The Lord’s Prayer, part 2: The Disciples

Posted: January 24, 2016 in John, Uncategorized

John 17:6-19, “The Lord’s Prayer, part 2: The Disciples”

If you could ask for anything, what would it be?  Not in an Aladdin & his genie sort of way, but if you could ask God for anything to help you in life, what would you request?  No doubt many would ask for health & wealth, though others might ask for faith or wisdom (such as Solomon).  Certainly many of the things we might ask for ourselves are good & potentially God-honoring.  Yet it might not be the best.  The only person who really knows what is best is God.  He knows what we need the very most – not just as His people as a whole, but as individuals.

So perhaps the better question is this: what is it that GOD would ask for us, on our behalf, given the chance?  Actually, Jesus did get the chance, and it’s seen in the second two parts of what is often called the High Priestly prayer – or what might be better termed, the real Lord’s Prayer in John 17.  Whereas the prayer commonly known as the Lord’s Prayer (from Matthew 6) is a model prayer given by the Lord Jesus to His people, what is found in John 17 is actually the Lord praying.  This is HIS prayer, and there is no intercessor more worthy of study than Christ Jesus!

Remember the context: this was the light night of Jesus in the presence of His disciples prior to the cross.  He has partaken of the Passover with them, washed their feet, and prepared them for His soon departure.  The disciples seem to finally come to at least a measure of understanding (though they will surely become confused once again before the night is out), and Jesus then turned His attention to God the Father to pray.

First, Jesus prayed for Himself.  He understood the hour was at hand, so He prayed that His Father would glorify Him.  He needed the strength of His Father in order for Him to endure everything He was about to face.  In Jesus’ own obedience, He would glorify God in return, and they would together share the same glory that they had from before the foundation of the world.

Now, Jesus changes His prayers from Himself to others.  Soon He would pray for all the church throughout the ages to come (i.e. US!), but first He prays specifically for the 11 men in front of Him.  He prays for the people in that day at that time who had faith in Him.  They were about to enter into a terrible trial – one that would be unique to them & them alone.  After all, Jesus would only go to the cross once – He would only have one resurrection – He would only give birth to the church one time.  After that, the church would reproduce on its own (as guided by the Holy Spirit), but the beginnings only happened once.  The people who believed in Him right then at that time had a special need, and He prayed for them specially.  They wouldn’t know how best to pray for themselves – after all, they had a glimpse of understanding, but all of that would shatter in their panic when Jesus was arrested.  They didn’t know what they would face, so they didn’t really know how to pray.  But Jesus did.  Jesus knew exactly what they needed, and thus Jesus knew how best to intercede on their behalf.  So that’s what He did.

And what was it?  Jesus knew His disciples believed, but they needed something more.  Jesus prayed for His disciples to be one, have joy, and be holy.  Of course what the 11 needed is what we all still need today.  And Jesus still prays for us to experience the same thing.  Have faith, be one, have joy, be holy.

John 17:6–19

  • Faith of the disciples (6-8)

6 “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.

