SABBATH

God's Gift to Us
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sermon: 'All Mine Are Yours!'

John 17:6-10
Martin G. Collins
Given 30-Apr-16; Sermon #1320; 63 minutes

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Martin Collins, acknowledging that because we still have human nature, selfishness dominates our prayer, in contrast to Christ, who devoted 5 petitions on His own behalf and 21 petitions on behalf of His disciples entrusted to Him by the Father to help Him bring glory to God. Jesus revealed the Father to the disciples, including the instructions to regard the Father as a loving parent. The disciples preserved this relationship in their prayers and in their relationship with one another as siblings with Christ. God has planned our way, doing the lion's share of the work, continually keeping us on track if we maintain a teachable attitude. If we observe Christ's words, there must be a demonstrable difference in our behavior and a commitment to obey His teachings in order to bear good spiritual fruit, adopting a lifestyle which the people of this world hate. Christ prays for us as He did for His original disciples because we too have been called by the Father and entrusted to Him. Christ values us because the Father values us.We glorify Christ when we obey Him, carrying His example of holiness to the world through our behavior and actions. As Christ intercedes in prayer for us, we must intercede in prayer for our brethren, realizing we are all in this together.




It is at the whole world’s expense that man pursues his own glory. We see it in our prayers. We pray for ourselves most of the time. And even when we pray for others it is often with a view toward what they can do for us. This is because we still have human nature to overcome. So much of what we do, even in prayer, has at least some element of selfishness motivating us.

In contrast, Jesus is never selfish, nor are His prayers selfish. It is true however that he prayed for Himself. In His prayer, recorded in John 17, He begins by praying for what concerns Himself.

John 17:1 Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You.”

Even here the request is never for Jesus’ interests as opposed to those of others. He asked to be glorified in order that He might, in turn, glorify the Father. These requests are not improper or even especially magnified.

We have a record of one petition concerning Himself, but for others. There are five verses in the first section of this prayer where Jesus is praying on His own behalf, but there are twenty-one verses in the next two sections in which Jesus prays for His disciples and for all who would inevitably follow them in faith.

John 17:6 “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.”

This verse says four things about Christ and His disciples. First, they are or were God’s. Secondly, that God has given them to Jesus. Thirdly, that Jesus has made God known to them, and fourth, they have received or kept the revelation.

The importance of this sequence is that it is repeated in the experience of everyone who ever comes to Jesus Christ. First, we are God’s, meaning that He can do with us what He likes; second, that we are given to Christ; third, the gospel was made known to us by Jesus Christ through His Spirit; and finally, we receive this teaching. We cannot help but notice that our response comes last in the sequence.

Now first of all Jesus says that the disciples were God’s originally. “They are yours,” Jesus says. In an important sense, everything that the exists is God’s because He made it originally and He can do with it as He pleases.

Now this is true of the material world—from the smallest atom to the greatest galaxy—all that exist is God’s and obeys the laws that He has set for it. Also we know that this is not some independent existence or some law apart from God, as if God were bound by it, because on occasion He oversteps His natural law to do what we instinctively term a miracle, thus demonstrating that creation is controlled by Him and not He by creation.

God’s right of possession is true in the realm of persons also. An event seems to go according to the nature of men and women because, like the material world, God does not always intervene supernaturally. Yet human events are no less ordered by Him and the destiny of individuals is also controlled. All things, whether material objects or persons, are in God’s hands and He can do with them as He likes.

But now, in addition to this general possession by God of all things, there is also a possession by God that is more specific and it is a possession of a holy people, who are His in this special way solely because of His election of them to salvation.

In Romans 8 Paul speaks of this in terms of God's possessive foreknowledge.

Romans 8:29-30 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

It is this possession of His own by God about which Jesus is primarily speaking in His prayer in John 17, because it sets them off as, “Those you gave Me out of the world.”

This possession anchors our salvation, not in any slight whim of the moment which we might have or in any faltering ability on our part to choose or keep choosing God, which we do not have, but rather in God's great purposes and possessions which alone are trustworthy.

Now the second point in the sequence, in John 17:6, is that those who were the Father’s in this special elective sense were then given to Jesus so that they became His possession as well.

