Faithlife Sermons

Jesus Prays for his Commissioned Church: The High Priestly Prayer

John  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  54:18
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John 17 Jesus Prays for his Commissioned Church (The High Priestly Prayer) Introduction: This prayer of Jesus that we have recorded for us here in John 17 is often referred as the High Priestly Prayer. It’s called this because the High Priest, according to the Levitical law, was the one who represented God to the People of Israel, and the people of Israel to God. He mainly did this through sacrificial offerings and prayers. The specific service of the High Priest was to make intercession (to mediate), to stand in the middle of two parties and communicate and work toward peace. The reason the high priest had to intercede is because of human sinfulness and the holiness of God. He would first offer sacrifice for his own sin, as a covering from God’s righteous vindication toward sin, and then offer sacrifice for the people of Israel. All this was done so that the people of Israel could enjoy fellowship, and the presence of God in their midst. The reason we call this the High Priestly prayer of Jesus is first because Jesus is the true High Priest that all other High Priest were merely antitypes. Jesus is the one who makes final and complete intercession for us before God the Father. He did this by the sacrificial offering of his own perfect self on the cross in our place, and for our sin. Secondly, it is called the high priestly prayer because Jesus is praying to the Father on our behalf, he is interceding for us, asking God the Father to do specific things in and through the life of his people, the Church for their mission to the World. We have said many times throughout our study of the Gospel of John that this is the story of God and the World, but that it is also offered over and over to us that it can be our story as well. That we can, and that the desire of God is that each of us would find our story in the greater Story of God and the World. Here we see this clearly, as Jesus brings us in at the end of his prayer. (What a profound honor bestowed upon us). To be a Christian then is to be formed by this Story of God and the World, and to take up our part in this Story. As actors in a play, or musicians in a symphony, each has their part, their lines, their place, to make the story beautiful and complete. 1. Jesus prays for Himself (vs. 1-5) 1. The main concern of the beginning of Jesus’ prayer is for the mutual glory of both him and the Father. Jesus foresees this great hour of glorification as being brought about ironically by the “lifting up of the Son of Man” - his being hoisted up on the cross, for the sins of the world. 2. Theologians have regularly referred to the cross as the greatest revelation of God. 1. It is at the cross where we see God’s Justice displayed. God poured out his wrath against sin on Jesus - “he was wounded for our transgression, he was crushed for our iniquities.” 2. It is at the cross, where we see God’s great love for the world - “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son..” 3. The cross is also a display of the wisdom and power of God - wisdom to devise such a costly plan of salvation that both meets our needs and also satisfies God’s own character. And then of course the power of God, since it is through the cross that the devil, death, and sin are destroyed, and all things are being made new and being reconciled to God. 4. Paul gets this mutual glorification right in his hymn in Philippians 2:5-11 “Though (Jesus) was in the form of God, he did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[b] being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” 5. Jesus prayer is focused on the fact that he has, in his life, earthly ministry, and in the approaching cross made the Invisible God fully known. He has glorified him by his perfect revelation of the Father and as Jesus says, this is to make Eternal life available to all who the Father has given him. Jesus through the work of his death, and resurrection will make it possible for us to know and have fellowship the Father. 1. Jesus in a sense is giving his “into your hands I commit my Spirit” prayer even before the Cross. Jesus is fully handing himself over to the will of God the Father - “Father, glorify your Son in order that the Son may glorify you.” -“Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name, Thy Kingdom, come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” 2. Jesus Prays for the Disciples (vs. 6-19) 1. Jesus now turns the focus of his prayer on his disciples, the very ones that the Father gave him, that he has perfectly made the Father known to. Jesus is leaving the world, he will no longer be with the disciples as he has in the past. He is now committing them into the Father’s care, Because as Jesus says, “As you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the World.” 2. So the specific reason we find for Jesus’ prayer is that he is sending his disciples out into a hostile world to make known the revelation or glory of the True God and Eternal Life, through Jesus Christ. This is after all why Jesus set himself apart to the death of the cross, that his disciples might be set apart for God’s glory and his mission to the world. 