John 17:6-26 • January 6, 2021 • w1312
Pastor John Miller continues our study through the gospel of John with a message through John 17:6-26 titled, “Listen Jesus Is Praying.”
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. 7 Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. 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. 9 I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. 10 And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. 12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. 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. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. 20 "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. 24 Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. 26 And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them."
As we continue our study of John 17 tonight, we are going to be eavesdropping on a prayer of the Son of God to the Father who is in heaven. This is a chapter where you’re eavesdropping on Jesus’ prayer to His Father in heaven. You have the Son of God talking to God the Father, two Persons of the Trinity—God the Son and God the Father—are in communion with one another. It’s been called the holy of holies of Scripture. It’s Christ’s High Priestly prayer.
I want to remind you of how it’s laid out. In verses 1-5, Jesus prayed for Himself, and the focus primarily is salvation—that knowing Jesus is eternal life. In verses 6-19, Jesus prays for His disciples, and the focus is sanctification. We’re going to start there tonight. Thirdly, in verses 20-26, Jesus prays for His church, and that goes all the way down to you and me tonight. Did you know that you are in the Bible? If you’re a believer, living right now, this passage that we cover tonight is going to be a place where Jesus actually prayed for you. He prayed that those who heard their word and those who would believe in the future would be kept and experience His marvelous love.
Let’s get a running start on our text beginning in verse 6, and go back to John 17:1. It says, “These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven,” so the context is the end of the upper room discourse and Jesus is now praying to His Father. We don’t know if He prayed in the upper room or if He prayed en route from the upper room to the Garden of Gethsemane, but it’s the end of His time in the upper room, the very night in which Jesus Christ was to be betrayed, tried, and crucified the next day. It was the end of His earthly life in ministry and “These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father,” Abba, “the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: 2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. 3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. 4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” His earthly ministry was over. He had one more job—to go to the cross—and He would cry, “It is finished,” and then would give up the ghost.
Notice what He says in verse 5, “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” I’m not going to go into any teaching on these verses, you can go back on the website and listen to it. It’s archived there to the entire message where we went into depth in verses 1-5. This is where Jesus prayed for Himself, that He would be glorified and return back to the glory that He had with the Father before the world was.
Now, in verses 6-19, Jesus moves into praying for His disciples. When I say “disciples,” I mean the eleven because Judas Iscariot had already been dismissed from the upper room. Judas was never really truly a believer. Judas was never truly saved. Judas was never a true disciple. He was a false tare among the wheat. He was dismissed. He’s going to deny the Lord, turn Him over to the authorities, and prove that he was never really a child of God. It’s a prayer for the eleven that are left with Jesus. Let’s read from verses 6-10. It says, “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world,” the men that were given to Him were given to Him from the Father, and He’s referring to His disciples. “…thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.” All through the entire remaining prayer, Jesus emphasized that those who believed in Him were given to Him as a gift from God the Father. He also says, “and they have kept thy word,” He’s talking to His Father. “Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. 8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. 9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. 10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.”
The first thing that Jesus does is describes the blessings that these disciples possess. It wasn’t just they who possessed these blessings, I’m going to point them out to you in the text, we tonight have the same blessings. We may not be the eleven that walked with Jesus when He was on earth, but some of the same blessings that they possessed, we possess. Let me mention the first one (verse 6), they knew God’s name. Go back with me to verse 6. “I have manifested,” displayed, demonstrated, or revealed, “thy name unto the men which thou gavest me,” they were gifts from the Father to the Son, “out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.” They knew His name because Jesus revealed His name to them.
What you need to understand is when Jesus said, “I have manifested,” revealed, “thy name,” He’s not talking about some proper specific name like Jehovah, Yahweh, Adonai, or some name for God, He’s talking about His nature and character. When the Bible uses that term, “the name of the Lord,” it’s not talking about a specific name of God like Elohim or Adonai, He’s talking about the nature and character of God. The Bible says, “The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.” Well, God’s name isn’t “strong tower,” but God’s nature and character is. It’s talking about who God is. Jesus came to reveal the Father to us.
