Sermon on John 17:1-11
Text: After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:
“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
6 “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. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 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. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 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.”
As God inspired the Gospel writers, we find unique styles in each. Matthew appears to have been written to people who were brought up knowing the Old Testament. He shows how, time and again, what Jesus did was in line with Old Testaments prophecies. Luke’s Gospel is very chronological. When we read the Gospel of John, we see that it is a very personal Gospel. We find more sermons that were spoken by Jesus than the other Gospels. We also have the very personal interactions that took place in the Upper Room. This morning, we are going to look at the beginning of a prayer that Jesus prayed that evening. Listen as THE SON PETITIONS THE FATHER. 1. ‘Glorify Your Son As He Completes His Mission.’ 2. ‘Protect Your People As They Continue Theirs.’
Jesus begins his prayer by saying, “Father, the hour has come.” The hour has come. Jesus knew what was going to happen soon. He knew that he would be arrested, tried, and crucified. He also knew that, on the other side, he would rise again on Easter morning. The hour had come for all of this to begin. However, there is more to it than just what was going to happen soon. The hour had also come for all of God’s promises and prophesies to be fulfilled. Going back to the Garden of Eden, after the fall into sin, God had promised a seed of the woman who would crush the serpent’s head. As he did so, the serpent would bruise his heel. The hour had come for God’s promise to send a Savior to be realized. Jesus knew that there was more going on than the plot of the religious leaders of his day to get rid of him. This was the time when the world would be rescued from sin, death, and the devil.
Jesus said, “Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.” Jesus prayed that the Father would give him the strength necessary to carry out his Father’s will. As true God, there is nothing that is impossible for Jesus to do. Yet, Jesus also had a human nature. Jesus prayed that the Father would glorify him, that he would invest Jesus’ human nature with his divine attributes. In turn, Jesus would glorify the Father. The glorious attributes of the Father would shine out in the world through the work of the Holy Spirit in the gospel and the Church. These words remind us that it was Jesus’ sole mission as he was here on the earth. He came to do his Father’s will. This meant that he was to perfectly follow every one of the commandments that the Father had given to mankind. It meant that he was willing to even follow this path that would lead to a cross. There he would not only suffer the physical torments of crucifixion. He would also suffer the torments of hell. This was all done because this is the plan that the Father had devised from eternity. Jesus prayed that he might carry out his Father’s will and, in doing so, his Father would be glorified.
Jesus said in verse 3 that he had come that “he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.” He did not come to bring judgment, but eternal life. Jesus identifies for us exactly what he means: “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” Eternal life is knowing the only true God. There are many things that clamor for our attention and try to set themselves up as god in our lives. It might be our relationships. It might be our possessions. It might be our free time. Many things try to take this place in our lives. However, there is only one true God. He is the one who has created us and all things. He is the one who sustains us every day. He is the one who is to have the number one place in our lives. Eternal life is knowing Jesus Christ. This knowledge is, first of all, an acknowledgment of whom and what we are by nature. We are lost and condemned sinners. We were born outside of the family of God. We also see evidence of this fact in our day to day lives. We see it every time we refuse to help those whom we could so easily help, because we did not want to be bothered. We see it when we only go through the motions of caring about others. Every selfish thought, every angry word, all of these and so many other things like this are sins. Because of them, we should be cast out of our God’s loving presence for all eternity. As odd as it might sound, this is the first part of knowing Jesus Christ. It is an acknowledgment that we cannot get right with God on our own.
The second part then turns its attention to the work that Jesus did on our behalf. It sees that Jesus perfectly fulfilled his Father’s will. He lived a perfect life for us, according to his Father’s will. He then, willingly went to the cross where he paid for all of our sins. This knowledge of Jesus includes the fact that he did not stay dead. On Easter morning, he broke the chains of death and rose from the grave. It is knowing that Jesus has ascended into heaven and is, even now, preparing a place for us. This knowledge is, as Jesus said, eternal life.
