Our reading for Tuesday, March 27, 2018 is John 17. 1-26.
After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the time 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. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by completing 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. 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. 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. 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. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 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. 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. – NIV
John provides for us a unique glimpse into the heart of Jesus. In no other place in the gospel accounts is such a detailed and elaborate prayer by Jesus recorded. Certainly we hear Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane wrestling within himself over the reality of his pending suffering, but this prayer takes place immediately before his time in the garden. Could this be the prayer the disciples heard their Master say while still in the Upper Room at the table of his Last Supper? It appears to be so according to John but of course only John records it for us.
We could as some have argued over the legitimacy of this being the exact words of Jesus, but we should not be able to debate that the sentiments are inconsistent with his heart as we have come to know him. Rather we should take from it the inspiration God for us to cherish and live.
The first regards our understanding of what eternal life is about. It is more than a perfectly pleasant existence we enjoy after our death though certainly the quality of life in heaven is something we “Can Only Imagine” as the popular song by Mercy Me declares and the scriptures confirm. Jesus describes heaven as knowing God, and Jesus, whom God has sent (vs. 3). This is the knowing of information but the greater knowledge of relationship.
While our physical death shall destroy the tangible separation we have from the reality of God we know in this life and which is created by our sin, there is an intimate companionship with God we can possess in this life. This knowing come by trust in the promises of God particularly articulated by Jesus. It is the knowing derived from possession of the Holy Spirit offered to each upon reception of God’s grace and reliance upon his promises.
A second truth I rely upon is articulated by Jesus saying that he prays for us, not only for those he physically knew in his life but also those who came after him and who accepted the truth of who Jesus really is (vs. 20). This means that we are included in Jesus’ prayer. We always pray for what we need or for what we believe those we love need. Jesus reveals what we need most – protection from the onslaught of evil and temptation we will encounter in our lives. This evil threatens us with moral defeat and the loss of our true selves, our soul.
In this prayer Jesus promises us that he shall not lose us if we keep adhering to his promises and following the truth he revealed. If we are truly his there is no power in heaven or on earth that can severe us from god’s love expressed in Christ (Ro. 8. 38, 39). Our eternal security is bound in the sincerity of our profession and our persistence at living the truth Jesus has revealed.
Jesus asks the Father to protect us by the power of his name. If we are followers of Christ than we have accepted the challenge to become reflections of Jesus himself as we pattern our living after his own. To be called a Christian is to accept the challenge of being like Christ in every situation and circumstance. Our repeated failures may be used by evil to defeat us, however, we know the heart of our Savior and the extent of his suffering on our behalf so we shall always return through confession and repentance to discover the unquenchable spring of God’s grace. If we do this we shall never be consumed by the fear we are lost to God.
Our lives are sanctified or made holy by our following the truth revealed in God’s Word (vs. 17) in conjunction with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, which is the glory that was in Christ. He is in us and we remain in him and if this be so, though differing in opinion but united by grace, we are one with one another in the driving passion our lives to know and live the truth revealed in Jesus. He has loved us and will continue to love us. If we then have any encouragement from this love, any fellowship with his Spirit then we shall endeavor to be like him and will reveal his love to one another. Let us be the answer to Jesus’ prayer.