If Jesus were to pray one thing for you what would you want? I’m guessing: Find a vaccine for Covid-19, get me a job, let my Nunna live. Let's find out what Jesus prayed for you 2000 years ago, maybe we can pray the same thing for each other.
Things are moving rapidly with Coronavirus now and things were moving rapidly for the apostles then. Our Lord is preparing them for his death and it’s just hours away. He ends with a prayer to his Father, the same Father he is returning to. There are three sections to this prayer.
Point 1. Jesus prays for himself.
Let's look at John 17:1
After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. (NIV)
The hour has come. God’s clock was counting down to this one moment in history. At the cross God's light will shine brightest. Jesus wants to return to the splendor that he once had with the Father. "Take me home Dad." This is Jesus’ version of "Beam me up scotty."
But notice, Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. Even when Jesus is asking for himself he is still focused on the glory of the Father. He lives solely for his Father's pleasure. His whole ministry can be described that way. Verse 4
I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do (NIV)
Jesus glorifies his Father by speaking His words, doing His works and obeying His will. And guess what? It’s no different for you.
Are you wondering, like me, how you’re going to cope with self isolation for 6 months? Especially you extraverts out there. You glorify the Father by doing the work he has given you. Yes, you may be shut out of your workplace and be locked in your house or unit, but that space is where you give honour to God.
Don’t waste this pandemic. Don’t postpone your godliness during this season. Finish the work God has given you on this earth. Love him and love others. The unique work given to Jesus is to give eternal life to all those the Father has given him For we read the word Eternal life and we think ETERNITY.
Arthur Stace who for 35 years wrote down the word “Eternity” on the streets and sidewalks of Sydney to help people find God. But eternal life is not the same as eternity. See verse 3
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (NIV)
You don’t have to go to heaven to live forever, Hell is as much eternal as Heaven.
You don’t have to wait for heaven to have eternal life. Eternal life begins now as you enter a relationship with the Father and the Son and because the Father/Son are eternal that relationship will never end.
Why does Jesus want to be glorified? So that others may treat his Father with the honour he deserves. Victory for Jesus is victory for the Father.
Get that and you get the meaning of life. You can endure a boring job, a difficult marriage and or 6 months in isolation.
Point 2. Jesus prays for the 11 Apostles
Jesus now prayers for 11 apostles because Judas has gone to betray Jesus. It’s worth noting as Jesus faces his own certain death, He is totally concerned for others:
He now, in verse 9, prays for his apostles but surprise, surprise, He does not prayer for the world.
I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours (NIV)
There is the infinite chasm between those who belong to the world and those who belong to the Father. It’s true, God loved the world that he gave his only Son. He will send his disciples to witness to the world that hates him. His prayer is for those whom the Father has chosen out of the world. He will not pray for the world just like he will not pray for Satan.
Friends, please accept Jesus and leave the world in its rebellion against God; there is no future and there is no hope for those who remain in the world. To love the world is to hate Jesus. So, what does Jesus prayer for the 11 apostles? Verse 15 tells us
My prayer is … that you protect them from the evil one (NIV)
Jesus doesn't want them to fall away. Satan’s mission is to destroy Christ’s church. Friends, there is nothing more important than remaining with Jesus to the end. Satan has successfully used self isolation to weaken and destroy Christians for 2000 years. Those who got out of the habit of meeting and those who refuse to forgive someone so they stopped attending church and then slowly died.
With most churches going online, I fear Christians are looking for the best church show on TV and Church shopping has never been easier. Constantly flicking but never landing. It’s deadly. Friends, we have been trained to hunger and thirst for entertainment and novelty, not God and His word. Never has a generation like ours been more distracted and less able to concentrate. But Jesus has no interest in putting Christians in a Monastery. In fact, as we look at verse 15 again he will not pray for them to be taken out of the world.
My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one (NIV)
We are to be in the world and not of it. The boat is in the water but the water must not be in the boat.
