When Jesus Prays
When Jesus Prays in His final moments with the disciples, He prays for the Glorification of God, the persistence of the believers, the sanctification of the believers, and the unification of the church.
Veterans Day & John 17
Thinking about Veterans Day and preparing a message on John 17 reminded me of Dwight Eisenhower’s orders to the expeditionary force of 175,000 men who would storm the beaches of Normandy.
Eisenhower’s Command before D Day
Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!
You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months.
The eyes of the world are upon you. The hope and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is will trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.
But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!
I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!
Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.
The next day the world would change as the expeditionary force established a beach head in Normandy and the Allied forces streamed into Europe to overtake the Germans.
Jesus’ final words aren’t last minute details, instead Jesus final words are a prayer.
The reason that this order was on my mind is because John 17 is final word for the disciples before Jesus’ arrest.
In John 18 Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested. Jesus is about to be separated from the disciples, they are about to embark on the Great Commission to build the church and reach the world…
Read John 17:1-8
Occaisonally people will reach out to me because they’re in a crisis and they need prayer. They’ve sought out Jesus. They’ve not followed Jesus. They don’t belong to our congregation, but in their moment of crisis they seek out a minister to pray on their behalf.
I’ve joked that people must think I have a red phone in my office that is a direct line to God…
I don’t have a direct line to God. The best way to call upon the Lord is to call on Him through Jesus.
Jesus is our connection to God. He bridged the gap of our sin and brought us from far away near to God…
While I can’t get you closer to Heaven, Jesus has brought us near to God. Plus, as He mentions in this passage once again, Jesus and the Father are ONE, So when Jesus prays, there’s definitely a direct line to the throne of heaven.
In these final moments, when Jesus prays over the disciples, I want you to notice what he prays for, what He asks God to do.
The Glorification of God
“Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:”
Jesus uses the term that my son or daughter would use for me, “Dad, Daddy, Papa” and He says the “Hour is come.”
This takes us back to John 12 where Jesus says, “the hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified and if I be lifted up I will draw all men unto myself.”
The lifting up is a turn of phrase meaning crucifixion.
Jesus is saying the moment of crucifixion is upon Him. Therefore, Jesus is saying that moment of His sacrifice is here and He would be glorified through humiliation. He prays that God would do this, glorifying Christ so that Christ could glorify the Father.
By the way, all of the requests that Jesus is praying for, He is willing to die for. He would die to glorify the Father and sanctify the believers.
Jesus wasn’t praying for things that felt right, or felt noble. Instead, Jesus was praying for requests that He was willing to die for… Jesus was willing to die for us and to die to glorify the Father.
I’m not sure how serious we are about most of the prayers we pray, we’d like for God to do those things, but not so much that we are willing to be inconvenienced…
Jesus is willing to die for this prayer to be answered.
Jesus truly gave Himself for these requests, the first of which is that God would be glorified.
The most important thing, is that God is glorified.
The most important thing in this worship service, is the God is glorified. The greatest thing that could happen in your life is that you glorify God.
The very best outcome for your family is that God is glorified.
The absolute that should take place in our church is that God be glorified in us…
I was reminded of a story recently in talking with Pastor Eric.
A group of researchers put 5 monkeys in a cage with a ladder. Bananas would be lowered down onto the ladder, but if the Monkeys climbed up the ladder, cold water would rain down.
Pretty soon the monkeys learned not to climb the ladder but instead to shake the ladder so the bananas would fall off…
The researches then replaced one of the 5 monkeys. When the bananas were lowered the new monkey started to climb up the ladder and the other 4 attacked Him.
Soon that monkey learned you don’t climb the ladder.
They repeated this process until none of the monkeys that were rained on with cold water were still present, but still when a new monkey would attempt to climb the ladder, the monkeys would stop it. They didn’t know why, but they knew that’s what you did…
We must know our purpose is to glorify God.
I’m afraid that we often just go through motions because it’s what we’ve always done, or it’s what we’ve seen modeled and we don’t know why…
The why of all of this… from the sacrifice of Jesus, to the founding of the church, to baptism, to singing, to scripture reading, the reason for all of this is to glorify God.
This is important because the rest of the prayer requests hang on this…
The Perseverance of the Believers
Read John 17:9-15
Jesus prays that the disciples would not be overcome by evil.
Jesus prays that God would not remove them from the world, but deliver them from evil in the world.
They were to remain in the world because they had a job to do in glorifying God through the message of Jesus.