  • Jesus begins with a proclamation, laying the foundation for His prayers on behalf of the disciples.  He declares their faith.  Jesus had revealed God to the disciples, and they believed.  To say that He had “manifested [God’s] name” to them meant that He revealed God’s character/person to them.  Not only did Jesus instruct them about God through parables, doctrine, and innumerable teachable moments with them, but He Himself IS the visible manifestation of God.  As John declared in his prelude: John 1:18, "No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him."  Jesus can declare God in ways possible for no one else, for only Jesus IS the revelation of God.  When we see Jesus, we see the Father (Jn 14:9).  Thus if we want to know God, we must look to Jesus.  For three years, Jesus manifested the name of God to His disciples, and even today Jesus still reveals the glory of God.
  • From where did the disciples come?  “The world.”  That’s where they were, and the Father “gave” the disciples to the Son.  They (like all of us) originally belonged to the world.  They were part & parcel with the world system, being sinners like everyone else.  The disciples did not start off holy – no one does.  All of us are sinners, born into death, doing all of the things that sinners do.  Christians are no better than anyone else; all humans are born with the same terminal disease of sin.  The only difference is the intervention of God.  God is the One who reaches into the world and plucks us out of its grip to give us to Christ.  That is what He did with the 11, and that is what He does with all of us.  We have no hope, apart from the work of God on our behalf.  If He does not give us to Christ, we do not go to Him.
    • BTW, to speak of God’s work in our salvation does not mean we have no freedom of will.  Over and over, Jesus taught that God the Father is sovereign over our salvation, and His teaching is affirmed throughout the New Testament.  At the same time, Jesus taught (and even teaches in this passage) of the response and freewill of man.  One does not negate the other.  To believe both God’s sovereignty and man’s freewill is not contradictory; it’s Biblical.
  • Even here, Jesus refers to the freewill faith of the disciples.  God may have given them to Jesus, but they were the ones who “kept [God’s] word.”  They heard the message of the gospel – they saw the revelation of God from Jesus – and they believed.  They kept the word by remaining in it & obeying it.  That’s not to say they perfectly understood it all (they even had confusion that very night), but they remained in what they knew.  They knew that Jesus came forth from God (Jn 16:30), and they believed the core of the gospel message.  And that was enough!
    • We do not have to have PhD’s in religion &/or philosophy to be saved.  We just need to know Jesus & be known by Him.
  • What specifically did they know?  Vs. 7…

7 Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. 8 For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.

  • The disciples believed the power of Jesus.  As Jesus worked, He did the things the Father gave Him to do, and the disciples believed that the Father gave those things to Jesus.  No one could work the miracles Jesus worked, if it had not been given Him from God.  This was something even the Pharisees acknowledged, though all but Nicodemus fought against (Jn 3:2).  The disciples witnessed all of the miraculous signs from Jesus, and they believed.
  • The disciples believed the message of Jesus.  The words that Jesus spoke were words given Him from God.  Jesus taught with authority that astounded the multitudes – it was an authority surpassing even that of the scribes (Mk 1:22).  The words of Jesus were the words of eternal life, and the disciples believed.
  • The disciples believed the identity of Jesus.  They understood that Jesus came from the Father, being sent from the Father.  Jesus is the ultimate Apostle (sent one), coming as God into the world in order to reveal God to all the world.
  • Again, there were many things the 11 disciples did not yet understand.  The coming hours would have a grand display of their confusion when Jesus was arrested & crucified.  But at their core, they believed.  They had faith in Jesus, and their faith would be proven true (beyond their wildest imaginations) when Jesus rose from the dead.
    • Do YOU believe?  Do have faith in His power, His gospel message, and His personal identity?  If you do, then you can be sure that God has given you to Jesus.  Like the disciples you were of the world, but now you belong to the One who has overcome the world (Jn 16:33).  If not, then it’s not too late.  You have the opportunity to be saved…exercise your free choice to believe! 
  • Prayer #1: preserved for unity (9-12)

9 “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. 10 And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them.

