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John 17

While there are over 650 prayers in the Bible, none match the splendour and majesty of this one, which is the longest recorded prayer in Scripture.

This, really is the Lord’s prayer because it is prayed by Jesus. The other prayer in Matthew 6 called ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ a lot of commentators say would be better titled. ‘The disciples prayer’.

Jesus prayed this prayer out loud for the benefit of others. And you know, it is our privilege to overhear this prayer. We also see this practice in John 11:42 when He prayed to His Father: “I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

The setting for this prayer comes right after Christ’s words of comfort regarding the sending of the Holy Spirit and takes place either in the Upper Room or on His way to Gethsemane. In John 13-16, Jesus talked with His followers, In John 17 He talks with His Father. Preaching and Prayer always go together.

1. A Prayer God will Answer

When Jesus prayed, his requests were granted. Here’s how Jesus was able to live the glory of a God driven life, in John 17:1-5.

17 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour 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 know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing 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. Consider changing your prayer posture.

Look at the opening words of verse 1 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: There are times I’m sure when you and I should pray with our heads down, like the man who cried out for mercy in Luke 18:13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner’” but there are other ways to pray as well. Moses raised his hands, Daniel knelt, others bowed and some fell on their faces.

While there are many postures for prayer in the Bible, Jesus liked to look up when He prayed. This might feel awkward or odd for us, because maybe we’ve been taught to bow our heads and close our eyes. But you know, we too can look up because we have been justified and now enjoy a righteous standing before God because of what Christ has done for us.  Psalm 123:1: “I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven.”

2. Call out to God by name.

God goes by many different names in Scripture but the favourite one that Jesus used was ‘Father’. Someone once said ‘We can only call out to Him as Father when we are His children’. In this prayer alone the word ‘Father’ is used six different times.

3. Allign yourself with God’s timetable.

We see how God’s redemptive calendar has unfolded in the next phrase of verse 1. ‘The hour has come’ Our timing is not always God’s timing is it? We can take great comfort in knowing that God has a time in which He accomplishes things. And, as someone has said, ‘He’s never late and seldom early because He’s always on time.’ I was reminded of this a few weeks ago when I read Genesis 21:2 during my Quiet Time. “Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him.”

4. Go after God’s glory.

We see this in the last part of verse 1: “…Glorify your Son, that your Son my glorify you.” Drop down to verse 4: “I have brought you glory…” and to verse 5: “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had…” This is really what Christ’s life was all about and should be our only aim as well. I believe that there should be only one thing that drives our life and that’s the glory of God. Here’s what I want us to hold on to today and every day: Live the glory of a God-driven life.

I love the answer to the very first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

Q: What is the chief end of man?

A: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever.

The word ‘glory’ is one of those words that we use often but may not know what it really means. Well, I’m going to take a shot at it. It literally means, ‘To be heavy or weighty.’ And has to do with ‘reputation, fame, splendour and prestige. It’s also related to the word ‘magnify’ which means that when we give God the glory we’re really helping people see how big and beautiful He really is.

The opposite of giving glory to God is selfishness. If I’m interested in taking credit or focusing just on myself, then God doesn’t get the glory. And according to Isaiah 42:8, God is not interested in sharing His glory with others: “I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another…” Isaiah 48:11 says: “For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.”

Theologian Charles Ryrie put it this way: “God’s glory is His reputation. To live for God’s glory means to live so that God’s reputation is enhanced and not diminished in any way.”

5. Embrace eternal life.

Take a look at verses 2-3 where Jesus defines eternal life for us, which is actually the only specific definition in the Bible.  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 know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

Simply put, eternal life is a relationship of ‘knowing.’ Too many people make observations about God but they’ve never encountered Him in a personal relationship through His Son Jesus Christ.

I saw something on the internet this week. Some churches in America are considering using a hologram of their pastor to appear at their multi-site campuses. The holy hologram would do the preaching but the pastor would be elsewhere. One person left this comment, ‘Real fellowship requires interaction between people, technology makes things so impersonal sometimes!

I for one need social interaction with ‘live’ people! How can we be there for one another if we’re not really ‘there’?

 

A relationship with God the Father through the sacrificial death of His Son is designed to be personal, but you must receive Him into your life in order to experience eternal life. Eternal life doesn’t just mean that it will last forever, it’s when we have a relationship of knowing, you and I can experience it right now.

It’s possible to be religious and yet not have a relationship with God. In John 8:55 Jesus says, “Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word.” And, even close proximity to Christ does not guarantee that you know Him personally. We see this in the tough words Jesus had for one of his own disciples in John 14:9: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time?”

Have you entered into a personal relationship with God though Jesus Christ? If you have, are you growing in your knowing of Him? Hosea 6:3: “Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him.”

6. Rest in His finished work.

I spoke to someone recently who told me that he has to keep trying and working in order for God to accept him. Not true. What Jesus accomplished on the cross is complete and totally finished. Look at verse 4. “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.” Right before Jesus died, He cried out in John 19:30, “It is finished,” which means that the debt has been paid, the mission accomplished.

 

Jesus is looking ahead a few hours to the finished work on the cross but I think His words “completing the work” refer to something else very significant. Jesus’ strategy for reaching the world was to pour himself into people. Men were His method. People were more important than programs.

7. Gaze into the glory to come.

In verse 5, Jesus can’t wait to go back to the glory He had with the Father before He laid it aside to come to earth and then die for our sin. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. The cross is the way home to the Father, the gateway to glory where Jesus will be restored.

If you have a relationship with Jesus, there is glory to come for you as well. Romans 8:18: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

Thursday 21st of March 2019

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