"The Savior's Prayer"
(Pastor Greg's message delivered Sunday, November 7, 2004 at Christ Community Church in Newberg. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture is taken from the New King James Version.)
I was glad to learn that, this morning, we would be sharing together in the Lord's supper; and that we would be remembering together His sacrifice on the cross for us. In anticipation of that, I would like to ask you to please turn with me to one of the most breathtaking passages in the Bible - that is, Jesus' prayer as it's recorded for us in John 17.
This prayer occurs in the context of Jesus' long, final discourse with His disciples, as it's recorded for us in the thirteenth through the sixteenth chapters of John's Gospel. John devotes more time in his gospel account to this final "dinner" discussion than to any other event in the life of Jesus. And I believe that Jesus' prayer, at the conclusion of that long discussion, is the perfect passage to consider on a day in which we celebrate the communion meal; because it's the prayer He prayed just before paying the very sacrifice that we remember in it.
Jesus had completed this last supper and His final discourse with His disciples; and afterwards, they all arose from dinner and were making their way to the Garden of Gethsemane. And it's then that prayed to His Father in these words. I invite you to imagine what it must have been like to hear them for the very first time!
Jesus 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, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
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My family and I enjoy an occasional visit to a very interesting website. It's a site that features, among other things, photos of space sent to earth from the Hubble telescope.
Astronomers once thought that they had a good grasp of what space looked like. But that was because, for centuries, they could only view space from the standpoint of the earth's surface. All of that changed when, a few decades ago, they were given a new view of space from the perspective of this marvelous, orbiting telescope - a perspective that is much clearer and greater than anything astronomers ever could have had through a telescope that was below the foggy atmosphere of earth. Once they gained a view from above, they discovered sights that took their breath away! And now, thanks to the Hubble, a whole publication industry has been born of table-top books that bear witness to the indescribable beauty of deep space - a beauty that, before then, scientists didn't even know was there.
This telescope provides humankind with a view of things that it could not otherwise have had; because it is positioned in such a way as to have a perspective above our own, and can thus bear witness to us of something far beyond our limited field of vision. And I suggest to you that our Saviors' wonderful prayer serves us in much the same way. In this passage, Jesus prays to the Father concerning the sacrifice He was about to undergo for us; and He prays as One whose perspective is far above our own. In this prayer - if I may put it this way - deity speaks to deity within the earshot of humanity. And in thus praying in our hearing, Jesus reveals spiritual truths to us about His sacrifice on our behalf that we never could have otherwise known.
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Now, there are so many things to talk about from our Savior's prayer that it's hard to know where to begin. The famous preacher D. Martin Lloyd-Jones preached a series of forty-eight sermons from this prayer. The classic commentary on this prayer by the British Pastor Marcus Rainsford is forty-one chapters long. There's no way that just one Sunday's message could touch on everything that's in this matchless prayer.
But to help us appreciate the wonder of Jesus' sacrifice for us as we come to His table this morning, I'd like for us to see this prayer from two broad viewpoints. First, I'd like us to consider some of the things Jesus affirmed in this prayer; and then I'd like us to consider some of the things He asked for in it. And throughout it all, my hope is that we will be taken up in the wonder of Jesus' sacrifice for us.
Let's begin by considering . . .
I. THE THINGS JESUS AFFIRMS IN THIS PRAYER.
The first thing we see that Jesus affirms is that the sacrifice He was about to undergo was of the greatest possible significance and importance. You can see this by the fact that Jesus begins His prayer by saying, "Father, the hour has come" (v. 1).
If you've ever read through John's Gospel, you'll recognize that phrase: "The hour has come". It has a familiar ring to it, because that "hour" is referred to so often in this gospel. Way back in the second chapter, Jesus and His mother - along with a few of His disciples - had been invited to a wedding. The wedding party had run out of wine; and Jesus' mother tried to get Him to do something about it. "They have no wine," Mary said to Him. She, of course, knew who He truly was; and perhaps she was trying to get Him to reveal Himself publically as the Messiah before the proper time. (The fact that Jesus was born from her was, after all, why she called "highly favored" and "blessed among women"; and she was an understandably proud mother.) But Jesus said to her (very respectfully and tenderly, we can be sure), "Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come" (2:4). Can you see? There was an "hour" coming; but at that point, it had not yet come.
