Monday, March 29, 2010

Jesus Prays - The Disciples Grow

Jesus Prays – the Disciples Grow

Intro.: I wish I could have been around to hear Jesus.

  1. I wish that I cold have been part of the crowd on the hillside that day when he taught his followers the Lord's Prayer.
  2. I wish I could have seen Jesus perform one or two of His miracles.
  3. I wish I have heard Jesus tell parables in person.
  4. There is even part of me that wishes I could have been in the upper room that night when Jesus met with His disciples for one last time before his crucifixion.  Oh, I would never qualified to be one of the twelve – but maybe one of the servants that took care of preparing the table that evening.
  5. But I cannot, I can only read about Jesus conversation that evening in John 13-17. 
  6. As Jesus ended the evening, He prayed – He prayed about His own relationship to God, He prayed for His disciples, and He prayed for the church.
  7. During the next few minutes, I would like to look at the first two of these – reserving Jesus' final words about the church till next week.

Read John 17:1-19


  1. Jesus connects with God
    1. It has been busy week – a week that would leave a mark on the disciples, on the early church, and on the disciples.  
    2. It had begun with Mary washing the feet of Jesus with expensive perfume on Saturday afternoon, followed by Sunday's ride into Jerusalem with Jesus seated on the back of a donkey colt.
    3. But now, on Thursday evening, the disciples had gathered with Jesus for an evening meal.  
    4. The meal itself had started with an act so disgusting that the disciples would not allow it to happen until Jesus told them He must wash their feet.  And, then, over the next few hours, as they ate, Jesus teaches the eleven who remain with him for one more time.  He says those wonderful words that have brought more than one person to faith, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man can come to the Father, but by me.”  
    5. But now the hour is late, it is almost time to leave the upper room, And Jesus begins to pray.
    6. It is not the Lord's Prayer, but a prayer that has been highly regarded by the church for many years.  
      1. In the 1500's the Jesus' prayer found in John 17 came to be known as the “High Priestly Prayer” - a title that is still used in the headings of many Bibles.[1] 
      2. John Knox, a leader of the Protestant Reformation in England the founder of the Presbyterian church, called it “The Holy of Holies, in the temple of Scripture”.[2]
      3. Warren Wiersbe, a well known preacher in the 20th Century, called it, “the greatest prayer ever prayed on earth and the greatest prayer recorded anywhere in Scripture. John 17 is certainly the “holy of holies” of the Gospel record.”[3]
    1. Jesus is on the verge of returning home.  As we read the gospels we are often drawn to Jesus' humanity.  But we must never forget, that Jesus began life and finishes life in heaven.  

(Ill.) The prayer begins, “Father, the hour has come ..”  This contrast with the rest of the book of John – till now Jesus has reminded us that the “hour is coming” - but now it has arrived.  The time he has been preparing his disciples for is here.

    1. Now that the time is here, He asks, not once by twice, for the glory that really His, the glory that really belongs to Jesus be restored.
      1. Verse 1 says it first, “glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you.”
      2. But then in verse 5 he repeats that thought, “...glorify me in you own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.”
    1. As Jesus approaches His own death, we are reminded that Jesus is not only human, he is totally God.  He put aside His glory, he put aside the part of Him that made him look like God, in order to make the sacrifice that was necessary for our salvation. 
(Appl.)  We must never forget, that just as Jesus was totally human, he is also totally God.  It may be that as we come to the celebration of Easter that we are reminded of this fact more than at ant other time, but it is a truth that does not change with the seasons of the year.  Jesus Christ is totally God and Jesus Christ is totally God. 
  1. Jesus connects with His disciples
    1. Jesus begins by connecting himself to God.  He then helps us to understand the role of the disciples after His death.
    2. The eleven men left in that room were unique.  They had been chosen – God had given them, Jesus had shared himself with them.  Verse 6 reads, “I have manifested myself to the people whom you gave me out of the world.”  

(Appl.)  A person who makes disciples does one thing – he or she teaches.  He does that by words – Jesus has been doing that all evening.  A person who makes disciples also teaches by doing.  He walks alongside the disciple – and shares the hurts of life.  Both the disciples and disciplers.  It is a two way street.  Part of making disciples is showing, demonstrating, modeling, how I handle the pain and hurts of life, how I handle life's loses, how I handle life's joys.  At the same time, I need to be present when others are hurting or when others are celebrating.  Jesus had done that – we need to do the same as we face our own lives.

    1. Jesus also acknowledge that there would be certain amount of protection allocated to the disciples.  Look at the words Jesus uses as He prays – keep, kept, guarded, keep.  

(Ill.)  Someone has pointed out that it isn’t the ship in the water but water in the ship, which sinks ships. A ship can ride out the most severe storm so long as it isn’t capsized or punctured so that water gets inside. There may be a great external threat, but if the water can be kept out, the ship will remain afloat. It’s just so with the spiritual life of a Christian. We are in the world, but not of the world. All around us, and often very close to us, there are immoral and unspiritual elements which, if allowed to penetrate our defense, will surely “sink” us. Those elements must be kept out at all costs. We must be strong to keep the world out of our hearts and lives. John says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world” (1 John 2:15), and then identifies those things more closely as the “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.” The problem isn’t the Christian in the world, it’s the world in the Christian. Whatever takes our eyes off Christ, discourages us from serving Him in the church, or compromises our spirituality and morality in any way, can destroy us. “O soul be on thy guard; ten thousand foes arise.”[4]

    1. With the exception of John who was exiled to the Island of Patmos, the other ten men died difficult deaths.  The prayer to protect them was not for physical protection, but for spiritual protection.  All eleven of these men remained faithful till their deaths to Jesus Christ.  We too, with God's help, can remain faithful to God.
    2. Finally, Jesus asks God to sanctify his disciples.  When used in secular literature, santify means to “set apart” for a special purpose.  It might be grandma's vase or a favorite toy.  So, as believers, we are set aside – set aside for God's use.
    3. But santification also refers to our becoming more Christlike – as believers we are not to be stagnant, but growing, changing, becoming increasingly like the Jesus that we meet in scripture.  Will we never be like him, not till we die.  But we will also never stop becoming like him.

Conclusion:  As believers -

  1. God has chosen us to serve Him
  2. God will protect you as you depend on Him
  3. God will give you what you need to grow into who he wants you to be


[1]Barton, J. and Muddiman, J. (2001).  The Oxford Bible Commentary.  New York: Oxford University Press.

[2]Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson's Application Commentary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[3]Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

[4]AMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

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