Tuesday 7 May 2024


JOHN 17 V 6-19

    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.

     In a few hours He will be dead so He is telling them He is going to leave them and they will be plunged into the storms of life, and concludes with a prayer, which makes this one of the outstanding passages in the New Testament, telling His followers then, and by extension to those who follow Him through the ages, what they will have to face as Christians.

     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 the great ones were glorified.  It was where and how they did things which showed people who they really were. 

     We see this in the life of religious figures and in the world of music and art. Some people never knew the greatness they achieved.  The Cross was the glory of Jesus because He was never more majestic than in death and drew people to Him in a way that even He never had done. 

     Jesus said, ‘Father I have completed the work which you gave me to do’, and for Him not to have gone to the Cross 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. 

     The Bible makes it clear that Jesus could have escaped the Cross by never going near Jerusalem.    The Cross was proof that men could do their worst yet He could triumph, for the Cross would not be the end, for the resurrection was to follow.   

     God looked at the Cross and said, ‘this is what men think of my son,’ then pointed to the resurrection, and said, ‘but this is what I think of Him.’ 

     Yet while Jesus was specifically praying for His Apostles there are lessons which we can apply to ourselves from this passage which is packed with truths.  It tells us the disciple is given to Jesus by God. It means the spirit of God moves our heart to respond to God by the appeal of Jesus.  Through a disciple, glory comes to Jesus.   A bad person can become good, and strengthened to live the Christian life bringing honour to Jesus

 In verse 6, the opening verse, Jesus says ‘I have revealed you to those whom you have given me’.  Jesus is thinking of all who would one day follow Him, but here particularly to the Apostles with Him in the Upper Room; those who turned and followed Him in His ministry.  They ‘kept the Word’, meaning they were obedient to the faith. 

Then Jesus goes on to say, in verse 9, ‘I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me’. Jesus is teaching us that we are rescued from the world.  The world means all that is 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   

There is a mountain in the Lake District called Helve llyn, and near the top there is a very narrow path with steep sides with warning posts, so that if you wander from the pathway you fall to disaster.  Then there are two paths to follow one is to the top and safety, the other, which again will lead you to an unfortunate end.  This is how Jesus divides the world.  So it behoves us to look at our position. 

Film producers are fond of sea stories with terrific storms, showing ships and men fighting for survival and it being asked will we survive.  When we come to Christianity and our Christian faith and lives, we ask will I be strong enough to do the work God wants me to do. 

Sometimes we feel buffeted by the storms of life, the stresses and strains, the problems of work and family, and personal relationships.  Jesus is praying here for all who believe in Him, and particularly for the difficulties to be faced.  He wants His followers to be filled with joy and not mourn as He leaves them.

In the Bible names reveal peoples character.  When God revealed His name to Moses He said, ‘I am’, showing that God was the eternal unchanging one.  When Jesus says that God will protect us by the power of \his Name, He means the power associated with God’s character that has been finally and fully revealed in Himself.  God has promised that He will keep us and watch over us and guard us spiritually from falling from Him.  The Bible makes it clear we need to keep ourselves rooted in the Word of God

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, religious orders who lock themselves away from the outside world.  They are truly dedicated men and women, who sincerely believe they are serving God.  The 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 the 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. 

As Christians, we are people who have dual citizenship, citizens of this earthly kingdom, in which we live, and citizens of our Father’s heavenly kingdom. 

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.  Where there are divisions, there is competition between Christians.  Where there is disunity, the cause of Christianity is harmed and hindered, and the prayer of Jesus is frustrated.  Jesus never considered different denominations, which would be criticising one another. The world cannot be evangelised by competing Christians. The gospel certainly cannot be preached to any congregation which is not united.  

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 Scotland, Australia and Canada, where Bible preaching is under threat.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. 

We have people showing quite manic attitude to Christianity.  . It is an uplifting thought to know that God stands over our lives, to protect and guards us from the assaults of the evil ones.  If we fall, it is because we try to do things in our own strength and forget to seek the help of God

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. 

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


May God’s name be for ever glorified




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