Write down John 1:18 where it says, “No man hath seen God,” but “…the only begotten Son.” In the Greek that verse, by the way, is even stronger, the only begotten God, “which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath,” listen to the word, “declared him.” Here He uses the word “manifested thy name,” and in John 1:18 He says, “…he hath declared him.” That Greek word translated “declared” in John 1:18 is where we get our word exegete. When you preach from the Bible and explain the text, it’s called expositional preaching or teaching. They were exegeting the text. To exegete means to pull out. We have the concept of exiting or pulling out, so you read the text, explain the text, and pull out the meaning of the text. What Jesus did is exegete the Father. The Father who is Spirit can’t be seen. We don’t know the Father unless He reveals Himself, so one of the chief means by which God the Father has revealed Himself is in God the Son. When you look at Jesus, you see a revelation of what God is like. Remember when Philip said (John 14), “Show us the Father, and we’ll be satisfied?” Jesus said, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” Jesus is not the Father, but He reveals the Father.
Here’s a cool thought: You and I should reveal the Father by living like the Son. The more we’re like Jesus, the more people see God in us. Now, we’ll never be perfect—we’ll never really perfectly represent Him—but we want to represent and manifest God to others that are around us. Hebrews 1 tells us, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son,” the phrase “by his Son” means in, by, and through His Son. Jesus is the incarnate Word, and He came to display His glory. It’s clear there in verse 6, “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world.” All through this passage, and we’ll get more down in verse 17, He refers to the disciples and then the future believers, as being out of the world or not a part of the world. It’s tied in with the concept of sanctifying or setting them apart. We’re not of this world. The world is not our home. As believers, we do not belong in this world, and again, after the day that we had in the news, we are thankful this world is not our home. Amen? I’m just a passing through. I just wish we could pass through a little faster right now. It’s like, “Speed it up, Lord, speed it up,” because I do have grandchildren, and I wonder what kind of a world they’re going to come into and what kind of a nation they’re going to live in. It frightens me. All I can do is trust God to take care of them, but they’re not of this world.
Verse 6, “…thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word,” and I’m going to come back to that more in a minute, but I want you to note some of these phrases. I won’t say a lot about them, “…and they have kept thy word,” means that they believed it, received it, and obeyed it. We need to do the same. We need to keep God’s Word.
In verse 6 they knew God’s name, but my next point is and blessing they had was they were given God’s Word in verse 8, “For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me.” Notice these three things. It says “and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee,” they knew them, “and they have believed that thou didst send me.” They received God’s Word, knew God’s Word, and they believed God’s Word that He was sent from the Father. We know that’s true. The Bible teaches that He was sent from God the Father, so His Words were given to His disciples and they’re given to us. His Words were of divine origin (verse 8), “…which thou gavest me.” Notice, God the Father gave His Word to God the Son, and God the Son gave us His Word.
Now, you may have a red letter Bible tonight. Some people have red letter Bibles. Red letter Bibles are real common. I’m not a big red letter Bible fan. My grandmother once said to me, I’ll never forget, “I don’t need red letters to know when Jesus is talking.” I’ve never forgotten that. Usually the red is kind of harder to read, I’m getting old and it doesn’t work for my eyes. I just like a black letter Bible. I don’t need red letters to know when Jesus is talking, but a lot of what we read here is red letter, right? (If you’ve got a red letter Bible.) Jesus is actually saying here that, “You gave Me Your Word,” so when Jesus spoke we were hearing God speak. When you read not only the words of Jesus but the Bible, it was given by inspiration of God, so the Scriptures are the very Word of God. Someone said that God speaks through what He has spoken and that the Bible is God’s Word written. That is so true. They received God’s Word, believed God’s Word, and they obeyed or kept God’s Word.
Notice the third blessing that they had (and we have, we’ve been given God’s Word) is that they were prayed for (verse 9). “I pray for them: I pray not for the world,” now, don’t misunderstand that. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pray for unbelievers or non-Christians, it’s just that Jesus actually at this time was focusing on interceding for His disciples. That’s not to conclude that we should never pray for heathen or unbelievers or for outsiders and only pray for Christians—that’s not true, we should certainly pray for unbelievers—but He says in verse 9, “I pray for them…but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.”
Now, there may be times when you think that no one prays for you. Maybe you want to call in and just put your name on the prayer list. I was going over the prayer requests that we get here at church, and even right now it’s unbelievable the suffering and the difficulties that members of our congregation are going through right now. It’s just heartbreaking some of the things where COVID and the sickness, and the out of work, the stress and the strain of what’s going on right now. Many members of our congregation are going through this. We need to pray for them. But there might be times when you think, No one prays for me. No one knows what I’m going through. No one cares. There’s always Someone who knows and loves and cares—that Someone is Jesus Christ. When He says to His disciples, “I have prayed for you,” He says the same thing to you and me tonight.
