- Sermon Notes
The Prayer of Jesus
In John 17, Jesus is with His disciples; it is only hours from when Jesus will be betrayed and arrested. Remember that Jesus is preparing His disciples for His departure.
He told them that He would send the Helper, the Spirit of truth to be with them and guide them into all the truth. He told them that if they would abide in Him, they would bear much fruit, in the same way that branches of grapes must abide on the vine in order to bear the fruit God desires.
He gave them a new commandment, that they must love one another even as Jesus had loved them. And He told them many more things to prepare them, but in John 17 He doesn’t speak to them, He speaks to His Father in their behalf.
This is a famous prayer of Jesus that many call the high priestly prayer, but for us it’s an insight into the relationship of Jesus to His Father and His heart that He pours out to God in their behalf.
We know that prayer was an intimate and significant aspect of His relationship to His Father; so much so that at one point the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray.
We also know that Jesus would often get away to a secluded place and pray. We can imagine him going up to one of the beautiful hills near the Sea of Galilee, or perhaps he would climb to the top of Mount Arbel overlooking the cities of Galilee and spend hours praying.
What would He pray? When He would go to a secluded place to pray, it was a private conversation between Him and His Father. Jesus is certainly encouraged private prayer. In fact, when Jesus was teaching them about the heart God desires He said, “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.”
But there were times when Jesus would pray publicly. Why? So that those who heard would be strengthened and encouraged knowing that these things were being prayed in their behalf. For example, when Jesus was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, He prayed, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I know that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said this, so that they may believe that You sent Me.”
Another example might be praying for your children. God would have us intercede for them privately as part of our steadfast relationship. But there are also many times when we pray with them so they hear our prayers and are built up.
I used to drive our kids to school every day when they were little and we would spend that time singing songs and then I would pray. Hearing me pray would strengthen their faith and teach them to pray. Otherwise, they learn to pray things that aren’t edifying, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”
If that should seems a bit unsettling, no worries, you could always sing a song, “Rock-a-bye baby, in the treetop, when the wind blows the cradle will rock…” If that doesn’t settle, you could always say, “Good night, sleep tight…”
I. He Accomplished the Work
- Verses 1-5; Jesus begins this prayer my praying in regards to Himself. A few verses later He will pray for the disciples, and He will even pray for us.
- When you hear this prayer, it’s important to see that it’s also personal; God sent His Son that the Son might glorify the Father and give eternal life to us.
- Jesus also said that He gave us an example. There are many things we can learn about Jesus in this prayer and there are many things we can apply.
- In verse 1 and 4, Jesus said that the hour had come, the end was near and that He accomplished the work which the Father had given Him to do.
- God sent His Son to give eternal life, to reveal the heart of the Father, and to transform our lives.
- Jesus gave it all, He was fully invested in the purpose of God in His life. What an example.
2 Timothy 2:15, Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.
Matthew 25:23, “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’”
- I want to follow this example, I want to be a better pastor; I want to be fully invested in what God has asked me to do.
Illus - When I went to OSU, I didn’t exactly give it “the old college try.” Let’s just say I wasn’t sending my grades home to mom. But in Bible college, it was a completely different thing. God had miraculously provided and I was going to give it my all.
- Jesus said that He manifested the Father’s name to those around Him. In other words, He didn’t just teach about the character of God, He manifested and displayed that character and power in His life.
- We don’t just believe who God is, we need to live who God is so He is given the glory for it.
- You need to tell the story of God showing up in your life. We were just studying that in the book of Jeremiah…
Jeremiah 9:23-24 Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord
Psalm 20:7, Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God.
- When you tell the story of God showing up in your life, you’re also manifesting His name.
Illus - I have many stories of God showing up amazingly and I could have done none of it; God showed up. There was that time when God brought a plane back to get me. There was that time when God provided health insurance so we could have another baby. Then there was that time when…
Matthew 5:14, 16, “You are the light of the world… Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Illus – When I was 21 I was visiting the family of a friend and when their grandma got up to leave, no one offered to help her, but someone needed to…
II. Be Sanctified in the Truth
- Verse 17 - Jesus prayed that they would be sanctified in the truth, saying, “Your word is truth.”
- If you are in Jesus Christ, God’s heart is to sanctify you in the truth, in other words, transforming your life so that you are like Him.
- To be sanctified means to be set apart. It’s the process of becoming less like the person you used to be when you were in the world and more like the person you will be in heaven.
A. Receive the words God has for you
- In the process of transforming you, God uses both the written word of God as well as the personal words that He speaks to your heart.
- There are two primary Greek words which are translated ‘word’ in the New Testament and God uses both in the process of transforming our lives.
- The Greek word, logos, refers to the total inspired Word of God and to Jesus, who is the living word.
John 1:1, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
- The Greek word, rhema, refers to a word that is spoken and in our case it is often when the Holy Spirit brings to our attention a verse or a portion of scripture and applies that to our current situation or a need for direction.
- In verse 8 Jesus said, “The words (rhema) which you gave me I have given to them; and they received them.”
- God often speaks a specific word or application just for you. He has a specific path for you to walk. We need wisdom and discernment to apply these things correctly.
Illus - Jesus told Peter that he would deny Him three times. That was a specific word just for Peter. After Jesus was resurrected and was walking with Peter along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, He even told him the manner in which he would die. Peter then said, “What about John?” Jesus responded, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!”
- In other words, God deals with us individually.
Illus - Good parents will do the same. Some children are soft and easily corrected while others are harder and slower to hear.
- God uses the written word of God to give us a foundation on which to build our lives, but He then also takes the Holy Spirit and applies specific truths to each person.
- In verse 11, Jesus prayed that though they are in the world, they be kept in the Father’s name.
- Then in verse 15 Jesus prayed, “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.”
Illus - What if everyone got immediately transported to heaven the moment they received Christ? While there are some parts of that that sounds amazing, we can also see that there’s a reason we remain in the world. The world needs the church because the world needs the good news of the gospel.
Philippians 1:23-25, Having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith.
- However, Jesus also said that while you’re in the world, there will be many troubles.
John 16:33, “These things I’ve spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
- This is important to take hold of because some Christians expect that because they’re Christians, there will always be green lights; they will get every job they apply for, and the way will be paved before them and everyone will let you into traffic.
- In fact, in verse 14, Jesus said that the world will even hate you because you are not of the world.To them, you represent some form of morality and they interpret that as a condemnation of the way they live.
- But Jesus said that He is sending us into the world so the world may know that God sent His Son to reconcile the world to Himself.
Illus – I was a server in restaurants while going to Bible college and I saw both; some would stiff-arm me and keep a distance, while others would ask me to pray for them and ask questions about God.
- But while you’re in the world, be sanctified in the truth, Jesus said. Be transformed by the truth.
C. Grow in the glory of God in you
- In verse 22 Jesus said that He gives the glory of the Father to us. He’s not glorifying us, He’s glorifying the Father in us.
- In other words, the presence of God in our lives is manifested by the transforming of our heart, soul, mind and strength.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18, The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
- Verse 26 sums it up powerfully, “… that the love with which You have loved Me may be in them.”
Illus – The shell of a kernel of popcorn cannot hold back when the inside has been heated. The outside shell gives way to what is happening on the inside. That’s a picture of the glory of God, the fire of God in us.
John 17:1-26 NASB
1 Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, 2 even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. 3 This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. 4 I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. 5 Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.