Michael Youssef - Life-Changing Prayers - Part 7
Our greatest comfort, our source of joy, our greatest peace come from knowing that the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven, right now, the glorified Jesus, is interceding on behalf of his children. Right now, this very moment, as we are sitting in this place, the resurrected, ascended, glorified Jesus interceding in heaven for us should give us all the peace we need, all the comfort we need. We studied the prayer of Daniel. We looked at the prayer of Eleazar. We saw the prayer of Habakkuk. We saw the prayer of Hannah. And today, we look, as we conclude this series of messages, the prayer of Jesus himself.
Turn with me, please, to John 17. Though some theologians called it, "The High Priestly Prayer," because Jesus, being our great High Priest, interceding for us with the Father. You see, in the Old Testament, the high priest would go to the holy of holies once a year, first to atone for his own sins, then he atones for the sins of God's people. But because Jesus was sinless, pure, holy, he did not have to confess his sin. He did not have to atone for his sin. He only atones for our sin, and that's what he did on the cross. Our High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, is interceding on our behalf right now in heaven. The Epistle to the Hebrews tells us that, that "Jesus continuously interceding for his children".
Now, think about this. When you're in need of prayer, when you're going through a tough time, and then you get somebody call you and says, "I am praying for you," I mean, that really makes all the difference in the world. And this, whether it be a friend or it be a family member, it's wonderful. It's great encouragement. But I want you to think about this. You are not just being prayed for and interceded on behalf by anybody, but this is by the Lord of glory. Your name is mentioned in high places. It can't get higher than that. Not only by an ordinary person, by the Lord Jesus himself.
And so, Jesus's prayer in John 17 is an example of how he's interceding for us. I want you to look at that very, very carefully with me because what that prayer does, it exposes to us the thoughts of our Lord in his mind. It's an eye opener as to the unique relationship that he has with the Father, as the unique relationship that he has with the believers, with you who know the Lord Jesus Christ sitting here today. It is a joyfelt blessing to know that Jesus, 2,000 years ago, was praying for you by name because he said, "I don't only pray for the disciples". He said, "I Pray for those who are going to believe".
So, he was praying for you back then. He's praying for you right now. It is a delight, it's a comfort to know that his future children, you and me, were in his thoughts, were in his prayer, have been, are, and will always be. And so, I have three things that I wanna share with you very quickly. In verses 1 to 5 of John 17, Jesus prays for his own glorification. Secondly, verses 6 to 19, he prays for the disciples' sanctification. And thirdly, verses 20 to 26, he prays for our unification. Jesus prays for his own glorification.
And the first question you gotta ask: "Is this a ego trip on the part of Jesus"? No, not at all. Let me show you. You see, Jesus dwelt in splendor. He dwelt in glory before the creation of the world. Before all things, he is through whom God created the world and for whom God created the world. Before he came down to our broken and dark world, he dwelt in the splendor of heaven. And from the very beginning, he is the Creator. From the very beginning, he was the God of power and might, and he chose, of his own volition, to take off that robe of splendor, that robe of glory, and come to offer his holy and righteous body as a sacrifice on the cross. Why? So that every imperfect sinner would come to him and accept that sacrifice to be for them, be acceptable to the Father.
And so, when Jesus prayed for his own glorification, he was only praying that he's going to be back to where he came from, but he also knew that this is gonna be by way of the cross, by way of the cross, agonizing cross. Do you know what the word "glory" means, the very root word, the very meaning of that word? It means "to reveal hidden secrets". That's really what it means. It means "to shine an indescribable light, bright light, and illuminate everything in sight". It's like when the sun appears behind the clouds and only then you find the shadow lifted and the bright rays of the sun melt away the gloom. And when Jesus went to that cross, all of the hidden riches of the radiance of the love of God, the truth about God became visible to the world, became visible to his children.
Have you ever asked yourself, "Why? Why is it that the enemies of Christ hate his name so much"? Why do you think the name of Jesus can be used as a swear word in the movies, but they don't want it to be prayed to in public life? Oh, because the glorified Jesus and his name have power over people, have power over cultures, has power over nature, has power over societies. It has authority over demons. It has authority over evil spirits. It has a transforming power, a transforming effect upon people and society in that name. They hate that name because of the power in the name. And you, believers, remember the power that you have in that name. It's something we don't think about very often.
Now, here's what Jesus said about eternal life, verse 3. If you ask him, "What is eternal life"? you don't have to ask him, he tells you. Eternal life is to personally know God. "This is eternal life," Jesus said, "that they know you, the only true God". That's what it means for Jesus to pray for his glorification. It means that he was looking beyond the cross to the Resurrection and Ascension. He was looking beyond the cross from where he came from heaven to accomplish, was looking to returning back to his former glory. And so, he prayed for his glorification. Secondly, he prayed for the disciples' sanctification.
Verse 6, he said: "'I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world.'" What was Jesus doing with the disciples for three years? For three years, he poured himself into them. He poured himself into them. He did not try to keep them under his thumb. He did not try to control their lives or manipulate them. He did not try to frustrate them. No, but even in their selfishness and their selfish ambitions and their ignorance and when they wanted to be on the right side, on the left side, and when they wanted this and they wanted that, that did not deter him from developing them. That did not stop him from pouring himself into them.
You see, pouring ourselves into others is following the Lord's model. It's his example. Receiving and giving mentorship is the model that Jesus gave us, and it's very clear in this prayer. Did you know that if you are a disciple of Jesus, and that's who I'm talking to today, you are a gift from the Father to the Son? Verse 10 says: "He is glorified in us". See, we are revealing him to the world. That's what glorifying Jesus is. As we reveal him to those who don't know him, we are glorifying him. He's being glorified in us. You say, "Yeah, with all of our faults and failures"? Yep. "With all of our fumbling and stumbling"? Yep. "With all of our weakness and frailties"? Yes. "With all of our doubts and our fears"?
