Summary: Jesus prayed that God would form us into people set apart for active dedication and service by the reality of his communication with us.
We have been dissecting the prayer Jesus prayed for us. He prayed that we would have his joy, the kind of joy that comes with suffering. He prayed we would have his holiness, the kind that makes the world hate us. Last week we discovered He prayed we would be left behind to be salt, light, and the witness for him.
This week He prays that we will discover truth.
John 17:17 “Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.”
There are five elements to this portion of his prayer. The first element is “make them.” This word is not interpreted as force them but rather mold them. Jesus prays that God will shape us into holiness.
God is a creator God. It began in Genesis when God spoke his creation into existence. He created mankind from the dust of the earth. The Bible says that God made some people to have stubborn hearts to achieve his purpose. God made salvation available to the gentiles. God made Jesus to be wisdom itself. God made everything through Jesus himself. God made Christ to be the offering for our sins. The Bible tells us that God is the potter and we are just clay. We can do nothing apart from him. And that includes holiness.
Jesus realizes that we are incapable of becoming holy. The Bible says that since we are impure and infected with sin our righteousness is likened to menstrual rags. Man’s attempt to be holy on his own has always failed. There is a fable told in the middle east of a man who tried to achieve holiness.
“Once upon a time, the Enlightenment Being lived in a world where most religions were very similar. They taught that the way to remove suffering from the mind was to make the body suffer instead. As strange as it seems, most people thought that the holiest of the holy were the ones who tortured their bodies the most! Since everyone seemed to agree with this, the Bodhisatta decided to find out for himself if it was true.
He stopped living as an ordinary everyday person and became a holy man according to the custom of the times. This meant that he gave up everything, even his clothes. He went naked, with his body covered only by dust and dirt.
So he wouldn’t be spoiled by the taste of good food, he forced himself to eat only filthy things – dirt, ashes, urine and cow dung.
So he could concentrate without being interrupted by anyone, he went to live in the most dangerous part of the forest. If he did see a human being, he ran away like a timid deer.
In the wintertime he spent his days under the trees and his nights out in the open. So in the daytime he was soaked by the cold water dripping from the icicles hanging from the tree branches. And at night he was covered by the falling snow. In this way, in winter, he made his body suffer the most extreme cold in both day and night.
In the summertime he spent his days out in the open and his nights under the trees. So in the daytime he was burned by the most severe rays of the sun. And at night he was blocked from the few cooling breezes of the open air. In this way, in summer, he made his body suffer the most extreme heat in both day and night.
This was how he struggled, trying to bring peace to his mind. He was so determined that he lived his entire life in this way.
Then, just as he was about to die, he saw a vision of himself reborn in a hell world. The vision struck him like lightning, and instantly he knew that all the ways he had tortured his body were completely useless! They had not brought him peace of mind. Lo and behold, as he gave up his false beliefs and held on to the truth, he died and was reborn in a heaven world!”
Although this is a fable from another culture, it rings true. We can not do enough, say enough, and sacrifice enough to make us holy. There is only one way we are made holy and that is through the blood of Jesus. God must shape and mold us into holiness. We are incapable of achieving holiness on our own.
The second element to his prayer is holiness. Jesus prays that God will make us holy. What is holiness? It means set apart for the dedication and service to God. As followers of Jesus we exist for the sole purpose of being dedicated to the truth of God’s Word and our service to him. To be dedicated to the truth of God’s Word means to totally surrender your life to living this truth. In surrendering your life to this truth, a desire to serve will automatically become predominate.