It is important to understand the relationship that existed between the members of the Trinity before anything was created. The apostle Peter tells us that Jesus Christ “was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you” (1 Pet. 1:20). Though He was “foreknown before the foundation of the world” by the other Persons of the Trinity, there was a point in time when God the Son came into the world and took upon Himself perfect humanity in order to make Himself known to sinful men. God the Son added to Himself perfect humanity (John 1:1, 14; Gal. 4:4), lived free from sin (Heb. 4:15), satisfied every righteous demand of the Mosaic Law (Matt. 5:17-18; Rom. 10:1-4), and in His humanity died a substitutionary death for sinners that they might have the free and gracious gift of eternal life because of His death on the cross (Rom. 3:24-25; 4:1-5; 5:6-10; 10:1-4; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 3:18; 1 John 2:2).
God the Father and God the Holy Spirit were both in agreement with God the Son regarding the salvation-work He would accomplish on the cross. On the night before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed “Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (John 17:5). These words reflect memories of the glory that God the Son shared with God the Father before the existence of the world; a glory no doubt shared with God the Holy Spirit. As the time for His crucifixion came near, and knowing His time on earth was ending soon, Jesus said to the Father “now I come to You” (John 17:13). Jesus’ return to the Father was not only a return to glory, but to a very special relationship of love, of which Jesus declared, “You loved Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24c). In our finiteness, we struggle to grasp the significance of God’s love toward us through the cross (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8), how much greater is our struggle to comprehend the glory and love that exists among the Persons of the Trinity; a glory and love beyond the constraints of time and space. Amazingly, Christ asked the Father that we, as believers, share in their glory and love for all eternity.
Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am [in heaven], so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me [into the world]; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them. (John 17:24-26)
How can this be? How can the perfect Son of God ask that sinful men be allowed to share in the glory and love that belongs intimately to the members of the Trinity? Certainly that which the Son asks of the Father will be granted to Him. Those whom the Father has given to the Son will, in fact, be with them in heaven and will see the glory of Christ and will share in the love that the members of the Trinity have for each other, and that love will be “in them”, just as Christ is “in them” (John 17:26). But the problem still remains, how can sinful men be allowed to share in the glory and love that belongs intimately to the members of the Trinity? The solution to the problem is found in the suffering of Christ (Isa. 53), who paid the price for the forgiveness of our sin through His shed blood on the cross (Eph. 1:7), redeeming us from the slave-market of sin to which we were naturally born (Mark 10:45; Col. 1:13-14), giving us eternal life (John 10:28), imputing His righteousness to us and declaring us justified (Rom. 3:24; 4:4-5; 2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:9), and bringing about our adoption into His heavenly family when we trust in Him for salvation (Gal. 4:5-6; Eph. 1:5; 2:8-9; Tit. 3:5). The substitutionary death of Christ on the cross propitiated (i.e. satisfied) every righteous demand of the Father concerning our sins (Rom. 3:25; Heb. 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 4:10), and is the basis for our reconciliation to God (Rom. 5:11; 2 Cor. 5:18-19). God’s so great salvation and the riches of His great grace toward us as sinners is made possible because Christ suffered on the cross, bearing the punishment we so richly deserve. God’s salvation and the riches of His grace are applied even to the worst of sinners at the moment they turn to Christ as their Savior (John 3:16; Acts 16:30-31). This is the good news of the gospel message, that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4). (this article is taken from my book, Suffering: A Biblical Consideration, 121-124)
Steven R. Cook, M.Div.