Remember when Jesus turned to Peter and said, “…Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.” Again, I’ve thought, Man, if I were Peter, I’d be freaking out. “What’d You tell him, Lord? Satan called You and says, ‘I want Peter?’” I mean, can you imagine if Satan called the Lord and said, “I want you tonight?” So Jesus said, “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou are converted, strengthen thy brethren.” Tonight be encouraged, Jesus is actually in heaven…we don’t often think about, What is Jesus doing right now? He is seated at the right hand of the Father, the place of authority and majesty, and He’s actually interceding for you. He’s watching you, praying for you, loves you, cares about you. He knows your deepest hurts, your struggles, your sorrows, whatever you’re passing through tonight, and He’s praying that you’ll be strengthened and that you’ll use what God does in your life to be a blessing to others. He’s interceding and praying for them as He is our High Priest and is also praying for us.
Here’s the question as we move through this section: What did Jesus pray for them? Two things. He prayed for their security, verses 11-16; and then prayed for their sanctity, verses 17-19. Now there’s a lot of different ways we can break up this text, but I’m giving you the big picture tonight. Let’s look at it, verses 11-16, He wants them to be kept secure. “And now I am no more in the world,” He knew He would be crucified and go back to the Father, “but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name,” thine own righteous character, “those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.” He’s praying that God the Father would keep them and that they would be one. Verse 12, “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled,” that’s a reference to Judas Iscariot.
The Scripture Jesus is alluding to is Psalm 41:9 where the psalmist says, “Yea, mine own familiar friend,” the psalmist is David, “in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.” It was a prophecy of Judas Iscariot. He says in verse 13, “And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil,” and it’s most likely a reference to Satan. Some translations have “the evil one.” “I’m not in the world any longer, they’re still in the world, so I want You to keep them. I want you to keep them secure and safe from the evil one.” Verse 16, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” Jesus is praying for their security.
Go back with me to verse 11. Jesus prays to the Father and uses the word “Abba,” “…keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. 12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them,” so Jesus is with His disciples. He’s watching over and caring for His disciples. Now He’s going to go back to the Father, so He’s asking the Father to protect and to keep them and says in verse 12, “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.”
It would be wrong to conclude that Judas was a true believer and lost his salvation. Judas was not. He was a “son of perdition.” He wasn’t a true believer, and it was evident because he fell away and denied the Lord. Notice in verse 13, “And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” He wanted His joy to be fulfilled in them. “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them,” the same thing happens today. God gives us His Word and we are persecuted by the world. “…because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil,” one. “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”
That’s one of the themes of Jesus’ prayer—they’re in the world, but they’re not of the world. We, as Christians, are in the world but this world is not our home, so we are to live as strangers and pilgrims. We’re not to think like the world, talk like the world, act like the world, or have the values of the world. John says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world…For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” The word “world” is not talking about the physical world or the universe, it’s talking about the evil world’s system. It’s the Greek word kosmos, but here it’s talking about the evil world system apart from God. As we look around the world, we see the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. That’s what motivates men of the world, but He says, “And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” We are not to put our stock in this world and love the world. We can’t love the world and love God. We can’t have two masters. We’re to love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind. We’re in the world, but we’re not of the world.
The problem is we want to practice isolation and we come out from the world. We, as Christians, are so good at getting our little holy huddles, going to church, going to prayer meetings, going to Christian restaurants, going to Christian coffee shops drinking Christian coffee, talking to Christian people, getting our haircut by Christians, you know, and everywhere we go it’s Christian, Christian, Christian because we don’t want to get cooties. As you go through this passage, it could be a whole central theme that you can develop that Jesus is our example as how He was in the world but not of the world. We want to live apart from the world, and that’s good, but God wants us not to assimilate but to interact with the world and be salt and light. If we come out of the world, how are we going to reach the world? So, pray that God would give you opportunity to make contact with unbelievers—your neighbors, your co-workers, the people at school or around you—that God gives you opportunity. I sometimes have people say, “Oh, I can’t believe that I got this job, and I’m the only Christian there. It’s really horrible.” God planted you there. It’s a mission field. “Can I work at the church? I just want to be around Christians.” Bloom where you’re planted. Let your light shine. You may be the only person in your office that’s a Christian or you may be the only person on your block that’s a Christian. You may be the only person in your family that’s a Christian. Don’t practice isolation from them or practice assimilation, don’t be like them. Come out from among them and be separate. Don’t be isolated. Share the gospel. Let your light shine. Jesus went to eat with publicans, harlots, and sinners, things that Christians today would never think about doing.
