Thanksgiving! – John 17:1-13
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 22, 2015
The early Pilgrims understood thanksgiving. In fact, after surviving the first years in the American wilderness, they deliberately set out to print a song book of praise taken from the Psalms. The Bay Psalm Book is an important piece of our nation’s history. It was the first book entirely written and printed in the Colonies. When one considers the difficulties of mere survival during this time, accounting for the short time of 20 years after the first arrivals in Plymouth in 1620, the magnitude of the effort and accomplishment is even more impressive. The first printing press in New England was purchased and imported specifically to print this book in order to give God praise and thanksgiving! Why would our forefathers make such a big deal out of praising and thanking God?
We can forget what we are truly thankful for when we are faced with the difficulties of life. Jesus knew this to be true as well and when his disciples would face the coming hours and days ahead it would be very difficult indeed. So, he begins to share with them what they could be thankful for during these times in life and to help them face the future they would go through. Let’s discover what we can be thankful for…
READ: John 17:1-13
The early pilgrims were neither grim nor dire in their worship or attire as some would have you believe. In fact they were very pious and joyful. This is to be true for all those who place their faith and trust in Jesus. This is why…
I. I thank God for the glory of Jesus! (Vv. 1-5)
After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
1. Right after Jesus had told his disciples that they had peace in the world because he had overcome the world, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.” This is what Jesus was all about as he walked this earth; his desire was to glorify God in everything he did. Here we find Jesus prayed first for Himself (17:1-5), then for his chosen disciples (17:6-19), and finally for future believers (17:20-26). And in the prayer for himself he asks that he would glorify God in what was about to come; his trial, execution, and burial. Notice how he prays. Jesus refers to the Father’s plan and his Sonship. Again it is a reference to the fact that God is triune, three distinct personalities with one purpose; his plan: “For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.” Jesus is totally God and he has the authority to grant eternal life to all people that he chose while he followed his will here on earth. This eternal life is “that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” The idea conveyed here is that those who come to him by faith will completely understand the only “true” God there is through Jesus! This is now possible because of the Holy Spirit when one believes. It is a personal relationship that is complete, continuing, and constant. We know God because we know the glory of Jesus. In fact, Jesus gives God “glory on earth by completing the work” God gave him “to do”! Jesus finishes his prayer for himself by praying, “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” He was ready to complete the plan of God that has always existed “before the world began”! I thank God for the glory of Jesus!
EXAMPLE: The glory of Jesus is the glory of God in human flesh. He completely displayed God’s glory in his willingness to be obedient to God’s plan. We find God the Father publicly stating he is pleased with Jesus at his birth, baptism, and ascension. The glorification of Jesus is found in who he is, what he did, and where he resides; in the work and will of God. I thank God for the glory of Jesus!
When one considers the life they have compared to the wonder and knowledge of God we cannot help but be amazed. In fact I am amazed like Paul was that the Creator of all things would choose me as his own and therefore…
II. I thank God Jesus chooses us! (Vv, 6-10)
“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them.
1. When Jesus came his incarnation changed everything about God and what we know about the divine. He personally showed us what an unknowable God was like! He prays, “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world.” There is no longer any mystery concerning who God is and how he relates to us. In fact we learn that God personally chose those who would be Jesus’ disciples, “They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word.” The disciples were once devout Jews, but now they were followers of a new testament, a new relationship with God through his Son! They now had a select mission to form the church and they would need all that Jesus had taught them in order to be strong in him. Because of this intimate relationship the followers now knew “everything” God had “given” Jesus came from God! How is this possible since for thousands of years only those who were found worthy could enter into the presence of a holy God? Jesus explains in his prayer: “For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.” They now knew Jesus was the Messiah sent from God. They knew he was who he said he was. Paul would remind us that “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29 NIV) This is why Jesus prays, “I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.” These are those he has chosen and not the mindless world that does not care and is not concerned about God! We discover that when we belong to Jesus, we belong to God! Jesus prayed, “All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them.” Wow! The disciples were now God’s as we are now God’s because of Jesus who chose them! I thank God Jesus chooses us!
EXAMPLE: Paul writes, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” (Romans 8:28-30 NIV) Paul knew God “chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will–to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” (Ephesians 1:4-6 NIV) I thank God Jesus chooses us!
One of the things the world cannot understand is the friendship and comradeship believers enjoy. In fact it is one reason how you can immediately tell if someone is faking their faith or not, true believers are uneasy around false piety. This is why…
III. I thank God we are one in Jesus! (Vv. 11-13)
I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name–the name you gave me–so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled. I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.
1. Now Jesus begins to get very personal concerning those he chose as his disciples. This is exciting to me because it reveals just how much Jesus cared and loved those men who decided to follow him. These were the ones who would build his church after his ascension. For me, I can almost picture the disciples listening intently as Jesus softly prays, “I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you.” He was leaving soon, his mission done, and now he was concerned for their safety and personal lives. He would leave but they would remain. Jesus was headed back home where he belonged but the disciples would remain to begin a new project for God. Jesus knew they would need spiritual strength and encouragement and so he prays, “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name–the name you gave me–so that they may be one as we are one.” The simple power of the person Jesus protects and gives us a new relationship with God! We are no longer separated; we are one in him because of Jesus! In fact, the disciples would now enjoy the same relationship with God that Jesus did; they and we are now one in God! Jesus knew just how important this was, “While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.” Jesus had protected them by his presence while he had been with them and now they were eternally safe in God because of Jesus! One was “doomed” because of his choice to betray Jesus, but the rest were safe and secure. This occurred to fulfill all of Scripture. Jesus finishes this portion of his prayer by saying, “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.” Jesus prayed this so his disciples would be filled with the joy of him! The same is true for us as well when we come to Jesus by faith and walk with him as his disciples. I thank God we are one in Jesus!
EXAMPLE: Being one with Jesus is not esoteric mysticism. Rather it refers to the fellowship we enjoy when we come to Christ by faith. It occurs because the Holy Spirit, the seal of God comes to live in us forever. It is the foundation of his church in the world. Paul would explain it for us, “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13 NIV)We share a common bond of God because of this. I thank God we are one in Jesus!
I thank God for the glory of Jesus! I thank God Jesus chooses us! I thank God we are one in Jesus!
This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.