The verse in which the phrase, “As many as you have given Me” or “those you have given Me,” occurs for the first time in John 17:2. The phrase occurs seven times in all and is therefore somewhat of a continuing theme throughout this prayer.

We must remember that Jesus had been in the world for more than thirty years by most estimates, and had probably conducted a public ministry of about three and one-half years duration. And what had been the result of all that preaching? He was in the world as the world’s light, He was filled with the fullness of God's character, He was sinless, gracious, pleasant, and as loving as anyone could possibly be. But He was not loved for it, instead He was hated. He was about to be crucified at the time of His arrest, even these who were now gathered about Him would be scattered.

Now where was the upside to this picture? The bright side was that, in spite of appearances, these disciples and countless others who would follow them in faith had been given to Jesus by the Father. Because it was He who had given them and because of His power these would most surely come to Him and would be kept by Him through the days of their earthly journey and eventually be united with Him forever in glory. It is a process that is set in stone, so to speak.

The knowledge that these had been given was a controlling perspective for Jesus as He went about His earthly ministry. He was confronting the sin-enslaving wills of men and women. Knowing this, He did not deceive Himself into thinking that anything was possible apart from God’s purpose and power in their lives. On one occasion we read that, even though many had been impressed with Him as a result of having seen His miracles, He did not commit Himself to them.

John 2:24-25 But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.

And another occasion He said, in John 6,

John 6:44 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Now Jesus knew the problem. He was under no illusions concerning the outward success of His ministry, as if by doing something spectacular, teaching more palatable doctrines, or preaching with just a bit more eloquence, He could perhaps win a few more souls to His side. He and His Father planned all of it and they knew exactly what the outcome would be. He expected it and worked with it to further God’s ultimate purpose.

Jesus did not think as the worldly Christian churches do, where you go out and try to save everyone. Consequently, as He went about preaching, He was concerned to conduct His ministry as God had instructed Him to conduct it, meanwhile looking about for those people whom God had given Him and expecting them to come to Him, because His Father was the one who called them. Did they come? Well only a few came.

At this point in His ministry there were the eleven collected by Him, plus a number of others who had been deeply influenced and who probably believed. There were not many, but these were God’s gift to Him, however few the number, and besides there would soon be others and Jesus rejoiced in the these and thanked the Father for them. He was not after quantity but after quality, and that quality was chosen by God the Father Himself.

We must not think that our salvation operates in a mechanical way, however, because in the same verse in which Jesus speaks of God’s activity of giving us to Him, He also speaks of His own personal activity in time to make the Father known to these people.

Jesus is speaking of this when He shows that next in the sequence of God’s application of salvation to the disciples is the fact that He literally had made the name of God known to them.

“The name of God” is a Semitic phrase for speaking about God’s attributes, and to make the name known is to reveal the God who possesses those attributes. Now there is the name Elohim, which is the name occurring in the first verse of the Bible. This name occurs thirty-two times in the first chapter of Genesis. This name speaks of God as Creator so we may believe that Jesus told the disciples about this aspect of God's nature.

Another name, the great name of God, is YHVH, from which some people a translate as Jehovah. This name has a variety of meanings, but it is used primarily in reference to God’s supreme excellence in sustaining everything as the self-existent and the Eternal.

Now Jesus revealed this about God as well as all God's other names such as El Elyon, Yahweh Jireh, Yahweh Sabaoth, among many more. Yet His approach to the names is only the theological and it is not the whole story. If by contrast we look at the matter historically asking what is the unique name of God revealed to us by Jesus, then we must say that the name is “Father.”

It is not generally appreciated how unique this name really is. Today we are comfortable with the thought of God as Father, but this was not true in Jesus’ day nor would it even have been thought to be proper.

Now some things that are beyond question about the introduction of God the Father. The first is that the title “Father” as a designation of God, was new with Jesus although it appears that the patriarchs, or at least many of them, were aware of Him. Also that Jesus authorized His disciples to use the same name thereby leaving a tremendous legacy for the church.

It is true in a worldly sense that the word “Father” for God is as old as religions, so to speak. Even the Greeks spoke of “father Zeus” who rules over the gods and mortal man. But in the biblical sense the word really means “Lord” or “the Eternal.” In Israel God was also said to be the “Father” of His people.