  • Jesus specifically prayed for the disciples.  Not the world, but for the disciples.  That’s not to say that Jesus never prayed for the world; He just didn’t do so at this time.  At the moment, those who most needed His prayers were the 11 men in the room with Him.  He knew each of them by name, and He knew each of their needs.  He knew what they would face in the hours ahead, and He knew that they desperately needed His prayers. And so He prayed.
    • How amazing is it that GOD would pray for us?  And not just us as a group, but us as individuals?  There’s nothing wrong with His prayers for us as a general group (in fact, that is what the 3rd part of Jesus’ prayer consists of), but there is a special quality to the fact that Jesus prays for us as individuals, as He did here with the 11 disciples.  There is no one who knows our needs better than God, and God prays for us.  Amazing!
  • There’s a reason why God the Son prays for His disciples.  They are HIS disciples.  To whom do the disciples belong?  God.  Father AND Son.  The Father gave the disciples to Jesus from out of the world, but that doesn’t mean that they stopped belonging to the Father.  Father and Son share possession of everything and everyone.  If you belong to Jesus, you belong to God.  (The proof is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, 2 Cor 1:22.  The whole Godhead testifies of to whom we belong!)
    • BTW – this speaks to more than just the 11 in the room with Jesus.  “And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine.”  No one can say this regarding God the Father, except Jesus.  As others have observed, Jesus does not speak to God as a subordinate, but as an equal.  The Son willingly submits Himself to the Father, but He is most definitely equal with Him in His power, person, and possessions.  As believers we are brought into the inheritance of Christ; Jesus has it inherently.  (Big difference!)  He alone among humans is fully God – there is none like Him!
    • This just goes to underscore how wonderful it is that He prayed for the 11 and (later) for us.  God prayed for you!  Almighty God the Son who needs nothing, wanted us, and He prayed on our behalf.
  • What did Jesus know about those whom belonged to Him?  They “glorified” Him.  Remember that “glory” was the theme of the 1st part of Jesus’ prayer.  Jesus prayed for glory, knowing that He Himself would glorify God.  Although Jesus would still receive glory to come, He could affirm that He had already received glory from the disciples that God the Father had given Him.  How so?  They believed!  They kept the faith, believing the word of Jesus.
    • God the Son is glorified in our faith.  Do you desire to glorify God?  Take Him at His word.  Believe!  Walk in obedience, trusting that God is good to His promises.  The things that God says He will do, He does.  The person that God says that He is, He is.  Believe – choose to trust Him.  Place your faith in His promises, despite your circumstances.  Glorify God with your faith.
    • Keep in mind that the remaining 11 would still abandon Jesus, one of them even going so far as to deny ever knowing Jesus.  And Jesus is still glorified in them.  He saw past their failings.  We don’t have to be perfect to glorify God.  Jesus is the One who makes us perfect in God’s sight.  All we need to do is trust Him.

11 Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.

  • The prayer: keep the kept ones.  Keep the ones who kept Your word, and keep them for a purpose: unity.  When the disciples “kept” the word of God, Jesus meant that they received the gospel, believed it, and remained in it.  They obeyed the gospel by believing Jesus, and walked according to God’s word.  Although the same word for “keep” is used here by Jesus in His prayer, the sense is different.  It’s difficult to think of God obeying His own commandment (though He does…it’s just an awkward concept).  Here, the word is better thought of in terms of “guarding, preserving.”  Jesus asks the Father to guard these 11 through His name (by His holy character & person) – to ensure that they would remain in Him, as steadfast believers in Christ.
  • Specifically, Jesus asks that they would be guarded for the purpose of unity: “that they may be one as We are.”  The 11 needed to be unified in purpose & message as they moved forward in the coming weeks and months.  In a matter of hours, they would be confused & scattered – but after Jesus rose from the dead, they would unite together, and (especially via the work of the Holy Spirit) become one unwavering foundation from which the church could be born.  That’s not to say that there were not different personalities among the apostles, or even disagreements from time to time (re: Peter & Paul in Antioch – Gal 2:11-16), but they were fundamentally one in Christ Jesus, bound together by the Holy Spirit.  The days of Judas were gone – there were no more among them seeking to divide one another; they had become true brothers in the Lord.
    • BTW – Jesus wanted this for more than just the 11.  This becomes a central part of His prayer for the rest of the church in the final part of His prayer. God does not demand uniformity among believers, but He does want unity.  We don’t have to all look the same and have the same preferences on every minor matter in order to believe the same fundamental truths and have the same fundamental love.  We are to be one, just as Father & Son are one.  They are not the same Person, but They share the same goal.  Likewise for us.  (Come back next week!)  
  • Two items of note: (1) Jesus’ specific intercession on behalf of His disciples, knowing that He was soon leaving them.  Although Jesus hadn’t yet gone to the cross nor ascended to the Father, He could already speak of being “no longer in the world.”  He knew that this part of His ministry was fulfilled, and He was looking to the needs of the disciples in the days ahead.  (2) Jesus addresses God as “Holy Father.”  God is certainly affirmed as holy throughout the Scripture, but this particular phrase is unique to this one time & prayer by Jesus.  How holy is God?  Even Jesus refers to Him as the Holy Father.  He is truly holy – totally set apart from man, utterly perfect in His holiness.  As His people, we are made holy by God, but God Himself is holy on a whole other level!  (BTW – God alone is the “Holy Father”; not the Roman pope.  Jesus’ use of this title for God ought to preclude us giving it to any human.)

