“As a child I recall lying in bed at night, listening to my mother praying aloud in the next room. Along with the prayers I could also hear at times the curses and anger of my atheistic father, who tried to interrupt her communication with God. I always felt on those occasions that I should not be able to listen, since prayer is a private and sacred domain one ought to maintain in secret. It does not seem right to be able to listen to your mother praying, especially when she is praying for you.
Yet that is precisely the type of experience every Christian can have when reading the seventeenth chapter of John’s Gospel. Here, of course, it is not a mother but the Son of God praying aloud, praying for the record. And not only for the benefit of disciples who may have been within earshot but for every reader of the New Testament right up to the present time.
The Lord was just hours from the cross. A final evening of instruction began in the upper room at mealtime, and Jesus had explained to his disciples all the matters recorded in chapters 13-16 of this Gospel. Foremost among the themes of the evening had been an emphasis on the coming of the Holy Spirit and the continuing relationship the disciples would have with their Lord, even though he would be in heaven while they would extend his work on earth.
These five chapters of John are a golden repository of truth to which Christians have come for guidance and blessing for almost two thousand years. The capstone of the unit lies before us now as we listen to what one member of the Trinity says to another about what it is like to live ‘in the world.’ In this moment of grief as well as triumph, our Lord turned his eyes from earth to heaven and asked the God of the universe to heed his petitions on the authority of his relationship to his Father.”
[Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 311].
As a young teenager, I remember one night sitting outside my parent’s bedroom door and listening to them talk before they went to sleep
I know, it wasn’t right for me to do that
What I heard was their concern about immoral things their children would probably do, that they never did
Their concern came from cultural shifts they had identified as becoming normalized instead immoral
I didn’t take their concerns as permission to go ahead and do those things, but rather I took it as a challenge to prove them wrong – I wasn’t going to allow the culture to dictate what I did
By the way, I did prove them wrong
We can choose how we will react to the doubts, expectations, and criticism of others
“Howard Hendricks tells how he came from a broken family and was a problem kid. During his first day in fifth grade the teacher said, ‘Oh, Howard Hendricks. I’ve heard a lot about you. I understand you are the worst kid in school.’ That year Howard did whatever he could to prove her right. When the next year rolled around his sixth grade teacher said to him, ‘Oh, so you are Howard Hendricks. I’ve heard you are the worst boy in this school.’ Hendricks thought, ‘Here we go again.’ But then the teacher continued, ‘And you know what? I don’t believe a word of it.’ And Howard said that year that woman did everything she could to help him and encourage him and praise his work; she believed in him. Hendricks credits her with changing his life forever.” (Source: Spiritual Stamina, Stuart Briscoe, p 231-232). [https://www.family-times.net/illustration/Believe/202278/domdocument.load]
We can live up to their doubts, lowered expectations, and criticisms, or we can strive to prove them wrong
We want people to know what we are thinking, but we don’t want to talk with them about it
We use social media to talk about people instead of to them
We will also talk to another person, while the person we are talking about is right there (Judy saw this happen at the grocery store the other day as it pertains to the wearing of masks)
It’s a passive-aggressive way of communicating our point without directly confronting someone
We are hoping that they will listen in on the conversation
Recorded in John 17 is Jesus’ prayer to the Father. It happens at the end of his discourse with His disciples in the upper room. While He is talking to the Father, the disciples are right there listening to the whole prayer conversation. “After talking about the Father to His disciples in the Upper Room, Jesus talks to the Father about His disciples.” [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, New Testament, 572]. As we’ll see over the next several weeks, Jesus is going to pray for Himself, His disciples, and for future believers. The great thing is, we get to listen in on this conversation between Jesus and the Father. As we look at Jesus’ prayer for Himself, today, John wants us to understand that . . .
BIG IDEA – Eternal life comes by knowing God and Jesus.
GOD (John 17:1-5)
Glorify (vv. 1, 4-5)
Jesus mentions the word glorify or glory five times in these five verses
We see a simple chiastic structure in the fact that Jesus talks about glory in verse 1 and then returns to it again in verses 4-5
Verses 2-3 really flesh out how the Son will be glorified, which in turn brings glory to the Father
After Jesus said this
The NIV’s translation could make it sound like Jesus is only referring to what He just said in John 6:33, but the Greek word for “this” is actually plural and not singular
The NLT translates it this way, After saying all these things
We don’t have to worry, though, with the NIV’s translation, because if we look at John 6:33 it makes it clear that Jesus is talking about His entire discourse from chapters 14-16
John 6:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Jesus looked toward heaven and prayed
This would have been a common Jewish posture for prayer and it may have included raising His hands to heaven [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 462]
We see in John 11:41 that Jesus did the same thing when praying for Lazarus to be raised from the dead – He looked up!
