How Our Savior Prayed in the Shadow of the Cross - Part 3
How Our Savior Prayed in the Shadow of the Cross
Part 3: How Jesus Prayed for His People
The Gospel of John
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church – April 4, 2018
(Revised May 6, 2020)
*Please open your Bibles to John 17. Here God's Word continues an in-depth focus on the night before Jesus died on the cross. Led by God's Holy Spirit, John has focused on this night ever since the beginning of chapter 13.
*In John 17, Jesus and His disciples have almost arrived at the Garden of Gethsemane. And before they crossed over the Brook Kidron, the Lord paused, looked up to Heaven, and began to speak to His Heavenly Father.
*No one has ever had a stronger prayer life than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But of all the prayers Jesus must have lifted-up to the Father, only eight more are recorded in the New Testament. All the rest of those prayers put together total less than 150 words. But the Lord's prayer here in John 17 has almost 400 words, -- so this is a very important prayer.
*God wants us to see how our Savior prayed on the night before the cross, and first Jesus prayed for Himself. In vs. 1 Jesus "lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: 'Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You." Then in vs. 5 Jesus prayed, "And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was."
*Jesus prayed for Himself. And then, Christians, Jesus began to pray for us. Most of this prayer is a prayer for us. As the final hours ticked away before He went through immeasurable suffering, the Lord's mind was on us. As the final hours ticked away before Jesus made the greatest sacrifice in the history of the universe, His mind was on you and me.
*Please keep this wonderful truth in mind as we read vs. 6-20.
*Tonight we will begin to explore how the Lord prayed for His people. In vs. 6, Jesus told the Father: "I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word." Then in vs. 9-10 Jesus said, "I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them."
*Who was the Lord praying for in these verses? Well, Judas the betrayer had already left the group back in John 13:30, so obviously, Jesus was praying for the 11 disciples still with Him that night.
*But in a larger sense the Lord was praying for all of the people who followed Him in that day. Again, in vs. 9-10 Jesus said, "I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them."
*Jesus was praying for His devoted followers, like His own mother Mary, and Mary Magdalene. He was praying for people like Nicodemus, the saved Pharisee. You know that Nicodemus was the man in John 3, who first came to Jesus at night, and first heard the words "You must be born again."
*On the night before the cross, Jesus was also praying for His friend Lazarus, who was only alive, because the Lord had raised him from the dead. Jesus was also praying for little Zacchaeus, the crooked tax collector in Luke 19 who got saved after he climbed up in a tree to see the Lord.
*That night, Jesus was praying for all of the people who followed Him back then. But in the ultimate sense, Jesus was praying for every Christian who would ever live. He was praying for you and me. So, in vs. 20 Jesus said, "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word."
*Jesus was praying for every person who would ever believe in Him. But what does it mean to "believe in Jesus"? Who are these people? Jesus tells us a lot about who they are in vs. 6-10.
*IN VS. 6 FOR EXAMPLE, WE ARE PEOPLE GIVEN BY THE FATHER TO THE SON, AND WE ARE PEOPLE WHO HAVE "KEPT" GOD'S WORD.
*As Jesus said in vs. 6, "I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word." That word "kept" means "guarded," "paid attention to," "taken care of," or "held on to."
*Here Jesus reminds us that the essential foundation for our salvation is the Word of God. And here Jesus prayed for all true Christians, because we are people who were given by the Father to the Son, and we are people who have "kept" God's Word.
*THEN IN VS. 7, WE ARE PEOPLE WHO HAVE COME TO KNOW JESUS CHRIST IN A CLOSE, PERSONAL WAY.
*Here Jesus gave a testimony about His followers to His Father, and said, "Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You."
*There the Bible uses the same original word for "known" that the Scripture uses to describe the close physical relationship between a husband and wife. So Jesus is talking about us knowing Him spiritually in a very close, personal way.
*NEXT IN VS. 8, WE SEE THAT JESUS IS PRAYING FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE RECEIVED GOD'S WORD, AND HAVE BELIEVED THE TRUTH ABOUT JESUS CHRIST.
*Here Jesus told the Father, "I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me."
