Sermon title:  Jesus Prays for Us

John 17

Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, May 3, 2020

 

 

 

John 1:1 tells us that Jesus was God,

and that he was with God the Father

in the beginning,

before the creation of the world.

 

But, during the time he was on earth,

Jesus prayed to the Father in heaven,

much as we do today.

 

So, what did Christ say in his prayers?

 

Many of them were private,

as he spoke in his heart,

praying silently to the Father.

 

At other times he may have prayed out loud,

but in a private place

where he would not be heard by others.

 

Luke 3:21 tells us that Jesus prayed

at his baptism by John the Baptist.

 

Luke 5:16 says Jesus

"often withdrew to deserted places and prayed."

 

Mark 1:35 speaks of his praying in

"a solitary place."

   

Matthew, Mark and John all talk about Jesus praying

"on a mountainside by himself" (Matt 14:23, Mark 6:46, John 6:15)

 

That’s what he did

the night before choosing his 12 apostles.

 

Luke 6:12 says,

   

"In those days,

Jesus went out to the mountain to pray,

and He spent the night in prayer to God.

 

13 When daylight came,

He called His disciples to Him

and chose twelve of them,

whom He also designated as apostles."

 

Luke 9:18 mentions a time when

"Jesus was praying in private

and the disciples were with Him."

   

We don’t know what Jesus said

in all those private prayers.

 

Luke 9:28 tells us the transfiguration took place

when

“He took with Him Peter, John, and James,

and went up on a mountain to pray.”

 

Luke 11:1 tells us

Christ taught his disciples the Lord’s Prayer,

the Our Father,

on an occasion when

Jesus had just finished praying” and

“one of His disciples requested,

‘Lord, teach us to pray.’”

   

But we don’t know what Jesus was saying

to the Father privately, before that.

 

At Luke 22:32 Jesus told Peter,

“I have prayed for you, Simon,

that your faith may not fail."

 

There are a few places in the Gospels

where they report the words Jesus spoke in prayer.

 

Most of the time, though,

we don’t know what our Lord said

to God the Father when praying.

 

At Matthew 11:25, he said

 

“I praise You, Father,

Lord of heaven and earth,

because You have hidden these things

from the wise and learned,

and revealed them to little children."

 

When he was about to raise Lazarus from the dead,

he said,

“Father, I thank You

that You have heard Me.

42 I knew that You always hear Me,

but I say this

for the benefit of the people standing here,

so they may believe that You sent Me.”

 

On another occasion

the Father’s voice thundered from heaven,

when Jesus said,

    "Father, glorify your name." (John 12:28)

  

In the Garden of Gethsemane,

he prayed,

“let this cup pass from Me.

Yet not as I will, but as You will.”

 

When first nailed to the cross, he prayed,

     "Father forgive them;

for they know not what they do"

 

Then, later,

      "My God, My God,

why have you forsaken me?"

 

And finally, just before dying, he prayed,

     "Father, into your hands

I commit my spirit."

 

So, we have a few examples

of very brief prayers of Christ.

 

But there’s only one place in the whole Bible,

where we have the full text

of a lengthy prayer

that Jesus spoke to the Father.

 

It’s in John, Chapter 17,

beginning with Verse 1.

 

And we find there

that Jesus is praying about us.

 

First, he spoke briefly

about his own situation,

as he was about to go to the cross.

 

But then he switches immediately

to talk to the Father about us, his followers—

first the Apostles,

and then the rest of us, even today.

 

John 17:1 begins by telling us that Jesus,

 

... looked toward heaven and prayed:

“Father, the hour has come.

 

Glorify your Son,

that your Son may glorify you.

 

2 For you granted him authority

over all people

that he might give eternal life

to all those you have given him.

 

If we know the Lord,

then we are among those

to whom he has given this gift of eternal life.

