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Skip Heitzig - John 17

Skip Heitzig - John 17
Skip Heitzig - John 17
TOPICS: Expound, Gospel of John, Bible Study

Father, even as we've had a meal most of us before we've gotten here, we now sit down to a spiritual meal. We're recalling the night when you had a meal with your disciples, what you shared with them during that time, and what you talked about and instructed them while they were walking toward the Garden of Gethsemane.

And though these things were written long ago, they have been recorded, and you have superintended the writing of the scriptures. So that what we have deposited to us, revealed for us, is the very word, the inherent word of the living God. We believe that. And we believe, Lord, that as Peter said, we have great and precious promises. And that by these promises we can be partakers of the divine nature. We can enter into a spirit controlled life as we put these principles by your spirit, by your grace, into practice in our lives.

Some of us are new at this. We don't know our way around the Bible much or Bible truths. Many of us have been around a long time, but you have something to teach every one of us. Because you said when we gather like this, that you're with us, and we pray that as you are present with the body of Christ, you, Lord, being the head of the body, we submit ourselves to you. And we ask that you would send the signals to all the different parts of the body so that we might function and operate in a smooth way that glorifies you. In Jesus' name, Amen.

The occasion is the Passover. It's the annual time when Jews would gather to celebrate to commemorate what happened thousands of years before in their history. When God delivered their forefathers, a couple million of them, from the clutches of Egypt, Pharaoh especially, who persecuted them, and brought them through the wilderness and gave them a new land.

Every year they gathered together, and every year they sat down and they had a meal together. They ate the Passover lamb, and they ate all the elements that spoke of that deliverance. And there was a lengthy gathering that was kept by a certain order of service known as the Seder. And Jews kept that regularly, annually, and Jesus did so with His disciples.

Jesus knows what's about to happen. They do not. Even though He tells them what's going to happen, the disciples wrestle with it. They have a hard time believing it. I'm sure they really didn't hear the raise from the dead part of it. They just know that Jesus said, some bad things are going to happen. And one of them is going to be betraying them, and Peter is going to be denying Him, and they're all in a fluster. And so after the Passover meal, and after He washes their feet in that beautiful servant-hood gesture, to encourage and calm them He says, let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Me. John 14:1

When it was all done, when the meal was done, when some of the instruction was over, it was now time to go. So at the end of Chapter 14 He says, arise and let us go from here. So the disciples along with Jesus get up and they take a walk through the streets of Jerusalem. Because it was Passover in that year, it was the vernal equinox, the moon was full. Walking through Jerusalem on a full moon, I've done it. You get a pretty good view. And as Jesus was walking from the Upper City down toward the Kidron Valley and the Garden of Gethsemane where He will lead His disciples, Jesus could look up along with His 11 men up toward the left as they were coming down the hill and see the gates of the temple.

The gates of the temple were enormous bronze with some gold embossing of a vine that represented the nation of Israel. They knew the symbolism. They knew why it was there. They knew Isaiah, Chapter 5, where the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, the men of Judah are His pleasant plant. And so looking up at that and being reminded of that, Jesus in Chapter 15 says, I'm the real vine. I'm the true vine. You are the branches. My Father, He's the one who tends the vineyard.

And with all of that symbolism, He works His way through those beautiful promises again telling them the Holy Spirit is going to come, remind them of the things He has said. And on into Chapter 16 more instruction as they get closer and closer toward the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus is going to pray by Himself. But at the end of Chapter 16, He says, in this world you're going to have tribulation. Not just tonight, not just what's coming in the next few hours, in the next few days. It's going to get bad for you. You're going to be confused. But just in this world, in general, you're going to have tribulation. But boys, I want you to cheer up.

Be of good cheer, because I have overcome the world. He didn't say, cheer up, boys, you're going to bite the bullet and you're going to have to encourage yourselves and work your way to a happy place, maybe you, too, can overcome it. He just says, I've overcome it. I've done it for you. Now all of these great truths you got to know they're not picking up on them.