*THEN IN VS. 9-10, JESUS IS PRAYING FOR PEOPLE ABOUT WHOM HE CAN SAY, "I AM GLORIFIED IN THEM."
*Jesus said, "I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them." You may ask, "How is the Lord glorified in us? The answer is: Jesus is glorified in our hearts by our worship, and in our lives by our walk.
*The Lord was praying for all true Christians, all true believers, everyone who has received Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. And here is an amazing truth: Jesus was praying for US! So notice the Lord's prayer requests for you and me.
1. FIRST, JESUS PRAYED FOR OUR PROTECTION.
*We see this prayer in vs. 11-15, where the Lord said this to our Heavenly Father:
11. Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.
12. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
13. But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.
14. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
15. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.
*In vs. 11, Jesus prayed, "Holy Father, KEEP through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are." And in vs. 15, Jesus prayed for the Heavenly Father to "KEEP them from the evil one," or as the KJV says, "KEEP them from the evil."
"Keep" them, Father. It's the same original word Jesus used when He talked about us keeping God's Word. The word picture means, "Keep your eye on them to guard and protect them. Give them careful protection. Give them strong protection like a fortress."
*Keep us: Keep us together as "one" in vs. 11, because the devil tries to divide us. Keep us, guard us, protect us in vs. 14, because the world hates us. And Church: There is no doubt that our Heavenly Father IS watching over us!
*None of us knows how many times we have been protected by the invisible Hand of God. But sometimes God graciously lets us see His Hand of protection in our lives. Could you give a testimony like that tonight? Many of us could. There are more stories than we could ever tell.
*Here's a great example from Christmas Eve of 1875. It was ten years after our terrible Civil War ended, and well known music minister Ira Sankey was traveling on a steamboat in the Delaware River. Along the way, Ira was asked to sing a hymn.
*When one of the other passengers heard Ira sing, he asked if Ira had ever served in the Union Army. The answer was yes. Then the stranger asked, "Can you remember if you were doing (guard duty) on a bright, moonlit night in 1862?"
*Ira said, "Yes!" And the other passenger replied, "So did I, but I was serving in the Confederate army. When I saw you standing at your post, I thought to myself, "That fellow will never get away alive." I raised my musket and took aim. At that instant, just as a moment ago, you raised your eyes to heaven and began to sing.
*'Let him sing his song to the end,' I said to myself. 'I can shoot him afterwards.' But the song you sang then was the song you sang just now. I heard the words perfectly. Those words stirred up many memories. I began to think of my childhood and my God-fearing mother. She had many times sung that song to me.
*When you had finished your song, it was impossible for me to take aim again. I thought, 'The Lord who is able to save that man from certain death must surely be great and mighty.' And my arm of its own accord dropped limp at my side."
*The song the soldier heard that night, the song that saved Ira Sankey's life, was a song we have often sung:
"Savior, like a shepherd lead us, much we need Thy tender care;
In Thy pleasant pastures feed us, -- for our use Thy folds prepare.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Hear, O hear us when we pray.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Hear, O hear us when we pray." (1)
*God is more than able to save His people! And even if we never see His special protection in this world, we will see it forever in the cross of Jesus Christ!
*The Lord loves us beyond measure, so Jesus prayed for our protection.
2. BUT CHURCH: HE ALSO PRAYED FOR OUR SANCTIFICATION.
*First, the Lord prayed for our sanctification in vs. 16-17. Here Jesus said, "They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth." Then in vs. 19, Jesus said, "And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth."
*How are we sanctified, Christians? -- Through the truth of God's Word! Here again Jesus reminds us how exceedingly crucial the Word of God is for us. God's Word is the essential foundation for both our salvation and our sanctification.
*But what is sanctification? My wife Mary gave me the best definition I have ever heard: Sanctification is simply us being made holy by God.
*The original words for "holy" and "sanctification" are closely related in the original language. Anytime you see the words "holy" or "saint," you are in the area of sanctification. And sanctification is something that we have got to have, because God's holy standard is perfection. That's why 1 Peter 1:16 is just one of the places where God says, "Be ye holy, for I am holy."
