Family Prayer
Tim Temple

Introduction

One of the things that we so easily take for granted is prayer. There are a lot of things in our world and in our lives that we take for granted every day, and I am sure you are as aware of that as I am. It is so easy to let our lives move by from day to day and really not even give a lot of thought to what we are doing, let alone giving time to pray about it.

One of the many ways that the importance of prayer is emphasized in the Scripture is found in the attitude that Jesus had about prayer—the number of times He prayed, the situations in which He prayed. Jesus was a man of prayer while He was on earth. Of course, everything that Jesus did while He was here on earth was very carefully calculated to demonstrate who God is and what He is like and to provide for our salvation. So if Jesus regularly practiced something or talked about something often, we can know that it has a very important place in God's plan.

Jesus prayed repeatedly. If you move through the Gospels, you see that over and over again—daily, several times a day—Jesus prayed about various things. He prayed all night before He chose His disciples. He prayed about things that He already knew how to do. He prayed before He cast out demons and before He healed the sick on various occasions. He prayed before He brought Lazarus forth from the dead. In all of those cases, He knew exactly what was going to happen, but He prayed about it anyway. He prayed about the effects of it in people's lives. He prayed about the Father's being glorified and all of those kinds of things. He prayed in the last hours of His life, and in the text of that last recorded prayer, He cried out to the Father from the Cross. It is recorded for us here in John, chapter 17.

In my opinion, the thing that Christians are most inconsistent about is our prayer life. Most of us do pretty well about finding time to come to church once or twice a week, and we do pretty well about giving to the Lord's work on some kind of a regular basis. We do pretty well about trying to live a testimony, but by and large, Christians are more hit and miss, I think, about prayer than any other one item in the Christian life.

Satan Orchestrates Prayerlessness

I wonder why that is. It was certainly not because of a lack of example on Jesus' part as we have just been saying. It is not because of a lack of teaching and promises in the Scripture. There is a great deal that the Scripture has to say about praying and about the things that will happen if we do pray. I do believe that probably the reason for this lack of consistency in prayer is that Satan knows very little will happen without our prayers. Satan orchestrates prayerlessness. Satan doesn't care if we study our Bibles, as long as we don't pray about it, as long as we don't ask God's guidance in it. Satan doesn't care if we get very involved in our church activities, as long as we don't pray about those. Satan knows that without prayer, not a whole lot is going to happen. He also knows that if we are not praying about what we are doing, and if God blesses His Word, which He always does, and if God blesses our activities to any extent at all, we will become proud and swelled up about what we are accomplishing in those activities, and then God can't use it anyway. So one of the chief strategies of Satan is to keep us from praying.

Review

Here in John, chapter 17, we have a beautiful illustration of the importance of prayer to Jesus, and perhaps even more importantly, we have the text of His prayer and we see the kinds of things that He prayed about. Two weeks ago we began discussing this prayer which we called the closing prayer of Jesus' life. We talked about the personal nature of the prayer in verses 1-5. We noticed that He prayed this at a specific time. He had just finished talking to His disciples about His death which was approaching, and in chapters 14-16, He had been preparing them for that. He talked about the coming of the Holy Spirit in His place and all those things, and verse 1 of chapter 17, says: “After He spoke these words, He lifted up His eyes and prayed.” The time of the prayer was very significant. It was a prayer that was preparing the disciples to face His death and His leaving of the earth. Galatians, chapter 4, verse 4, says that Christ came when the fullness of time had come. Everything about Jesus' life was organized and brought to pass at exactly the right time.

We talked about the tone of the prayer in the second part of verse 1, and we saw that the whole tone of the prayer was the ultimate glorification of the Father and of the Son. Jesus accomplished a great many things while He was on earth, but He didn't primarily come to accomplish those things. He came to bring glory to the Father as a result of accomplishing those things and in the process of accomplishing those things. The tone of this prayer was that the Father would take all the things that He had done in the thirty-three years that He had been on the earth and glorify Himself by means of those things.

Then we saw in verses 2-3 the specific text of the request where He specified that which I have just been talking about. As we come to verse 6, we come to the second section of the prayer. The first part of the prayer was this very personal prayer that God the Father would glorify Himself in the work that Jesus had done and that God the Father would glorify Jesus so that the program of salvation could come into play. That is the personal nature of the prayer.