Isaiah 64:8 But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand.

Psalm 103:13 As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him.

But this is characteristically of the people as a whole. Nowhere, in either the Old Testament or in any other documents prior to the time of Jesus, does any individual Israelite ever address God directly as “my Father.” Yet this is what Jesus does always. He always calls God “Father,” and this undoubtedly impressed itself upon the disciples to such a degree that they preserved it in the records of Christ’s speech and prayers.

Not only do all four gospels record that Jesus uses this address, they also report that He did so in all His prayers. The only exception is one that actually enforces the importance of this title and it is Jesus’ cry from the cross where He says, “My God! My God! Why have You forsaken Me?” Pronounced at that moment in which Jesus was made sin for us, and the fellowship which He had enjoyed the Father previously temporarily broken.

Christ’s use of this title indicates His awareness that He was the Son of God in a unique sense, but amazingly He then revealed that it can be used by those who become sons of God in a lesser sense, by their union with Him. After His resurrection Jesus announced that the disciples could come to the Father as He came to Him.

Matthew 6:9 “In this manner, therefore, pray: our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.”

Then in John 20 it says:

John 20:17 Jesus said to her [Mary Magdalene], “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’”

Is this important? Of course it is because it means that while God is the great, high, exalted, eternal, self- sufficient, self-existent, omniscient God, He is, at the same time and in equal measure, the Father of all who believe. So we can come to Him, not with a prayer that says, “Oh, unreachable, unknowable God, far from us in Your majesty,” but rather with a warm and personal prayer that begins, “Our Father.”

Is God your Father? If He is then He will be a Father to you during the days of your spiritual growth to maturity and He will teach you to walk in the ways of God, as it says Hosea, concerning God's continuing love for Israel.

Hosea 11:1 “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son.”

Hosea 11:3-4 “I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by their arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love, and I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck. I stooped and fed them.”

God sets our way before us and helps us in it, He helps us accomplish His purpose. He actually does the work, but we have to be agreeable and work with God to overcome sin and serve the Father and Jesus Christ to the utmost of our ability.

If God is your Father then He will be a Father to you in His paternal care. The laws of our country recognize that a father is responsible for the care of his children. God accepts this responsibility also, not from the nations, but by His own laws, and He understands that he has a responsibility to take care of those who He has created.

You do not need to fear that the Great God of the universe, the one who owns and controls all things, will let you down or disappoint you or turn His back on you. This God clothes the small things of the earth.

Matthew 6:30 “Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”

If God is your Father, He will preserve you to the end and will not permit anything to change your relationship with Him, provided you were a willing participant. You may run away from Him as Jonah did, but He will still be your Father and bring you back, that is, if you have a teachable attitude. Now there is another step in John 17 verse 6.

John 17:6 “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.”

First, we have been told that those who are Christ’s previously belonged to the Father. Second, we are told that they have been given to Jesus. Third, Jesus has filled His responsibility to them by revealing the Father to them. Fourth, we are also told that they have received this word or obeyed it.

In Greek, the word for “obey” literally means “to pay attention to” or “observe,” just as one would pay attention to a traffic law and observe it. But obeying Christ’s word is the end product of first hearing it and then understanding it to the point at which it makes a difference in our behavior. If it is not making a difference in our behavior, we are not hearing it or receiving it.

Some people have never understood that Word and that is why we, the Church of the Great God, have an Internet presence, booklets and articles, and many other kinds of communication. Some people have never understood and we all certainly fail to understand unless Christ, through the Holy Spirit, reveals these things to us. That is why we pray daily as we give out the message because we know that our efforts are wasted unless God intervenes to do this miracle.

But at last there must also be the keeping of Christ’s words, involving commitment and change. This has been true of the disciples and it must also be true of us and of all who would follow Him.

What would be the results? Here are two:

On the one hand, those who have not obeyed Christ will not like us, in fact they will hate us. According to verse 14 of John 17:

John 17:14 “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”

But on the other hand, we will be vehicles for Christ’s glory, as He says in verse 10.

John 17:10 “And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them.”

