Hearing Jesus 5
Jesus and the Father
050-00746 John 17:1-26
I. We are coming close to the end of our Lenten journey.
A. We have heard Jesus speak…
1. …to Andrew an invitation to dwell with him.
2. …to Bartimaeus a word of healing and forgiveness.
3. …to Martha an encouragement to right priority.
4. …to Zacchaeus acceptance revealing his mission.
B. Today we are given a most special blessing, for we are invited to listen to Jesus speak with his Father, our Father, Almighty God.
1. This is not just some lesson given by Jesus to his disciples.
2. This prayer goes to the very heart of Christ.
3. We cannot hear this prayer as if it were some kind of passionless presentation of propositional truth, as if it were another classroom lecture upon which we may later be tested.
a) Prayer is communication with God the Father.
b) Prayer is close communication with God the Father.
c) Prayer is intimate communication with God the Father.
4. Jesus opens up the deepest inner recesses of his soul and allows us to look inside.
5. John writes, “…he looked toward heaven…”
a) Prayer lifts us up out of this merely material existence and sets us within the unseen realm of the Spirit.
b) Prayer is a meeting between heaven and earth.
c) This position taken by Jesus is not to say this is how we are to pray.
d) Rather, after Jesus has done some significant teaching, the last teaching he will do with his disciples before his death, he moves himself from this physical world and enters the heavenly chamber of his Father.
e) Jesus’ prayer is his call upon God to effect all that he has said and done while ministering on earth.
C. So let’s begin by listening to Jesus’ last words with the disciples so we can know what he is praying for.
1. It all begins in John 13, when Jesus and his disciples are gathered for the Passover meal that they were sharing early because Jesus would die soon.
a) John gives us so many opportunities to join in the private moments between Jesus and the 12 that the other gospel writers do not.
b) And on this occasion, when the other gospels tell us about the institution of the Lord’s Supper, John shows us a Messiah who is humble enough to wash feet.
2. Even though John does not say so, the disciples then share in dinner and Jesus breaks the bread of his body and pours the wine of his blood which is the New Covenant.
3. We know this because John relates how Jesus predicts his betrayal which the others place at the end of the Supper.
4. This prediction is the beginning of the final lessons Jesus would teach.
a) Following the shocking revelation that he would be betrayed by one of the disciples, Jesus also predicts that Peter will deny him three times that very night.
b) But then he turns toward comforting his disciples. He shares with them the only way to the Father.
c) And he promises them that when he departs, the Holy Spirit will come.
d) Therefore, no matter what things appear to be they are to remain in him so that he may remain in them, like a vine and its branches.
e) He warns them that things will not be easy. The world will hate them because the world hates Jesus.
f) But despite such antagonism from the world, the Holy Spirit will work in them and through them to accomplish God’s eternal purposes.
g) So, though they may expect great sorrow to come, their sorrow will be transformed into an inexpressible joy (which by the testimony of history has made the world all the more against Christ and his Kingdom.)
II. So it is at this point, when all is said and done, Jesus looks toward heaven and begins to pray.
A. We want to listen to this prayer this morning as a prayer. There is a time and a place to go into the theological truths expressed within it. But these truths are not the reason for the prayer, nor are they to focus of it.
1. For instance, many have turned to John 17 as a definitive statement on what has been called the doctrine of election.
2. There are also many who have recognized the prayer as a call to unity within the church and thus a call to end all divisions.
3. In another time and place these two themes should be addressed.
4. But Jesus does not include them in his prayer to teach them. He includes them in his prayer because they are each a part of the overall counsel of God which, together with other thoughts, are connected with the purpose of Jesus’ redemptive ministry.
B. And that is what we must remember about this prayer.
1. It is first and foremost a request by Jesus that the Father in heaven might confirm and complete his reason for leaving heaven and putting on human flesh.
2. It is a prayer asking God the Father to effect the plan of redemption through his death, burial, resurrection, and ascension.
3. The plan is presented in its wholeness but not with complete details and explanations.
4. That has come, as much as possible, during the previous three years.
5. Now it is time to pull back the curtain, so to speak, and reveal what Paul would call the mystery of the gospel.
6. Now is the time to reveal to all the world who Jesus is and what he is here to do.
III. The word that is repeated over and over in Jesus’ prayer is Glory.
A. Glory is praise or honor given by others, but it is also a characteristic mark, quality, or asset.
1. You may have heard some kind of comment like “Her hair is her glory” meaning that she had beautiful hair and she always took care of it.
2. To glorify, then, is to either bestow such a characteristic or to shed light upon it. Another way of stating this latter idea is that to glorify is to highlight and reveal the exemplary mark, quality, or characteristic that makes someone or something glorious.
3. Now we know that we cannot glorify in the first sense but we do glorify in the second by the way we treat, handle, or speak of the person or thing in question.