The Psalmist talks about this same posture of prayer when he says, I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven (Psalm 123:1)
We normally encourage everyone to close their eyes and bow their heads, when we pray, but perhaps we should be lifting our eyes to heaven and raising our hands
The time has come
Hour had not come [Carter & Wredberg, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in John, 335]
Throughout the book of John, we see Jesus telling different groups that His hour had not yet come
In John 2:4 he reminded His mother that His time had not yet come (He still turned water into wine at the wedding)
In John 7:30 we read that although the crowd tried to seize him, because of His teachings, no one was able to lay a hand on Him, because His time had not yet come
Jesus teaches that He is the light of the world in John 8:12-20, which made the Pharisees angry, but they weren’t able to seize Him, because His time had not yet come
Jesus expresses in John 12:27 that His hour is getting closer, but hasn’t arrived yet
Jesus knows that within a few short hours His glorification will begin, in a way that would be antithetical to how the world would glorify someone
PRINCIPLE #1 – God is sovereign!
In all of this we see that God is sovereign – He has the right to rule and He rules rightly
God’s plan of redemption was not going to be hijacked by the emotions and desires of the Pharisees or religious leaders
His timing and plan were going to be executed perfectly, because He is sovereign
We can rejoice in God’s sovereignty in our lives
He has the right to rule and He rules rightly in every circumstance in our lives
His plans for us will not be hijacked by our emotions and desires
We may run ahead of Him sometimes, which causes Him to adjust the timeframe in which we will learn what He is trying to teach us, but His plans will always be fulfilled
He knows what’s best for us and earnestly desires for us to learn and grow through His guidance and direction
#1 – My Next Step Today Is To: Trust in God’s sovereignty over the plans for my life.
Jesus’ time had come
His glorification was about to begin
Glorification of the Son (vv. 1a, 5)
On earth – through crucifixion (v. 1a)
In verse 1, Jesus is asking the Father to glorify Him – the Son
We have to understand God’s glory in order to understand what Jesus is asking for here
“The ‘glory’ of God is a noun and means his majesty or his splendor, his ‘display of divine goodness’ (Carson, John, 129). When we talk about God’s being glorified (the verb), we mean the appropriate response to his goodness displayed. So the glory of God (noun) is his goodness displayed, and glorifying God (verb) is his goodness celebrated . . . Here when Jesus prays to be glorified, it means his goodness must be seen and celebrated. For God to answer this request means the greatness of Jesus will need to be understood and acknowledged.” [Carter & Wredberg, 336]
Jesus is about to go to the cross, which in the 1st Century was considered disgraceful – a death worthy of criminals (Roman citizens were never put to death on a cross, that’s how disgraceful this kind of death was)
Anyone hung on a tree was considered to be under God’s curse
Deuteronomy 21:22-23, If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse. You must not desecrate the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.
Galatians 3:13, Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”
How was God’s goodness going to be displayed and celebrated through Jesus’ disgraceful death?
God was going to transform the disgrace of the cross, so that Jesus’ perfect sacrifice could be understood and acknowledged, and so that His glory could be seen and celebrated
The analogy of the woman in labor that we studied in John 16 is exactly what will take place so that God’s glory will be seen and celebrated
The disciples would experience a time of grief at Jesus’ death
But their grief would turn to joy when God raised Jesus from the dead, and no one would be able to take away their joy
When the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples they understood everything that Jesus had taught them and they celebrated the fulfillment of God’s redemption plan
When Jesus is asking the Father to glorify Him, He is saying, “I’m ready to fulfill Your plan of redemption by dying on a cross.”
He is asking the Father to sustain Him through the passion events that will be unfolding in the coming hours and days
“‘The deepest passion of the heart of Jesus was not the saving of men, but the glory of God; and then the saving of men, because that is for the glory of God.’ (Morgan, p. 270).” [G. Campbell Morgan cited by Gangel, 312]
The transformation of the cross is what enables us to be transformed – it is God’s goodness displayed and celebrated!