On another occasion, His half-brothers were pressuring Him to make Himself known publically during the Jewish feast of Tabernacles. "Depart from here and go into Judea," they said, "that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show yourself to the world" (7:3-4). The Bible says that they said this because, at that time, they didn't believe in Him. Jesus told them, "My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready." Then He told them, "You go up to this feast. I am not yet going up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come" (vv. 6-8). Even in the midst of His public ministry, this future "hour" (or "time") had still not yet come.
He did, however, eventually go to the feast - incognito, as it were. Everyone was talking about Him; and when He eventually revealed Himself, some sought to take Him. "But," the Bible tells us, "no one laid a hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come." (v. 30). On another occasion, He was in debate with the Pharisees in the temple. As the Bible says, "These words Jesus spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one laid hands on Him, for His hour had not yet come" (8:20).
It seems that, througout John's Gospel, Jesus was presented as always under pressure with respect to this "hour". People were either trying to get Him to do something to gain glory and honor for Himself quickly, or were seeking to lay hands upon Him and kill Him before His time. Nevertheless, the all-important "hour" - the appointed time - had not yet come.
But when He makes His triumphal entry into into Jerusalem, just a few days before His crucifixion, what do we find? We find that Jesus finally says, "The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified" (12:23). He said, "Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save Me from this hour?' But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name." And a voice came from heaven and said, "I have both glorified it and will glorify it again" (12:27-28).
That "hour" was His sacrifice for us on the cross. Do you remember what Jesus said during His dinner with His disciples? Jesus had released Judas to go out and betray Him. Once Jesus released Judas, He set into motion the events that would lead to His own crucifixion. And as soon as Judas left, Jesus said, "Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. God will also glorify Him in Himself, and will glorify Him immediately" (John 13:31-32).
The hour had at last come; the hour of His sacrifice for us on the cross; the hour of the glorification of the name of the Father. And that's why, in this marvelous prayer - just before going to the cross - Jesus began by saying, "Father, the hour has come . . ." Jesus affirms that the event of His crucifixion was of the highest possible significance and importance; because now, the "hour" - planned by the triune Godhead in eternity, long before time itself came into existance - had at long last come.
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Another thing that Jesus affirms in His prayer is that this great sacrifice He was about to make was intended to bring about eternal life for His people. Jesus prayed, "Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him." And He then goes on to affirm what eternal life is: "And this is eternal life, that they may know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" (vv. 1-3).
Look closely at how Jesus describes "eternal life" in those words. Many of us would have defined "eternal life" as "existing forever". But duration alone isn't sufficient to define "eternal life". After all - dreadful as it is to say - unending "duration" is also a feature of eternal judgment in the Lake of Fire; for the Bible tells us this about those who will be cast there: "And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever" (Rev. 20:10). No, Jesus reveals to us here that "eternal life" is much more than just a matter of "duration". It is, above all else, a matter of "relation"; because eternal life is to know God the Father and Jesus Christ His Son.
The distinguishing feature of eternal life, then, is that it is an unending relationship and fellowship with the Father and with His Son. If you have entered into a relationship with God through faith in His Son, then you are living "eternal life" right now. "Eternal life" in Heaven won't involve living a different "life" than you're living now. It will be the same life - only at that time, you will be glorified in Christ and enabled to enjoy the full experience of it. The apostle John says elsewhere, ". . . This is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life" (1 John 5:11-12). In Christ, we have eternal life right now, as a present possession; and we will enjoy that eternal life even more fully in the age to come.
Jesus says that this eternal life is a life that is given to those who have been given to Jesus by the Father. That's why Jesus went to the cross - so that those whom the Father had given Him may have eternal life. People have, over the centuries, given a variety of different meanings to the death of Jesus on the cross. Some have said that He died only to give us an example of sacrificial devotion. Others have said that He died only so that our hearts might be broken by a vivid demonstration of God's love for us. Still others have said that His death was nothing more than a tragic accident that has no significance at all except as a matter of history. But here, Jesus Himself affirms the the tremendous significance of His death. It was to give eternal life to those the Father had given Him. It was to make it possible for those whom God had chosen for Himself to enter into a relationship with Himself and His Son forever! Jesus wanted us to know this; and we would not have known it unless He had affirmed it before us in His prayer.
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Another affirmation that stands out in this prayer is that Jesus' sacrifice on the cross marked the completion of a work that the Father had given Him. This prayer indicates that Jesus' work is done. He says, "I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do" (v. 4). All that remained was for Jesus to go to the Garden of Gethsemane and await His betrayer and to be handed over for crucifixion. And if we were to read on in John's Gospel to that crucifixion, we would eventually find Jesus speaking these dying words from the cross; "It is finished!" (19:30).