When Jesus went to Zacchaeus’ house, even His own disciples freaked out, “I can’t believe He invited Himself over to a publican’s house. He’s going to get contaminated. He’s going to mess up this whole movement. How can we reach people if He’s hanging out with people like Zacchaeus?” A few hours later perhaps, Zacchaeus came out and he was a new man! He was converted, a Jewish tax collector. He said, “If I’ve taken anything from anyone, I’m going to give it back to them.” Now, when a tax collector gives money back, you know he’s been born again. He’s been converted.
Then Jesus is eating at Simon the Pharisee’s house and a sinful woman comes in and weeps on His feet and wipes them with her hair. The Pharisee said, “Oh, look it! He’s letting the sinners touch Him! How horrible!” Jesus never sinned with them, but He reached them. He reached out to them. We need to be careful that we don’t isolate from the world but that we are in the world but not of the world. We’re going to learn how we do that (verses 17-19) by being sanctified through His Word, His Word is truth. Jesus prays (verses 11-16), “Keep them safe in the world.” In the book of Jude, “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling,” I love that verse. In that one chapter of Jude, at the end of that little book, is that beautiful doxology, “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before,” the throne of His grace. Romans 8, too, says there is no separation from the love of God…keep them through thy Word.
Notice verse 17, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world,” notice He wants us to be on mission, as He was, going into the world. “And for their sakes I sanctify myself,” I set myself apart, “that they also might be sanctified through the truth,” stop right there. Notice what Jesus says in verse 17, “Father, would You sanctify them,” and how will the Father sanctify them? “…through thy truth: thy word is truth.” Those that doubt the veracity, historicity, infallibility, inerrancy, and reliability of the Bible need to read this verse. Jesus is talking about Scripture, “..thy word,” so it’s God’s Word, and it is truth.
We basically live in a culture right now that apart from Christianity has abandoned any concept of truth. The reason why things are so crazy right now, and it’s been coming on for quite some time, is we have abandoned truth. It’s not lying. You can change the definition of the word. You can deceive and deceit. It’s not lying. They redefine words. They have the same words but a different dictionary. If you go on a college campus anywhere and ask, “Do you believe in truth?” “No.” “Is there absolute truth?” “No, there’s not. Nothing’s absolutely true.” And then, follow-up question, “Is that a true answer? Are you sure? Are you absolutely sure that there’s no truth?” “Yes, I’m sure.” “Is your answer true?” “Well, there’s only one truth that there is no truth.” It’s a self-defeating response. They don’t even realize it. The truth is that which corresponds to reality, but they’re not even living in a real world anymore. But God’s Word is transcendent, fixed truth that you can anchor your life, your beliefs, and your behavior upon.
Without the Bible…and this is why again, here’s a really good plug for this movie we’re going to show. Without the Bible, we are hopelessly lost. It’s our only hope. It’s our only light. It’s our only roadmap. It’s our only hope as God has revealed Himself in His Word. Once we reject the Word, and this is the problem in Evangelical Christianity today, we’ve actually said, “Well, the first eleven chapters of Genesis aren’t really history. They’re just metaphor, allegory, or poetry. It’s not to be believed or relied upon,” and that’s a detrimental position. Jesus says, “…thy word is truth.”
A second thought from verse 17 is that God sanctifies us through His Word. The number one instrument by which God makes you holy or more like Jesus is through His Word. The word “sanctify” basically comes from the same root word as holy or the word saint, hagios?. It means to be set apart. The idea is that we’re set apart from sin, set apart from the world, that we’re holy, so we’re sanctified. Sanctify and holy basically means the same thing. The moment you are born again, you are sanctified positionally. You’ve heard me explain this. Positionally, every Christian has been set apart, that’s justification. It’s also the first phase of sanctification—you’re set apart, you belong to God, you’re hagios?, you’re holy. Then, as you walk with God and you grow in the Lord, it’s progressional, you’re being sanctified, present tense. You’ve been sanctified the moment you’re saved, you’re being sanctified, so the longer you walk with the Lord the more holy you become practically, experientially.
There’s a third future tense—you will be sanctified. We use the word “glorified,” but all three can be called sanctified; and that’s when you go to heaven, and you’re totally set apart. Sanctification is salvation—you’re saved, set apart; you’re being saved, made more holy; you will be completely saved, you go to heaven, you’re with the Lord, you’re perfectly righteous. The number one means by which God sanctifies you right now, present tense, is the Bible. It’s right there from the lips of Jesus. God uses trials, troubles, other people, but the number one thing He does is use His Word—the Spirit of God using the Word of God to transform the child of God into the image of Jesus Christ the Son of God.