How does one tell who are the elect of God? How do we judge who are Christians and who are not? We must admit as we raise the question, that there is a sense in which we cannot judge and that the answer is none of our business. We cannot judge in this sense because it is a matter of the heart and the heart is visible to God only. On the other hand whenever we invite people to church we find ourselves having to make a decision in just this area, and so although we cannot see as God sees, the question remains, how does one tell who are the elect of God?

There are certain ways in which we obviously cannot tell. We cannot tell by the alleged depth of the spiritual experience of the person and there are those who measure reality by the depth of their feelings. In some circles this is even accompanied by a certain anti-intellectualism in which facts and doctrines are neglected and emotion is everything. The difficulty with this approach is that feelings come and go and it is not a reliable way to judge.

Consequently, such a person may consider himself a Christian one moment and a non-Christian the next. Which is right? In which frame of mind is the person to be believed, when a lot of emotion in involved?

Another way we do not know if a person is a Christian or not is by his church of God group affiliation. Almost anyone can attend Sabbath services as long as they are not disruptive. Now all church of God groups are composed of a mixture of people, some of whom are true Christians, some are secular Christians, or what we might call religious hobbyists. And we know that Satan has sown tares among the wheat. So how can we tell who is a true Christian? Well there is only one answer and that is given by Jesus Christ, when He said of those who are truly His disciples, here in verses 6-8.

John 17:6-8 “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.”

So according to these verses the only way to tell whether one is a Christian or not is to see whether he believes and continues in the words of Jesus Christ. Good fruit will inevitably be produced in this person. “By their fruit you will know them.” This brings us to Matthew 7 which says:

Matthew 7:17-20 “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”

Now of these three verses, that is John 17:6-8, the most important with regard to this sermon is verse 8, because it sets the matter of keeping Christ’s Word in a sequence of action similar to the sequence in verse 6.

In verse 6, Christ presents the matter of salvation from God's point of view, stressing His acts. Thus we find Jesus' teaching: 1) That believers were initially God the Father’s because they were called by Him. 2) That the Father gave believers to Jesus by an act of sovereign grace. 3) That Jesus exercises responsibility to those He had been given by revealing God the Father to them and, 4) that they in turn received or kept Christ’s words.

By comparison in verse 8, Jesus presents the matter of the disciples’ point of view thereby in effect elaborating on the last two steps and verse 6. Here Jesus says, 1) that He has given the disciples the words that the Father gave Him. 2) That they have received those words. 3) That on the basis of those words they have known that He came forth from God, and 4) that they have believed in Him as the one who God sent.

Now to summarize the four steps they are: the giving of God's Word, the receiving of that Word, knowing, and believing.

The believer is the one for whom and in whom these things have occurred. So in the first step in the sequence, the giving of God's Word, which Jesus indicates in verse 8.

John 17:8 “For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.”

The Word is the only thing that is powerful enough to do what is required in the hearts of sinful men and women, if they are to be saved. Nothing else can do it, the Word is God's tool. The author of Hebrews writes,

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Now compare this to the words of men which are next to nothing. There is a tremendously great difference between God's Word and the word of man. A man's word is a little sound that flies into the air and soon vanishes, but the Word of God is greater than heaven and earth, even greater than death because it forms part of the power of God and endures eternally.

Now turn over to I Peter 1. Peter was thinking of the same thing when he wrote concerning the new birth.

I Peter 1:23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.

Now the conversion of an individual is much more than mere persuasion. If persuasion were all that is required, which is what the world believes as they go out pounding the pavement to try to push the gospel on others, then our words would be sufficient and we would win men and women by argument or explanation, which is of course we know is not enough.

Arguments have their place and God makes use of them at times, but at its base what takes place in the matter of salvation is something like a resurrection, a miracle. Only the Word of God, not our words, can accomplish that. This is why there must be witnesses in God’s church and why, a bit farther on, Jesus will allude to this need.

John 17:18 “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.”

This is the method God has chosen to use to promote His gospel throughout the world.

John 20:21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

Now God could save the entire world by fiat, if He so chose, but He has not chosen to operate in that way. Rather He has declared that it will be by His word preached and shared by His people and applied to the hearts of individuals by His Holy Spirit, so that men and women will be saved at the appropriate time. We have a share in this great work because it is by us that God's Word is conveyed and to those who need so desperately to hear it.

