It is good being back in the office today. I want to thank everyone for their prayers. I'm not one-hundred percent, but some would argue that I never was. LOL! My wife will tell you that I am a bad patient. To make things worse this time, she and I along with our ten year old were all sick. Today, we will continue our look at the Gospel of John.
"After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: 'Father the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you." (John 17:1)
Today, we are looking at the prayer of Jesus in chapter seventeen. Now, if you just scan over the prayer you can easily come up with a brief review of it...It Is Long! Yes, this prayer takes up an entire chapter. In the other Gospels whenever Jesus prayed it was very quick. The longest example would have been Matthew's version of the Lord's prayer, and that was a model for prayer. Often we are simply told that "Jesus prayed." But, John gives us an extensive prayer and it is a beauty.
Jesus begins his prayer praying for himself. From the beginning there is something very important that we must notice. Jesus prays that the Father would glorify the Son, so that the Son may glorify the Father. What is Jesus talking about? He is referring to his death. But, as I have said before, in John, Jesus doesn't necessarily speak of "death." In John, Jesus speaks of "going away so that the Holy Spirit may come." And he speaks of being "glorified." The death of Jesus in John's gospel is viewed differently than it is in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Yes, that is true. Jesus' death in John will result in his return to the Father. In John, Jesus will be lifted up, and then draw all men (people) unto him.
It is also very important to note that John does not give us the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane. Therefore, Jesus does not wrestle with the task placed before him. He does not pray "nevertheless, not my will, but thine" in John. No, in John, Jesus' complete will is to do the will of the Father form beginning to end. Remember, John presents Jesus, from the beginning, as being God.
"I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours." (John 17:6,9)
Jesus goes from praying for himself to praying for his disciples. Jesus speaks about them as though he was entrusted to care for them and nurture them. Notice, Jesus said that he was not praying for the world. The world would be those who have not come to accept the light. They are the outsiders. Again, this sounds different than what we would see in Luke's Gospel.
"I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world...protect them by the power of your name...While I was with them I protected them and kept them safe..."(John 17:11,12)
Jesus is praying for those who will be "left behind." Clearly, while Jesus is to return to the Father it is not time for the disciples to join him. They still have a task to complete. Jesus understands that the world they will be left in is not a safe place. As we will discover later in our study he understands that harm can, and will come to those who remain.
Jesus is not just praying for the protection of the disciples. No, he also prays "that they may be one as we (Father and Son) are one." (John 17:11b) Jesus prays for the unity of the disciples. I will say more about this in a moment.
"My prayer is not fro them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.." (John 17:20) So, Jesus did pray for the world after all. These are those who have not yet believed, but will. Guess what this means? Jesus prayed for you and me. Yes, Jesus is leaving the disciples behind to continue his life and work. But, then Jesus continues: "that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you." (John 17:21) Again, Jesus prays for unity of the believers. "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." (John 17: 23) Oh my! How will the world know that we are his disciples? I think I remember Jesus saying, "if we have love toward one another." To be honest, I'm not sure that the church is really being the church anymore. Oh, sure we preach about this and against that and we take our stand against the issues of the day, but we mostly do it while at odds with one another. There are so many divisions within the Church, political, social and even religion itself. Jesus prayed that we might be one. To be fair, as we will see when we get into the Book of Acts, division within the church began a long time ago.
Let me just say, before I close that this prayer gives insight to at least a couple more topics. The first one is the problem of Judas. Jesus said; "None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled." (John 17:12b) There are various reasons as to why Judas betrayed Jesus. This statement by Jesus seems to imply that Judas was predestined to do what he did. This is troubling, but Jesus says what he says. The second topic is the definition of Trinity. No, this prayer does not set out to define for us the Trinity, but it does give insight. For years I have heard folks try to explain the Trinity. (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.) I've heard people try to explain how the three are one like an egg shell, egg white and egg yoke are one. Oh...cringe worthy. We struggle with how the Trinity is made up of three persons, yet are one. I think Jesus answers this for us in this prayer. The best way to describe Trinity is through relationship. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one in relationship just as Jesus wants the believers to be.
Tomorrow, we will begin the task of looking at John's passion narrative. We will pay close attention to several important details and you will not want to miss any of it. Have a blessed day! -Pastor Rick