Prayer of the High Priest Part 2

The Prayer of Jesus for His Disciples

“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. “Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me. “I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours; and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them. “I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. “While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled. “But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. “For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.” (John 17:6-19)

Jesus now turns His prayer to His disciples. It was through His disciples that Jesus had been glorified. “And all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them.” (Verse 10) And it was through them the He would be glorified after His resurrection and ascension.

The prayer request that Jesus makes for His disciples to the Father is founded upon several factors. First Jesus had revealed the Father to His disciples. “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. “Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me.” (Verses 6-8) In these verses Jesus makes a positive statement of the faith of His disciples. Jesus is now speaking in the future tense, as He is looking to the other side of the cross. Jesus had come to the reality of His death, burial, resurrection and ascension. He knew that it would happen and now was praying as if it had happened. The disciples prior to His crucifixion were not fully aware of all that would happen. But after His resurrection and ascension they would be fully aware of all that He had said and understand the full meaning of what He had said to reveal the Father to them.

Second the cross would be the consummation of His ministry. Jesus prayed, “Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are.” (Verse 11) Jesus makes His request to the Father in the name which the Father had given Him. In Philippians Paul tells us that as a result of His humiliaty and obedience to the will of the Father even unto death, death on the cross, the Father had given Him a name above all names. “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name.” (Philippians 2:9) That name is Jesus. In the Old Testament the name is Joshua and means Jehovah saves. This is the name that all of mankind will bow and confess as Lord. “So that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” (Philippians 2:10) It is on the bases of His name that the Father had given Him and was well depicted by His ministry that He was the Savior for mankind. On this fact the prayer of the Lord is grounded.

Third the prayer of the Lord was based on the truth that His disciples were true believers. “I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours” (Verse 9) They the disciples belonged to the Father and He gave them to Jesus. They were also believers because they had a true faith in the One that was sent from God Jesus Christ. “For the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me.” (Verse 8)

During His ministry Jesus kept His disciples and now that He was about to leave them He prayed that the Father would keep them in His name. “Holy Father, keep them in Your name.” (Verse 11) There are several features to the keeping of the disciples. First Jesus was asking that the Father would keep them in eternal security. Jesus had already warned them of the frailty of their faith under trial. “Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? “Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.” (John 16:31-32) It is a blessing to us that our future does not depend upon the strength of our faith but in its focus, Jesus. The keeping is not our work but the Fathers, our work is to abide in Him. (John 15)

Judas was not an exception to the custody of Jesus. Our Lord did not fail to keep Him. Judas was the son of perdition. (Verse 12) Judas was never saved so he was not lost because God did not keep him in His hand. “Jesus said to him, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, “Not all of you are clean.” (John 13:10-11) Judas was lost by his character which formed his destiny as well as prophecy. “While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.” (Verse 12)

Secondly the keeping of the disciples involved the joy that they had in the midst of the hatred that the world had for them. “But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” (Verses 13-14) As followers of Jesus the disciples were not of this world as Jesus was not. For this the world would hate them and oppose them. The prayer of Jesus was that the Father would keep them in joy and steadfastness in the face of the world’s opposition.

Third the Father’s keeping would protect them from the attacks of the evil one. “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.” (Verse 15) This prayer of the Lord is not a guarantee that we will not suffer attacks from Satan but that we will be preserved during times of satanic opposition. “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.” (1 Peter 5:8-9) We will be tested, as this is a tool to strengthen our faith and build Christian character. God will enable us to endure it.

Forth being kept by the Father includes the sanctification of the believer. “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” (Verse 17) Sanctification is more than being separate from the world. The Pharisees view of holiness was to be apart from the sinners and common people. Their focus was only the external appearances and not on the heart. “And it happened that He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax collectors and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him. When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples, “Why is He eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?” And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:15-17) This misconception came from their view of Old Testament doctrine.

God is not concerned with the outward appearance but with the condition of the heart of a man. “And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15)

In the legalistic theater of Christianity today sanctification is viewed as a mere separation from the world. There are people who think their separation from the world makes them holy. They find themselves hiding behind the walls of the Church thinking that this is the fortress against worldliness. They fill their lives with Church activates and never involve themselves with the lost of the world. “The difference between being in the world and being of the world is defined as the difference between isolation and insulation.” (Dr. Billy Graham)

The best illustration for sanctification is the one that closes the prayer of Jesus for His disciples. “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. “For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.” (Verses 16-19) The work of Jesus on the cross sanctifies us and we are also sanctified by the Word of His truth. When we trust Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and follow Him to do His will, we will find that we can live in the world a holy and blameless life in the midst of a sinful world.

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, August 9, 2016

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