Summary: Because Jesus has made the Father known, we are filled with instruction and affection; we have true knowledge and genuine love.
John 17, Our Lord’s Prayer for His Disciples (sermon series)
“Knowing God” -Pastor Bob Leroe, Cliftondale Congregational Church, Saugus, Massachusetts www.cliftondalecc.org
“Righteous Father, though the world does not know You, I know You, and they know that You have sent Me. I have made You known to them, and will continue to make You known in order that the love You have for Me may be in them and that I Myself may be in them.” John 17:24-25
Outline: A. True Knowledge….B. Genuine Love
These final verses of our Savior’s prayer sum up His concerns in a brief statement. He exposes the world’s willful ignorance and commends the faith of His followers. It becomes clear why He prayed. His closing words state facts; they do not form a request. He points out what He has done for us and why. In these 2 verses Jesus reveals the essence of true knowledge and authentic love…
God doesn’t want to be a stranger to us. Back in verse 3 we learn the importance of knowing Him: “Now this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God.” There is no greater knowledge.
Our Lord’s mission was to reveal the righteous fatherhood of God; He says, “I have made You known”. The tense of the original language indicates completed activity. In John 14:9 Jesus declares, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.”
Until our eyes are opened by the Holy Spirit, we’re truly in the dark! In this darkened state we are ignorant and impaired until God reveals and draws us to Himself. This is a simple prayer…yet many people stumble over its meaning. Jesus wants us to grasp His reality; He enables us to know Him.
Jesus draws a contrast here, between the willful apathy of the world and the motivation of disciples. The unbelieving world is groping in darkness and is opposed to God.
J.I. Packer writes, “the hardest condition in seeking God is being prepared not only to revise our thinking but to reform our lives. The Christian message contains a moral challenge. If the message is true, the moral challenge has to be accepted. You can’t fix God at the end of a microscope and say ‘How interesting!’ God is not interesting; He is deeply upsetting.”
Imagine how cruel it would be to take an Amazon tribesman, fly him to Logan Airport, drop him off at Downtown Crossing in Boston, and then leave him there, without any explanation. It’s equally tough for a person to live in this world without knowing the God whose world it is. If we disregard the study of God we sentence ourselves to blunder through life blindfolded, with no sense of purpose, and little grasp of what surrounds us (a foggy-at-best worldview).
Even believers can feel less-than-enlightened. We have questions about the Bible, and life’s hardships test our fortitude. It’s OK to have questions. The Holy Spirit helps us understand the Scriptures, but no one has “immaculate perception.” Our understanding is determined by our level of spiritual maturity…which means that you could get more out of my sermon than I have! God also impresses us with the truth we encounter in varying ways. Though a passage usually has but one interpretation, it may have unlimited applications. We ponder what the text says…then what it says to us.
In John 16 Jesus discloses, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear; but when the Spirit comes, He will guide you into all truth” (vss 12-13). We may not be fully satisfied with our knowledge, but be assured God provides us all we need to know; He gives us enough light to take the next step. Perhaps we might like to know “more than we can bear”. As we follow what we do know, God increases our wisdom. It is possible to grow only intellectually, to possess just “head knowledge” of Scripture without any life application. It’s even possible to know the Bible yet not know God. People can read the Bible without having a living, saving relationship with its Author.
As we take time to contemplate Christ we are gradually transformed; and the fullest portrait of our Lord is in His word. What are our greatest influences? How large a part does God have in our daily activity? What role does the Bible play in our decision-making process? As we read God’s word, we’re coming in direct contact with divine truth. We don’t need new revelation; we need to ask the Spirit to illumine the truth God has already revealed.
According to verse 26, when we come to Christ, the love the Father has for His Son is poured out in us. Charles Spurgeon pointed out, “If the Father had not loved us as He loved the Son, He would have spared His Son.” Jesus proved His love for us on the cross…and we’re able to love because He loves us.