Friday, December 18, 2015

Jesus’ Prayer For Believers

John 17:1-26

“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.

I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.  And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.  I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.  Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.  For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.” (John 17:1-8)

Jesus had just made it clear that he was going to be killed and resurrected.  He then looked up to heaven, praying that the things were about to happen would reveal Jesus as the Messiah, and thus demonstrate God as the loving Father fulfilling his promise to the world, by giving them eternal life.  He pointed out that eternal life is knowing, literally being with God, and with his son.  Eternal death is being separated from forever. 

During his life here on earth Jesus had shown God’s power and love, revealing God to those who loved and sought after him.  Now Jesus was asking that they see him as truly God, understanding that the Father and Son ore in fact one, and that while he was sent by god he is more than just a prophet or teacher, he is God. 

“I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.  And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.  And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.  While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.” (John 17:9-12)

Jesus was not praying for the unsaved, but for those who believed because they were God’s, asnd thus Christ’s as well.  Their faith in him glorifies Christ   Knowing that they will still be in the world and that he will no longer be with them, Jesus asks that the Father keep them depending on the truth of his promises to stay faithful through the period while he is away, so that they are united just as God and Christ are.   While he was here, Christ had kept them by his power, with only Judas, who had never truly believed turning away. 

“And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.  I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.  As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.  And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” (John 17:13-19)

Christ was going to be with God, but he was speaking to the lost world, offering them the chance of internal hope and joy.  That hope is based on God’s promises, and the world hates their hope because they have rejected God and have no hope.  As the saying goes, “misery loves company,” and hates those who are happy, deliberately trying to destroy their happiness, rather than changing their own situation. 

Jesus does not ask that they be taken out of the world or freed from the trials and hatred, but that they would be protected from going along with and becoming part of the world.   By placing the Holy Spirit in them to guide them into the truth of God’s word,   they can remain separated from the world and dedicated to God, Just as Jesus himself deliberately avoided adopting the world’s practices for the believers’ sake.

“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.  And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 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.” (John 17:20-23)

Jesus wasn’t just praying for disciples of that day, but for us who believe today as a result of their teaching.  Jesus was praying specifically for you and I just hours before he was crucified.  He prayed that there would be unity and love among those that believe, so that the world could see his coming as evidence of God’s love.  Christ has given believers the same demonstration of God’s Spirit as Jesus had while he was here on earth, enabling them to have the same unity with Christ and God and that they can be perfect, in complete unity with God and each other, experiencing his love fully. 

“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.  O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.  And 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.” (John 17:24-26)

Finally he asks that the believers be able to be with him and see the love of God for him and how God has worked in his life from the very beginning of the world, to provide their salvation because of his love for them.    The world doesn’t know God or understand his love, but the believers have known Christ and trusted his teachings about His love, so that they can experience it for themselves.

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