They're not understanding it. They're going to be very, very disheartened in a short period of time. And they're going to tailspin and forget all of these great promises just like we do. I'm bringing it up to encourage you so you're not the only one that feels that way. You think, oh, man, I've known the Bible. I've read the Bible. But you know, in a time of crisis, in a real crunch, I forget those things. They don't come to mind. And I tailspin and I doubt the Lord. We are in great company. You're in the company of Peter, and James, and John and all the rest.

But then in Chapter 17, Jesus now begins a prayer. As it opens up, it says, "Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven and said, Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son that Your Son also may glorify You. As you have given Him authority over all flesh that He should give eternal life to as many as you have given Him. And this is eternal life that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself with the glory which I had with You before the world was."

All I can tell you as I get into this prayer is we are treading on holy ground. As Jesus begins a one on one communication with His Father, lifting up His eyes, lifting up His voice, He begins to talk to the Father just hours before His death. Now this prayer has made an impact on my life. Through the years I have resorted to it frequently. It's like I know it by heart. I've spent a lot of time in it.

I actually was so impacted by it I wrote a little book. I don't know if they still have it in the bookstore but it's called, "When God Prays" put out by Tyndale House Publishing, a little devotional on looking at the prayer life of Jesus for instruction and encouragement in our own prayer life. But I've always loved what John Knox, that great Scottish reformer used to say about John 17. He said in this chapter, we are in the Holy of Holies of the scripture itself.

If this were a tabernacle or a temple and there were courts, said John Knox, the very Holy of Holies would be the 17th chapter. In fact, he loved it so much, he cherished it so much, and referred to it so often, that when he was on his deathbed that great Scottish preacher had his wife read John 17 over and over and over until he passed into eternity. John 17 is the Lord's Prayer.

You go, wait a minute, that's not the Lord's Prayer. I know the Lord's Prayer. Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. No, that's the disciples prayer. I know your Bibles may have a few words on top of it, a title given to it by the Bible publishers that say the Lord's Prayer, but that's the prayer Jesus gave to the disciples to pray.

In Luke Chapter 11, Jesus was praying in a certain place we were told. Then after He was done praying, His disciples came to Him and they said, Lord, teach us to pray, just like John taught His disciples. And so Jesus said, all right, when you pray, say our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. You know, I know, we all know that prayer by heart. It is sung at sporting events. It is prayed on a number of occasions. But that is the prayer Jesus gave His disciples to pray. This is the Lord's own prayer.

This is Jesus' prayer to His Father. It is the longest prayer recorded that Jesus prayed. Now it doesn't mean that Jesus didn't pray longer, trust me, He did. We know of occasions when we are told that Jesus went off and spent all night in prayer to the Father. He began His ministry in prayer. He continued His ministry in prayer, and He ends His ministry in prayer. When He's on the cross, He prays, Father, forgive them. Lord, into Your hands I commend my spirit. So much of what he said on the cross was a prayer. He began, continued, and ended His life in prayer. But this is the longest recorded prayer of Jesus, 632 words.

I love, by the way, that the disciples came to Jesus and they had one request. They didn't say, Lord, teach us to preach. We want to go to Your school of ministry. Lord, teach us to walk on water. That looks so cool. I'd love to just show off to my family when we have picnics. Lord, teach us to heal people. That would be just awesome. Isn't it interesting that of all the things they requested Jesus teach them, the only thing we are told they asked Him to teach them was to pray.

Why? My guess is they saw the powerful effect of prayer in Jesus' life. They saw that's the secret. That's how He can do what He does. That's how He can keep going like He keeps going. That's the secret. It's that relationship He has with the Father. But this prayer, this 632-word prayer, this is the Lord's own prayer. It brings up a question.

Why does Jesus need to pray? If Jesus is God, if Jesus is the second person of the Trinity, if Jesus is co-equal with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, if Jesus is who He claimed to be, one who would receive worship, know the thoughts of people like He did in the gospels, claim to forgive sins, claim equality with the Father like He so often did; if Jesus is as Paul said Jesus was being in the form of God, or having the very nature of God, and not thinking equality with God was the thing to be grasped, if that is the Jesus that we're dealing with here, why does He need to pray?

