The Dichotomy between Christians and the World
Introduction: When we use the term world, we often mean the mass of humanity occupying the planet earth. John 17 uses the term to mean mankind’s culture without God. We are in the world and among its worldlings, but we are not of the world. We don’t love what men without God love. Our inclusion of God excludes us from the world. We are free from the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. This freedom puts us at enmity with the world, but we continue to love them by witnessing to them.
Since the Lord Jesus cares so much for us, we ought to prefer Him to the world. John 17 helps us to see this as being absolutely necessary. The Lord Jesus prays for believers in this passage. He desires that the Father bless His followers. Even this evening, the Lord Jesus intercedes at the right hand of the Father for us. John 17 is a forecast of what Christ is doing right now. The prayer ministry of Christ ought to result in gratitude from those who are His followers. That gratitude finds at least four expressions in our text.
As grateful believers, we must glorify Christ, separate from the world, reach the world, and become Christlike.
1. Christian gratitude leads us to glorify Christ in the world (17.1-5).
Scripture: 1Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, 2as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. 3And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. 4I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. 5And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”
Explanation: When we pray, we often begin by confessing sin and longing for restored fellowship with our heavenly Father. Jesus began His prayer by acknowledging His hour had come. The cross loomed before Him and nevertheless, He understood the Father’s will and their mutual glory.
Christ sought to glorify the Father while in the world. He glorified the Father by causing people in the world to see His goodness, mercy, righteousness, and so forth. The Father was glorified when the people in the world not only saw these things but acted upon what they saw by praising the Father and giving Him the honor He deserved.
· The Father was glorified through the Son because the Son had been given authority to grant eternal life (2-3). Eternal life is more than living in Heaven forever with God. It is knowing Him experientially. Knowing God in a relational manner leads to Him being honored and glorified.
· The Father was glorified through the Son because the Son completed the work the Father sent Him to do (4-5). Jesus states that He has finished this work. He spoke of it as being complete because it was certain.
The death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ make up the content of the gospel. The apostolic foundation and preaching of faithful men brings glory to both the Father and Son. If the gospel is not preached, God is not glorified. This is the instrument of His glory.
Application: We struggle hard with sin in our lives. Yet, we need to always get back to the core foundational element of the normal Christian life: “Father, help me to do your will …to center life on the gospel of your Son!” Our faith in Christ’s person and work leads to a deep gratitude resulting in the glorification of Christ in the world!
Transition: So, Christian gratitude leads us to glorify Christ in the world, but it also leads to separation from that world.
2. Christian gratitude leads us to separate from the world (17.6-17).
Scripture: 6“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. 7Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. 8For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me. 9I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. 10And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them.
Explanation: Separation from the world finds its basis in verses 6-10. The Father has given believers to Christ. The name of God has been manifested to men given to Christ out of the world (6). His name represents Who He is and what He has done. Believers keep the Word of God and receive it as the revelation of the Father. Verse 8 speaks of the importance of the words given by the Father to Christ and received by His disciples. They believed that the Father sent the Son.
Notice that Christ prays for those who believe but not for the world. The disciples had a privilege the world does not have - they had been set apart from the world to God.
Scripture: 11Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. 12While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
Explanation: Christ speaks in v. 11 of the time that He would ascend to heaven and no longer be in the world. The disciples faced the temptation of going back to the way things were - fishing, collecting taxes, leading political movements to overthrow Rome, etc. Jesus prayed that they would be kept through the name of the Father. He also prayed that they would be unified in the world.
Jesus had kept the disciples in the Father’s name. None were lost save Judas, but he was lost because of his choice in rejecting Christ and following a path to destruction. Since Christ kept them, He pleads that the Father keep them while He is gone - kept from the world, separate from it.
Scripture: 13But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.
Explanation: The result of the Father’s keeping is the fulfilling of Christ’s joy in the disciples. This joy is experienced in this life. Jesus came to not just give us eternal life in the long, durative sense. He came to give us life in the abundant sense (John 10.10; 15.11).
Application: Separation from the world doesn’t sap joy in our lives; there can be no joy without it!
Scripture: 14I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.
Explanation: Why does the world hate those who follow Christ? Verse 14 makes it clear: they hate us because we are not of their mold just as Christ was not of their mold. We don’t overcome their hatred by leaving the world behind, but rather by being kept from the evil one. That is, we are in the world just not of it. Verse 17 provides us with the means of separation - the Word of God. It is God’s truth. It sanctifies the believer by telling him what God expects. It also serves as a channel of the grace of God. The Word of God provides the power we need to please God with our lives.
Application: Separation from the world is a means by which God sanctifies us in truth. It ought to be an expression of gratitude for Christ’s work in us. God’s Word purifies us by reshaping our thinking and doing. That’s why we must spend quality time with God each day.
Transition: A grateful life results in the glorifying of Christ in the world and the separation of His followers from the world. There is also a third expression…
3. Christian gratitude leads us to reach the world (17.18-23).
Scripture: 18As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. 20I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
Explanation/Application: Our separation from the world provides a contrast for the world to see. We are light amid the darkness and decay of the world. Our holy lifestyles by the grace of God provides an opportunity to reach the lost not repel them.
Christ was sent by the Father and the disciples were sent by Christ. Christ sanctified Himself by suffering on the cross. He did this not only to purchase our redemption, but also to provide for us an example of what it means to live a sanctified life. Sanctification brings service and sacrifice. It means taking up our own crosses daily and following Him.
When we do this, many in the world will believe. We move together in unity with Christ’s former disciples to accomplish the same purpose they had. Our unity of purpose results in more coming to Christ.
We must reach the world by serving it. The glory given by the Father to the Son was a glory of sacrifice. This same glory belongs in us so that the world might hear and believe the same message the disciples of Christ had which is now entrusted to us.
Transition: Christian gratitude leads to the glorification of Christ in the world, the separation of believers from the world, and the motivation we need to reach the world. Finally this evening…
4. Christian gratitude leads us to Christlikeness while in the world (17.24-26).
Scripture: 24Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.
25O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. 26And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.
Explanation/Application: Christ desires that we fully know the glory given to Christ by the Father (24). While living here, we will never fully grasp the character of our God. Jesus looks forward to the time when we will be with Him and fully know and understand Him - fully realize how grateful we should be. The greatest joy of eternal life is knowing Christ more fully.
Application: You ever know someone that really made a strong impact in your life for good? Usually, that person has good character. They motivate us to do great things for God. Imagine knowing Christ Himself. Imagine the great power and joy of being with Him and knowing Him for all eternity!
Explanation/Application: Our growing understanding of God’s character makes us different from those in the world. They don’t know Him; we do! Jesus revealed the Father to His disciples in the first century. They understood God’s character and purpose for them only through Christ. This separated these men from the world. It did so because the world does not want to know God. None in the world understand. None seek after God (Rom 3.11). But when a worldling comes to Christ, everything changes!
All the first century disciples grew in their knowledge of God. Jesus declared to the disciples the person and work of the Father. But notice He said that would yet in the future declare it. Their understanding of God would grow through the Spirit-illumined Word!
Conclusion: Paul said, “What things were gain to me, I counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Phil 3.7-8). Our gratitude for the gift of the Gospel ought to express itself in the glorification of Christ, our separation from the world, our reaching of many in that world, and our continual growth toward Christlikeness.
We admire some people in this world because we desire to be like them …to accomplish what they have already accomplished. As we reflect on the gift Christ has given to us, and His continual prayer for us, should we not have a desire to be like Him?
Hymn: Beneath the Cross of Jesus (309)