The Paternal Nature of the Prayer

The second thing that we want to notice about this prayer is the paternal nature of it. Jesus prays to His Father, but He also prays for His spiritual children, so one aspect of the paternal nature of this prayer is that Jesus was talking to His own Father. In our last lesson, we talked about the fact that Jesus, as He prayed, was always talking to His Father. He was the first person recorded in the Bible to refer to God as Father , and yet He taught His disciples to pray: “Our Father who art in Heaven…” So prayer for Jesus was a very paternal thing. It was also paternal in that He prayed for those who have come to know Him as Savior. He prayed for His children which God had given Him.

The thing that Christians have noticed down through the years about this last prayer of Christ is that the subject of it is believers. Think about all the things that He could have prayed about as He faced these last few hours of His life on earth, as He faced His crucifixion. He could have been praying about His excitement about getting to go back to Heaven, but He doesn't do that. He could have been praying for strength for the agony that lay ahead of Him as He faced His death on the Cross, but He doesn't pray about that. He could have been praying that everyone would understand the significance of all that He had done and all that He was going to do on the Cross. Who knows what else? There are many things that He could have been praying about, but He chose to pray for you and me and other believers before us. He prayed for those disciples who were alive at that time and then, as we are going to see as we move on, He prays for those who are going to come after them, which is you and me. He is specifically praying for you and me.

Notice first the regal background of these disciples, including you and me, in verses 6-8. Somebody may say, “Wait a minute. We are not royalty. We are sinful, lost, adopted children of Christ.” But look at verse 6, where Jesus said:

John 17

6I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.
7Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.
8For 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.

Notice that He says in the last part of verse 6 that God the Father had given the believers to Jesus Christ. Their origin was with God Himself. Sincere, God-loving, believers disagree about what theologians call, “the extent of the atonement, and for whom Christ died, and to the extent that we carry the doctrine of election.” But no matter how far you want to carry the doctrine of election, everybody agrees that salvation originates with God. You can't read the New Testament without seeing very clearly that salvation was God's idea. God chose to give salvation to those who would come to Him through faith in Jesus Christ.

There are a lot of ramifications about how far that goes, and we are not going to get into that in this lesson, but the bottom line is that God did choose to give salvation. We would not have salvation if it had not originated in God. The Scripture says: “There are none who seek after God. There are none righteous, no not one.” You can mark it down in your mind and in your heart that if someone is seeking after God, it is because God has already begun to draw that person to Himself. They may not think of it in those terms, but we only seek God because He seeks us. We only love God because He first loved us. When God begins to work in a person's heart and mind, they may not realize that it is the work of God, but they begin to hunger and thirst after righteousness, and they begin to look for what God might have for them. From their perspective and maybe even from our perspective, as we see that taking place, we think that this person is really interested in spiritual things and that this person is seeking God. That is true, but it is only because God first began seeking them.

Our salvation originates in its earliest beginnings in our own experience with God. One of the reasons that I say that is what Jesus says in this prayer: “I have manifested your name to these whom you have given Me. They were yours, but you have given them to Me.” God had chosen men to whom to give salvation, and He saw to it that those men heard the Gospel and had the opportunity to respond. So that is the reason that I talk about their regal background. Think what a privilege you and I have. God chose to give us salvation just as definitely as He did those first believers gathered around Jesus. Look at verse 20:

John 17

20Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

That is you and me. So He chose not only the twelve disciples and the other small number who had believed in Jesus at this point, but you and me who came along through their testimony, second and third and fourth generations. Not only that, but they had the opportunity to have all of it explained to them by Jesus. Look at verse 7:

John 17

7Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.
8For 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.

This is just a further emphasis of the fact that we wouldn't be saved or even understand anything about our salvation without the active work of God in our lives. Jesus personally explained it to those first believers. He explained who He was, how they could be saved, and then He explained what that Christian life was about, and all of that came from God—God's direct activity in their lives. And now, He does the same thing for us through the Word of God and the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit to make us understand the Word of God. Notice carefully that these verses say in detail that God has involved Himself in our lives.

Not only did our salvation originate with the Father, in verses 9-24, we find that Jesus requested blessings for us after salvation. Notice who the recipients of the blessings are in verses 9-10:

John 17

9I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
10And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.