It's a good question. It's a fair question. It's a question you and I should wrestle with and wrangle with. While Jesus was on earth, He was in a state of submission to His Father, absolute subjugation to the Father. He had all of the attributes of deity in human flesh, but you have to understand that Jesus had a unique nature. Jesus was fully God, but He was also fully man.

He wasn't God with just kind of a make believe body that really wasn't human. It was human. The body had to develop. When you hit His hand or He stubbed His toe, it hurt like yours does. If Jesus in the carpentry shop were to miss with a hammer and hit His thumb, He'd say, ouch, like you would. He wouldn't go ahhh. He was fully human. He was all there. But He was also fully God at the same time.

So Jesus has a unique nature that we call the theanthropic nature of God. He was Theos, God, He was anthropos, man, theanthropic. You are not. You are anthropic. God the Father is God, Theos, but Jesus was Theos anthropos, theanthropic, fully God, fully man. Though He was God and proved Himself to be God on a variety of occasions by signs and wonders, at the same time having emptied Himself.

Philippians 2 is the answer. Being in the form of God, thinking and not robbery to be equal with God, Paul said he emptied Himself and became obedient. He became like a bond-servant serving the Father's will, being able to say I always do those things that please the Father. So He lived in voluntary subjugation, subjection, obedience to the Father having a human nature at the same time divine. He was in submission to the will of the Father. So that's why He could say My Father is greater than I.

Now Jesus since then has been glorified, has ascended to heaven, is at the right hand of God, even today, but during His humanity, He felt the need to always be in contact with the Father. Spending all night in prayer, sometimes getting up very early in the morning to pray, praying through His ministry, praying till the end.

Now here's the obvious application. If Jesus Christ thought it important to stay in contact with His Father often by prayer, where does that leave us? Is that something we can just sort of toss out or bring in whenever we feel like it's necessary. When I'm really in trouble, that's when I'm going to go, oh, God, or will I make it a constant priority to be connected with the Father?

If Jesus knew that need in Himself, then you and I should also know and experience that need. Now notice something. We're going slower than I anticipated, I realize, but notice that Jesus spoke these words. Notice what He does. What's the next phrase? He lifted up what? He lifted up His eyes meaning He did this.

This is a posture of prayer. It's one of the postures the Bible speaks about when you pray, Psalm 124, I believe, it says, I lift my eyes up to You, to You whose throne is in heaven. The idea of lifting up one's eyes is simply a recognition that I'm speaking to someone who is above all, who reigns overall, whose throne is in Heaven, who sees everything going on on the earth and in my life. So I'm recognizing authority by looking up. That's one of the postures in prayer.

What's interesting is the Bible doesn't speak about closing your eyes and folding your hands, but what do we do? Close our eyes, bow our heads, fold our hands. The Bible speaks about lifting your eyes. The Bible speaks about kneeling. The Bible speaks about laying flat down, bowing before the Lord, dancing before the Lord. And it's funny that when we choose a posture for prayer, we decide we're going to pick one that's not a biblical one and we'll go with that one.

I would suggest you might want to start incorporating what you actually read is a posture for prayer in the Bible and just see how that works out. Lifting up of hands. That's a commandment in the Bible, lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting Paul said. Or getting on your knees and showing that you are humble, that you have humility before the Lord. So Jesus lifts up His eyes. That's one of the postures of prayer recognizing God is in heaven on the throne overall.

But something else, He also lifted up His voice, not just His eyes. He prayed out loud. You say, Skip, how do you know that? Well, it's recorded, right? The disciples wrote it down. They had to hear it in order to record it. Now you might say, well, you may be pushing it here. Jesus didn't always pray out loud. He may have prayed on this occasion, because He's walking with His disciples giving them instruction. Now he wants them to hear in an instructive way how He talks to the Father. Maybe, but I doubt it.

I doubt it because when He gets to the Garden of Gethsemane, He goes off by Himself to pray, a stone's throw, the Bible says. And the disciples were able to hear what He said and write that down. When Jesus said with a loud voice, from a stone's throw they heard it. Father, if it's possible, let this cup pass from Me. So Jesus didn't just lift up His eyes, He lifted up His voice. He prayed aloud.