 

He continues saying to the Father,

 

3 Now this is eternal life:

that they know you,

the only true God,

and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

 

Then he switches again, briefly,

to his own situation,

having finished his ministry on earth,

and being about to return to heaven.

 

He says,

 

4 I have brought you glory on earth

by finishing the work you gave me to do.

 

5 And now, Father,

glorify me in your presence

with the glory I had with you

before the world began.

 

Jesus is about to return to heavenly glory.

 

He was with the Father in the beginning,

before the creation of the world.

 

And now he is about to return

to that position of heavenly glory.

And he’s prepared to do that,

because he’s finished the work

the Father had given him to do here on earth.

 

That work involves us, his followers,

beginning with the Apostles.

 

Jesus elaborates on that work, when he continues,

 

6 “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.

 

7 Now they know

that everything you have given me

comes from you.

 

8 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.

 

So, Jesus has completed the work

the Father gave him to do.

 

Being “the exact representation” of the Father,

Christ revealed the Father to his disciples.

 

He reflected the Father

in his teachings and in everything he did.

 

He taught and preached the words

the Father gave him to share with his followers.

 

And his followers came to know the Father

by coming to know Jesus.

 

So, now that he is about to leave this earth

and return to the Father in heaven,

Jesus is praying for his followers.

 

Our Lord continued,

 

9 I pray for them.

 

I am not praying for the world,

but for those you have given me,

for they are yours.

 

So, this prayer is specifically for his followers

not for the world as a whole.

 

Jesus says,

I am not praying for the world,

but for those you have given me.

 

He was praying for his Apostles,

and for all those given to Jesus by the Father.

 

And then he refers to the mystery of the Godhead.

 

He says to the Father,

 

10 All I have is yours,

and all you have is mine.

 

We can’t fully grasp that.

 

 

We can’t fully grasp how everything Jesus has

belongs to the Father

and everything the Father has

belongs to Christ.

 

But Jesus and the Father are One—

in ways

that we will understand better later on.

 

Further on in this prayer,

he speaks more about his being One with the Father,

but now he returns

to praying for his followers.

 

He says,

 

And glory has come to me through them.

 

11 I will remain in the world no longer,

but they are still in the world,

and I am coming to you.

 

Holy Father, protect them

by the power of your name,

the name you gave me,

so that they may be one as we are one.

 

Jesus is heading to the cross,

but his prayer is for his followers.

 

He wants God the Father to protect them,

when he leaves them.

 

And the goal is that all of his followers

should be one, as Jesus and the Father are one.

 

That’s difficult to understand, too.

 

Maybe he’s referring to the unity in the faith

that all believers should share.

 

Or, maybe he’s referring to our oneness in the Spirit,

as the Holy Spirit lives in each believer.

 

Or, maybe both.

 

In any case,

Jesus would no longer be with the disciples,

so he wanted the Father

to take over protecting them.

 

He goes on to say,

 

12 While I was with them,

I protected them and kept them safe by

that name you gave me.

 

None has been lost

except the one doomed to destruction

so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

 

Jesus didn’t lose any of his followers,

except Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.

 

The others had their weaknesses

and their personal issues,

but Jesus safeguarded, helped and restored

each one of them.

 

He hadn’t lost any of them

to the devil’s snares.

He knew that they would all run away

and abandon him later that night,

when the officers came to arrest him.

 

And he knew that Peter would deny him 3 times,

and that “doubting Thomas”

would doubt his resurrection.

 

But he also knew that they were all solid in their faith

and would return

after those moments of weakness.

 

Jesus went on to say to the Father,

 

13 “I am coming to you now,

but I say these things

while I am still in the world,

so that they may have

the full measure of my joy within them.

 

14 I have given them your word

and the world has hated them,

for they are not of the world

any more than I am of the world.

15 My prayer is

not that you take them out of the world

but that you protect them from the evil one.

 

So, Jesus continued to ask

the Father’s protection for his disciples.

 

He said,

 

16 They are not of the world,

even as I am not of it.