You can read the Bible a whole bunch and not become more holy, if you just read it and don’t surrender in obedience to it. If the Spirit of God doesn’t use the Word of God to transform your life by surrendering to the Lord, you’re just getting head knowledge. It needs to move 18 inches from your head down to your heart and to be transferred into your life. The reason I’m so attracted to this verse is because I’ve been teaching the Bible for many years and I feel that that’s what God has called me to do. This excites me to think that this book is the way in which God sanctifies His people. It’s by the Spirit working through the Word. It’s not an experience or an emotion. It’s not a vision or a dream.
People come to me all the time, “I’ve had a dream, and I want you to tell me what it means.” Listen, I have no idea what your dreams mean, okay? It could mean stop eating chocolate cake at night before you go to bed. You eat a big ol’ honkin’ Snickers bar at eleven o’clock at night, you’re going to have visions from God, but they’re not really from God they’re just biological. If God speaks to you in a dream, I’m not an interpreter of dreams, okay? I have no idea why you had that dream, but I certainly don’t put a lot of stock in dreams because they’re subjective. But this is objective truth in God’s Word, so saturate your heart, your mind, your soul in the Word of God and let Him use His Word to sanctify you through His truth.
Notice verse 18, “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.” Jesus is sending us into the world to be sanctified and be a light. “And for their sakes I sanctify myself,” so He gave us a model. We have the means, which is His Word, truth; we have the motive, He sent us into the world; and then we have the model (verse 19), Jesus who lived in the world but was separate from the World and sanctified the way in which He lived.
In verse 20, Jesus begins to pray for the church. This is where you and I come in. He prayed for Himself, He prayed for His disciples, now He prays for the church—future generations of believers who would believe on their word all the way down to the present day, you and me. “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word,” I’m not just praying for these eleven disciples, but I’m praying for all the future generations of those who will believe on the message and the Word that they preached. “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”
I’m going to stop right there because there are three things from verses 20-26 that Jesus prays for these future believers who become the church, the body of Christ. They’re really good. I want you to write them down on the seam in your Bible. The first is that they may be one, verses 21-23; and this oneness is not an organizational oneness—it’s not a uniformity, it’s not that I want them to all be one denomination and go to one church or want them all to dress the same and hold all of the same concepts. There are essential doctrines that Christians must hold to have Christian orthodoxy. Jude says to earnestly contend for that faith once and for all delivered to the saints.
Denominations aren’t bad, and you can be a Christian and go to a different denominational church or different organization and be a part of that, but the oneness is in Christ. It’s the same kind of oneness that’s in the Trinity—God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit; one God, three Persons so the spiritual unity. He’s not praying for uniformity, which come from rules, regulations, and pressures on the outside. Some Christian organizations have standards where you have to wear these kinds of clothes, read this kind of Bible, have this kind of haircut, drive this kind of car, and look the certain look. You know, you can go to restaurants, before Covid anyway, after church on Sunday and see Christians in restaurants. Some of them you can tell what church they go to, what doctrine they hold, by the way they dress, by the clothes they wear. It’s kind of silly. I don’t want to go into detail because I don’t want to get in trouble. I can certainly do that, “Oh, there’s a such-and-such,” “How do you know?” “Well, by the clothes they’re wearing, by the way their hair is done, by the…,” I’ll stop right there. I mean if you want to do that, that’s fine, but that’s not spiritual unity. It’s uniformity. It comes from pressure on the outside. I’m so glad we don’t have a dress code here. People come to this church and think, I don’t know what this is.
Years ago in the church I formerly pastored in San Bernardino, I had a man call me who was a neighbor watching people come and go in our congregation. He told me, “You need to make those women wear dresses.” He didn’t even come to our church but wanted me to enforce a dress code that women couldn’t wear pants. “Those women can’t be Christians that wear makeup and have their hair cut like that and wear pants.” He just went off on all these crazy ideas, and so many organizations want to have conformity. That’s not the work of the Holy Spirit from the inside out. True unity comes from the Spirit working in our hearts and transforming our lives, making us one in Jesus Christ. God looks not on the outward appearance, God looks on the heart. Amen? So we want to have a unity that is spiritual and is genuine.