*Another key way to think about sanctification is simply us being made more like our Savior Jesus Christ. You see, without Jesus we could never measure up to God's perfect holiness.
*But in 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14, Paul tells believers:
13. We are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth,
14. to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
*In short, Christians are sanctified by the Holy Spirit of God, and by the Holy Word of God at work in our lives.
 THIS SANCTIFICATION IS IN PART A BRAND-NEW POSITION IN LIFE.
*When we receive Christ as our Lord and Savior, God spiritually puts us in Jesus. Yes, by His Spirit, Jesus comes to live in us, but at the same time the Holy Spirit also puts us in the spiritual Body of Christ.
*1 Corinthians 12:13 talks about the Church as the spiritual Body of Christ. And it tells Christians, "By one Spirit we were all baptized into one body whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free. . ."
*Right in the moment we receive Christ, we stand before God holy and righteous because the Father sees us IN JESUS. That's why 1 Corinthians 1:30 tells believers, "You are IN CHRIST JESUS, who became for us wisdom from God and righteousness and sanctification and redemption."
 SANCTIFICATION THEN IS A NEW POSITION IN LIFE. BUT IT IS ALSO A LIFE-LONG PROCESS OF GOD BEING AT WORK IN OUR LIVES.
*The sanctification Jesus prayed for here in John 17 includes both a new position in life, and a life-long process of God working to bring about a transformation in the lives of all believers.
*Part of the transformation has to do with purification from sin, and part of it has to do with dedication to God. The Word of God confirms this truth in Scriptures like Philippians 2:12-13 where Paul said, "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure."
*2 Corinthians 3:18 also tells Christians, "We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord."
*And in 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 Paul prayed this prayer for Christians: "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it."
*Hallelujah! God the Father will answer the Lord's prayer for our sanctification! And how will He do it? -- By the Holy Spirit of God, and by the Holy Word of God at work in our lives.
*No wonder that in vs. 17 Jesus prayed: "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." Jesus prayed for our sanctification.
3. AND HE PRAYED FOR OUR MISSION.
*We can see our mission in vs. 18, but for context, please listen to vs. 15-18. Here Jesus told our Heavenly Father:
15. "I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.
16. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
17. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.
18. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world."
*In vs. 15, Jesus didn't ask the Heavenly Father to take His people out of the world, and as always, the Lord is infinitely wiser than me.
*I say that because during my first year of teaching way back in 1976, I was a brand-new Christian, and I was as utterly miserable as I could be. I remember taking the kids out to recess, looking up at the sky and saying, "Lord, please take me home! I'm ready to go!"
*I'm so glad God didn't answer that prayer! I'm even gladder that Jesus didn't pray for the Father to take His first century followers out of the world. If Jesus had prayed that prayer, then Heaven would have been a very empty place. And if God had taken our Christian ancestors out of the world, we never would have even been born.
*Thank God, Jesus didn't ask His Heavenly Father to take His followers out of the world. Instead, in vs. 17-18 Jesus prayed, "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world."
*What Jesus prayed here certainly applied to the Apostles. In fact, the original word for "sent" here is where we get the word "Apostle." The original word for "Apostle" simply means "one who is sent." And that's the word the Bible uses here.
*Jesus affirmed their mission after He rose again from the dead on the first Easter Sunday. John 20:19-22 says:
19. Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you.''
20. Now when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
21. Then Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.''
22. And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit."
*The Apostles were sent out But for almost 2,000 years, they have been home with the Lord in Heaven. Now WE are the ones sent to spread the Good News about Jesus Christ. We are sent to share the most important news that the world has ever heard! And the Holy Spirit is still here to help us do it.
*In the final hours before the cross, the Lord prayed for us! Jesus prayed for our protection, our sanctification, and our mission. Thank God He did! Thank God that Jesus is still praying for us today! And thank God that our Heavenly Father will answer all of the Lord's prayers.
(1) K. Hughes, LIBERATING MINISTRY FROM THE SUCCESS SYNDROME - Tyndale, 1988, p. 69 - Source: Sermonillustrations.com - Topic: Protection