12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

  • Why should the Father keep the disciples?  Because Jesus had.  This had been part of His earthly ministry.  Jesus asked the Father to guard the 11, because Jesus had been faithful to Himself guard them throughout His ministry.  Jesus had sought them out one by one, and kept each and every one, despite all of the opposition they had faced throughout the previous three years.  Think about that for a moment: Jesus went head-to-head with the Pharisees and Sadducees – He faced angry mobs of people in Jerusalem – He encountered demons left & right – and not once through it all were His disciples left behind, or even physically harmed (that we know of).  The 11 would face all kinds of physical suffering in the days to come, but they were free from it during the years of Jesus’ ministry.  But most importantly, the disciples remained disciples.  Once Jesus called them, they stayed with Him.  That wasn’t true for everyone who heard the gospel.  There were many who originally thought they wanted to follow Jesus as their King, but once they experienced some bumps along the way, they left Him.  The multitudes didn’t understand (or perhaps desire) Jesus’ teaching, and they turned away – but when given the chance, the chosen apostles of Jesus remained.  John 6:67–69, "(67) Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” (68) But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. (69) Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”"
    • Where else would we go?  In whom else can salvation be found?  No one!  Even assuming the best of other religions around the world, the most that can be said of them is that they are offered by men, and men cannot save.  Only God can save, and only Jesus is God in the flesh who came to dwell among us.
    • Once we come to Christ, we stay in Christ.  There’s no other place to go, and there is no other place we would rather be.  The world offers nothing compared with our Jesus – so stay in Him.
  • Only one disciple was lost: Judas, the “son of perdition.”  Interestingly, this phrase is used only one other time in the Scripture, in reference to Antichrist (2 Ths 2:3).  Yet the reference here is plain.  Even back in John 6, Jesus knew that Judas was bound to leave Him.  Jesus had chosen the twelve, though one was a devil (Jn 6:70-71).  Judas certainly served as a forerunner of Antichrist – being ultimately opposed to God, despite clothing himself outwardly in all manner of religiosity.  Judas looked like a believer, walked among true believers, but never himself believed.  Eventually the time came that he revealed himself for who he truly was, and he betrayed Jesus – just as the Scripture said that he would. (Ps 41:9)
    • Did Jesus lack the ability to keep Judas?  No.  If Judas had exercised true faith in Jesus, then Jesus certainly would have kept him, just like Jesus kept the others.  Judas was prophesied to fall, and that is what he did.  This was all part of the plan of God, determined from before the foundation of the world.
    • Did Judas not have any choice in the situation?  If this was his destiny, is he to blame for his action?  Yes, Judas had a choice, and yes, Judas bears his own blame.  That God prophesied his sin does not exempt Judas from exercising his free will to engage in that sin.  God knows every sin that we will commit as well, but He is not to blame for them.  We alone choose to make the decisions we make, and humans are the first to harden their own hearts before God ever confirms that hardening.  God is never to blame for sin.  On the contrary – God’s interaction with sin is how He worked to reverse it!  We do not blame God for sin; we praise Him for sending Jesus as our sin sacrifice. (2 Cor 5:21)
  • Prayer #2: joy despite opposition (13-16)