Notice the basis of our spiritual unity in verse 21 is, “…in us,” so it’s in Christ, in His church, and His body. It’s not a man-made organization, but it’s a work of the Holy Spirit—all those who believe (verse 20) in Jesus Christ. It’s so important.
Notice the second thing that He prays for them (verse 24, one verse), that they might be with Him in glory. This verse just brings me such great comfort. I love it. I’ve used it at funerals many times. It says, “Father,” Abba, “I will,” He’s expressing His desire to His Father in heaven, “that they also, whom thou hast given me,” and we could’ve talked all the way through this prayer about the fact that true believers are sovereignly chosen by God the Father as gifts to give to God the Son, but those “whom thou hast given me, be with me,” that word “with” means constantly, continually, ongoing with Me, “where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.”
Jesus is praying for you and me, that we would be with Him and actually see Him in glory. What a future and a hope we have as believers! “What begins with grace,” said Jonathan Edwards, “ends in glory.” That’s what Jesus is saying, “I want them to see the glory I had with You before the world ever was.” Jesus is praying for us, that we would be in heaven, that we would be with him, that we would see Him in glory. Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for our sins so that we could be with Him. Jesus made a promise in John 14, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again,” and take you to heaven. Jesus prayed a prayer, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me.” The Father, I believe, will answer this prayer, so this is indicating the surety of which one day we will be in heaven and we will see Jesus face to face. What a blessing that will be! No matter how dark the present may be, the future for the child of God is bright.
I love the psalmist, when he prayed in Psalm 27:4, “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD.” The Bible says, “…we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” I believe with all my heart that the moment we die, we will be looking face-to-face at Jesus Christ, that faith will be turned to sight, and we will see Jesus. What a wonderful thing that will be! “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away,” face-to-face with Him in glory. What a blessed hope that is! When does that happen? At the rapture, the resurrection. The moment a believer dies, they are with the Lord; and that will be a glorious, glorious thing!
Here’s the third and last thing Jesus prayed for them. He prayed in verses 25-26 that they might know God’s love. Verse 25, “O righteous Father,” earlier in verse 11 He called Him “Holy Father.” This is the only time Jesus ever called His Father holy, yet the holiness of God is the main theme of these attributes throughout Scripture. Then, He calls Him, “O righteous Father,” verse 25, “the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. 26 And I have declared unto them thy name,” earlier in verse 25 You’re righteous. He’s made it known to us, “and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.” Notice Jesus gives us the reason why He declared God’s name, “…that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
As a matter of fact, from verse 19 (I forgot to mention it) down to verse 25, I’ll give you some self homework to do. Go through from verses 19-26 when you go home tonight and note all the places you find the word “that.” Every time you find the word “that,” you get the rationale or the reason why Jesus wanted us to be holy and righteous and one. They’re all the benefit and the fruit of all that, verse 19, “…that they also might be sanctified,” verse 21, “That they all may be one,” and verse 22 (I told you to do it, and now I’m giving it to you) “…that they may be one,” verse 23, “…that they may be made perfect,” and then in verse 24, “…that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me,” and in verse 26, “…that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.” I don’t know why I told you to go home and do it and just gave it to you, because I was so stoked on that today I wanted to share it tonight. But look for those little key words. They’re the result of why He made God the Father known to us. “I want them to know Your love, Father, the love that Thou hast for Me and for them.” An interesting thing that He says is that the Father loves us as the Father loved the Son. The same love God the Father has for God the Son, God has for you His child. The love of God is greater far, Than tongue or pen can ever tell, It goes beyond the farthest star, And reaches to the lowest hell. It’s greater than you can ever comprehend or fathom. The love of God is infinite, sovereign, eternal, unchanging, holy; and John 3:16 says, “For God so loved…that he gave,” and now, “Father, I want them to know and experience Your love.”
Let me wrap up this whole prayer for us as Jesus intercedes. He wants us to be kept secure, He wants us to be sanctified and made holy, He wants us to have unification for witness, He wants us to see His glory in yet the future when we get to heaven, and He wants us to experience the love of God. What a blessing that is! There’s privileges of being a Christian. We share His life, verse 3, knowing the Father is eternal life; we know His name, verse 6, He’s revealed His nature and character to us; we have His Word, verses 14 and 17, He sanctifies us through His Word. Fourthly, we share in His glory, verse 24. One day the prayer Jesus prayed will be answered by God the Father—we will see Him, we will be with Him in glory, “…the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” Amen?
Pastor John Miller continues our study through the gospel of John with a message through John 17:6-26 titled, “Listen Jesus Is Praying.”