The Lord’s Actual Prayer – Part 2
This week we are picking up where we left off last week, looking at what Jesus prayed just before going to the cross. So, we’re back in John 17, but starting at verse 12, which says, “During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me. I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold.” Jesus says here that He has protected those that the Father gave him by the name He gave Him. Remember, the name that the Father gave Jesus was Immanuel, which means, “God with us.” Then He says He saved them all, “except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold.” Peter tells us in Acts 1:20, “Peter continued, ‘This was written in the book of Psalms, where it says, ‘Let his home become desolate, with no one living in it.’ It also says, ‘Let someone else take his position.’” This is referring to Psalm 109:8.
There is a lot of talk about predestination. Many believe that God chooses who will be saved and who will not, but the Bible is extremely clear about this. In 2 Peter 3:9 we read, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” So, God doesn’t choose anyone to not be saved, the choice is ours. And, as far as the question of what the Bible says about predestination, Romans 3:29 tells us where this predestination comes from, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;” So, we are predestined, because God can see the future and He knows in advance who will accept him. It’s still our choice, but God knows all.
Back to John 17, verses 13-14 say, 13 “Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy. 14 I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.” Jesus tells the Father, “I have given them your word”. Immediately we think He’s talking about the Bible because that’s the word of God, right? What does John say in the first chapter of his book? John 1:1, “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Then He goes on in verse 14 to tell us just who that word is, “So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” So, when Jesus tells the Father that He gave us His word, what He is saying is that He gave us Himself…that’s truly awesome, isn’t it? It is the greatest gift of all! He goes on to say that the world hates us because we don’t belong to the world. That is still so true to this day. For some reason, in today’s world of “tolerance”, the only group that it’s okay to say bad things about, is Christians. I mentioned a few weeks ago about the ladies on The View referring to Christianity as “mental illness”. That’s not okay! But, Jesus warned us that they would hate us. In fact, Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3:12, “Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” Notice, he doesn’t say that we might, he says that we WILL suffer persecution.
But, here’s the thing, He says in verses 15-16, “15 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to this world any more than I do.” You see, leaving the world isn’t the answer. It’s imperative that we stay so that we can bring the world to Christ, but we must remember that we are not part of this world. Romans 12:2 tells us, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” We must be in the world, but we can’t be of the world.
In verse 17 He says, “Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.” So many times, I have heard Christians say that they can’t be holy, only God is holy, and yet in this verse, Jesus is praying that we will be holy. Here’s the thing, the word holy means “to be set apart”. As Christ followers, we are to be set apart, and that’s what Romans 12:2 is getting at. We must be transformed, we must change the way we think, we must be set apart. In fact, 1 Peter 1:16 says, “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must be holy because I am holy.’” Here, Peter is referencing Leviticus 11:44-45, 19:2, and 20:7. So, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t be holy…the truth is, you must be holy! And, how do we accomplish that? As we see in verse 17, by His truth. And, where does that truth come from? As it also says, “teach them your word, which is truth.” We also see this in Psalm 119:160, “The very essence of your words is truth; all your just regulations will stand forever”
Verses 18-19 tell us, “18 Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19 And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.” He is sending us into the world, and He has made us holy by God’s truth, through His sacrifice.
I love verse 20, “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.” This prayer is for me! This prayer is for you! This prayer is as much for us as it was for His disciples back then.
And, what is this prayer? Verse 21 says again, “I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.” There are four more verses to this prayer, but I’m going to end here, you can go study the other four yourself. I want to end on this note because this is so important. I have said over and over throughout my blogs that one of the key themes of the New Testament is that of the unity of believers. Christ’s prayer really drives that home, because, in the twenty-five verses of this prayer, two of them are praying that we would be united. That’s 8% of this prayer. Of all the things He could have prayed for, and all the things He did pray for, He prayed for our unity twice!
I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating. If we want to impact our world for Christ, we must be united. We must put aside our petty differences and unite around the shed blood of Jesus Christ. The only doctrine that matters is that of salvation by God’s grace, through our life-changing faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. PRAY FOR UNITY!