Jesus was not praying for everybody in the world in this closing prayer. He was praying specifically for believers. Notice again what He said in verse 9:

John 17

9…I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine…

Jesus knew that everybody had not believed on Him. Jesus knew that everybody in the world would not believe in Him, but He was praying for those who had believed in Him up to this point. I mentioned this in our last lesson, but I am going over it again because it sets the stage for the other verses that we want to look at. These verses should forever do away with the idea of the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. God is the creator of all that we have around us, and so in the creative sense, He may be the Father of mankind, but He only refers to Himself as Father of those who have believed in Him. The Fatherhood of God extends only to those who have become His children by faith in Jesus Christ, and the only time that He ever applies that term is in the context of believers.

If we were to take the time to trace through the Scripture and look at how Jesus used the terms neighbor and brother while He was on the earth, you would see that He drew this clear distinction. Our neighbor is anybody who is in need around us, and He talks about loving our neighbor as ourself, and He talks about helping our neighbor; but when He talks about our brothers, He is talking about fellow believers. This concept of the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man is summed up in Galatians, chapter 6, verse 10, where the Apostle Paul said:

Galatians 6

10As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

You see, God makes this distinction between His created beings and His children. He tells us that we should reach out to help anybody who is in need, but our first priority is to help believers who are in need. So the recipients of the blessings that He is going to ask for in the next verses are those who know Jesus Christ as Savior.

As we who know Christ as Savior receive those blessings and act on them, we can bring others to Christ, so He is not being exclusive in this prayer. He is not just praying for one little group that was alive at that time, but He is praying for those who would come to know Him through the ministry of those disciples and through our ministry. So one of our goals in the Christian life is to be reproducing ourselves—bringing others to know Jesus Christ. We all participate in that whether we get to be there when a person prays to receive Christ as Savior or not. All that we do and the testimony that we live before people has an impact on bringing people to Christ. The kinds of things that we do for them and the kinds of things that we say to them are all a part of people ultimately accepting Christ as Savior.

He prays for us as believers and one of the things that He has in mind in praying for us as believers is that through us others will come to know Him as well, so He is not being coldhearted or exclusionary to only be praying for believers.

Requests for Blessing

In the rest of the chapter, we have the specific requests for the blessings. The first request is that the Father would satisfy them. Look at verses 11-15:

John 17

11And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
12While 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.
13And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
14I 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.
15I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.

We are going to go back over those verses briefly, but notice the word satisfy doesn't appear anywhere in these verses, and yet I said that the first request Jesus makes is that the Father would satisfy them. Why do we say that when the word satisfy doesn't appear? Satisfaction is a good summary term for what Jesus is asking the Father. Look at the specific requests in the passage again. In the last part of verse 11, He says, “…that they may be one, as we are.”

Jesus is going to elaborate on this down in verses 20-23, but for the moment what would bring more satisfaction than the fellowship and unity of fellow Christians? Isn't it satisfying the extent to which we enjoy fellowship with other believers? Our lives are very different from each other. We live in different economic strata. We have different kinds of professions. We have different interests in life, but when Christians are in fellowship with each other, it is the most satisfying thing, and those differences about us do not really matter. You look at the Body of Christ and you see wealthy people (ideally at least) fellowshipping with poor people, educated people fellowshipping with uneducated people. You see people of diverse interests enjoying the things of God together. We have the opportunity to do that when these human elements are just not an issue. When we just have our eyes on the Lord and we are fellowshipping together around the Word of God and the Person of Christ, that is a most satisfying thing. That should be one of the aims of every church—to provide that focus on Jesus and the Word, directing our attention away from those things about us that are different.

Those differences are designed by God and allowed by God. There is nothing wrong with the differences, but our focus, especially in our Christian activities and our fellowship with each other, should not be on our differences, but on the ways that we share our love for Christ.

He said, “I ask that they be one as we are.” What a satisfying thing it is to be with Christians with whom we know we agree and with whom we share a love for Christ and a love for His Word. But that really is something only God can produce. Notice the phrase just before that one: “Keep through your name those whom you have given Me.”

In the next verse, Jesus reminds the Father that He has been keeping them together while He was on earth, so now He is asking the Father to do that. Christian unity is like a triangle with God at the top and Christians on either side. As we Christians, who are on the sides of the triangle, keep our focus on Christ, at the point of the triangle, the closer we move to Christ, the closer we are automatically moving to each other. That is what Jesus is asking. He says, “I ask that they may be one as we are, that their focus may be on us and that will bring great satisfaction in their lives.”

