Summary: Because we are secure, we can be satisfied with Christ, which should lead us to live a separated life, sanctified for His purposes so that we can saturate this world with His Word.
The Joy-Filled Life
Rev. Brian Bill
Some of you may know that I’m half Irish so St. Patrick’s Day has always been a pretty big deal for me. I grew up eating corned beef and cabbage on this special day and my Swedish wife Beth has humored me over the years by making this meal in mid-March every year, even though the rest of the family doesn’t really care for it. This past Wednesday when I came home from the office, I went straight to the kitchen to see what she was preparing. I was disappointed when I saw ham in the crock pot and broccoli in the microwave but I didn’t say anything.
A few minutes later I wandered into the dining room and saw a huge plate of corned beef and cabbage, complete with onions and potatoes just for me! She had stopped by a restaurant in town and picked up carry-out for me! I gave her a big hug and immediately imbibed in this Irish delicacy before anyone else sat down at the table. I thanked her for honoring my Irish heritage and then asked her why she never celebrates my Polish roots. She just shook her head and said, “I have nothing to say.”
The disciples had just finished a meal filled with memories as their minds went back to the Passover, when God had rescued Israel from bondage. Only this dinner was different because Jesus brought new meaning to the bread, saying that it represented His body and to the cup, which symbolized His blood. Shortly after the meal ended, either in the Upper Room or on the way to Gethsemane, Jesus moved from preaching in John 13-16 to prayer in John 17.
Last week we focused on the first part of this powerful prayer in verses 1-5. We discovered seven prayer principles as we listened in to Jesus praying for Himself:
1. Consider changing your prayer posture.
2. Call out to God by name.
3. Align yourself with God’s timetable.
4. Go after God’s glory.
5. Embrace eternal life.
6. Rest in His finished work.
7. Gaze into the glory to come.
The main take-home for me was this one phrase that I’ve been pondering all week: If you can’t do something for God’s glory, then you shouldn’t do it.
In our section for today, we’re going to hear why Jesus prays and what Jesus wants for His followers. One obvious observation is that the length of this section suggests that Jesus had greater concern for His disciples’ destiny than for His own.
Why Jesus Prays
Let’s listen to our Lord praying in verses 6-10: “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. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them.”
These verses shed some light on why Jesus prays for His followers.
1. Because they now know the Father (6a). The word “revealed” literally means “to render apparent.” John 1:18 says this about Jesus: “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.” Before Jesus came, it was impossible to know God because of His holiness and our sin but now He is both accessible and knowable through the sacrifice of His Son.
2. Because they accepted and obeyed God’s Word (6b-8a). I love how gracious Jesus is in His description of them. They knew that they had failed many times but Jesus focuses on their faithfulness: “They have obeyed your word…I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them.” This makes me smile a bit because the disciples were pretty dull most of the time and yet Jesus is gracious with how He describes them. He could have pointed out all their failures but instead celebrates their successes, which is a good parenting tip by the way. By spotlighting their potential, Jesus wanted His disciples looking forward, not back.
3. Because they believed that Jesus was sent by the Father (8b). We see this in the last part of verse 8: “They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.” Though the disciples doubted and wavered and even bailed on Jesus when things got rough, Peter spoke for them in John 6:69: “We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”