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What would be most on your mind if you knew you were going to die soon? Regrets? Unfinished business? The anticipation of being with Christ and the saints who have gone on before? Family?
One thing is for sure – the things which are most important to you are what would find their way to the surface. What your real priorities are would crowd out everything else. And so it is with Jesus as we hear His prayer in John 17 just before His murder.
You’re listening to Through the Word in 2020.
I’m Reid Ferguson.
We have before us today Psalm 145, Micah 3-5, Revelation 14:1-5 and John 17-18:11. John 17 recording what might be better termed “The Lord’s Prayer” than what He taught us in Matthew 6. For this is His actual prayer. A prayer, that in these closing moments, capture how astoundingly we as Believers were on His mind in this cosmically critical hour.
I am caught by the 5 key things Jesus prayed for we Believers:
v. 11 – “Keep them in your name.” i.e. Father, preserve them in faith, as though you had sworn to it on the honor of your own name.
Father, swear to keep them until the time that they are joined with one another and with us, in the same way I am coming to be joined with you.
Keep them intact until the resurrection.
This is not be a prayer for present unity (as glorious and necessary as that is) but for the wonder of the completeness of things fulfilled in the resurrection.
He goes on to explain this keeping in terms of not having lost any yet (excepting Judas according to plan) – and so keeping all true believers to the end. And this He says, should mean to us that we have His joy fulfilled in us. It is so certain, that it ought to rejoice our hearts in the worst of times.
Now if Jesus prayed that for your Believer. It WILL be so.
v. 15 – “protect them from the evil one.”
Notice carefully here that He expressly says He does not ask that we be taken out of the world. He does not plead for a change of environment or circumstances – the things which most often occupy our prayers. But only that the plans of the Evil One against us would be thwarted.
And so it will be.
Satan is to be resisted (James 4:7) but in the full confidence that because Christ has prayed for us, he will never have final victory over us. We are protected.
v. 17 – “sanctify them in the truth” The Word. Sanctification and the Word are inseparable. One cannot grow in sanctification if one fails to search, learn and treasure God’s Word. That which truly separates us from the world – is the truth we cling to. Believing His Word and ordering our lives according to what we know to be true in Him. We live like people who believe everything He has said to us is true. We, the world and the universe are as He describes it. And His Word is what separates us from the judgment to befall all mankind.
v. 21 – That all who believe in Him now, and who will believe through the Gospel we preach, may be truly one.
And what makes all Believers one? That we share the same Spirit of Christ. This is our unity. The unity of “the faith” – the Gospel truth delivered once and for all, and the indwelling Spirit that quickened those truths to our souls, and unites us to Christ. A union as extraordinary and unbreakable as that between the members of the Godhead themselves.
v. 24 – to “be with me…in order that they may see my glory.”
What must this vision of Christ in His resurrected glory be, if Jesus places it as the ultimate desire of His soul for our blessing? We have never yet begun to dig into this sufficiently. The “beatific vision” as it was called in older times is truly that which must be both thoroughly and eternally transforming, transfixing, blessing, engaging, delighting, satisfying, exciting and overawing with ultimate joy.
That we might SEE Him!
These things occupied His heart and mind at this critical moment.
These things He prayed for us.
And these things will be done.
God willing, we’ll be back tomorrow.