Have you ever had a moment when you wished someone were praying for you? Maybe you even sent a prayer to God to lay your name on someone’s heart and mind and so they would pray for you right then in that moment. Have you ever experienced a moment when a person came across your mind in such a way that you were compelled to pray for them. Here in John 17, we find a time when Jesus prays for his disciples and for us. As each second of time brings him closer to the cross, you were on his mind and He stopped to pray for you. And today, Jesus prays for you
In John 17, we find Jesus on the way to the garden of Gethsemane where He will be betrayed and arrested. Before Jesus crossed the brook Kidron, He feels compelled to stop and pray. There are only 9 recorded prayers of Jesus in the Bible. Of the other 8, when you combine all 8 they consist of no more than 150 words. But this prayer here in John 17 consists of almost 400 words. Who did Jesus pray for and what was so important that it stopped Him on the way to garden to pray right then. I mean, He was going to the garden to pray, so why not just wait until He got there?
But Jesus had something on his mind that couldn’t wait until he got to the garden. And so Jesus prays, right where He was.
Who did Jesus stop to pray for?
Jesus knew what he would face in the coming hours. The mock trial, the ridicule, the beatings, the scourging, the crown of thorns, and the cross. But the recorded prayer here that consists of more words the the other eight prayers combined isn’t about Himself and what He is about to face. He starts the prayer asking His Father to give His Son the glory He deserved. He also tells the Father that He has completed tasks given to Him and the time has come for Him to become the sacrifice for our sins. But then, from verse 6 through the end of the chapter, Jesus prays for “those whom You [God] gave me.” That’s His disciples and you, if you’ve asked Him to be your Savior.
Jesus prays for His disciples
Jesus begins praying for His disciples. He knew days ahead would be difficult for them. He knew they would be confused. Jesus was aware they would feel grief over His death. And He knew most of them would end up being martyred for their belief in Him. These were the 11 men tasked to spread the gospel message throughout the world. And so Jesus prays for them.
Jesus prays for every person who confesses Him as Savior
Then in verse 20, Jesus prays for every single person down through time who believes in Him and confesses Him as Savior. He says, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Let’s look at what Jesus felt was so important to stop on His way to the cross to pray for you and me.
What did Jesus pray for?
Jesus prays for our protection:
In Verses 11-12 Jesus prayed, “And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.” When Jesus prayed, “keep them in your name,” He was saying, “keep your eye on them. Guard them. Protect them. Jesus had protected them while He was there, but His time was nearing to return to heaven and He would not be physically with the disciples any longer. So He entrusted them to His Father’s protection.
Jesus prays for our sanctification.
In versus 16-17 Jesus prayed, “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” To “sanctify” something is to set it apart for special use; to “sanctify” a person is to make him holy. In verse 19, He says, “And for their sakes, I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.” The truth refers to Jesus and who He is – the only Son of God. The Redeemer. The Sacrificial Lamb. The Savior of the World. It is the truth of Jesus that sets us free and it is through the truth of Jesus that we are set apart for God’s use. It is through the truth of Jesus that we are made holy.
Jesus prays for our mission.
In verse 18, Jesus prayed, “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” Jesus didn’t endure the agony and torture of the cross just to give us a “Get out of Hell” pass. We are not supposed to just sit back and enjoy of God’s blessings in a care-free world. Even once we are in heaven, we don’t just sit around. God has a mission for each one of us and He has gifted us with exactly what we need to be able to carry out that mission. We commonly call that mission the “Great Commission.” We are to go and tell everyone about Jesus and what He did for us and about His love for us.
Your God-given mission is vital to the health of your church
But how you specifically play your role in the mission will look different from anyone else. Just as you are uniquely and wonderfully made, so you are uniquely and wonderfully gifted. You are not meant to warm a seat at church. You were made to serve within the body of Christ. If you’re not serving, you should be. If you’re not serving, your church body is limping along. You were specifically placed within your church because the gifts and talents you have are exactly what’s needed for your church to carry out the mission God has for it. For your church to be a healthy, thriving, growing church, every Christian must be actively utilizing the gifts they were given.
Your God-given mission often ties to areas you enjoy and are good at
Your mission may not be a missionary, pastor or small group leader. It might look more like a parking lot attendant or the person that refills the pockets on the seat backs for the next service. If you don’t know where to serve, start by asking yourself what are you good at and what do you enjoy doing? Often these will clue you in to how God wants to use you within your church.
