The cross was only a few hours beyond the moment when Jesus prayed, “Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that the Son may glorify thee” (John 17:1). And then a few sentences later He continued, “I glorified thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which thou hast given me to do. And now, Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (v. 5). We raise the question: what was the glory that lay before Him, and of which He now prays?
First, there was the cross — in this Jesus was glorified, and in it He glorified the Father. There have been men in history whose true glory was revealed in their death; in their approach to death, and the cause for which they die, revealing their greatness.
In the cross Jesus demonstrated his own love for men, and His yearning for the souls of all men, including the very ones who would crucify Him. Also, He was manifesting the infinite love of God. God might have striven up to a point to redeem men, and then have said, “beyond this I will not go.” But not so; His love went all the way to the giving of His Son, His only begotten. In the cross Jesus found His glory.
Second, there was an accomplished task — in this Jesus had glorified the Father, and would glorify Him by going all the way. “I glorified thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which thou hast given me to do.” He would now manifest to the end that mind with which He had begun when He emptied Himself, “counting not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped,” but would become “obedient unto death, even the death on the cross.” His glory was in an implicit obedience to the Father and to His will in all things.
Third, His glory was in the crown —the victory in the resurrection, ascension, and glorification on the throne of God: “Glorify me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” Herein the glory would be complete; but between Him at the time and that glory there was the cross. The emblem of shame became the symbol of glory.
And now, what does this mean to me? To the apostle Paul it meant everything as He wrote, “Far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world hath been crucified unto me and I unto the world” (Gal. 6:14).
It was the glory of the great apostle. And so should it be to me: “And they that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof” (Gal. 5:24). Jesus offers us a crown (2 Tim. 4:8), but before that crown there is the cross (Matt. 16:24). - Homer Hailey, 1973