We are fixing our gaze on Jesus, who stripped down and ran the bruising course that won our salvation. He ran with determination — single-minded in His pursuit, tenacious in His resolve. When He hit the wall, He powered through. He ran to win, and He won the prize. He is seated at the right hand of the Father. Is that the prize?
I don't think so. That is what He was willing to leave behind to pursue our salvation. "And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began" (John 17: 5). He didn't have to win that position. What was the prize? What was Jesus's heart so set on that He "endured the cross, scorning the shame"?
We are the prize. Can you believe it? Read it for yourself. "And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2: 6— 7). The promise that motivated Jesus and kept Him at His task was the promise that we would be seated in the heavenlies with Him.
Listen to His impassioned prayer: "I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 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." — John 17: 22— 24
The phrase "I want those you have given me to be with me where I am" could be more literally translated "I want that where I am they may be with me," according to the UBS New Testament Handbook Series. He speaks in a verb tense that means "where I am" at any given moment.
Jesus wants us with Him now. Are we seeing His glory right now? Paul says we are: "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord" (2 Corinthians 3: 18 NASB). Are we with Him right now? We are included in Him and present with Him in the heavenly realms, just as He is in us in the earthly realm.
We have a saying that is meant to demean the value of someone. "She's no prize," we might say sarcastically. Isn't it amazing to know that Jesus thinks just the opposite? "What a prize you are!" He says to you. "Worth everything you cost Me!" When Jesus chose to run the race marked out for Him, He did it to obtain a promise. He wasn't running just to run. He was running to win the prize.
Jennifer Kennedy Dean is Executive director of The Praying Life Foundation and a respected author and speaker. She is the author of numerous books, studies, and magazine articles specializing in prayer and spiritual formation.