13 But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.

  • Why was Jesus praying now, at this time?  Because He had the opportunity.  There would be other prayers Jesus would pray after He ascended to heaven – but while He was in the world, He could still pray on the disciples’ behalf.  And that is what He did.
  • His second prayer was for the disciples to have joy.  Specifically, the joy of Jesus filled up to completion within themselves.  This could only take place if they were kept/guarded by God – but when God guarded them, the disciples could experience joy/gladness to the full.  They would need that joy for what it was they were about to face (as Jesus explains in vs. 14 & following).
  • Before we get there, don’t miss the obvious point.  Jesus wanted them to have joy.  Jesus wasn’t blind to the fact that they would suffer, experience grief & sorrow, etc., but Jesus wanted them to have joy in the midst of all of that sorrow.  He wanted them to know a gladness that overpowered the grief of the world.  He wanted them to have HIS joy, the joy of Jesus.  That is a joy that can never be taken.
    • We are called to be joyful!  Not dour sourpusses scowling through life pretending to say “praise the Lord.”  Neither should we have fake-painted on-church smiles, hypocritically pretending to be happy simply because it’s what’s expected.  Jesus wants us to have true joy…and we can!  Life is hard, but we can still smile through tears.  We can praise God in the midst of incredible pain.  Why is it that Christians can laugh at funerals, or sing in prison?  Because we know the joy of Jesus.  We know what it is like to know the Living God, experiencing His strength and peace in the midst of our pain.  We can be filled with the Holy Spirit, experiencing power in ways that are simply not available to the world.  We can have true joy.
    • Beloved, do you enjoy your life with Jesus?  If not, why?  After all, it’s something that Jesus specifically prayed for the 11 disciples, so we can be sure that Jesus desires it for us as well.  If we do not enjoy our walk with Jesus, perhaps it’s because we’re not walking with Jesus.  Sure, we might believe – we might intellectually agree with the gospel – but perhaps we’re not spending any time with Jesus putting our faith into practice.  We’re not spending any time walking with the Jesus that we have received as our Lord.  Experience teaches us this: prayerful Christians are joyful Christians.  Again, it’s not that those who seek the Lord never experience sadness, but there is at least joy in the Lord to leads us through our sadness.  Pray…and experience for yourself the joy of the Lord.
  • Again, why did they need this joy?  Because they would face opposition.  Vs. 14…

14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

  • Fact: the disciples were not of the world.  They were of the world, but no longer.  This is such a factual truth that Jesus states it twice (vs. 14 & vs. 16).  Why were they not of the world?  Because Jesus gave them the word of God & they believed.  God took them from the world & gave them to Jesus.  This is something Jesus affirmed back in vs. 6.  As a result of the work of God, the disciples were now different – and the world hated them because of it.  What Jesus is saying here in prayer, He already said to the disciples back in Ch 15.  If the disciples remained part of the world, the world (i.e. the culture, the people surrounding them) would love them because they would be one & the same.  But because Jesus chose them out of the world, the world hated them (Jn 15:18-19).  Practically speaking, we see this every day as Christians face all kinds of rejection and spite in America, and physical persecution all over the world.  Those who claim to be Christians while blending in with the popular culture are accepted by the culture, but those who remain steadfast to Jesus & the word of God (i.e., they keep the word) are rejected.  That’s just the way it is…we ought to have no illusion to the contrary.  (This is why we need joy!  How else are we to live in this life?)
    • Don’t miss the best part: the disciples were not of the world because they had been transformed by God.  It was because they received the word of Jesus that they were fundamentally changed.  They were just like everyone else, but now they are different.  Now they are saved – now they have life – now they belong to God.  Praise the Lord!
  • Just because God took them from among the world doesn’t mean that God was taking them out of the world.  He didn’t & wouldn’t.  Jesus didn’t even pray that God might.  Instead, Jesus specifically did not pray that God would remove them from the world.  He prayed that God would guard them in the midst of it, especially from the attacks of the “evil one.”  Technically, this could be translated “but that You should keep them from that which is evil,” in that “evil” could be either personal or generic (the Greek grammar is ambiguous).  That said, the context is more likely referring to the personal evil one, i.e. Satan.  The disciples (just like every Christian that follows in their footsteps) came into the cross-hairs of the devil the moment they believed upon Jesus, and they would face his attacks.  Their hope?  God.  Jesus prays for their protection, and that is what God did.
    • As a Christian, you will be attacked by the devil…count on it.  But as a Christian you belong to Almighty God.  Trust in His protection & power.  Rely upon Him in prayer.  As you pray for protection, you can be certain that Jesus is praying for you, too.
  • Notice that Jesus set His disciples apart (something which He’ll say more about in a bit), but He didn’t separate them to be hermits.  He didn’t want them removed; He wanted them to be salt & light.  He wanted them to be missionaries/emissaries of the kingdom of God.  They couldn’t do that if they cloistered themselves away in a monastery.  They were to be left in the world if they were going to make any impact upon the world.  They were not part of the sinful worldly system/culture, but they were a witness to it of the transforming power of Christ.
    • Likewise for us.  Be different from the world, but make an impact upon it.  Christians are needed in every facet of our society, from politics to science to arts, and more.  You don’t have to be pastor to be a minister – you don’t have to be overseas to be a missionary.  You can make an impact for Christ right where you are, and that is exactly why God has placed you where you are!
  • Prayer #3: set apart for sending (17-19)