That same illustration of the triangle has a beautiful application in marriage. As husband and wife focus on Christ, instead of each other, the closer we draw together. Sometimes in marriage the problems come because we focus on ourselves. I focus on me and what I want out of this marriage and what I want my spouse to do for me. The problem is that so many times when we start to focus on what I want and what my spouse should do for me, that just brings division in the marriage. Even when I focus on my spouse and what I can do for him or her, it is still a one-sided thing, but if we focus on Christ and on honoring Him in our marriage and treating our spouse the way we should treat our spouse in honor of what He has told us to do, we draw closer together. Those are pictures of unity, of oneness in Christ, and that is what Jesus is asking the Father to produce.

Another reason I am using that term satisfaction is, if you will look down at the last part of verse 13:

John 17

13…that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.

If you glance at the phrase just before this one, it talks about the fact that He has given them His Word. Jesus spoke often about the fact that satisfaction comes from obedience to His Word. That is the basis for the hymn that we sing often: “Trust and obey for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” So many Christians think that joy, peace and satisfaction are automatic. They move through life without ever paying much attention to what God tells them to do. They just kind of do what they want to do and then wonder why they don't have that joy and peace and satisfaction that other Christians talk about. It is because joy, peace and satisfaction come from obedience to God's Word. In fact, verse 14 goes on to talk about the fact that the world hates these believers because they are living according to His Word, but they have joy because they are living according to His Word. His prayer is that they and we will find joy in obedience to His Word even if the world doesn't understand or approve.

In verse 15, He said:

John 17

15I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.

Isn't that interesting? Isn't it interesting that He doesn't pray that we would be taken out of the world? Some of us wish that He would have prayed that, don't we? Wouldn't it be nice to have this over with and to be in Heaven and to be free of the burdens and problems of this life? But He didn't pray that. In fact, in chapter 16, we saw in verse 33 that He said, “In the world, you shall have tribulation.” Before that, in chapter 15, verse 19, He had said, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, the world hates you.”

Here are His believers, whom He loves and He knows, and He is teaching them that they are in a situation where they are going to be hated and rejected, and yet He doesn't ask the Father to take us out of all of this. Why is that? Because the bottom line is that if He took us out of all that there would be no one to spread the Gospel. Did you ever think about that? The spread of the Gospel is so important to the Father and to the Son that He is willing to let His beloved children live in difficult circumstances, being misunderstood and, in some nations, persecuted, being hated, because it is important enough to get the Gospel out.

Since He needs us to stay in the world, He makes provision for us. He says, “I don't pray that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” What better satisfaction could there be than to be doing the Lord's work on the earth and to have protection from the enemy? He prays for satisfaction in our lives.

The first request is that the Father would satisfy believers. That is a very important request, because Satan is trying to make us think that we will be more satisfied with doing things his way. He focuses on whatever dissatisfaction we may feel in the Christian life. We have this difference with the world. We have this animosity from the world, and we get under the burdens and pressures of life. We think that surely it would be easier if we were not even a believer. Surely the world has satisfaction that Christ doesn't offer.

Jesus Requests Sanctification for Believers

That is Satanic. God wants to satisfy us even though it may be on a more long range and slowly acquired basis, but God wants to satisfy us. Christ wanted Him to satisfy us, and He prays that way. But, it doesn't stop there. In verses 16-19, He makes a second request, and that is that the Father would sanctify them. The two of these go together as we will see as we move through it. Look at verse 16:

John 17

16They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
17Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
18As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
19And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

As you probably know by now, the word sanctify simply means “to set apart, or to make a reservation, or to make a distinction,” and Jesus has repeatedly said in this section of the book that we are in the world—not of the world , but in the world . We just saw that He intends for us to stay in the world for a certain period of time until His work that He wants to do through you or me or any one individual is done, then He will take us home. He is not trying to spare us from all the difficulties that we find in this world, but here He asks that we will be set apart from the world.

Notice how this setting apart is to take place. This is something that is very simple and very obvious, but yet very easily overlooked. Notice what He says:

John 17

17Sanctify them through thy truth…

How is it that you and I as believers are different from those around us? He said that they are going to hate you because you are not of them. What is it that sets us apart from unbelievers? The Word of God. How does the Word of God do that? There are people who are experts in the Bible. There are people who can quote great portions of Scripture and explain intricate points of theology, but in their day-to-day living and their choices in life, they are not that much different from the unbelievers around them. Maybe they are even worse. Every now and then, we hear another series of scandals about religious leaders who have gotten into big trouble. We hear those things and we think, “That is the way unbelievers behave. I wonder if those people are even saved.” It is not just the truth of God's Word that sanctifies us; it is not how much we know of the Bible; it is how much of the Bible we obey.