Now granted ultimately God's Word is understood only through the power of the Holy Spirit that opens the mind so that it can be understood, obeyed, and overcome. I am just emphasizing that we have a responsibility not to just sit on our hands and do nothing.

John 17:8 “For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.”

Now the second step in the sequence of verse 8 is receiving God’s Word. Jesus said that not only had He given the disciples the words that God had given Him, but also that they had accepted them.

The Greek word for “accepted” is not the same as the word “obey” in verse 6. The word in verse 8 means only to get something or absorb it. Thus in going to a lesser word in verse 8, it is as if Jesus is backtracking in order to explain the harder word He had used earlier. To obey His Word is, as He now shows, to hear it, receive it, know on the basis of it, and believe in Him personally.

The fact that Jesus puts in the step of merely receiving His Word, indicates that it is possible to have the word given but nevertheless for it to pass over the head of the one listening. A person may have the Word preach to him, but if he is not interested or treats it unresponsively it is of no use to him whatsoever. Or as we say colloquially, it is possible to have it go in one ear and out the other.

Now in contrast to merely hearing the Word, there must also be receiving of that Word so that it is absorbed by the mind and becomes the basis of our thinking and meditating afterword. In other words, God must actually communicate with us through another’s witnessing, preaching, or teaching, but then again ultimately as I Corinthians 2 tells us:

I Corinthians 2:13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

So it has to come through God's Holy Spirit for us to understand it, but at the same time we all have a responsibility to preach the gospel to the world. And that cannot be done effectively or in the right way unless we ourselves are overcoming sin and working with God to be complete according to His will.

Up to this point the sequence of giving and receiving the Word that Jesus gives has been obvious. The Word must be given if it is to be received and it must be received if it is to be of any use to us. But now as a third point, Jesus goes on to talk about knowledge of certain things followed by believing, and this is not so obvious.

Usually, with regard to spiritual things, it is the other way around. In fact, Jesus Himself taught this. Notice what Jesus said in speaking to Martha just before the raising of her brother Lazarus.

John 11:40 Jesus said to her [Martha], “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”

The world says that seeing is believing and Jesus says believing is seeing. How then in John 17:8 can Jesus seem to put it backward? It would be a sufficient answer to this question to note that seeing and knowing are not exactly synonyms as Jesus uses them in these two passages. But the truly significant thing to note is that while knowledge of spiritual realities always follows upon belief, nevertheless there is a proper and necessary kind of knowing that must precede it. Otherwise faith is blind faith which is not a true biblical faith at all.

Does faith need reasons? More specifically do we need reasons to undergird our faith and do we need reasons to present that faith to others? On one level the answer to these questions is no, if by them we are asking whether all doubt must be cleared away before God can save anyone. God obviously saves without resolving all doubts and some retain a great many throughout their Christian life. On the other hand, knowledge does play a role in faith because faith is committed to the one whom we have come to know partly through the witness of other Christians.

We find the apostles giving an account of their belief in the face of critical questioning. In I Peter 3:15, Peter encourages us to follow him, to always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

Now in the context of John 17, this means that a certain number of convictions concerning Jesus will not necessarily embrace all possible areas of truth. In His prayer, Jesus does not even suggest that we have to come to a full knowledge of Jesus Christ and everything having to do with God’s Word before embracing Jesus as our Savior. But they will embrace the central questions concerning both the person of Christ and His teaching. Jesus indicates this, saying:

John 17:8 “For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.”

John 17:7 “Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You.”

Although their knowledge was not complete and they had many doubts and many questions, they were the children of the Father. Before we commit our lives to God the Father and Jesus Christ, we must be convinced that They are divine; that Their teaching is true and Jesus did what He said He did, primarily in dying on the cross; and that He died as our substitute bearing the penalty of our sin. If we are not convinced of these truths our faith is in a phantom.

It is not just for our own personal belief that knowledge of this type is important, it is also important for our motivation to overcome sin and witness God's way of life. One of the great motivations to witnessing is the conviction based on knowledge and reinforcement by experience that the facts to which we testify are really true.

That is why you have to wonder about these worldly ministers and supposed “Christian” churches who preach and preach just for a salary. I read a statistic about the Catholic Church, that only forty percent of the priesthood believe that there really is a God. Worldly men seek power, wealth, and control over the truth.

