offer no real salvation for the sinful soul. Even those schemes that try to pass themselves off as Christianity, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, such as 7th Day Adventists, such as Mormons, such as Roman Catholicism, and including mainline denominations that also exalt the sinner’s ability to save himself by means of works of righteousness, are not consistent in their recognition of Jesus Christ as God’s Substitute for sinners. Somewhere in their scheme of religion they negate First Peter 3.18: “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.”

However, it has always been God’s plan to substitute His Son for sinners in His great plan of redemption. God directed Abraham to slay his son Isaac. At the last possible moment Abraham was stopped and a ram was substituted for Isaac. That ram was a type of Jesus Christ, God’s Substitute for the sinner, Genesis 22.8, 11-13. In Exodus chapter 12, when a lamb was slain and its blood applied to the door post and lintels, the LORD passed over when He saw the blood. That innocent animal’s blood was shed as a substitute for the death of the firstborn in each household. This was Israel’s Passover. When God gave Israel the Law, Israelites were to offer sin or trespass offerings and place their hands on the head of the animal and confess their sins, the sacrificed animal serving as a substitute for the sinner offering the sacrifice. In all these offerings through the centuries the picture was always of a substitute for the sinner, with the fulfillment of the token, with the antitype of the type, being the Lord Jesus Christ. I read Isaiah 53.7: “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” The Lord Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of this picture. Indeed, the Holy Spirit made good use of John 1.29 to bring me to Jesus Christ, where John the Baptist said of Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” Notice, in retrospect, what the Apostle Paul says God did by substituting Jesus Christ for the sinner, in Second Corinthians 5.21: “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” God substituted Jesus for the sinner, imputing to the sinless Jesus Christ the sins of all mankind, and not imputing to us our own sins.

Next, GOD GLORIFIED HIS NAME BY SACRIFICING HIS SON

If God demonstrated His grace and mercy by imputing our sins to His Son, Jesus Christ, then He demonstrates His holiness, justice, and righteousness by sacrificing His Son on the cross of Calvary. How could God not pour out His wrath on His Son, if in fact His Son truly was made to be sin for us? As well, how else could God pour out His wrath on those who reject Jesus Christ, who have died in their sins, unless He had first poured out His wrath on His Son to punish the sins of those saved through faith in Jesus Christ? After God the Father has vented His fury on His Own Son for my sins, He must now punished the wicked in the lake of fire for all eternity or He is not truly holy, just, and righteous, but an unjust respecter of persons.

When God sacrificed His Son, Jesus Christ, He vindicated Himself. He showed that He speaks truth when He says that the soul that sinneth shall surely die. He showed that He is holy when He demonstrates that He hates sins and actively pursues sin’s eradication from His creation. He showed that He is righteous when He fulfills the demands of the Law that offenders be punished to a degree commensurate with the crime they have committed. He showed that He is just by exacting the same punishment for His Own Son when He became sin for us that He will exact against those who die without Jesus Christ in an eternity in the lake of fire. Does all this work to God’s glory? To be sure, it most certainly does, Christ’s substitution and sacrifice showing God to be merciful, showing God to be gracious, showing God to be truthful, showing God to be holy, showing God to be righteous, and showing God to be just.

Third, GOD GLORIFIED HIS NAME BY RAISING HIS SON

There is only enough time to mention four of the ways God’s name is glorified by raising up His Son, Jesus, from the dead:

First, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a demonstration of God’s infinite power. Frankenstein’s monster being brought to life using the power of lightning in a novel and then in numerous Hollywood movies has dulled our sensibilities with respect to raising the dead. My friends, you simply cannot mix chemicals together in any fashion and add energy, electrical energy or any other kind of energy, and either produce or reproduce life. However, God is a being of such infinite power that He can not only impart life where before there was none, but He can bring back to life one who has died, as He demonstrated when He raised His Son Jesus Christ from the dead. That demonstration of infinite power has greatly boosted the estimation of God in the eyes of His creatures, thereby glorifying Him.

Next, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a demonstration of Christ’s sacrifice accepted. Romans 4.25 declares that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead for our justification. Thus, the offering of Jesus Christ as just payment for our sins was accepted by God. The raising up from the dead of Jesus Christ by God the Father was the greatest assurance possible that divine justice was satisfied, the debt paid, or else God would have left Christ in the grave.