Please note that this knowledge is more than just a mere acquaintance with some facts, like being able to recite the Gettysburg Address or the multiplication tables. There are many people who have this sort of knowledge about Jesus. They can recite many things about Jesus and quote him extensively. This is not a knowledge that saves. Even the devil and all his evil angels know about Jesus. Yet, they, as well as many people will not be saved. This knowledge is more than just knowing the facts. It is trusting in Jesus. It is believing that Jesus is your Savior. This type of knowledge does not just fill your brain. It affects the way that you live your life. Because you trust in Jesus, you want to do things that are pleasing to him. This type of knowledge is increased as we read and study his Word. It is increased when we receive the Lord’s Supper. Jesus did not just come into the world to rescue the world. He also made sure that people were brought to trust in him as their only hope of salvation. He knew that, as people glorified him for what he did, his heavenly Father would also be glorified. That is why Jesus began his prayer, asking that his Father would glorify him as he completed the mission that was placed before him.
We also note something else about Jesus’ prayer. Here he was, on the brink of his suffering, death, and resurrection, and he includes other people in his prayers. It is so easy for us to become so self-absorbed in our prayers that we forget to pray for others. In his prayer, Jesus prayed for his disciples. He said, “I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.” There are other places where Jesus prayed for the entire world. Here, Jesus comes to his Father on behalf of his followers. Jesus prayed, “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.” By nature, they, we are part of this world, which is estranged from God. However, by God’s grace, we have become believers in Jesus. We are obedient to his word, as we seek to praise our God with our lives.
In verse 11, we find the reason that Jesus is praying for his believers, “I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you.” Jesus knew that soon he would be returning to the Father in heaven. His followers would be left here on this earth. His flock would be harassed on every side. The devil was going to come and try to rip the truth of God’s Word away from them. He would introduce false teachings. There would be the temptation to run after this idea and that thought.
Because of this, Jesus prayed, “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.” Jesus prayed for the protection of his flock, after he returned to heaven. He said, “protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me.” When he says, “protect them by the power of your name,” he does not mean that God’s name is some sort of magic word and if you say it three times, the devil will run away from you. Rather, God’s name is everything that he has revealed to us about himself in his Word. The more we are in the Word, the more our faith is strengthened. Otherwise, we are like a soldier going into battle without our weapon. We are defenseless. We are easy pickings for the devil. Then, we will listen to every one of his temptations. Then we will feel ourselves overwhelmed by the troubles and tribulations of this life. Then we will follow every new religious idea that comes out.
Jesus knew that we would be facing a very determined enemy. He knew that we could not stand on our own. That is why he prayed that his Father would protect us by the power of his name. When we are grounded in his Word, we see the devil’s temptations for what they are. They are not some harmless fun. They are soul-destroying. As the Father protects us by his name, we see that he has promised to always be with us. We are comforted in the fact that he will always provide and care for us. He will be there with us even in our darkest moments, when it seems as though no on else cares. We are reminded that he will make everything in our lives work out for our benefit. As the Father protects us by the power of his name, we will not blow back and forth with every new religious idea or novelty that comes down the pike. There will be temptations to compromise the truths of God’s Word. We know that God’s Word is the rock upon which we can base our hope of eternal life. We will defend the teachings that are found there, even those ones that the world will not appreciate. They will call us narrow-minded. They will call us “old-fashioned.” With God’s help, we stand up for the truths of God’s Word.
This is all a part of our mission here on this earth. Just as Jesus prayed that his Father would help him complete the mission set before him, he prays that the Father would protect us as we carry out the mission that he has given to us. That mission is to remain in our faith in him and to proclaim his name to the world. The ultimate benefit of this is found as Jesus says, “that they may be one as we are one.” We join with fellow believers in glorifying our God. There is unity, not just because of a church body, but because of a common, true faith. This unity is exemplified by the unity that exists between the Father and the Son. This unity is only partially realized here. It will be fully realized when we are in heaven. In the meanwhile, we are to be busy, doing the work that our Savior has given us to do, remaining in the faith and sharing that faith with those around us.
It is interesting to see how people react under pressure. Are they calm or do they explode? Where do they look for help when under pressure? Do they go to their friends? Do they trust in themselves and their abilities? What a wonderful insight God has given us into the heart of Jesus. As he prepared to complete the mission his Father gave him to carry out, he turned to his Father in prayer. He prayed for himself. He also prayed for us. We thank our Savior that he had such a loving heart. He came to be our Savior. He made sure that we were brought to the knowledge of what he has done for us. He prays that we would be protected as we carried out the work he has given us to do. He also prayed for those who did not yet know him. May the Lord help us to model our prayers after his. May he give us the wisdom to come to him in prayer and the heart to care and pray for others. Amen.
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