It’s every Christian parent’s desire to keep the world from their children but you can’t completely shut the world out of Christian homes or Christian schools. The average age for a child to access porn is now 11yrs. What we have to learn is to teach one another to see through the lies of the world and the temptations of the flesh and the schemes of the devil.
Verse 12 tells us how successful was Jesus in protecting his own?
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. (NIV)
Jesus has a 100% success rate against Satan. Judas never belonged to the Father.
What comfort it is to be told by a doctor he has not lost one patient on his operating table. It's why many people fly Qantas, because there has not been one death since they started flying jets.
People who call themselves Christians may have fallen away, but not one chosen by the Father has fallen away, they may have drifted like Peter but they come back every time. Jesus also prayers in verse 17 that he may set them apart by the truth.
Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. (NIV)
These 11 have been chosen out of the world. they were chosen to be sent into the world with the truth. The ancient heroes of the church who pursued holiness were often found withdrawing: Anthony in the desert; Simeon Stylite up a pole for 36 yrs. But the 11 apostles are found in the world witnessing to the truth of Jesus Christ.
I wonder if there anyone in your household you can invite to sit down to hear next Sunday's message?
Point 3. Jesus prayers for you!
Turn to verse 20
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, (NIV)
I told you that Jesus was praying for you! Not just you! The Christians of the 2nd, 10th, 19th and 21st centuries. His eye was on those in Spain, Liberia, Indonesia, Uruguay and the Western Suburbs of Sydney. As Jesus pondered the cross he was thinking of you.
When my kids were young they loved going through my wallet. For 2 reasons: looking for money and they loved to put their photo in the front of the other brother or sister. For Jesus the photo of every child of God is at the front of his mind.
He is found praying for you, with his death just hours away. Our awesome Saviour has got his eye on the Father's glory,
the protection of his 11 apostle and the unity of believers 2000 years down the track and the witnesses to the world. What is the Son of God found praying for you? Verse 23 tell us:
... I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (NIV)
Jesus may not pray for the world but he prays for us who are in the world. He wants complete unity. That the unity of the Father and the Son is played out in the unity of believers. Praying we will get our act together and be like God - one in love and truth.
A lot is at stake. So that the world may know that the Father sent the Son – Jesus, is who he claims to be, that the Father loves us just as he loves his Son. That is why what you believe about Jesus matters. That is why how you treat others in the church family matters.
You can't afford to not forgive your brother and sister. The witness of the church is destroyed when love stops and truth doesn’t matter. The salvation of the lost is at stake and we make Jesus look bad and it gets in the way of the world believing.
Now that we don’t gather in person it is much harder. You must do what you can to stay connected. Gather online and encourage each other with the word. Ask how each other is doing? Discuss the question after this message.
Jesus prays for unity in love and truth. And His final prayer point: Verse 24 tells us He wants us to be with him:
“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. (NIV)
We live in a world of self isolation,we are creating physical distance and we are strict on who comes to visit and how many. Remember before the days of Covid 19, when you had people over for a meal or remember as a kid you would say to a friend. “Do you want to come to my place and see my bike or sound system? Come and see!”
Jesus wants you to come and see.
Jesus is not into self isolation, He has got no quarantine rules, He wants you with him for eternity, He has dealt with the virus of sin that has spread to all humanity, at the cross. It can’t hinder you from being with Jesus.
We now know what to pray for each other so let's pray.
Father we thank you for choosing us out of the world and giving us to your Son. We thank you Lord Jesus for praying for us such a long time ago. We praise Lord Jesus for living for the Father's glory by completing his work on earth.Help us during this trying season to glorify you in our self isolating space. Though scattered, help us to be united both in the truth of Christ and love for each other. Lord many of us are struggling, unable to gather, filled with anxiety. Help us to stay connected with each other online and around God's word. We want the world to know that Jesus is heaven sent. We thank you Lord that you want us to be with you. You want us to share the love and glory you have with the Father. In Jesus name.