After Jesus' death and prior to the resurrection, the disciples were downcast and scattering. After the resurrection they were compelled to tell others. Why was that? The difference was their conviction that the resurrection had really occurred and it was important that others knew of it.

Finally, in this section here, knowing is important in the proper satisfaction of our minds. Though faulty, the reasoning faculty in man is still one aspect of his being created in the image of God and is to be used by the Christian in thinking through spiritual matters. That is why we all like a mystery, we have to find out what the truth is.

As this is done there is an element of true spiritual satisfaction and a preparation for being able to deal with whatever problems and questions might come. Now having stressed the importance of knowledge we must not however fall into the trap of stopping there, as if Christianity were only in event of learning certain things.

There was an early heresy, a form of Gnosticism, that plagued Christianity which attacked the church of God. Gnosticism has to do with knowledge and it is believed that the more knowledge they could gain, the closer to ascension they became. That religion is still active today and it is called many things, but you see it in some of the TV shows where they talk about ascension. It is just Satan’s version of the resurrection, a counterfeit of God’s resurrection. The difference is that their ascension is done by themselves, they are the ones, who through knowledge, rise to that level.

We had a friend many, many years ago who we suspected that he was not converted, but he had an incredible mind. He was a history major in college and he had every king of Israel and Judah memorized, the dates, and much more of the Bible memorized. He had the knowledge and a lot of it, but he left the church a little before the church split and never came back. This just proves that knowledge is not enough. Some people say, “I stayed home from church to a study in the gain more knowledge,” but they were not where God was. Knowledge is not enough.

Having spoken of the three steps, 1) having given the Word, 2) having had the Word received and, 3) having had the disciples come to know certain things concerning Himself. Because of that, Christ went on to talk about the most important factor of all, namely faith or belief. He concludes by saying: “And they believed that You sent Me.”

Now faith is not blind trust, as I mentioned in talking about knowledge, but neither is it just knowledge. Rather it is a personal commitment based on that knowledge but going beyond it in the sense that having come to know Jesus as God, the one who follows Him is thereafter willing to follow Him in areas about which he has quite limited knowledge or even questions.

It is interesting. You can tell when God is calling someone because when you are talking to them, maybe before they have even come into the church, they are willing to do whatever it takes. You mention tithing, they are willing to do it. You mention keeping the holy days, they are willing to do it. And they have such a wonderful attitude that they will do whatever God requires. But then there are others you talk to when you are counseling with them or whatever, and they want to come to church and you start talking with them and the first time you mention something they are not doing, oh no, they do not want to do that.

Faith like this involves action and so we often say that, in the biblical sense, faith is belief in God as He is revealed in Jesus Christ and then acting upon it. Faith without works is a dead faith.

A few disciples understood little of Christ’s teaching at first. True, they believed that He had come forth from God, and on one occasion Peter affirmed “You are the Christ, the Son of a living God.” But even in the upper room on Passover, Phillip asked, “Lord show us the Father” and Jesus had rebuked him saying, “Do not you know Me Phillip, even after I have been among you for such a long time? Anyone who sees Me have seen the Father.”

They understood but then again they did not understand, at best they understood dimly. They obviously failed to understand the meaning the necessity of His death.

Mark 10:33-34 “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles; and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.”

Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

But the disciples at that time still missed the teaching and furthermore even after the resurrection they were missing it because they were still asking, as they did in Acts.

Acts 1:6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”

This indicates that they were still thinking in terms of an earthly messianic reign in their day. There was weakness and poverty of understanding but there was strength also. It was only by the words of Christ that they had by now entered into them but the words were within them and that is the point. They had received those words and taken them internally, although they did not understand them fully yet, they would later.

And that is the experience of all God's elect. They may vary in understanding and courage and many other things, but they have Jesus Christ words and they will inevitably continue grow in the power of His life and be fruitful for Him.

I do not doubt that there may be some limited sense in which Jesus prays for everyone but whatever that may be, it is not what John 17 is speaking of. On the cross Christ prayed for His enemies.

Luke 23:34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots.