Yes, God wants to be glorified in you. That is why he made all of the resources of heaven available to us. Why? So that just we have a good old time? No, so that we may reveal him until we go home. So that no one can steal our salvation. So that no one can deprive us of fellowship with him. So that no one can remove us from his hand. So that no one can interfere with our loving fellowship with him. What a comfort to know that Jesus want his own to be protected from the evil one.
Look at verse 15: "'My prayer is not that you take them out of this world but that you protect them from the evil one.'" Beloved, listen to me. Jesus, our Maker, our Redeemer, he knew that we are vulnerable to the enemy's attack. We are vulnerable not only spiritually, but physically to the enemy's attack. He knew that. Jesus knew that the world is gonna hate us. Nothing will protect you from the world, the flesh, and the devil like the Word of God, nothing. Does God intervene and protect you somehow? He does, but he says that the one thing that is gonna protect you is his Word.
And if you haven't begun to read the Bible in one year, why don't you start today? And I'm not talking about say, "Well, I go to a Bible study once a week". Well, do you eat once a week, hello? Do you breathe once a week? That's the food. Now, the word "sanctify," it's a big religious word that particularly young people are gonna say, "Well, 'sanctify,' that's a big word". And I know it's a big word. It's a big word for me too. But a lot of people actually have misunderstanding of what the word means, and then there's some people who actually think it's a sort of a fumigating shower that when you get in it, you know, you will become sinless and sanctified. No, no, no, no, that is not what sanctification is. It means that you are set apart. You are set apart for his glory, for serving him, for revealing him, for representing him.
So, who are the sanctified people? Listen to me. Those who have been set aside for the one purpose, and that is to glorify God in their life. To who are set aside to be instrument in the hand of God to serve his purpose, those who are to show, to reveal the character of God to the world. I know believers don't understand this, and that's why they get into all sorts of trouble. You see, when you fill your mind with all sorts of junk, when you live like those who don't know God, when you live for self, when you depend on chemical substance to get by, or alcohol, when you're abuse the gift of sex outside of marriage, when you're constantly reading and thinking and viewing things that are ungodly, when you get into unscrupulous business deals, you are not being sanctified. You're using the comb as a paintbrush.
It's not the purpose for which he called you. It's not the purpose for which he chose you. It's not the purpose for which he predestined you for glory. We are set aside. We are sanctified in him. He sanctified himself. That is, he set himself aside for us. Can you imagine that? That he sanctified himself for us. When you're set aside and you serve the purpose for which he created you, when you serve the purpose for which he redeemed you, when you serve the purpose for which you exist, you're intended for greater things. Not for a life of anxiety and fear and worry and just being like everybody else. You are dishonoring that incredible call, that royal blood that flows through you.
Praying for his own glorification, he was praying for the disciples' sanctification, and thirdly, he's praying for our unification. Now, the word "unity" is bandied about, and I've experienced it firsthand. And liberal denominations, apostate churches, false teachers, false preachers, they use the word "unity," misuse it, really, in order to manipulate people, to keep them from leaving when they should be running out of those churches. The unity that Jesus is talking about is unity with him and with his Word. And when I have unity with him and unity with his Word, I can have unity with you who have unity with him and his Word. Can I get a witness?
The unity that Jesus prayed for is not organizational unity, but organic. The unity that he's prayed for is not an institutional unity, but a unity of substance of the Christian faith. The unity that Jesus prayed for is the unity that my prayer partners and I have with one another for 20 years. We come from different traditions and different denominations and different church practice, but when we get together in prayer, we are absolutely one in Christ and his Word. That's the unity he's talking about. Why? Because Jesus, not the institution, is the secret of unity. Because Jesus, and not the organizations that we operate in, is the secret of our unity and the unity of our hearts. Because Jesus, and not the labels that we carry, that unite us.
You see, the glory of Jesus is the heartbeat of our unity, not the promotion of institutions. And nothing wrong with institutions, but that is not the first and foremost. Beloved, that works in a home. That works in a church. That works among believers. It works everywhere. Verse 22: "'I have given them the glory that you gave me,'" "I revealed to them what you already have revealed to me". Why? "So that they may become one as you and I are one".
The real lasting and everlasting unity that really counts is what binds believers together, is when our purpose in life, the primary purpose in life, there could be other purposes, but the primary purpose in life is the glory of Jesus, when we pulsate with one aim, and that's the glory of Jesus, when we live for one purpose, and that's the glory of Jesus. It works the same in the house. I may have a variety of thoughts, and my wife may have varieties, but the last 39 years, we are one because Jesus is the primary purpose of our lives. Trust me, it works in the home, works in Christian business, and works among believers.
You see, when we love on another for reasons other than wanting to bring glory to Jesus, our love can go hot and cold. It really does. But if our love for each other is based on our desire to see the glory of Jesus, a love stronger than life... see, divided homes, divided Christians, divided churches, all happen when they have a conflict of purpose. I promise you that if a family gets together and say, "We're gonna have our primary purpose in life as a family is to glorify Jesus," or that "the primary purpose in our marriage is to glorify Jesus," "The primary purpose of our existence and all of our activities is gonna be to glorify Jesus," I promise you, you will have an unbreakable family bond. Oh, but when selfish ambitions and personal preferences and personal opinions and pride of ideas, when these things allowed to dominate, unity will dissipate. We can be at peace and we can have confidence because Jesus is praying for us, and because we are committed to glorifying him.