17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

  • Jesus already described the disciples as being separated from the rest of the world; now He prays for their continued separation – their sanctification.  “Sanctify” = ἁγιαζω = “to set apart, consecrate, make holy.”  This is the same root from which we get “saint.”  Jesus prays that God would sanctify them – to continue to set them apart. 
  • How would the disciples be sanctified?  By the word of God, which is truth defined.  The very message that Jesus had preached to them – the word which they had kept – that word had already set them apart from the world, and by God’s grace, would continue to set them apart.  The word of God would continually transform them, making them the people that God intended for them to be.
    • Part of the function of the word of God in the life of the believer is for our sanctification.  Why is it so important to study the Scripture?  Because through it we are changed.  God uses His word in supernatural ways in our lives to transform us – to take us through a metamorphosis – making men and women of God even more godly day by day.  The word of God is living & powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, helping us even discern our thoughts and motives (Heb 4:12).  The word of God is what God uses to make us complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim 3:17).  The word of God is absolutely necessary in the life of a believer!  (That’s one reason we spend so much time studying it.)
    • Put this together with Jesus’ prayer to God as the Holy Father.  Jesus prayed to the Sanctified Holy God to guard the disciples in order that they might have joy with Him, and also prayed that the Holy God would continue to make them holy through the word they themselves guarded/kept.  Not only is there a parallel thought between keeping & sanctifying, but there is the hand-in-hand combination of prayer & the Scripture.  We have joy as we spend time with Jesus in prayer, and we are sanctified as we spend time in Jesus’ word.  Prayer and the Bible go hand-in-hand…always.
  • The overall context for the “word” seems to be the proclamation of God, the gospel of the kingdom (contained for us in the pages of Scripture).  At the same time, do not forget that Jesus Himself is the Word of God (Jn 1:1-3).  He is the living Word, the λογος (which is the same word used here) – the very expression of God Himself.  As Jesus told the disciples earlier, He is the way, the truth, and the life (Jn 14:6), so for Him to say “Your word is truth,” it could easily refer not only to the written word, but Himself as the Living Word.  Jesus IS the truth, and Jesus does continually set us apart unto God.  His work at the cross may be finished, but His work within our lives is ongoing.
    • We never stop being dependent upon Jesus.  And we never want to be!

18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.