Third, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a demonstration of justification accomplished. To be justified is to be given a standing before God based upon the righteousness of another, since we have no righteousness of our own. Thus, when God raised up Jesus Christ, He not only demonstrated thereby that He was pleased with His Son’s sacrifice for our sins, but He also demonstrated that our justification as a result of that substitutionary sacrifice had been accomplished.

Finally, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a demonstration of God’s veracity. Did God not predict that He would raise up His Son? Did He not promise that He would not leave Christ’s soul in Hell or allow His body to suffer corruption, Psalm 16.10? Did not the Lord Jesus Christ indicate, based upon the promise of His heavenly Father and the prophetical picture of Jonah in the belly of the great fish, that He would rise from the dead after three days and three nights, Matthew 12.40? Thus, not only was the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead a demonstration of Jesus Christ’s veracity, but also God the Father’s veracity. What God says He means, and what He promises He will do. Thus, God was greatly glorified by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Oh, what a God the early Christian knew they had as a result of their Savior’s glorious resurrection!

 Finally, GOD GLORIFIED HIS NAME BY EXALTING HIS SON

Turn to Philippians 2.9-11, where we are explicitly told that God’s exaltation of His Son brings Him glory:

9      Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

10     That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

11     And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The Father’s exaltation of His Son, Jesus Christ, took place when He was ascended to His Father’s right hand on high following His resurrection. He is at present enthroned, while God makes His enemies Christ’s footstool, Psalm 110.1 and Hebrews 10.12-13.

How would this exaltation of Jesus Christ result in God’s glory? Consider the worship, adoration, and praise issuing forth from the heavenly host upon Christ’s return to heaven. Consider the worship, adoration and praise issuing forth from those sinners come to Christ as a result of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, sent forth when Christ was ascended to heaven.[3]

As well, consider the glory God receives during this era when Spirit indwelt and empowered Christians go forth to bring sinners to Christ, thereby bearing fruit those results in God being glorified, as Jesus said in John 15.8: “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”

This message from God’s Word has been a fairly superficial overview of the means whereby God answers the Lord Jesus Christ’s prayer, “Father, glorify thy name,” in John 12.28.

God the Father has glorified His name in the past, such as when He spoke the universe into existence, such as when He judged the world by flood, such as when He delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage the night of the Passover, such as when He parted the waters of the Red Sea, such as when He gave the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai, and such as when He led the children of Israel for forty years by the Shekinah glory and with the provision of manna from heaven. He glorified His name when Gideon wrought a great victory with only 300 men, when young David slew the Philistine giant Goliath with a sling, when Elijah slew the hundreds of prophets of Baal atop Mount Carmel, and when 180,000 Assyrian soldiers were slain in one night outside the walls of Jerusalem. My friends, there have been many times God glorified His name in the past.

This morning we have seen but a few of the ways God glorified His name in answer to the Lord Jesus Christ’s prayer. How glorious it is that God substituted His Son for sinners. How glorious it is that God sacrificed His Son for sinners. How glorious it is that God raised His Son from the dead. And how glorious it is that God exalted His Son Jesus Christ and enthroned Him at His right hand.

However, these four means of God glorifying His name are each related to explicit demonstrations of His grace and mercy, His great salvation and deliverance from sins. To be sure, this is God’s preferred way of glorifying His name. Be mindful that God will be glorified, either by means of His great salvation or His righteous retribution. For if you do not embrace God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and rely upon Him for salvation from your sins, God will be glorified, not by means of the salvation He offers through His exalted Son, but by means of the vindication He will visit upon those who reject His Son, Jesus Christ.

Thus, every human being will be an instrument in God’s hands to either glorify His name as the beloved object of His favor, His salvation, His deliverance, or you will be an instrument in God’s hands to glorify His name as an object of vindication, as one upon whom the wrath of God is forever poured.

Which will you be? Where do you fit into God’s plan to glorify His name?



[1] John 12.23

[2] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), page 258.

[3] John 16.7-14



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pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org