Saturday 15 May 2021


          JOHN 17 v.6/17

    It is the night before the Crucifixion.  Jesus is with His Apostles at the Last Supper and is spending His last hours before going to the Cross.

 We begin today’s passage at verse 6 where Jesus says ‘I have revealed you to those whom you have given me’.  Jesus is here thinking of particularly of the Apostles with Him in the Upper Room; those who turned and followed Him in His ministry; those ‘kept the Word’, meaning they were obedient to the faith.  But this also equates to all who would one day follow Him.

He refers to God having given him out of the world.  People who turn to Christ are those who have been given to him by God. God touches a person’s heart to bring them to know Jesus, and that person has the choice of responding or rejecting. Those who respond, accept Jesus died for them on the Cross to give them forgiveness of sins, and will thereby one day join him in heaven.

An earthly father may have glorious plans for his child’s future, but the child rejects and prefers to follow his own way of life.  God our heavenly Father has a plan for all of us, but people make their own decision.  Jesus mentions those God gave him were faithful and obedient. (with the exception of course of Judas) 

Jesus reveals how his Apostles realised the closeness he had with God, which convinced them God had sent Jesus for a purpose. A disciple of Jesus is one who recognises he is God’s ambassador and when he speaks we hear the voice of God. So a follower of Jesus must accept and pay total obedience to Jesus’ teaching.  If anyone seeks independence, they cannot be a true follower of him.

 Then Jesus goes on to say He was not praying for the world, but for those who God had given Him.  Jesus is teaching us that we are rescued from the world.  The world means all who are opposed to God’s standards and way of life; those who live without reference to God.

This means there are two types of people in the world, which the gospel makes clear over and over again, those who are loyal and obedient to God and those who are not.   Jesus was always quite unequivocal, that we are either for Him or against Him, there is no neutrality or sitting on the fence. Jesus is firmly black or white in how you respond to Him.        

 For Jesus, life was life with a climax and that was the Cross.  When He spoke of the Cross as His glorification it had a deep significance.  It is one of the facts of history again and again, that it was in death that some people’s greatness was recognised and they would never ever know how they influenced others.

 Jesus sometimes felt he had made only small start, but had confidence in God.  We too can become daunted in our mission; we may never know how much we have influenced people.

 I once took a funeral of a young man who virtually gave up his life by the way he lived, suffering from acute depression and a feeling of achieving nothing.  Tributes were paid in the most sincere and outstanding words by men of his profession who went to considerable effort to do so, and it was sad to realise the young man never knew how much he was valued.  We see this in the life of religious figures and in the world of music and art

The Cross was the glory of Jesus because it was the completion of the work God had sent Him to do.  God had given Him authority over every man and woman on earth; He had come to show the love of God and what He was prepared to suffer for mankind.  In His glory He brings glory to God, and if He had not gone to the Cross, it would have meant His work was not completed; to stop short would have suggested there was a limit to that love.  Jesus showed there was nothing the love of God was not prepared to do and suffer for us. 

Jesus said, ‘have shown forth your name’.  The word name in Jewish culture means not just what one was called, but also one’s nature and character. The Jews saw the name of God so sacred they used four letters, IHWH; the Hebrew language did not have vowels, and God was seen as being remote to man.  Jesus was telling that now because of what he had done in the world, he had brought God close to men and women that they could use God’s name.

In verse 11 Jesus prays that God will leave His disciples in the world and will protect them from the evil one, because like Him, they do not act to the world’s standards.  He wants His disciples to be active in the world.  God will rescue us from people who in rebellion, are opposed to Him, but that does not mean we should gather in holy huddles out of contact from others, who need to hear about Jesus from us. 

There are of course, in religious orders that lock themselves away from the outside world.  They are truly dedicated men and women, who sincerely believe they are serving God.  That kind of Christianity however, which shuts itself off in a monastery or convent, would not have seemed to Jesus to be Christianity at all.  The kind of Christianity which finds the essence of the Christian life in prayer and meditation in a life secluded from the world, would have seemed to Jesus to be a sad version of the faith He died to bring to people. 

 It was Jesus insistence to be in the hurly burly of life, that we must live out our faith. Christianity was never meant to withdraw men and women from ordinary people.  It does not release us from problems, but equips us to deal with them.  It offers not always peace, but triumph. 

Jesus is saying He wants His people to be in the midst of the world, mixing with non believers.  Just as a lifeboat is of no use set permanently polished in a station, but is needed to go out and rescue people trapped in stormy seas, so we need to be rescuing those dear to us, trapped in the perils of life in this world.  Jesus was saying His people are not meant to be little ships which stay in harbour, although it is much safer, that is not what ships are for, they are meant to be on the high seas.

Jesus prayed for the unity of His disciples, and that they would be one as He and His Father were one.  There can be no divisions between Christians.  If there are, the cause of Christianity is harmed and the prayer of Jesus is rejected.  Jesus never considered different denominations, which would be criticising one another, or considered one denomination could claim exclusive access.  Jesus prayed we would be one, and there is no prayer of Jesus which has been so hindered from being answered by Christians

Jesus warned us of the hostility we face from a hostile world which hates Christians.  If you find that hard to accept, just consider the violence, even murder, of Christians in Pakistan, Nigeria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia. 

On a more subtle scale, in Australia and Canada; where Bible preaching is under threat and proposals have been made to ban parts of Scripture.

You may say well this is England it can’t happen here;  it is happening here. People are losing their jobs; made to act against their consciences; prevented from speaking engagements; deprived of being foster parents, all because of holding Christian beliefs. In Scotland the government actually closed the Churches, until a High Court overruled them.

The world hates biblical truth, and if you take a stand publicly for the truth of the gospel, you will not be popular and are likely to be called narrow minded at best, and a bigot at worst. 

Finally Jesus prayed that His people would be made holy by the truth, set apart for a purpose, and have the character necessary for he task. If we are Christians set apart through the death of Christ, we must go into the world with the Word of God.

Sometimes we feel buffeted by the storms of life, the stresses and strains, the problems of work and family, and personal relationships.  We ask will I be strong enough to do the work God wants me to do.  Jesus is praying here for all who believe in Him, and particularly for the difficulties to be faced. 

Remember Jesus words and be encouraged, for He has told us that we are supported by the Word of God which gives us the strength to be the kind of people He longs for us to be.

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