Jesus is praying that the disciples would persist.
The key to our persistence is not grit, it’s not doggedness.
The key to our persistence is Christ in us.
v. 23 – I in them, and thou in me
v. 26 – I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.
Christ came to unite with us, that we would become like Him, that we would be transformed in His grace.
Here he prays that the Father would keep the disciples and to do so by keeping them in Christ, Christ in them, and the love of Christ in them.
The picture that Jesus painted for us in John 15 is that there is to be a union- like a vine with a branch.
Several years ago I got on one knee and asked Nicole to marry me. Then we had a ceremony that is called a “wedding.”
Marry means to cause to meet or fit together; combine.
It means to blend with something. In the nautical sense it means to splice ropes end to end without increasing their girth. You braid them together.
Wed means to join two things together through a pledge. It’s like a fusion, a blending.
When I got down on one knee, I didn’t ask Nicole to be in close relationship with me, I didn’t ask her to live with me for the rest of her life, I asked her to marry me, to combine with me, our lives became interwoven.
That is what Christ prays will take place in the lives the disciples and for us as well…
Read John 17:16-20
This is a prayer for us!
The Sanctification of the Believers
Jesus prays that God would sanctify them.
Sanctify means to make holy. It means to remove the impurities.
It means to make holy for a purpose, to set apart.
The instruments of the temple were sanctified to be used in worship of God. Right now I’m reading through Daniel with one of my discipleship groups and Belteshazzar takes the instruments of the Temple and uses them for a drunken party…
God judges him for it. He defiled the instruments of worship.
God prays that we will be sanctified.
That means that we would be consecrated or made holy for a purpose. You see this is not a mere outward change so that we look more holy, rather it is a transformation, making us holy that we are better able to complete the calling that has been placed upon us.
Sanctification is not a new paint job, it’s a new engine under the hood.
God has a calling for these disciples and for us and sanctification will enable this calling.
Jesus even says He has sanctified Himself for our sakes in verse 19. Christ remained holy so that He could offer himself a sacrifice for us, He went to the cross fully sanctified and holy. A sacrifice worthy for God.
Jesus prays that we remain holy so that we are able to bring glory to God and spread the message to others…
The Unification of the Believers
Jesus prays that all believers would be made one.
I think Jesus knew this was going to be a challenge.
Looking at those disciples there were so really different characters.
Again, the key is that we are in Christ.
That’s what draws us together.
I could work 100 hours a week trying to make everyone in our church get along and get nowhere.
When we lift up Jesus and everyone follows Him, we are unified as a result.
You don’t get unity because you want unity, you get unity by focusing on the same fixed point.
For us this common fixed point is the glory of God and the mission of the church, which Jesus prays for here:
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
When this happens, it is compelling to the world.
Jesus said in John 13 that the world will know us by our love for one another, here he says the world will know Jesus was sent by God as a result of our unity…
Ultimately this is Jesus prayer for the church.
He was praying that the church would glorify God as it lifted up Jesus, He was praying the church would persist in the face of opposition and persecution, He was praying the church would be sanctified through the truth, and He was praying the church would be unified in mission and love.
Jesus is praying this prayer over a group of disciples that were ungodly and uneducated, disconnected from one another, utterly ordinary, and each overly concerned with their own place in the world…
Before Jesus got a hold of me, I was the same.
All I cared about was me, my plan, my goals, my dreams, but when Jesus got a hold of my heart, he gave me a new purpose, a new dream, a new plan, and it wasn’t about me, it wasn’t mine at all, it was his…
He brought me together with other believers who had the same passion and calling, who dreamed the same dreams, who were making the same plans, to glorify God and lift up the message of Jesus. Christ brought me to His people, His church, and called me to build His church so that others might come to know His love and grace. He called me to serve alongside others who were far from God but had been brought close and welded into the family of God and the fabric of the kingdom.
We are building that church!
That’s what we are doing here, we are build the church that will glorify God, building the church our friends and neighbors will join, the church our children will lead.
The church where people will come to follow Jesus in His grace, experience freedom by growing in groups, and change the world by serving on teams.
That’s the church Jesus sanctified himself to save, that’s the church Jesus prayed would be filled with love and characterized by unity, that’s the church founded upon the truth that He is the son of God, that’s the church we are building, that’s the church our friends and neighbors will be compelled to join, and that’s the church our children will be called to lead.
It’s not just the church we be one day,
That’s the church we are today!
We are that church!
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