Someone said, “It is not how many times you have been through the Bible, but how many times the Bible has been through you.” “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy Word is truth.” If it were just the Bible that would set us apart, we could just carry that Bible around with us all the time, and we would be set apart. In fact, some people kind of do that. They think that by having a Bible on their desk at work or by carrying a Bible with them all the time in their briefcase or in their backpack, that somehow that is going to set them apart.

I don't mean to downplay the importance of having a testimony by carrying your Bible if God leads you to do that. That is all right, but it is not just a physical presence of that Bible that is going to do anything, any more that carrying a Webster's Dictionary around with you is going to give you a better vocabulary. It is what we do with that information that is in the Bible, and it is obedience to God's Word that sets us apart.

God was praying that the Father would give us an understanding of that and a willingness to take in His Word and to obey it, that He would set us apart as we respond to His Word.

Jesus Asks for Unification

There is a third request in verses 20-23, and that request is that He would unify us. He has already touched on this, as we saw a few verses back, but look at verse 20:

John 17

20Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word [that is you and me and other Christians between the time of the disciples and us]
21That 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.
22And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23I 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.

“Unify them,” He says. Notice carefully what this unity is about. Every so often, there is a resurgence of talk about unity within the Church. There is a resurgence of emphasis on unity in the Body of Christ, and I think the Lord orchestrates that cycle of it coming around to importance. In these days, there is a lot of talk about unity among believers and unity within the Church. I have talked about it more lately than I probably have at other times. I think that it is something that God is emphasizing to the Body of Christ right now, but I want to emphasize that I am going on record about this in this lesson. I want there to be no misunderstanding about my position on unity. It is in verse 21: “That they may be one in us .” Unity starts with the relationship with God the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ. When the Bible talks about unity, when Bible-believing Christians talk about unity, they must be talking about unity, cooperation, fellowship and acceptance between people who already know Jesus Christ as Savior. Unity between believers in Jesus Christ and people who do not believe in the deity of Jesus Christ is not unity.

There are Christians who are willing to cooperate with unbelievers or with anybody else in the interest of winning souls, or in the interest of something, but that is not what Jesus is talking about. I want to say that with God's help that is not what I am talking about when I talk about unity. It is not what I have ever talked about when I am talking about unity. Certainly, there are ways in which believers disagree. As I mentioned earlier, there are disagreements about the extent of the atonement. Did God choose to send some people to Hell and some people to Heaven? There are differences of opinion about those kinds of things, but those differences are between people who believe that God is going to have people in Heaven through faith in Jesus Christ.

What Jesus is talking about here and what I talk about when I talk about unity and what I believe most messengers of God talk about when they talk about unity is putting aside these differences among Christians—these things that are peripheral issues—and unifying to reach out to others with the Gospel. We might picture this with Christians standing in a circle facing outward in that circle and to our backs on the ground in the middle of that circle would be these disagreements, perhaps about mode of baptism, about mode of communion, whether it should be single cup or many cups, about whether it should be leavened bread or unleavened bread or church membership. I would go so far as to even say, to some extent, spiritual gifts and all kinds of things like this among people who really do believe in Jesus Christ for salvation, but we disagree about these other things. I believe in this request Jesus was praying, “Father, I pray that You will help those people put those things aside and be unified as You and I are unified in Our love for each other, in our desire to see our plan instituted.”

We have just been talking about God the Father sanctifying us through His Word. The study of the Word of God is extremely important for us, and we ought to know what we believe about the extent of the atonement. We ought to know what we believe about spiritual gifts and to what extent they are being given today. We ought to know what we believe about eternal security, and we ought to know what we believe about the mode of baptism. It is important to know those things, but none of those things are important enough for us to say, “I am not going to help that guy lead somebody to Christ because he doesn't believe in eternal security, and I do.” It is a disgrace for Christians to say, “I am not going to cooperate with that group over there because they believe in closed Communion and I don't, or they believe that the qualifications for church membership are different from what I believe.” It is a disgrace. That is out of line with the prayer that Jesus prayed in His last night on earth, and Jesus knew that those differences would exist. He encourages us to study His Word and to find out what the truth of His Word is, but to not let our understanding of the truth keep us from being in unity with other believers in reaching the world for Christ. So His request is that God the Father would unify us.

In verse 23, He says: “…that the world may know that You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me.” One of the offshoots of our unity and one of the purposes for which Christ prayed for unity was that the world would know that we are God's people. Notice again in verse 23: “…That the world may know that you have loved them as You have loved Me.”