I've shared with you this before, and I'm just going to recommend it to when you pray, pray verbally, pray out loud, lift up your voice. And here's why. Now I know you say, well, people are going to think I'm nuts. Well, perhaps in the wrong context. I mean if you are taking orders at Taco Bell, and you're talking out loud, when you should be saying thank you, what else would you like? Would you like a Coke with that? Oh, Heavenly Father. You can freak some people out.

But I guarantee you, you can pray out loud when you're driving in your car. I see people bopping, and weaving, and singing all the time, and talking on their cell phone all the time out loud. I think you can pray out loud in your car. I like to take a walk and pray out loud. And the reason I do is because when I pray silently, I don't know about you, but I easily get distracted in prayer.

I mean, I've caught myself stopping in the middle of a sentence when I pray silently and getting up and doing something I remembered to do that I'd forgotten to do. It's amazing how you remember things that need to be done when you're talking to God. So you pray out loud. It's a good habit to get into. Jesus did it, and His disciples heard it, and they recorded it.

And He said, Father, the hour has come. Isn't that a familiar phrase? It should be by now. Six times it's mentioned in this Book alone. Jesus kept talking about His hour. At the wedding feast at Cana of Galilee, His mother said, hey, do this trick, He said, woman, My hour has not yet come. They tried to seize Him in the temple, but it said, but His hour had not yet come. All of that, all of those, are references to this time, this hour where He's going to the cross. This is why He came, and that's why it is worded this way.

"Glorify Your Son that Your Son also may glorify You. As You have given Him authority over all flesh that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him." And this, Verse 3, "This is eternal life that they may know You, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." Whenever you see that phrase, eternal life or everlasting life, it is typically speaking of not just longevity, not just an ongoing existence, but rather a quality of life.

It's not quantity of life, though it is that, it certainly is that. But when Jesus especially uses the phrase, He's speaking of a quality along with a quantity. Because, listen, everybody in the world has eternal life. If you look at it just as longevity. Everybody will live forever and ever and ever. They'll never cease to exist.

But I will tell you this. The quality of life from one person to another will be vastly different. The difference between an existence apart from God in Hell versus with God in heaven. Well, hard to even compare the quality. Everybody will have longevity, thus quantity, but not everybody will have the quality. Jesus uses the phrase, eternal life, aionios zoe in Greek, which means age abiding life. It's a quality that begins now and it goes on and on and on and on.

And what is eternal life? What is this age abiding life? That includes, by the way, abundant life, John Chapter 10. I've come that you might have life and have it abundantly. It's knowing God. It's having a relationship with the living God through His Son Jesus Christ.

"This is eternal life that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, and now, O Father, glorify Me", watch this, "together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was."

By now, after 33 years on this earth with all that Jesus has experienced, He is ready to go back home. It's like he can taste it. The glory that I once had with You. Before the Philippians 2 experience of being emptied, pouring Himself out to the last drop, there was a glory that Jesus shared with the Father. It's something we can only imagine.

The closest I've come to it. Are the times that I have flown into Calcutta or Bombay, India, Mumbai, India, and I visited the slums of that city. Nothing quite like the slums of those two cities there's a certain kind of squalor that is in those places that I've not seen anywhere on the earth. And the first clue that you get is on the approach of the airplane itself.

As the plane begins to put down its landing gear, and you're in Mumbai airspace, even from the aircraft I have smelled the squalor on the ground. And I go, what is that smell? And I go, oh, that's the city I'm flying into. And then to walk through those streets and see the mud, and the plastic sheeting, and pieces of wood and trash that are used for little hovels, and pieces of tend to make a roof and just the smell and the sight, it is an assault on all of your senses.

And I remember having this thought as I'm walking through, this is only my experience for a few hours, a few days. These folks live with this day in and day out. So infinitely more, again, you can only imagine leaving the glorious environment of heaven to humble yourself, to be born in a feeding trough in Bethlehem. And to grow up in Nazareth, and to grow up in a poor family. From knowing heaven talk about a cross cultural experience, Jesus had the ultimate.