When I read Jesus' affirmation that He had completed His work, I can't help thinking of the opening words of the letter to the Hebrews. The writer of Hebrews begins by describing Jesus to his Jewish readers; and he says,
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being in the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high . . . (Heb. 1:1-3).
Do you see, dear brothers and sisters, what Jesus did after He "purged" our sins? He "sat down". His work was completed. A priest, in the times before Jesus came, is never presented as "sitting down"; because the priest's work of atoning for sins was always going on. Later in his letter, the writer of Hebrews says that a priest "stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices which can never take away sins." Speaking of Jesus, however, he adds, "But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God . . ." (Heb. 10:11-12). He sat down, because He had finished the work that the Father had given Him to do.
Jesus was not a philosopher or religious innovator who roamed around on His own initiative - spreading His own teaching and advancing His own ideas of spirituality. He came to this earth as a Son who was obedient to His Father's will; and as One who had an assignment to fulfill. He spoke what He was commanded by the Father to speak; and He did what the Father commanded Him to do. He said, ". . . I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things" (8:28). He said, ". . . I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me" (5:30). He said,
I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day (6:38-40).
Whatever Jesus said or did, He said or did because it was the Father's will. And as you read through His prayer, you plainly see Jesus' affirmation that He had completed the work that He was given to do. He speaks, for example, of His ministry of enlightening His disciples as completed. He says,
"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. Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. For 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" (vv. 6-8).
Look closely at what He affirms. He says, "I have manifested . . . Now they have known . . . and they have received . . . and they have believed . . ." Jesus had finished the work that was given to Him. He declared "I have given them Your word" (v. 14).
He also speaks of having completed the task of keeping them while He was in the world. He says, "While 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 Scriptures might be fulfilled" (v. 12). The "son of perdition" is, of course, Judas. Jesus had said early on to His disciples, "Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?" (6:69). And Judas' betrayal of the Savior was, indeed, according to the Scriptures; for as it says in Psalm 41:9; "Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me". None of the others who had been given to Him were lost, though; only Judas, who belonged to the devil.
Jesus had faithfully kept all those who had been given Him by the Father. He will never lose any of those who have been given to Him; but will save them fully. "My sheep hear My voice," He once said, "and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all: and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand" (John 10:27-29).
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All of this reminds me of one other additional affirmation that Jesus makes in His prayer; and that is that this great plan of salvation He has brought about is, ultimately, the gracious and loving plan of the Father.
Many people think of Jesus as our loving Savior, but as His Father as a wrathful God who has no feelings toward us but anger and wrath. They conceive of it all in their minds as if Jesus where standing between us and His Father, trying desperately to appease His Father's anger and seeking to persuade His Father not to pour out His wrath upon us and destroy us. But what an unworthy picture that is! And an untrue one as well!! As Jesus' wonderful prayer shows us, nothing could be further from the truth. This whole work of our salvation, from start to finish, is above all else a work of the Father - a work that had been executed and brought to pass by the Son in full accordance with the Father's desire and plan.
Look carefully at the things Jesus says. He said, "Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him" (v. 2). Throughout this prayer, you see, Jesus refers to the disciples as those that His Father had given Him (vv. 6, 9, 10, 11, 12). It was the Father who held primary ownership over them; and it was His will to give them to His Son. This great plan of giving them eternal life is the Father's idea. Jesus said to the Father that "eternal life" is "to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" (v. 3). He said that His disciples "have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me" (v. 8; see also vv. 21, 23, 25). He called them "those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours" (v. 9).
Do you still doubt that the Father Himself loves us? Then look at what Jesus said near the end of this prayer:
And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I 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 (vv. 22-23).
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, one of the great things that Jesus affirms to us in the words of this prayer is that His own Father loves us very, very deeply. In fact, the extent to which He loves those He has given to the Son is the same as His own love for the Son Himself!! Let that sink in!! The Father loves us as much as He loves His Son Jesus!! We would not have dared to believe such a thing, if it weren't for the fact that Jesus Himself affirms it in this prayer!! Put away forever, then, any idea that the Son is concerned with stopping the Father from pouring out His wrath on us. Far from it; we see here that the Father loves us as much as He loves His own precious Son Jesus; and that this great plan of our salvation is an act of His own gracious and loving will for us. ". . . For the Father Himself loves you", Jesus said (John 16:27).
