This evening I would like to preach from John's Gospel, chapter 17, starting in verse 13 and going through verse 20. If you have your Bible's, please turn with me there. We will read our text, pray that God open's our hearts, and then we will feed upon His Word.
- John 17:13-20 - “But now I am coming 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 ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. 20 "I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word “
What is our purpose? What does Jesus want from us? What is his will for our lives? In this text Christians find the answers to these questions. We see the plans that Christ has for us.
When you dwell upon what is unfolding in John 17 it is somewhat overwhelming. In this section of the Bible we are seeing an amazing picture of the Trinity in action. Jesus is with his disciples on the night of his arrest in the upper room. He has already washed their feet, dismissed Judas, spoke of the new covenant, implemented the Lord's Supper, encouraged his followers, and preached an amazing sermon. John spends five chapters writing about this special evening. One has to wonder if this was one of the greatest nights in John's life. I suppose for John it was bitter sweet.
In chapter 17 we see Jesus finish the evening in prayer. It is the longest prayer of Jesus' that is recorded in the Bible. We know that Jesus prayed frequently, usually late into the night and early in the morning, but we are never given a window into the prayers themselves, that is until now.
What do we see? We see intercession. Jesus is speaking to God for us. The Son of God is addressing His Father on our behalf, for our good. In that moment, if you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ, he is praying for you.
- John 17:20 - “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word “
So what does Jesus pray for? First he prays for protection.
- John 17:15 - “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. “
Oh how we need this prayer. We are in a state of war, and our enemy the devil is prowling around us like a Lion waiting to devour us at any sign of weakness. Looking for a small little foothold to sink his claws into and bring you to the ground. No one is immune to the attacks of the Devil, not even Peter.
- Luke 22:31 - “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you,that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers."
Oh, the power of prayer. We have a God who hears us, do we not? He desires us to call out to him. To lift up our voice for our brothers and sisters. To intercede on their behalf. So are you? Are you praying for your spouse, are you praying for your Pastor, are you praying for your children, are you praying for your fellow Church members. Satan desires to sift every single one of them, don't sit by idly and watch, hit your knees and pray before you hear the roar of the lion.
The second thing we see in the prayer of Jesus is sanctification.
- John 17:17 – Sanctify them in your truth, your word is truth.”
This word, sanctify, is just a fancy way of saying being Holy, or being like Christ. At the time of Jesus departure, the disciples were far from who they needed to be. There was still work to be done in their hearts. Yes, they were followers of Jesus, and yes they had left there homes, and yes they had walked side by side with Christ for three years, but perfect they were not. Just a few hours after this prayer, their scattering upon Jesus arrest was evidence of this. No there was work that needed to be done, and Jesus knew it, so he prayed for it. He prayed that God would sanctify them in his truth.
What an interesting prayer. Jesus desires his disciples to be more like him and he says the key to being more like Him is to have knowledge or understanding of what is true. There is something about “getting it” that makes you behave in a way that Jesus behaved. Why is this?
I think the best way to understand this is a parable that Jesus used in Matthew 13:44-45
- Matthew 13:44-45 - “"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
And this is why truth, knowledge, understanding is so crucial in sanctification, in becoming more like Christ. Because the more you mine the riches of the Gospel, the more you lay aside every hindrance and weight and more freely run the race that God has set before you. The more you see Jesus clearly, the more you wake up to the reality that Christ is all you need.
How do we do this? How can we be sanctified in the truth? Jesus tells us as plain as day, “Sanctify them in your truth, your Word is truth.” Where do we find the truth, the knowledge, the understanding of the worth of being a child of the King? The Bible.
This is why Jesus says in Matthew 4:4, “"'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" This is why the author of Psalm 119:11 says, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” This is why Paul tells the Church in Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” This is why Paul tells Timothy and Titus to rightly handle the word and teach what accords to sound doctrine.
They key to sanctification is the Bible. This is what Jesus prayer for you, to read you Bible. Jesus wants you to read your Bible. Every day, multiple times a day. Soak in it, study it, wrestle with it, grow in it. Do not be spiritually malnourished, eat the bread of God daily.
- 2 Timothy 3:16 - “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”
Of course this begs the question, for what purpose. Why do we need to be sanctified, why do we need to be equipped? What good work are you talking about? This is the third thing we see Jesus pray for.
- John 17:18-20 - “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.”
If those 11 disciples in the upper room did not obey Christ and go and make disciples, we wouldn’t be here today. Them being sent and subsequently obeying is the beginning of all Christianity on the planet. I don't say this in vain when I say, Thank God that they obeyed. If they had instead saw the great commission as the great suggestion, we would all be doomed to Hell.
With that said, how many of us have been obedient? Jesus is sending you, just as he send them. How may of you have taken the Gospel of Jesus Christ to your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, schools, state? If you haven't, what are you waiting for?
Jesus has prayed for this moment. Jesus has prayed has asked God to protect you, sanntify you and has already sent you, so let us go.