Sermon Notes and Audio
Scripture Focus- John 17:6-26
The Bible highlights the focus of Jesus on prayer. John 17 is the longest recorded prayer of our Lord during His earthly ministry and has been called the High Priestly Prayer. The prayer was offered in the presence of the disciples, after the institution of the Lord’s Supper. The prayer takes us into the depth of the eternal relationship between God the Father and God the Son, and gives insight into the throne room of God, the Holy of Holies. The Bible says Jesus is at the right hand of God the Father in Heaven, having finished the work of redemption (Hebrews 10). He advocates/pleads on our behalf at the throne of God (1 John 2:1-2).
Jesus prays on our behalf. Consistent with his earthly prayer life, and the High Priestly Prayer in John 17, is the fact that Jesus is interceding now, at the right hand of the Father.
Jesus’ earthly ministry was characterized by devoted prayer. I’ve entitled this message, “Jesus Prays” in the present tense, because of what the Bible teaches.
Hebrews 7:23-25 Now many have become Levitical priests, since they are prevented by death from remaining in office. But because he remains forever, he holds his priesthood permanently. Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, since he always lives to intercede for them.
The prayers of Jesus show us His concern and love. In the first part of the chapter, we focused on v3 This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and the one you have sent- Jesus Christ. To know God is to magnify His glory. To know God is to surrender to His authority. To know God is to follow His will.
John 17:6-26 Jesus prayed for His disciples and Jesus prayed for all disciples to follow, who would include us.
According to Jesus, His disciples are people who belong to God the Father through faith in Jesus the Son. v6 I have revealed your name to the people you gave me from the world. V8 They have believed that you sent me.
Jesus prays for the protection of his disciples.
V11 I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by your name that you have given to me.
Jesus knew He was on the way to Heaven. His departure was so close he spoke of it with the present tense. His work in the world is as good as done. In this prayer, He addresses God as Holy Father- the word “Father” is used 53 times in John 13-17 and 122 times total in John. Here, by referring to the Father as the Holy Father, Jesus appeals to the perfection of the Father’s nature, and to His power- He is transcendent, yet imminent among people through His Son and Spirit. The Holy Father is exalted about all things.
Jesus was about to go out of the world, but his disciples remain in the world. Protect (keep) them by your name- Protect by the power of your name. Jesus is asking the Father to stand guard over his disciples.
Jesus knew the wickedness of the world and the desperate need for salvation. Disciples are not able to save themselves. Salvation is the work of God. Disciples are not able to maintain their relationship with the Father. 1 Peter 1:5 You are being guarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. If we had to maintain a life of sinless perfection to stay saved, we would all end up in Hell. Salvation is a gift of God’s grace and being protected and kept is by His power.
V14 I have given them your word. The world hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. V15 I am not praying that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.
John 15:18ff If the world hates you, understand that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you.
Disciples are in a battle in this sin fallen world. The world hates followers of Jesus, because the devil hates disciples of Jesus and opposes and attacks us. 1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.
Joe Carter of the ERLC shared some Facts About Christian Persecution From the 2016 International Religious Freedom Report.
In China, Christian communities have “borne a significant brunt of the oppression, with numerous churches bulldozed and crosses torn down. Pastor Bao Guohua and his wife, Xing Wenxiang, were sentenced in Zhejiang Province to 14 and 12 years in prison, for leading a Christian congregation that was opposing a government campaign to remove crosses atop churches.”
In Muslim dominated Sudan, the government stiffened penalties for apostasy and blasphemy. They persecute the country’s minority Christian community and utilize whippings, amputations and stonings against Christians.
Boko Haram continues to attack, from bombings at churches to mass kidnappings of children from schools, leaving thousands killed and millions displaced.
There are numerous reports in Iran of authorities raiding church services, threatening Christians, and arresting and imprisoning worshipers and church leaders.
According to tradition, all of the Apostles, the Disciples of Jesus, were killed for their faith, with the exception of John who died in exile on the Island of Patmos. So the obvious question is, if Jesus prays to the Holy Father to keep His disciples, and the Apostles lost their lives for the faith, and Christians are suffering significantly today, how are we to understand this? Have the prayers of Jesus failed?
There is a present and a future application to this. Disciples of Jesus are invincible insofar as the purposes of God are concerned in the present. There is some mystery here as to why some people live long, safe, blessed lives well-kept and protected, while others suffer greatly and life is short by comparison.
Matthew Henry- Christ does not pray that they might be rich and great in the world, but that they might be kept from sin, strengthened for their duty, and brought safe to heaven.
The future application of this, is that the weight of this passage is speaking in terms of our holiness, the fulfillment of our life purpose, and the hope of our eternal home in Heaven.
Jesus prays for the unity of his disciples.
V11. . .so that they may be one as we are one.
Jesus knew the troubles his disciples would have. Sin and selfishness divide. Every age of the church has known division. He prays the oneness of the Father and the Son may be reflected in the lives of His people. Our unity will bear the image of God the Father and of Jesus. Jesus prays that disciples will be as one in their love for, and proclamation of the truth. Unity should never come at the expense of truth.
We have been blessed with tremendous unity at Cross Lanes Baptist Church. Let me tell you- the devil hates it, he hates us. He wants to destroy it. We have to be diligent to stay focused on the Lord and the essentials for the glory of God.
The result of unity is joy. V13 I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy completed in them. John 13:35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
v21 May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us, so that the world may believe you sent me.
The result of unity is a powerful proclamation of the good news of Jesus.
Jesus prays for the sanctification of his disciples.
V17 Sanctify them by the truth, your word is truth.
Disciples are set apart from the world’s sin, values, and goals.
The way we are sanctified is by the truth. The truth is communicated in the Word. God has given us his truth: His Word is truth (John 17:17); His Son is truth (John 14:6); and His Spirit is truth (1 John 5:6).
Sanctify means to “set apart for special use, to make holy, separate” to be consecrated to God.
With the mind, we learn God’s truth through the Word. With the heart, we love God’s truth, His Son. With the will, we yield to the Spirit and live God’s truth day by day. All three are required for a balanced experience of sanctification. Warren Wiersbe
When the message of Jesus is heard, understood, and believed, the mind, heart, and will of a disciple are captured. The changed mind and heart of a disciple results in a changed will, a transformed life.
In the original language, the adjective “holy,” as expressed in “Holy Father” in v11 and the verb to sanctify come from the same root. One commentator translates this- “Holy Father, make them holy in the truth.” Jesus did not pray for the removal of His disciples from the world, but for an awareness of the evil of the world so it could be avoided.
Jesus is our focus. Jesus sanctified Himself. He was already eternally holy, but He was sanctified, set apart, to His death. He is the embodiment of truth, the Living Word of God. He was in the world but not of the world. Jesus was sent into the world on a mission by God the Father. We too are sent on mission into the world to make Him known.
V24 Father I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they will see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the world’s foundation.