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So, these are just some of the wonderful things that Jesus affirms in His prayer about His sacrifice for us: (1) that it is a moment of great importance - that long awaited "hour" in which the Son is finally glorified; (2) that the long awaited "hour" is intended to bring about "eternal life" for those whom the Father had given Him; (3) that this work of bringing about our eternal life is one that the Son has brought to full completion; and (4) that it is all the master-plan of the Father who Himself loves us as much as He loves His wonderful Son! All these things were in Jesus mind on that night long ago. And you and I would not have known these wonderful things, if we hadn't been given a view of them through the words of Jesus' prayer to His Father.
Well, those are just some of the things Jesus affirms in this wonderful prayer. And now, let's consider . . .
II. THE THINGS JESUS ASKS FOR IN THIS PRAYER.
It's because the things that Jesus affirmed are true, that we can be sure that the things He now asks will be granted. And so, it's very important to take careful note of the things He asks for in this prayer.
First, we note that He makes a request concerning Himself. He asks that He now be glorified again with the glory He once shared with the Father. He prays;
Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You. . . . I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was (vv. 1-5).
The Bible tells us that the Son of God, the third Person of the Triune Godhead, dwelt in heavenly glory in eternity past. He eternally shared in the full glory of the Godhead with the Father. Paul says, "He [speaking here of the Son in His pre-incarnate glory] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist" (Col. 1:15-17).
But even though He shared glory with the Father throughout eternity past, the Bible also tells us that the Son willingly laid His glory aside in order to come to this earth. The Son of God left His heavenly glory to be conceived in the womb of Mary, and to be born into the human family as our Sin-bearer and Savior. In doing this, the Son never ceased being fully God; but He, "being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross" (Phil. 2:6-8). That was how much He sought us - to stoop down so far as to become one of us. And here we see the depths to which He would go in condescension for us - even to "the death of the cross"!
But at the time He prayed this prayer, He was soon to be restored to the glory He shared with the Father. Paul writes, "Therefore God also has highly exulted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:9-11). So then, Jesus left His glory to be our Savior. And having saved us, His Father is about to restore Him to that glory. And this is what He asks concerning Himself - that He be glorified again with the glory He had with the Father before the world began!
He is restored to that glory today. But do you realize that He has been restored to that glory in a condition that is much different from the one He was in when He had first laid it aside? When He came to this earth, He never ceased being fully God; but in coming into this world, He also assumed full humanity to Himself. In Him, full humanity has been joined forever to full deity; and so now, that Person who sits at the right hand of God in heaven - as God - is also a glorified Man!! He now forever possesses two natures - human and divine - unmixed and unmingled, but together in one wonderful Person!
Just think of what this means!! It means that a Man now sits on the throne of God!! So many false religions teach that a man can somehow "evolve" into godhood. But Jesus, in His prayer, reveals that the opposite is the case - that the eternal God became a Man, without ever ceasing to be God; and now sits forever upon the throne of God, without ever ceasing to be a Man!!
And there's more! Do you realize that Jesus is now so united to us - not only in His humanity, but also in our spiritual union with Him through faith - that He will now not be fully glorified without us? Imagine that! We know that He already possessed glory before we existed; because He speaks to the Father of "the glory which I had with You before the world was" (v. 5). But now, He said, "I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them" (vv. 9-10). He says, ". . . The glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one . . ." (v. 22). He has now shared His glory with us; and He will see to it that we share that glory with Him forever! I believe that's why He said, ". . . These things I speak in the world that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves" (v. 13). We share everything with Him - including His own divine joy! What a Savior!! What a prospect He has given us!! He doesn't just save us part of the way - He saves us all the way . . . and then some!! He saves us all the way up to the highest possible level - all the way up to His own glory!!
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Jesus prays for Himself in verses 1-5. And then, notice that He prays for His disciples in verses 6-19. He prays two things for them in this prayer.
First, He prays that His disciples will be "kept" while still in a hostile environment. He wouldn't save us for such glory; and then allow us to be lost to Himself through our own sinful failures or through the malice of the devil. Jesus said, "Now 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" (v. 11). He prayed, "I 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. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one" (vv. 14-15).
Jesus mentions two things that threaten us while He is in glory and we are still upon this earth. The first is the "evil one", that is, the devil. The Bible tells us that he "walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Pet. 5:8). But Jesus doesn't respond to this by asking that we be taken out of the world. Instead, He says, "I have given them Your word . . ." Jesus Himself demonstrated that we are to resist the devil through using the resource of the word of God (Matthew 4:1-11). This is why it's so important that each one of us, as believers, be in the word daily! He gave it to us, and insured its preservation for us, so that we might be "kept". Do you read and study your Bible every day? Do you let it guide your life?