B. Jesus makes three requests of the Father for Glory.
1. The first is an appeal that God would glorify him.
a) Jesus says, “the time has come.”
b) It is not just any time. It is the time that everything has pointed to.
c) It is the climactic moment in his earthly ministry.
d) It is the time that shall forever change all time and be remembered for all time.
e) It is the time for the Father to glorify the Son.
(1) So what is the glory of the Son?
(2) It is the authority given him to dispense eternal life.
(3) It is the ability to reveal God to the world in such a way that some will know God and know Jesus Christ in a saving way.
f) And what makes this the time for such a glorification? Why is it now that Jesus, who has been publicly secretive about his identity, should be revealed as the Son of God, the Messiah, the savior of the world?
(1) Because, says Jesus, “I have brought you glory on the earth by completing the work you gave me to do.”
(2) The glory Jesus seeks is the revelation of redemption. It is not the glory of a political kingdom and power. It is the glory of the kingdom which was promised to the world and to Christ.
(3) Jesus knows there is a difference. He says, “glorify me in your presence.”
(a) The glory of Jesus is the glory of the cross.
(b) Even though the glory of Jesus would be displayed for the whole world to see, few would be given the gift to comprehend such glory.
(c) That’s because the glory of the cross is not the glory the world has ever sought.
2. The second request is that God would glorify the disciples.
a) Jesus has laid the foundation. He has revealed the Father to them. He has taught them. And they have believed.
b) This work is done. The disciples have been trained in faith and life.
c) But Jesus is now going to leave them and they will be left in the world.
d) If Jesus is to be glorified in God’s presence, what will happen with those left behind?
(1) Jesus seeks their protection.
(2) He appeals to the Father on the basis that everything he has belongs to the Father. And the disciples have brought Jesus glory. So the glory that the disciples have brought to Jesus belongs to the Father too.
(3) This would make an interesting study someday: How did the disciples who were so often wrong, who so often bickered, how did they bring glory to Jesus?
(4) But for now, the important thing to note is that Jesus is not detached from the disciples. He loves them. He cares for them. And he knows what lies ahead for them. As Jesus comes to the cross, they too come to the cross.
(5) So Jesus, always the obedient one, always determined to bring glory that is due to the Father, acknowledges that they have a role to fulfill in this Kingdom of his, and that they are going to need special help.
e) But remember, Jesus’ purpose was to glorify the Father. The disciples’ purpose was to glorify Christ.
(1) “Sanctify them…as you sent me…I have sent them. For them I sanctify myself that they too may be truly sanctified.”
(2) We have to talk about this word because it comes from a language different from what we commonly use today.
(a) To Sanctify means basically to make holy.
(b) To make holy means to make pure.
(c) So we talk about sanctification as the process by which the Holy Spirit makes us more and more pure throughout our earthly lives.
(d) But to be made holy also means to be separated out and distinguished for a particular purpose.
(e) The word for that is consecration.
(f) It is this that Jesus is saying: “I have set myself apart so that I could do your will and bring you glory so I have set them apart to do my will and to bring you glory.”
(g) Another way I would say this is that Jesus was consecrated or set apart within the Trinity to accomplish redemption. He left heaven. He became human. He experienced life as the creature all the while being the creator. And this he all did for one ultimate purpose – to glorify the Father by restoring the creation to its original glory and purpose.
(h) Therefore, he has consecrated his disciples to continue this work by restoring them to the glory they were given in creation, a glory that was designed to bring glory to the Father.
3. But Jesus didn’t stop there. He made a third request. “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their (the disciples) message.”
a) That’s us. You and me. How amazing it is to discover that we are mentioned in the Bible; that we were in the mind and heart of Christ when he walked up to Calvary, when he was nailed to the cross, when he died.
b) But it gets even more amazing. Just as Jesus is inseparably united with the Father, and the disciples are inseparable united with Jesus, he prays that we may be united to him in the same way.
c) Now hold onto your seats. Jesus asks the Father to bring us into this amazing relationship because he has already “given them the glory that you gave me.”
d) Do you get that? Jesus, while he was on earth, when he was preparing to suffer and die on the cross, not only had us in his heart and mind, he gave us his glory as well!
(1) Jesus prayed for us.
(2) Jesus prays for us even now.
(3) Listen carefully to what Jesus says to the Father concerning you and me.
(a) They belong to me so they belong to you.
(b) They have been given my glory so that they may glorify you.
(c) My glory is to live and die to redeem your creation so that your creation may once again display the great light of your magnificence.
(d) So Father, let them be with me wherever I am so that they can continue to see my glory. And seeing how I make you known through love, compassion, forgiveness, and justice, they can continue to make you known.
(e) Father, consecrate them; sanctify them; protect them; and let them all live and die to lift you up before all of your creation crying “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty. All the earth is full of your glory. Amen.”