Prayer for the Disciples! – John 17:14-26
By Pastor Lee Hemen
December 27, 2015
If you knew your life was going to be cut short, how would you pray for those you care about? Perhaps you do not know what you would pray, but it is a good question to consider. I believe it is because so many of us say we will pray for others but few of us truly know what to pray or how to pray for others. Often we fall back into the trite and simplistic prayers we have often voiced. I have learned over the years that prayer is so much more than we realize. We should stand in awe of the fact that our prayer is our conversation with God himself. It is not some psychological or mystical crutch we use to sooth our guilty conscience.
Here in John’s gospel we find Jesus intimately praying for his disciples and for us! Why would Jesus pray if he was God? We have learned that although Jesus is God he willingly placed himself in human form, developed and taught by his example what it meant to walk closely with God. Prayer for Jesus was more than a means to ask for rescue or answers, it was a conversation. We discover some very interesting things concerning prayer as we listen anew as we study Jesus’ prayer for the disciples…
Prayer is not the least thing we can do, it is the best thing we can do when we ourselves cannot actively help. Prayer is not for those who do not know God because it is like whistling in the wind, one cannot expect answers from someone they do not know. We discover that…
I. Jesus’ prayer was for the other worldly! (Vv. 14-17)
I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
1. This prayer of Jesus is interesting because it shares with us his deep concern he had for those he had chosen to follow him. Jesus knew he was headed home and now he relates in his prayer, “I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.” Jesus had taught the disciples the word of God, the good news concerning the Messiah and the kingdom of God and because of this the world hated them. When one hears the words of God, believes them, and follows Jesus you are no longer part of this world, you belong to God. Jesus chose each one to follow him, they decided to go with him and learn God’s words and therefore they were no longer part of this world anymore than Jesus was. Now Jesus did not mean his followers were to be otherworldly, but rather his disciples were no longer part of that which is dying, fading, and lost! John would later write, “For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:16-17 NIV) When one trusts Jesus they are not taken out of the world but rather they no longer belong to the world and what it longs for. Jesus continued, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” Jesus was asking that his followers would be protected from the schemes of Satan like what Judas fell for. Jesus understood what it meant to follow him and asks that his disciples be sanctified; that is made holy by the truth, the word of God! Jesus was not praying for their success, to be kept from sickness, or even to be kept from death; none of these things actually matter in God’s kingdom. What matters is that we remain in Jesus! This is what Jesus prayed for! He was praying for those who knew the truth concerning the kingdom of God. Jesus’ prayer was for the other worldly!
EXAMPLE: Believers are to pray in the will of God! We waste a lot of words, time, and effort pleading with God concerning things that are of this world and not for the kingdom of God. We often already know the answer before we pray. I have heard the circular argument over and over where some are quick to ask, “Don’t you believe God can answer prayers?” My reply is always, “Yes, but he will never answer prayers we already know not to pray.” When Jesus remarked, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (Matthew 21:22 NIV) he did not mean that God is some kind of special genie who grants our every wish. We forget that Jesus qualified that when we pray, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” (John 15:7 NIV) We are to ask as we remain in Jesus; Jesus’ prayer was for the other worldly!
We were warned that “when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” (Matthew 6:7 NIV) In fact, we are to pray ” your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10 NIV) Why is this so important? Jesus knew that prayer is more than a list of things to recite; we learn that…
II. Jesus prayed for our sanctification! (Vv. 18-21)
As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
1. We are not part of this world just as the one we follow is not part of this world. We now belong to God; therefore we are to live and pray like it! However, we still live in the world and we have a job to do. Jesus prays, “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” As his followers we are his ambassadors just as the disciples were. We are to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything [Jesus] commanded”. (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV) Jesus was leaving them physically but asked God to watch over them spiritually. Jesus was already set apart for his mission but now he was dedicated to complete it on the cross. The purpose of the death of Christ was to bring believers to God’s kingdom! Jesus’ prayer was “not for them alone” but he also prayed “for those who will believe in me through their message”! That’s us, “that all of them may be one, father, just as you are in me and I am in you!” While some erroneously think this means all Christians are to agree with one another in ecumenical unity; when heresy creeps in we are to reject it, period. Jesus was praying for the spiritual unity we enjoy and the unifying nature of adhering to God’s truth! Paul would admonish we are to put on the love of God “which binds [all virtues] together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:14 NIV) “Your attitude,” Paul writes, “should be the same as that of Christ Jesus”! (Philippians 2:5 NIV) Jesus continued by praying, “May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me” because he knew his mission would not be completed until he returned again. He was leaving his disciples and their disciples, us, to complete the task. Jesus was praying we would remain holy in him; Jesus prayed for our sanctification!
EXAMPLE: It should be gratifying to realize that the Messiah, the Savior of the world prayed for our sanctification! He prayed we would remain holy in him! How sad is it then when there are those who erroneously think they have to continually do good deeds in order to garner God’s grace. They forget that by the will of God “we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:10 NIV) Paul told Titus that Jesus “gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” (Titus 2:14 NIV) We do good things because we love God. Jesus prayed for our sanctification!
There is a false notion that persists in our day that Jesus exists for our enjoyment and happiness. Therefore when we pray we should focus on ourselves instead of what God truly desires for us instead. In his prayer here in John’s gospel we discover that…
III. Jesus prays to glorify God! (Vv. 22-26)
I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.
1. Jesus continues by praying something that we may find difficult to believe, “I have given them the glory that you gave me”. What does Jesus mean? Well, he is speaking about the honor God incurred by sending Jesus as the Messiah. God did this that “they”, meaning anyone who follows Jesus, “may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me.” When we believe in Jesus the Holy Spirit comes to reside in each of us and when he does, we are one, united, in God. Jesus relates, “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” He desired everyone would know he had come from God and that the love of God was completely expressed through Jesus’ coming! In fact, Jesus’ strongest desire was that those the father had given him would be with him where he was and that they would “see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” The fellowship we will enjoy with Jesus will increase in its wonder, joy, and awesomeness! Jesus is also praying about his eternal nature and ability to do what he is praying for! He wanted the world to know exactly who God was and why he came, “though the world does not know you, I know you, and they [his followers] know that you have sent me.” Jesus had in fact “made [God] known to them, and [he would] continue to make [God] known in order that the love [God had] for [Jesus] may be in them and that I myself may be in them!” Jesus wanted the world to know the love of God and that he displayed it completely by his death and resurrection. Now, he also does it through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit which resides in those who trust him, the presence of God’s love abides in those who place their faith in Jesus, God’s Son. All of this was to bring glory to God. Jesus prays to glorify God!
EXAMPLE: We can forget that Jesus “being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:8-11 NIV) If Jesus did everything in life to bring glory to God, shouldn’t we also? This is why Peter would admonish us to “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (1 Peter 2:12 NIV) We forget that even our prayer is to glorify God!
Jesus’ prayer was for the other worldly! Jesus Prayed for our sanctification! Jesus prays to glorify God!
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.