A second thing that threatens us while in this world is our own disunity. Jesus has shared His glory with us that we may be one just as He and His Father are one (v. 22); but when we are at odds with one another - seeking our own glory over one another - we're acting in contradiction to His great purpose for us. Jesus prays for us that we would be kept in His Father's "name" - that is, that we would be kept by the power and authority of His Father. If the church of Jesus Christ had to stay together on the basis of each individual Christians' own ability to get along with the others, the church would have ceased to exist long ago. But the power and authority of the Father Himself keeps all of His chosen ones in unity with one another; so that we will, in glory, "be made perfect in one" (v. 23).
Another thing Jesus prays for His disciples while they're in this world is that they would be "sanctified" - that is, "set apart". Jesus said, "They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth" (vv. 16-19).
Jesus came into this world as One who was clearly not of this world. He lived in a way that was distinct from that of this world. He obeyed the will of the Father; in contrast to the world, which is in rebellion against His Father. He lived a righteous life in this world; so that His righteousness could be imparted to those who belong to Him while still living in this world. And now that He has ascended from this world in glory, we are to live the distinct kind of life in this world that He lived. I think here of what Peter said in 1 Peter 3:15; "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear ..." We're to set Christ apart as Lord in our hearts; and then be ready, because the people of this world will want to know why we live such a distinct life. That's what Jesus prays will happen.
And notice again that He points to the word. He says, "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth". What a wonderful affirmation of the nature and character of the Bible that is! We could have a sermon on just that one verse alone! We don't need to search around for "truth"; because God's word is truth. It was given to us by God for our sanctification; and Jesus prayed that we would be sanctified by it. Again, how important it is that we feed from the word of God daily!! If Jesus would pray such a thing, then how foolish we would be to neglect God's word!!
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Jesus has prayed for Himself in verses 1-5, then for His disciples in verses 6-19. And now, He prays specifically for us in verses 20-26. Did you know that you are mentioned in the Bible, dear brother or sister? Well, here you are. Jesus says, "I do not pray for these alone [that is, His disciples], but also for those who will believe in Me through their word ... (v. 20). That's you and me. He was thinking of us in this prayer.
What specifically does He pray for us? Two very glorious things. First, He prays that we will fully realize the unity we are destined to forever share together with Him and with His Father. He prays "... that 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" (v. 21).
I say this with all the reverence and humility that I can; but I dare to say it - because Jesus Himself prays with great anticipation for it. We are destined to be joined together with Him in the unity of fellowship with the Triune God!! Now I believe we should be careful in how we say this. Jesus says that we are destined to be one "in" the Father and the Son; not one "with" the Father and the Son. But to be one "in" the Father and Son is as if to say that the Father and the Son - who enjoy glorious unity and fellowship in union with one another - now extend the hand of invitation to us, who are in Christ and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, so that we may enter into eternal fellowship with them and enjoy our unity together in them!! What an unspeakable love it is that's being shown toward us in these words of our Savior!!
And second, He prays that, in this glorious eternal fellowship, we will be granted the privilege of forever beholding the glory of Jesus. He said, "Father, 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" (v. 24).
To me, this is the most precious of all the things Jesus prays! Look how much He loves us!! Look at how personal He longs to be toward us!! He "desires" us!! We are the great longing of His heart! He wants us to be with Him where He is - in heavenly glory! And He wants us to behold the glory the Father gave Him - because He has graciously shared the Father's love with us (v. 26), and His own glory with us (v. 22).
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What a prayer this is! Look through it again and again. You'll find no words of condemnation spoken in it toward us. He does not pour out His heart to the Father in frustration over us. He does not pray down words of condemnation upon us. All He does is express His deep love for the Father and His deep longing for us. He opens up His mind and His heart to us, and reveals to us His own great longing for the destiny He has prepared for us! These things were on His mind as He submitted Himself to the cruel death of the cross on our behalf. These things constitute "the joy that was set before Him" that moved Him to endure "the cross, despising the shame" (Heb. 12:2).
We can easily think we understand God's love for us . . . until we read this prayer! Then we see how deep that love really is, and how little we truly know of it! How grateful we should be for this prayer; for we would never have fully known how deep and how vast Jesus' love for us is - had not the Son prayed it to the Father in such a way that we could hear it and learn from it!
Let's remember that love as we come to His table this morning.
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