Jesus’ Prayer for the Church

Introduction: Do you wish you had someone to watch over you? Someone who really cared about your problems and your future? Do you show this kind of care and love for others? This week we see God’s unselfish compassion for us as we look at Jesus’ last hours on earth. We are going to look at His prayer for His disciples and the church. Put yourself in the place of one of the disciples at the Last Supper (Jesus last meal before being crucified). Compare your dreams of the future versus what we now know happened?

Robert Murray McCheyne (1813-1843), pioneer missionary to America, testified, “If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me!”

If Jesus were on the earth today, what would his prayer for his people be? What would be his prayer for his church? Would he pray for a great church? Would he pray for a growing church? Would he pray for a healthy church? What is his church suppose to look like? I believe that Jesus’ prayer for the church is much greater than ours. He wants us to evangelize and save the lost, but unless revival and renewal precede evangelism, the credibility gap between what the church preaches and what the church practices will be too wide to be bridged. Jesus knew that and he knows that now. Let’s take a look at Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17:

1 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For to all those you have given him. 3Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. 6I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours, you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name-the name you gave me-so that they may be one as we are one. 12While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled. 13I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16They are not of the world, even as 1 am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. 20My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

What is Jesus’ prayer for the church?

1. He prayed they would sense the glory of God.
(v. 1) After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. (Jesus prays that God would glorify himself, so that Jesus could bring the glory back to God.)
(v.4) I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. (Jesus brings glory to God by doing everything he was told to do by God.)
(v. 5) And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. (Bring me into your glory.)
(v.10) All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. (We are his glory)
(v. 22) I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: (I have given them the glory.)
(v. 24) Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. (..so they can see my glory. )

Jesus prayed that we, the church, would sense the glory given to Him by the Father. Jesus wants to glorify us (and He prayed that we are his glory) so that we may glorify Him, that in turn He may glorify the Father God. When we glorify (this is our chief end in life) the Father, we lift Him up so that others may know him.

Two men were conversing about a friend who had just passed on. “His oldest son was the source of great joy to him,” one of them said. “He brought great distinction upon the family name.”

“And what of the other two?”

“Oh they were well enough, That is, they never did anything to disgrace their father, still, they never glorified his name. If it depended on them, the name would perish with them.”

The same can be said of many Christians. They have never doneanything to disgrace the name of the name they wear, but they have certainly not added to its influence and power. Jesus said, (my paraphrase) “That the Father is glorified, when you bear fruit.”

2. Follow the Word of God

A. The Word of God saves us

1.) Let’s take a look at verse 3 –Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. Know = an intimate personal relationship with God.

2.) For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.

You can rest more peacefully today because God has beenfound. The American Family Publishers located him in SumterCounty, FL. Via the Bushnell Assembly of God, an announcement arrived stating that God was a finalist for the $11 million sweepstakes. The letter noted, “God, we’ve been searching for you.” Located between two round adhesive seals was a request for God to “come forward.” The notice went on to declare, “What an incredible fortune there would be for God! Could you imagine the looks you would get from your neighbors? But don’t just sit there, God.” I don’t know about you but I’m glad that God’s location is not based on some direct mail house’s database. God can be “found” simply through a intimate personal relationship with Him.

B. The Word of God separates us.
1.) (v. 14) I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than 1 am of the world. – All we have to do is look at Daniel in Babylon. Daniel preserved in the face of persecution. What does real persecution of the church look like? I don’t think it looks the way we think it looks (especially in America.)

2.) (v. 15) My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. – Jesus is not praying that the believers are taking out of the world, because we need to continue to be salt and light, but he is praying that we will be kept from the evil one.

C. The Word of God strengthens us.
1.) (v. 16) They are not of the world, even as lam not of it. – We are not part of the world any more than Jesus is.2.) (v. 15) My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. – This is Jesus’ prayer of protection.

D. The Word of God sanctifies us!
1.) (v.17) Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

2.) (v. 19) For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

3.) (v. 26) I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them. – In the New Living Translation it reads, “It is God’s love for us and our love for God that compels us to live holylives.”

3. Unite in the Love of God
He calls us to be one -united as the Father and Son are one – (v.11) I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name-the name you gave me-so that they may be one as we are one.
Why does he do this?
A. (v. 21) that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. He prays this so that the world will believe in the Son’s divine mission.

B. (v. 26) I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that] myself may be in them. — He prays this so the world will know that God’s love for believers in deep, intimate, as lasting as is His love for His Son.

After the battle of Gettysburg, one of the most disastrous in theAmerican Civil War, a man went into a hospital bearing with him aid and comfort which Massachusetts had sent, and he went around from cot to cot inquiring, “Any Massachusetts soldiers here?” Not a word. Nobody answered. But by-and-by a voice cried, “No! only United States soldiers here.” So in the great campaign it is our glory and distinction, not that we are members of this or the other denomination; we are Christ Soldiers, carrying on his holy war against all evil.

4. Move in the Mission of God

He calls us to His mission, but what is our mission as the church?

Here is Jesus’ prayer – “As you (God) have sent me into the world, I am sending you (the disciples) into the world.”

Jesus is our model – He came and He was sent by God to seek and to save a lost and dying world. As He has come, He is now sending us out to save a lost and dying world.

We are to let people “know” God – remember that knowing God is a personal and intimate relationship with Him.

Josh McDowell tells the story of an acquaintance who is an executive hirer, or as the industry says, a “head-hunter.” This man spends an enormous amount of time interviewing executives. Although many words are exchanged in these interviews, his top priority is to get a clear and concise response to his most strategic question, “What’s your purpose in life?” He’s amazed at how often this one simple inquiry throws top-notched executives for a loop. One day while he was in theinterview process he got a razor sharp answer to his loaded question. After going through his usual routine of loosening up the prospect through several minutes of disarming conversation, he asked, “What’s your purpose in life, Bob?” Without blinking an eye, this schooled businessman replied, “To go to heaven and take as many people with me as I can.” Regardless of profession, that’s a mission statement every believer should embrace.

Our love for God and His love for us compel us to do His work.
5. Experience the joy of God.

(v. 13) I am coming to you now, but/say these things while lam still in the world so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. Jesus wants His joy to become our joy -What was his joy? Let’s take a look at John 15:10-11 “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” His joy is constant fellowship with the Father.Let’s also take a look at Romans 14:17 -17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. We are called to live a holy life, but it is the Holy Spirit’s work in us that allows us to live a holy life. With the Holy Spirit’s work going on in us we can experience goodness, peace and joy.

We should be excited and joyful about our mission and when the world sees ordinary people excited about and serving an extraordinary God, they will sense that something is going on here. We will sense His glory, we will follow his commands, we are united in love, we are fulfilling his mission, and experiencing his joy.

Closing: Jesus did not pray for a static organization to perpetuate his memory, but for a living, dynamic force to achieve his purposes. Let’s go out and do that today.

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