  • The 11 had a need to be sanctified: Jesus had sent them into the world.  They were separated from the world, sanctified by the word, all for the reason of being sent back into the world as they preached the gospel.  They had a mission, just as Jesus had mission.  Jesus had been sent by God into the world, and now Jesus was sending His followers back into the world.  Again – the disciples weren’t called to be hermits or monks; they were called to be salt & light, making an impact on the people around them as they preached the gospel of Jesus Christ.
    • We have a mission: the Great Commission!  We have been sent out with a purpose, and whatever it is we do in life, it is to be intertwined with the proclamation of Jesus.
  • The disciples weren’t the only ones sanctified…so was Jesus!  “I sanctify Myself…”  The Father had sanctified Jesus to the ministry (Jn 10:36), and Jesus said He did it Himself as well.  He set Himself apart – He purposed that He would remain wholly dedicated to the mission God had given Him.  Notice the present tense: this was something He was doing at the present time.  The idea seems to be this: as Jesus looks ahead to the morning and the hour of His worst temptations and trials since the wilderness – as He understands the reality of having the full wrath of His heavenly Father come down upon Him like a raging waterfall – Jesus sets His face like flint, and determines to move forward.  He would not veer away or flee the fight; He went straight ahead, according to the plan of God for Him.  He determined to be obedient, thus He sanctified Himself.
    • Many times our own obedience begins with our determination to be so.  If we don’t want to follow the Lord, we won’t.  We won’t always succeed when we want to obey (Paul writes of his own struggles in Romans 7) – but we don’t have a chance of succeeding if we never decide to do it in the first place.  The work of sanctification has many aspects.  God sanctifies us by His grace & through His word, setting us apart, changing us from the inside-out.  This is something that Jesus has already made clear.  But we also have a part in our sanctification.  We have to decide to walk holy.  We make the choice to wholly dedicate ourselves unto God.  Do your part, and make the choice!
  • Jesus’ sanctification would work towards the disciples’ sanctification.  How so?  His fulfillment of the cross & resurrection would prove the word of God to be true, and thus as they continued to believe the word, they would continually be set apart for God’s purposes.

Conclusion:
One proclamation – three prayers.  Have faith, be one, have joy, be holy.

  • Jesus proclaimed the faith of His disciples.  They saw the revelation of Jesus, and believed.  They heard the word of Jesus, and believed.  They had faith in Jesus’ power, message, and person.  Their walk with Jesus (just like everyone else) began with faith.
  • Jesus prayed for their preservation, in order to be unified together.  He wanted God to guard them, to keep them as they had kept His word.  They needed God’s help to be made one, unified in their love of Christ and their charge of the gospel.
  • Jesus prayed for their joy, despite facing the world’s opposition.  As they went out in faith, they would face countless attacks from the enemy – and through it all, Jesus wanted them to have joy.  To have steadfast joy in the midst of trial is a joy of which the world can only dream, yet it is the promise of God available to every believer.
  • Jesus prayed for their sanctification, in order that they might be even more sanctified.  They were set apart – they needed to be set apart even more by the word of God in order to preach the gospel of God to all the world.

This was all for the eleven…what does this mean for us?
First, don’t miss the fact that Jesus is the Great Intercessor.  He is the one mediator between God & man – He is our great High Priest.  We have no better prayer partner to God the Father than the 1-2 combination of God the Son & God the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:26 – the Spirit, Rom 8:34 – the Son).

Secondly, the 11 were the beginning of the church, but we are the continuation of it.  Jesus will specifically pray for Christians throughout the centuries in the final part of His prayer, but the needs of the 11 are still our needs today.  We still need to believe God, be kept as one by God, find our joy in God, and sanctified by the word of God.  The trials we face may be different in detail from that of the disciples, but they are severe nonetheless.  And we still need the help of God.  Thankfully, Jesus prays for us, that we would have that help.  So as Jesus prays for you, you also pray, knowing that God has already heard the prayers of our Great Intercessor & has already detailed His promises in His written word.

The question for us might simply be this: Jesus prayed…do you believe that God answers?  Do you trust that God will actually work these things in your life, according to Jesus’ prayers?  Some Christians wonder if God ever works in their lives.  First of all, if you’re saved, then you have inherent proof that God has worked.  He raised you from death to life!  Secondly, sometimes we may not see His work because we do not seek Him working.  We don’t believe God will do it, so we don’t look for Him to do it…and we may not even ask Him to do anything at all.  (And as Scripture says, we have not because we ask not…)  God does work!  If there is any prayer we are assured that God will answer, it is the prayers of God the Son to God the Father.  Jesus prayed; God will answer!

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