I am afraid that a lot of times the world looks at the Church of Jesus Christ and says, “Those are God's people. Those are the people that God loves. They can't even agree on what time to have church. They can't even agree on what kind of music to have in church. Those are God's people? They can't even agree on how they should baptize their converts.”

You see, God's purpose in unity is that the world will see the difference that does exist between us and them. We focus so much on the differences that exist between us that the world can't see the difference between us and them. If you have a disagreement with a fellow believer, the thing for you to do is not ostracize that fellow believer. The thing for you to do is pray that they will come to understand your viewpoint. If you are so sure that you are right, pray that God will show it to them. Pray for opportunities to share your knowledge with them. Too often, we just decide on our own that we are not going to have anything to do with them because they are different from us.

Jesus Asks for Glorification

The fourth request is in verse 24, that God would glorify them. Notice:

John 17

24Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be 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.

Here is a very simple request and a most precious request. It is God's desire that we come to Heaven to be with Him. Do you see that? “That they may be with Me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which you have given Me.”

Do you want to go to Heaven? Jesus wants you there, and Jesus may want you there more than you even want to be there. I have been as guilty of this as anybody, but a lot of times when we start talking about the Lord's coming back, haven't you had the thought, “Well, that will be so wonderful, but I do want to get this project finished. I do want this wedding to take place. I do want this grandbaby to be born, or I want this to be finished. Then we will go to Heaven.”

Jesus said, “I want these believers to be with Me,” and of course we know that God answers that prayer of Jesus in His own perfect time and way. He takes some people a lot sooner than others, and He takes some people when we can't understand why He would at that particular time, but it ought to be reassuring to us to know that Jesus wants us to be in Heaven as badly as we want to be there.

Wrapped up in that is the assurance of our salvation. One of the many reasons I believe in the doctrine of eternal security is that Jesus wants our salvation to be secure, and God has promised Jesus an inheritance which is you and me. For Jesus' sake, God is going to keep you and me saved and get us to Heaven. That was the last request He made in this prayer.

Purposeful Nature of the Prayer

Finally, in verses 25-26, we see the purposeful nature of the prayer. We have talked about the personal nature of it. We have talked about the paternal nature of it—these things that Jesus wanted for His children. But notice the purposeful nature of the prayer in verses 25:

John 17

25O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.
26And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

Notice in verse 25, He clearly says: “…the world has not known you…” At the point in which Jesus ended His life on earth, relatively and numerically speaking, there were very few people who believed in Him. He says, “…the world has not known You, but I have known You, and I have spoken your Word to these, and now they at least know that You have sent Me, and they know the love that You have loved Me with. They don't know You the way that I do, Father, but they know who You are and they know who I am; and in that sense, they know You.” So He doesn't pray that the whole world will get saved. He prays that those who know Him will be a testimony of that love to other people.

That is the purpose of the prayer. You see, God knows that sin has to be paid for. It would have been a simple matter for God to just dismiss the whole sin issue and say, “Oh well, they made a mistake. Let's forget it. Let's just let them in Heaven anyway.” But that is not the nature of God. God is of pure eyes and cannot look upon iniquity. He faced an eternal dilemma with the sin that was introduced in the human race and the sin that is introduced in our indiviual lives. It is a dilemma because God is too holy to have anything to do with us whom He created to have fellowship with, and so He had to put this plan into effect where Jesus Christ paid for sin and people come to Christ one at a time. Many individuals come to Christ at the same time at an evangelistic meeting or something like that and, given the size of the world, there are probably many individuals being saved at the same moment in time all over the world, but it is an individual decision. Every individual has to decide what he is going to do with the message of Jesus Christ.

Jesus doesn't pray, “Lord, save everybody.” He says, “Lord, let the world see Your love for Me and My love for You and Our love for Our children. Let the world see that through these believers whom I am leaving behind. Let them see Our love. Let them see Our glory.”

Conclusion

How are we doing with that request—those of us He has left behind? The key to it all is what we saw back in verse 17: “Sanctify them through Your Truth. Your Word is truth.” If we will be obedient to the Word of God, if we will choose God's ways, God will take care of our testimony to the outside world. And through that testimony—a love for each other and love for God, demonstrated by our obedience to His Word—God will take care of bringing people to Himself, one by one, individual decision by individual decision. That is what Jesus prayed for on the night before He died.


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