From the Explanation of the Gospel of St. John
by Blessed Theophylact, Archbishop of Ochrid and Bulgaria
1–3. These words spake Jesus, and lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come: Glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee; as Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him. And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent. Having encouraged the disciples to face bravely the coming tribulations, Christ raised their spirits again, this time by prayer. By praying, He teaches us that when temptations assail us we should put everything else aside and flee to God. However, one could say that Jesus was not actually praying, but rather conversing with the Father. Do not be surprised that it is said elsewhere that Jesus did pray, kneeling on the ground (see Mt. 26:39). For the Lord came, not only to reveal Himself to us, but to teach us every virtue by His own example, as a good instructor. Showing us that He goes willingly to His crucifixion, He says, Father, the hour is come. See how He longs for the Passion, and embraces it. He calls it His glory, and His Father’s glory, for indeed, by the Passion both were glorified. Before the crucifixion, He was practically unknown, even to the Jews: Israel does not know Me (Is. 1:3), He said. Afterwards, the whole world flocked to Him.
What exactly is the “glory” that belongs to Him and the Father? It is the benefitting of all flesh by God’s gifts. This is the glory of God. The Lord had previously commanded His disciples not to go into the way of the Gentiles (Mt. 10:5). Now, grace is no longer limited to the Jews. It is offered to the whole world. To this end, the Lord was planning to send the apostles to the Gentiles. But lest the disciples imagine this plan was His own notion, contrary to the will of the Father, Jesus reminds them that it is the Father Who has given Him power over all flesh. In what sense does Christ have power over all flesh, when, as we know, not everyone believes? Christ strives to bring everyone to faith. If some refuse to heed Him, it is not His fault, but the fault of those who reject His teaching. When it is said that the Father “gives” something to the Son, or that the Son “receives” something from the Father, understand that such expressions are a condescension to the limitations of His listeners’ understanding, as we have pointed out before. Christ was always careful to avoid speaking openly about His divinity. The Jews would have been outraged to hear Him claim to be divine, so He said only as much as they could bear at the time. We employ similar condescension when speaking to infants: without naming the object, we point to bread or water, and ask, “Do you want this?” Remember how, at the beginning of the Gospel, the Evangelist stated boldly about Christ: All things were made by Him (Jn. 1:3), and, As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, (Jn. 1:12). How then can He, Who gives others the power to become sons of God, lack divinity in Himself and require it as a gift from the Father? And so, understand that an exalted reality underlies the humble statement. To as many as Thou hast given Him—here is the modest expression; that He should give them eternal life—here, the revelation of the power and authority of the Only-begotten Godhead.
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