Monday, October 25, 2010

Jesus’ Farewell Prayer: Part 3, Jesus’ Relationship with the world

Text: John 17

This final discussion regarding Jesus' farewell prayer centers on how Jesus views the world. From His perspective, we can gain insight on how we should interact with the world.

The word "world" (Greek: "cosmos") is used in the Bible, and in this passage in particular, in several different senses. It may refer to the entire created universe (v.5) or to Planet Earth, or to the human population of the world.

Or, as is found most often in this passage, it may refer to the spiritual forces in human society that are opposed to and alienated from God. This is the "evil system" controlled by the devil and all the institutions used to advance this agenda. This would include systems of government, art, music, and media. The Bible says, "The whole world lies in the power of the evil one." What is valuable to the world? Money, power, pleasure, and the advancement of self.

Here are six things that can be learned from Jesus' prayer regarding the world:

1. Christians have been saved out of the world. (v.6) Every person starts out as part of this evil system. Every person starts out lost. Every person is in need of salvation.

And, every person is either still part of this evil system or part of Jesus' kingdom. Jesus contrasts His people against the world (v.9). He states that He is specifically NOT praying for the world; He is praying only for His people. He states that His people know Him and the world does not (v.3, v.25). This is the Doctrine of Twos -- there is no middle ground; you are either for God or against Him.

2. Jesus has left Christians in the world. (v.11,15) Christians are not taken out of the world as soon as they are saved! This is the place God wants for us to be. He wants us here, in the world. He has work for us to do.

3. The world hates Christians. (v.14) The world hates Christians because they hate Jesus. The Christian's righteous life is a rebuke to the world. The gospel is deeply offensive to the world -- it says, "You need Christ!" The Bible says, "All those who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." (2 Tim 3:12)

4. The world is a spiritually dangerous place for Christians. (v.15) The devil makes the world look attractive. In 2 Timothy, we read of Demas, who, "having loved this present world" deserted Paul. We are exhorted in 1 John 2:15 not to love the world or the things in the world. The world can tempt or discourage us. But, the power of God is within us to help us to escape the devil.

5. Christians are in this world, but not of this world. (v11, v16). We are pilgrims here in this world; it is not our home. There is a uniqueness and a separation for Christians. We are different, and we are supposed to be so. How does this separation occur? Not merely through rules and regulations. We should look to the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus describes His people and how unique and radical they will be.

6. Jesus sends Christians into the world. We are on a mission! In verse 20, Jesus prays for those who are yet to believe on Him, the future fruit of His disciples. Jesus prays that the world may believe (v.21) and know (v.23) Him. This is our calling, what we are here to do. Let us do it with our whole heart!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Jesus’ Farewell Prayer: Part 2, Jesus’ Relationship with His Children

Text: John 17

Consider the things Jesus says regarding His desires for us, His children, in the prayer listed in John 17. Remember that this is the prayer He gave right before the events of His crucifixion. Be encouraged to remember that Jesus always prayed with perfect faith and always prayed exactly the will of God; all Jesus' prayers are answered.

Let us consider six things that Jesus prays for us:

1. That we may know God. (v.2-3). Knowing God, Jesus says here, is the very definition of what eternal life is. Knowing God is not just a mental assent to the facts about God; it is a very personal and intimate relationship with Him. We know God through Jesus; He is the Way to God, the only true Way.

2. That we might have fullness of joy. (v. 13) What joy? "My joy," Jesus says. This is the result of the gospel: joy made full. And it's not just a trickle of joy here and there, but fullness of joy. In heaven our joy will be made complete, but joy for the Christian begins on earth. Joy is essential to the Christian! It was important to Jesus here, and we have the example of the apostles constantly talking about being joyful.

3. That we might be kept safe. (v. 11, 15) Jesus prays that we would be "kept" -- kept to God, close to Him, His truth, and all of Him. He also prays that we would be kept "from the evil one". We must not be deceived -- there is a spiritual battle raging around us and Satan and his evil hosts want to bring us down. Jesus prays that God would preserve us. We have confidence (James 4:7) that if we submit ourselves to God, resisting the devil, we will be kept.

4. That we might be sanctified in the truth. (v. 17, 19) Sanctification is defined as being "set apart" from the world unto God, for holiness. Jesus here prays for God to do it. We are not passively sitting by, but ultimately sanctification is a work of God. (Philippians 1:6) How are we sanctified? "In the truth" -- through the Word of God. The more we know of the Word of God, the more we let the Word "dwell in us richly" as Colossians talks about, the more sanctified we will become.

5. That there would be unity among believers. (v. 11, 22, 23) Note that every time Jesus refers to our unity, He relates that to the unity of Himself and the Father. We are joined together with Christ, and, through Him, are joined together with the Father. Ephesians 4:3 is an exhortation to "preserve the unity" of the saints. Note that unity is a natural thing; we should be careful not to do anything to mess it up. Preserving unity requires humility and self-sacrifice. It is so important to have love for other Christians, it is given as a test for authenticity is 1 John.

6. That we might be with Him. (v.24) We want to be with Jesus. The amazing thing is, He wants to be with us, too; He desires for us to be with Him. Even as He was looking ahead to the cross, and considering all that He would suffer for us, He was looking to the final end result, and praying that God would bring us all to glory with Him. The essence of heaven is being with Jesus where He is, that we might behold His glory.

Jesus’ Farewell Prayer: Part 1, Jesus’ Relationship with the Father

Text: John 17

This passage in John 17 contains Jesus’ longest recorded prayer.  Jesus made this prayer in sight of His coming death on the cross.  In this first part, we will look at six things this prayer teaches us about Jesus’ relationship with the Father.

1. The Father and the Son have an eternal relationship.  This is made clear in verses 5 and 24.  The Father and the Son shared a love and a glory before the world existed.

2. The Father loves the Son.  See verses 23, 24, and 26.  This is a boundless, eternal, perfect love.  Love begins with God the Father.  Because we are made in His image, we can also know love.  The love God the Father has for the Son is the same love that He has for us.  We can be brought into this love relationship thr0ugh union with Christ.  Note that this was prayed with the cross in view; this great love is even in view of the wrath to be poured out upon the Son by the Father on the cross.

3.  The Father and the Son are in unity.  They are one.  See verses 11, 21, and 22.

4.  The Father has sent the Son on a particular mission.  (v. 3, 4, 8, 21, 23)  The Father initiated and sustains His work.  Jesus was totally obedient to His Father.  Even the content of His teaching was received directly from His Father.

5.  The Father has given a people to the Son.  (v. 6, 9, 24)  The Father has selected certain souls out of the world have given them to the Son.  This is important to Jesus.  See also John 6:37 and John 10.  Jesus keeps referring to this gift from the Father – it is especially important because it is a gift from Someone He loves so dearly.

6.  The Father and the Son glorify each other.  (v. 1, 4, 5, 22, 24)  What is “glory”?    It is manifested excellence.  Even the cross, with its humiliation and scorn, was a glorious thing.  Jesus displayed the love and mercy and grace of God clearly in His death.  We see in Philippians 2:8-11 that Jesus humbled himself in obedience to suffer and die on the cross, and it was for this reason that the Father glorified Him highly.  And then, in verse 11 of that passage we see that the glory is returned to the Father.