Jesus Prays for the Church (7)
“Concluding Prayer” John 17:25 & 26
Today we have the joy of witnessing 7 brothers & sisters being baptised, so the message today will be shorter than normal. Today’s message is the last in our series based on the prayer of Jesus recorded in John 17. We are going to look mainly at the last two verses, as Jesus brings His amazing prayer to a close. To focus our thoughts I want to use two headings: 1) Jesus prays to the Father; and 2) Jesus prays for us.
1. Jesus Prays To the Father
Jesus starts the prayer saying “Father”. Jesus had a special & unique relationship with God. In fact He uses the Aramaic word “Abba” which is an intimate & loving term for father, a bit like our English word “daddy”.
The amazing truth is that we too can call God our Father, for Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your Name.” This is something special & unique about Christianity. God is our Father – not some remote, unknowable deity, but Father.
Bilquis Sheikh was a member of a wealthy & influential Muslim family in Pakistan. She became a Christian & wrote about her experience in a book entitled, “I Dared to Call Him Father.” She had dreams about Jesus & started reading the Bible. One day at a Christian hospital a lady doctor noticed she had a Bible with her. Knowing she was a Muslim, the doctor asked her about it & Sheikh replied that she was searching for God. The doctor then suggested that Sheikh should pray to God & ask Him to reveal Himself to her. She told Sheikh to talk to God as she would speak with her father. Sheikh had a good relationship with her father, so this suggestion appealed to her even though she had never before thought of God as a ‘Father’. God answered her prayer & Sheikh became a Christian & was baptised – hence the title of her famous book, “I Dared to Call Him Father.” The key thing in Sheikh’s conversion to Christ was her realisation that God wanted to be her heavenly Father.
In v.11 Jesus addresses His Father as “Holy Father”. And in v.25, He calls Him “Righteous Father”. Not only is God holy, He is also righteous. The fact our Creator is holy & righteous is incredibly significant. Not only has He established physical laws that govern the universe – such as the law of gravity & the law of aerodynamics – but He has established the moral law as well. Just as we cannot break physical laws without getting into serious trouble, so too, we cannot break God’s moral laws without getting into serious trouble. The moral law is crystallised in the Ten Commandments. Without this moral law society is adrift on a sea of relativism, tossed about by the winds & currents of public opinion. Truth is abandoned in favour of political correctness.
So then, this is the God Jesus calls Father. He is holy & He is Righteous. Sadly, not everyone knows God. Jesus continues in v.25, “…the world does not know you.” This is the problem with society today. People do not know God & as a result society is confused about right & wrong. They are either ignorant of God’s law or they choose to disregard it. NZ used to be a God-fearing nation but increasingly we have become a society that is ignorant of the Word of God. But the wonderful fact is, God still wants people to come to know Him.
Jesus speaking to His Father in v.25 says, “…though the world does not know you, I know you, & they know that you have sent me.” Jesus revealed the Father to His followers, & He still reveals the Father to people today, people like Bilquis Sheikh in Pakistan. And people like you & me. As the Good News of Jesus is proclaimed through the lives & through the words of God’s children, more & more people are coming to know the Lord. Many of you, who grew up in countries where you had little opportunity to hear about Jesus, have found the Lord right here in NZ. Those being baptised today are testifying to the fact they too have come to know Jesus as their personal Lord & Saviour. They too can call God their heavenly Father.
Now for our final heading:
2. Jesus Prays For Us
Throughout His prayer we have seen Jesus praying for His followers. He prays for us to be characterised by truth, by holiness, by joy, by mission, by unity & by glory. He also prays that the Father will protect us from the evil one. How we need that protection! We face so many attacks of the enemy. We face so many temptations – every day. I am so glad Jesus prays for us, aren’t you!
And it is wonderful that Jesus promises to continue watching over us & helping us get to know the Father better. Notice what He says in v.26, “I have made you known to them, & will continue to make you known…” There is so much more for all of us to learn about our heavenly Father. Let us gladly spend time with Him – time in prayer, time reading His Word, time fellowshipping with brothers & sisters in the house of the Lord, time serving the Lord & time telling others about Him.
I heard about a father who took his son fishing. He wrote in his diary, “Wasted the whole day fishing with my son.” His son, however, did not regard the day as wasted. Years later he recalled that one of the highlights of his childhood was the day he spent fishing with his dad. A good father is always happy to spend time with his children. Such times become precious memories for both parent & child alike. Unlike the father I just mentioned, God is always ready to listen to us & to bless us. And Jesus says, He will continue to make the Father known to us.
How about us, as God’s children, are we so busy that we hardly have time to spend with our heavenly Father? Let us make spending time with Him a daily joy & priority. If you are too busy to spend time with God, you are too busy. In fact, the busier you are, the more you need to set aside time to be with Him.
Finally, let us notice why it is so important for us to get to know the Father better. Jesus says He will continue to make the Father known, “…in order that the love you have for me may be in them…” (v.26) What an awesome thought! Jesus is praying we will be characterised by God’s love, the love the Father had for the Son – a perfect love. This is a supernatural thing. Just as Christian joy & Christian unity are supernatural, so too is God’s love, for God loves even those who do not deserve His love, people like you & me. It is easy to love people who are kind & loving towards us, but what about those who cheat us, who criticise us or who make life hard for us? Can we love them? Not in our own strength! We need the supernatural love of Jesus to fill our hearts.
Jesus ends His prayer with these words, “…that I myself may be in them.” (v.26) This is the key to living the Christian life – the presence of Jesus living inside of us. He lives inside every believer through the indwelling power & presence of the Holy Spirit.
Michael Cassidy tells of a conversation he had with his friend the late Dr Bill Bright, the founder of the student ministry Campus Crusade for Christ. Dr Bright said, “Michael, living the Christian life is not just difficult. It is impossible. And the only person who can live it is Jesus Christ, so we have to have Him in our hearts. Otherwise we can only fail.”
The good news is that Jesus is alive today & He is living inside every true believer by His Holy Spirit. Those being baptised today are saying, “Yes, Jesus is my Lord. He is living in my heart & I want to live for Him for the rest of my life.” By His power & grace, may they & each one of us experience the presence of the Lord in our hearts & lives, every day!