Maybe you’re good at fishing and you have a burden for teen boys being raised by single moms. Your mission may look like volunteering to mentor those teen boys and take them out fishing for a day and just showing them how to be men.
Maybe you’re a senior adult, retired school teacher and you loved teaching. As you go to choir practice you hear a young mom talking about her preteen daughter struggling in history class — and history was what you taught and when you were teaching you taught her grade level. Your mission may be to volunteer to tutor that pre-teen girl as you love her like Christ and eventually lead her to Christ as you model Christ to her each time you are with her.
You see, we are often already gifted with exactly what we need for the mission God has for us. And your mission has been covered in the prayer of Jesus.
Jesus prays for our unity
With recent events surrounding George Floyd, do you wonder as Jesus prayed that he was looking down through time to this moment and prayed for the discord, violence, and hatred that we see in our world today? Do you wonder if when Jesus instructed us to love our neighbors as ourselves that he saw Mr. Floyd take his last breath? Or did He see all the other people who would die throughout all of time because of prejudices – whether it racial, gender, religious, economic, social, or any other kind of prejudice?
Satan’s Goal: Stir up Disunity Everywhere
Jesus knew that as long as Satan is in the world, He would stir up strife, envy, hatred, and anger. Satan loves nothing more than to get a body of believers to argue among themselves. You see, when we, as followers of Christ, can’t get along with one another, then our testimony for Christ is destroyed. If you are person who constantly disagrees and causes dissension in the church, then you are allowing Satan to use you to accomplish his mission. And if we are more concerned with the color of the carpets than souls going to hell, then we need to examine our hearts and rediscover the mission of the church. And so Jesus prayed for our unity.
In verse 11 Jesus prayed: 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.”
And in verses 20-23, he said, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
No Perfect Church
The world is always watching us. The question is does the world know by watching you that God sent Jesus and that Jesus loves them as God loves His Son?
There are no perfect churches because churches are filled with broken people
The simple fact is we live in a broken world full of broken people and we are all broken because of sin. Therefore there are no perfect churches. Every church is filled with people who are broken – people just like you and me. Satan loves to stir up trouble within the body of believers. And He will do so every opportunity he gets.
There are no perfect churches because we all have different backgrounds and experiences
There is another reason there are no perfect churches. Each one of us have had different experiences in life, different traditions handed down, and different options and attitudes. Our life experiences shape and define how we interpret and view the world around us. Through our life experiences, we tend to make assumptions or unintentionally misunderstand someone else’s motives or feelings. We have all experienced a time when someone hurt our feelings or disappointed us in some way. All these things can stir up disunity.
There are no perfect churches because we see it as “my church” rather than Christ’s church.
Think for a moment about when you and a friend are talking about the two churches you attend. Most likely refer to the church you attend as “my church.” As a member of the body of believes that fellowship at that location, we take on ownership of the church. And we can be quiet stubborn and selfish when things don’t go the way we want them to. Churches have split over the color of the carpets, where the piano should be on the stage, whether to sing praise songs or old hymns. Wherever Satan can cause division – he will. But we must remember that the church doesn’t belong to us. It is Christ’s church. He bought and paid for it with His own blood. The church either looses its testimony or it will close its doors whenever we allow Satan to breed disunity and strife within the body of Christ.
Jesus prays for us because his goal is “That The World May Believe That You Sent Me”
Disunity is important to the cause of Satan. However, unity is important to the cause of Christ. In verses 21 and 23, we find why unity in the body of believers is so important. Both of these verses tell us unity is important because then the world will believe that God sent Jesus.
Jesus stressed the purpose for our harmony in vs. 21. There He prayed “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, THAT THE WORLD MAY BELIEVE THAT YOU SENT ME.” When we are unified, the world sees how much God loves them. They learn the Jesus died for them and paid the price and punishment for their sins. They learn that Jesus rose again and that He wants no one to perish but that all will be saved. The world will believe that God send Jesus – and that is the gospel message.
When we live together in unity, loving each other as Christ has loved us (John 13:34-35), they will know that we are a disciple of Christ. If a lost person walked in to your church this Sunday and it is the only time ever they hear about Jesus, what will he or she learn about Jesus by observing and attending your church? How many people will not make it to heaven because they came to your church and there was no unity?
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