In heaven – through ascension (v. 5)
As Jesus continues His prayer to the Father on His own behalf, we see that in verse 5 He asks again for the Father to glorify Him, but the setting is different
He is praying, in advance of His resurrection, about being glorified in God’s presence
In reality, He is requesting that the glory, He had before coming to earth, would be restored to Him after His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension
This glory was something that He had before the world was created
John 1:1, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
We know that the Father answered this prayer
Acts 7:56, “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” (Stephen’s stoning)
Philippians 2:9-11, Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus’ glorification brought glory to the Father
The Father glorified (vv. 1b, 4)
In verse 1b we see that Jesus’ request to be glorified will in turn cause the Father to be glorified
In verse 4 we see that Jesus has brought the Father glory by completing the work He had given Him to do
The work Jesus did was His death, burial, and resurrection
It also included teaching and preparing His disciples to continue the work of the Gospel after His ascension into heaven
Jesus modeled an important principle for us
PRINCIPLE #2 – God is pleased when His people finish the work He has given them to do.
“Think of pastors leaving churches before their work is finished. Think of missionaries returning from the field before God’s actual release. Think of the many times you and I have started some task for the Lord with great enthusiasm only to abandon it – unfinished – in the busyness of our lives.” [Gangel, 313]
Evaluating our lives
What has God given you to do for His glory?
Have you completed that?
Have you put it on hold, because of the busyness of life?
Have you forgotten about what He has given you to do?
#2 – My Next Step Today Is To: Recognize the work that God has given me to do and recommit to complete that work for His glory.
What has God given us (Idaville Church) to do for His glory? (The Great Command and Commission)
Have we completed that? (the work is never done)
Have we gotten distracted by the Coronavirus? (perhaps)
#3 – My Next Step Today Is To: Continue the work of the church by loving God and others and making disciples for Jesus Christ.
Whether individually or corporately, we should all be striving to hear the words of the Master from the parable Jesus told about the loaned money, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21)
Jesus has surrounded the most important of this section of His prayer by talking about God being glorified through Him and His work
The middle two verses really speak to His work
Eternal life (vv. 2-3)
Jesus’ sovereign work (v. 2)
PRINCIPLE #3 – Jesus is sovereign!
We see that the Father granted the Son authority over all people
Jesus also has the right to rule and rules rightly in our lives
We can trust Jesus’ sovereignty to provide eternal life for us
That is exactly the work God had given Him to do
The Father gave Jesus the authority to give eternal life to those the Father had given to Him
In the current context, those whom the Father gave to Jesus were the disciples
But we also know that in a general sense it applies to us, because we are Jesus’ disciples too
Jesus’ work was for all humanity
Jesus then gives a simple explanation of what eternal life means
Eternal life explained (v. 3)
Eternal life comes by knowing God and Jesus.
The Greek word for “knowing” is ginōskō and means more than intellectual assent or necessary information
Just knowing or believing that God exists is not what Jesus is talking about here
It’s not just believing that Jesus existed and walked on the earth for 33+ years before ascending to heaven
It’s much deeper than that
It’s experience and intimacy in relationship with the Father and the Son
The Greek word is in the present tense indicating that it’s an ongoing personal experience and relationship with the Father and Son [Gangel, 313]
1 John 5:11-12, And this is the testimony: 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 5:20-21, We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true – even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.
Read John 14:6-11
How do we have eternal life through the Son?
Admit that we are sinners (Rom. 3:23; Rom. 6:23)
Believe that Jesus completed the work the Father gave Him to do (Rom. 5:8)
Choose to have a personal relationship with God and Jesus (John 3:16)
#4 – My Next Step Today Is To: Begin a personal relationship with God by believing in Jesus and receiving eternal life.
Eternal life comes by knowing God and Jesus.
Are you trusting God and Jesus’ sovereignty over the plans for your life?
Have you completed the work that God has given you to do?
Have you started your relationship with God by believing in Jesus?
Have we completed the work that God has given us to do as a church?
Prayer is the key and Jesus modeled it for us
“How much prayer meant to Jesus! It was not only his regular habit, but his resort in every emergency, however slight or serious. When perplexed he prayed. When hard pressed by work he prayed. When hungry for fellowship he found it in prayer. He chose his associates and received his messages upon his knees. If tempted, he prayed. If criticized, he prayed. If fatigued in body or wearied in spirit, he had recourse to his one unfailing habit of prayer. Prayer brought him unmeasured power at the beginning, and kept the flow unbroken and undiminished. There was no emergency, no difficulty, no necessity, no temptation that would not yield to prayer.”
S. D. Gordon, Quiet Talks on Prayer. Christianity Today, Vol. 30, no. 5.