So there were times where Jesus did pray for people in the world, but between that and any other prayer like it, and the prayer of John 17, there is a gap so vast that we may say that Christ’s prayer is for His people only. Additionally, this seems to be what He teach in the words that actually began the intercessory part of this chapter.

John 17:9-10 “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them.”

Every Passover we read this passage of Scripture and we are all looking at these things very seriously and very deeply, but in reading them again I just want to go through these and in a great amount of detail to really get even more impact from them. They are so important.

The most interesting thing about these verses is not that they are part of a prayer that is for Christ’s own benefit only, but rather that it is that they tell, from the perspective of our Savior Jesus Christ, why He prays for them as opposed to praying for others. There are three reasons given. 1) because they are the Father’s. 2) Because of all that the Father has is also His. 3) Because He is glorified in them.

Now let me go through these reasons real quick. The first reason, that those for whom Jesus prayed belonged to the Father, means that Jesus values them simply because they are God’s. In a lesser sense we can find illustrations of this in our own experience. Whenever we have been entrusted with something that belongs to someone else and we value it because it belongs to that person.

Jesus Christ values that which is His Father's, because what Christ is essentially saying in these verses is: “Father, I am praying for these people because they are Yours and I am concerned for what is Yours.” This is wonderful for us and for others, and this is also why we should value other Christians. Do we value our brethren and other Christians any less than ourselves or our immediate families?

A second thought on this reason is not only that we are valued by Christ because we belong to the Father, but there is also the fact that we are valued by the Father and so this also becomes part of Christ’s point. It is as though He says, “I pray for them because the are Yours and You value them therefore Your interest in them is as My own.”

Now we would do well to go beyond the mere use of indefinite pronouns such as “they” and “them” and to put ourselves in Christ’s sentence because only then do we get the full force of it. For example, it is as though Jesus said, “I pray for John Smith (or your name) because he or she is Yours and because You value this one even as I do.”

Though we have been given Jesus Christ, as He says seven times in this chapter, the Father nevertheless has a continuing interest in us. We know this, but it sure helps to have its stated emphatically. There is a great deal of compassion involved here. First, Jesus is interested in us because we belong to the Father, and second, that the Father Himself as interested in us and values us because we are His possession.

Now Christ’s second reason for praying for His own, found in the second half of verse 9 and the beginning half of verse 10, where He says:

John 17:9-10 “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them.”

What does this mean? It means that Jesus is speaking of an interest in us that the Father and the Son share jointly. This is not just an individually valued thing that They have in Their possession, meaning us, but They value it individually, intimately, and They also value it together, as one.

Having said that in the first sentence, “They are Yours,” He then acknowledges in the next breath, “But they are also Mine.” “Furthermore, it has always been the case that everything that belongs to You, as Father, belongs also to Me as Son, and that everything that belongs to Me, a Son, belongs to You, as Father.” “If you have seen the Son, you have seen the Father also.”

Jesus therefore comes not pleading for a cause that is of interest to the Father only, or to Himself only, but that which is of interest to Them jointly. Now there is a second level on which we can consider this mutual interest that They have. There is an interest between the Father and the Son, but there is also a mutual interest between the Father, the Son, and ourselves. This means that our concerns, however small, are God’s concerns, and God's concerns, however noble and beyond our understanding, are our concerns also. This is part of what it means to be one body.

The first half, that our concerns are God’s is sort of complex for our minds to grasp. The Father and the Son, while not forgetting or neglecting the other great issues of the universe, are also involved in our concerns, no matter how small, because we are important to God. We are a spiritual Family and so we are all in this together—the Father, the Son, and ourselves.

The second part of this can be easily understood. God’s concerns are ours in the sense that they are for our good and affect us, just as the decisions of the Head of State might affect each citizen of this country.

Now Jesus’ third reason for His prayer is found in the last half of verse 10, where it says:

John 17:10 “And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them.”

Now how is Jesus glorified in us? There are several answers, some are more general and some are more specific. First, He is glorified in us by saving us. It is His doing and the glory of it must rightly and inevitably go to Him. Secondly, Jesus is glorified by our trusting Him in this life.

There are many ways we do not really trust Him. We do not trust if we complain about our circumstances. We do not trust if we are always worried about the future. And we do not trust Him if we are fretting over small disappointments every day.