 

17 Sanctify them by the truth;

your word is truth.

 

That’s a powerful expression Jesus made,

when he asked the Father to

Sanctify them by the truth.

 

To “sanctify” means to set apart as holy.

 

Followers of Jesus must be set apart from the world

as holy people for God.

 

And the thing that sets us apart  is God’s Word of truth.

Jesus asked the Father to

Sanctify them by the truth;

your word is truth.

 

And it’s God’s Word of truth, the Bible,

that sets us apart from this corrupt world.

 

Sticking to the Bible and its teachings—

this is what sanctifies us as a holy people,

belonging to God.

 

And Jesus testifies to the truthfulness of the Bible.

 

He says to God the Father, “your word is truth.

 

The Bible is true history,

true science, and true prophecy.

 

And belief in the Bible is what sanctifies us,

or sets us apart from the rest of the world,

as people who belong to God.

 

We think differently,

and we behave differently

because we believe and follow

what the Bible says.

 

Jesus tells the Father in prayer,

your word is truth.”

 

In John 17, Verse 18,

our Lord Jesus continues praying to God the Father,

and he says about his Apostles,

 

18 As you sent me into the world,

I have sent them into the world.

 

19 For them I sanctify myself,

that they too may be truly sanctified.

 

And then Jesus broadens-out his prayer in Verse 20,

saying,

 

20 “My prayer is not for them alone.

 

I pray also for those who will believe in me

through their message,

21 that all of them may be one, Father,

just as you are in me and I am in you.

 

May they also be in us

so that the world may believe

that you have sent me.

 

So, Christ is praying here, not just for his Apostles,

but also

for those who will believe in me

through their message.

 

Have you read the Gospels

and do you believe in Jesus through their message?

 

Then Christ is praying here for you.

 

He says he is praying, not just for his Apostles,

but also

for those who will believe in me

through their message.

 

And, if you have heard their message, and believed,

then Jesus is praying here for you, too.

 

And he goes on to say to the Father,

 

22 I have given them

the glory that you gave me,

that they may be one as we are one—

23 I in them and you in me—

so that they may be brought to complete unity.

 

Then the world will know that you sent me

and have loved them

even as you have loved me.

 

And now, besides praying for unity among believers,

Jesus now makes a specific request

that applies to all of us

to you, and to me.

 

He says,

 

24 “Father, I want those you have given me

to be with me where I am,

and to see my glory,

the glory you have given me

because you loved me

before the creation of the world.

 

Christ is praying here,

for us to end up with him in heaven—for us

to be with me where I am,

and to see my glory.”

 

Jesus wants us to be with him,

in his glorious heavenly kingdom.

 

And we will end up there,

seated with Jesus on his glorious throne.

 

Meanwhile, though,

we continue to live in this world.

 

And Jesus’ prayer to the Father

is for him to keep us safe from the wicked one,

to keep us sanctified as a holy people.

 

His prayer is for God’s word of truth in the Bible

to keep us apart from this world,

and to keep us walking with God.

 

Christ concludes his prayer by saying,

 

25 “Righteous Father,

though the world does not know you,

I know you,

and they know that you have sent me.

 

26 I have made you known to them,

and will continue to make you known

in order that the love you have for me

may be in them

and that I myself may be in them.”

 

God’s love for us

is revealed to us through Christ.

 

And it is not just a loving feeling,

but something very real and personal.

 

Jesus concludes by saying

that I myself may be in them.”

 

That’s the supernatural, spiritual miracle

of Christ coming to live in us

by his Holy Spirit.

 

It takes effort on our part

to read the Bible,

and to study it, so that we believe it.

 

And it takes effort on our part to reflect God’s love

in all of our dealings.

 

But, God does his part,

and he sends the Spirit of his Son

to live in our hearts.

 

As Jesus said,

that I myself may be in them.”

 

Christ comes to live in us believers.

 

And that makes all the difference in the world.