1. Paul says, “and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” - 2 Corinthians 5:15 2. Just as God has given Jesus what it took to accomplish his role (1-5), so now Jesus summons God to give what it will take for his followers to complete their mission.. 3. Jesus Prays for His Church and their mission to the World (vs. 20-26) 1. So what is the mission of the Church? Simply put, it is to take up the Story of God, to become a part of it ourselves, and then to portray this story out into the World. 2. The focus of Jesus prayer for the Church and the World is for our Oneness in him and the Father, or another way to put it, our unity. 3. Jesus prays for the same unity that he has with the Father to be in his Church, so that the World might believe that they are “so loved” by God and come to faith in his Son. 4. This strikes me as amazing. Amazing, first, at the simplicity of what God wants for the world at large, and amazing at the single focus of the means of our mission to the World. (My past view) 5. Unity. -What does Jesus mean by unity? Well, Did you notice in the beginning, and in fact all throughout Jesus’ prayer how much he speaks of the mutual loving, glorifying, and sharing of the Father and the Son. What is that? It’s unity. It’s a unity that our selfish, self glorifying, praise seeking, sinful hearts marvel at - That the One True Living God (Father , Son, and Spirit) has existed for all eternity in a beautiful self giving, deferring dance of Love and Glory. 1. “To glorify someone means to praise, to enjoy, and delight in them. What this means is that the inner life of the Trinity is characterized by mutual self-giving love. Each of the divine persons centers upon the other. None demands that the others revolve around him. Each voluntarily cycles the other two, pouring love, delight, and adoration into them. Each person of the Trinity loves, adores, defers to, and rejoices in the others. That creates a dynamic dance of Joy and love. The early leaders of the Greek Church had a word for this perichoresis - its where we get our word choreography. It means literally to dance or flow around.” -Tim Keller 6. We began our studies in the Book of John with this understanding -God sent Christ (to live, die, and rise again) in order to bring us into the dance, the inner life, unity, love, self giving and glorification of the eternal life of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 7. (The son of God was born into this world to begin a new humanity, a new community of people who could lose their self-centeredness, begin a God-centered life, and, as a result, have all other relationships put right.) 8. This is the unity, the life that Human beings were made for and this is where everything is heading, to the end where God will be all in all. 9. N.T Wright, says, “Love is not our duty, it is our destiny.” And so also with unity, it is not just our duty, it is a reality in Jesus, and our final destiny is to take part in the life of the Trinitarian God. 1. When we live out this Unity of God, this mutual self-giving love in our marriages, in our families, in our relationships with one another - “the world may (come to) know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” And the main way that we are to work toward unity is by continually putting before ourselves the great love of God that was demonstrated for us in his giving of his one and only Son, and loving one another out of that same love and in that same way. -Seeking one another’s ultimate good, and glory. 2. We are called to work toward that destiny now, in the world. Loving one another with that same mutual self giving love of the Father and the Son, glorifying one another, praising one another, deferring to one another. Living out our glorious destiny. This is the greatest single evangelistic effort to the World! Therefore this Unity should be the single greatest focus of the local Church- “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” -Ephesians 4:11-16 1. Reaching Sonoma County and the wider culture 1. We’re finding that the world no longer has a reason to live or a reason to die…. I was just reading an article about euthanasia in the Netherlands. Though still technically illegal, doctors are “helping people die who simply no longer live because they can no longer live autonomous lives, they can’t go shopping on their own, or go to the theatre on their own so they don’t want to live.. family members don’t see the need to take this responsibility upon themselves to care for their older family members since this option is available. Assisted suicide has also been expanded for infants, and even children as young as 12 years of age can be euthenized for any reason with a parents consent, but 16 year olds need no parental consent….. Secular humanism is bankrupt… 4. Conclusion: The High Priestly prayer takes this surprising turn. We find at the end that it is we now who are “the royal priesthood” to the world, to the nations to reflecting the glory of God back to himself (worship) and reflecting the glory of God out into the world (mission). “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” - 1 Peter 2:9
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