These are challenges that we have to face everyday, knowing the God is behind us. And if we have that faith in Jesus Christ and the Father, we trust that He will accomplish the things that need to be accomplished in our life, and know that, as followers of Them, we will suffer. We have to face those sufferings as challenges that we will overcome because He would never give us more than we were we are able to bear.

On the contrary you trust Him and thus glorify Christ when you say, “I am His; I will live His way of life whatever the circumstances and whatever the sorrow.”

Now third, Jesus is glorified in His own people to the degree that we live a holy life. Holiness is the attribute of God most mentioned in the pages of the Word of God. To hear most people talk about God today you would think that the attribute most mentioned about Him is love, which is just not true.

Love is certainly a wonderful attribute and it is all the more wonderful because we do not deserve it. There is nothing in us that could possibly call forth the love of God, yet He still loves us. Even with this wonder, it is not the attribute of God most mentioned in the Bible. Holiness is.

So if we would glorify Him, we must make His holiness known by allowing Him to work through us as we attempt to live upright, dedicated lives. If we live in spiritual adultery, compromising with the values of society, if the priorities of this non-Christian culture become our priorities, then we are not living in a way that glorifies Him. By contrast, if the priorities of the Word of God motivate our thoughts and actions and we strive for holiness in our lives, we do glorify Him.

Fourth, we glorify Jesus Christ by our witness of Him before the world. It is essentially important for us to believe in Christ as Savior and to trust Him. It is equally important to live a holy life, but in addition to this we must also give evidence of His grace simply because we are called to be witnesses and some have something great to say about God's way of life.

It is not always verbal things that we say about God's way of life, but it is the example that we set. “Actions speak louder than words.” as the saying goes, and how we live our lives is a better witness then just our words.

Finally, we may glorify Jesus Christ by our dedication to promoting the announcement of His soon coming Kingdom, and that is not just verbally but also by our actions as well, in supporting God’s church.

In John 17 we see Jesus Christ praying for us, and as He does, giving the reasons for His intercession, because we belong to the Father because He and the Father have a mutual interest in us and because He is glorified in us. But it is not only Jesus Christ who has a ministry of intercession. We have a ministry of intersession as well and we are to pray for others. The reasons why we are to pray for others are precisely the reasons Jesus gave when He explained why He prays for us.

Why should you pray for your fellow Christians, for the brethren? First, because they belong to the Father and are valued by Him. And what belongs to the Father and is valued by Him should be valued by you as well.

Second, you should pray for others because you have a mutual interest in them in a sense that all Christians are bound up in the life of God together, and when God calls an individual to faith, He calls him not to an individual relationship alone, but rather into a spiritual family.

Now this might not be the way we would do it, but it is the way that God does it. He takes people from every nation, race, culture, and academic level and He puts them together into one body, to show that the binding principle is the love of Jesus Christ within them and the power of His Spirit helping us to know what to pray for.

Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

So we are all together in this and therefore we must pray for one another because the success of the other is our success as well, and his or her failure is our failure as well.

Finally, we should pray for others because Christ glorified in them. Part of our responsibility in glorifying Jesus Christ is supporting those who the Father has given Him, and they are those Christ loves and who glorify Him and we must pray for our brethren in Christ regardless of which church group they are in. Nevertheless, we should pray diligently for those of our own fellowship out of loyalty to those who are close to us. We should be concerned about those we meet with, Passover with, Feast of Tabernacles with, especially, but even beyond that, for all that God has called.

God has called people, whomever He wants, from various circumstances, in order that He might do something unique in them, that they might bear a valued witness.

Now, finally, in addition to Christ’s prayer in John 17, we look to the apostle Paul's emphasis on prayer for the brethren for an additional example of how we may pray for Christ’s own.

Colossians 1:3-6 We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel ,which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth.

Colossians 1:9-12 For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.

So Paul shows us there how we may pray for Christ’s own. It cannot be emphasized enough how important it is for us to pray for one another, and how closely we are related to the Spirit with one another. There is no closer relationship than the one Jesus Christ and God the Father have between Them. And in Jesus’ prayer He asked us to be part of that relationship—God the Father, Jesus Christ, and us. It is very important that we remember that we are in this together.

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