And He came down to this earth and He lived in the environment. Not only that, but He had to suffer through all of the rejection of the very people He made to represent Him, the nation of Israel, the people of the earth. He came to His own, and His own received him not. And He's facing the cross. He knows what that's going to be like, so He goes, O, Father, the hour has come. Glorify Me with the glory that we had together that I shared with you before the world was.

Now He's getting in touch with what it's going to be like to go back home. That's His prayer. By the way, here's just a thought. Jesus has a few hours to live, right? And now He's praying to the Father. It's the longest recorded prayer. What does the Son of God have to say to His Father in the last hours of His life? What is so important that would be on His heart, because I think that's a very important thing to note.

Because I would ask you, if you knew you had a few hours to live what would you be asking God for? What would you be praying for? I know, honestly, if I know I'm going to die in a few hours, I might be praying, Lord, get me out of this. Your guts, stop this from happening. Deliver me from this hour of suffering in pain.

What's on Jesus' mind, what's on Jesus' heart, what comes from His lips are three things. He prays for Himself. You just read it, Verses 1 through 5. He then prays for His disciples, His closest followers, versus 6 through 19. And then He prays for you. Verse 20 through 26 that's how the prayer is outlined. So in this hour of need Jesus prays for Himself, and He prays that the glory would be restored, the glory that He once had with the Father before the world was.

Now, I'm going to ask you a rhetorical question, and I might even say a dumb question. Was Jesus' prayer answered by the Father? Of course it was. When Paul wrote the book of Philippians and said, He humbled Himself, He emptied Himself, He became a man, became a bond-servant wherefore, right after that, God has highly exalted Him and given Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess. God has done that Paul said.

So when Stephen is dying the martyrs death, and the stones are pelting his body, just before he dies remember what he said? He goes, look, I see heaven opened and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. He saw him in his exalted place. His prayer was answered. Now he prays for His own. "I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word".

Did you see how that's phrased? Have you ever thought of yourself as a love gift given by God the Father to Jesus the Son? Father, you have given them to Me. When you received Christ, what happened? I know what you're going to say. You're going to say, well, when I received Christ, I gave my life to Jesus. True, you did. But something else happened at the moment you gave your life to Jesus, the father gave you to Jesus as a love gift. He said Skip belongs to You, Jesus. You paid the price, he's Yours. He's my gift to You.

I want to share that, because have you ever had people scorn you, and they think who do you think you are? What do you think you are, God's gift to the world? You answer them and tell them, no, I don't think I'm God's gift to the world, but I know that I'm God's gift to Jesus. Now they're going to look at you like you think you're something you're not. But that is the truth, Baby Ruth. God gave you to Jesus as a love gift.

Now what we're getting into here, and I don't want to belabor it because we've done it on a number of occasions, but we're getting into the divine mysteries of sovereign election and divine predestination versus human volition. You know what that means, right? Where God has selected you, chosen you in Christ before the foundation of the world. But at the same time you had something to do with it. You weren't an innocent bystander just being swept up. You chose to follow Jesus.

Salvation is a combination of God's pre-choice and your choice in real time. He chose you in Christ before the foundation of the world. John 15, remember what Jesus said? You didn't choose Me, but I chose You even though we read that they chose to follow Him. They made the decision to leave their nets and follow Jesus. It was their choice.

Let me just, without getting too much in depth, and losing our time altogether, you will find that the Lord Jesus will often in even a verse, one verse, combine both truths that you are picked before the foundation of the world and that you chose to follow Christ. You'll have references where the Bible gives the command repent and believe the gospel. Or come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, or if any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.

All of those are appeals to your personal choice, your human volition. At the same time, and sometimes in the same verse, it will say that God picked you. God gave you to the Son. It was all pre-done, prearranged. And so you kind of want to scratch your head or find somebody to argue with. Let me just suggest that you don't, because we've got enough of that going on.

The Calvinist will put all of his eggs on that God chose you, your sovereignly predestined and pre-elected. The Armenian will put all of his eggs on you have to make a choice and it's your decision. And the thing is, both are true. And can I just say what Jesus sought to harmonize we dare not polarize. What God has joined together as the preacher says at the wedding, let no man separate. And both of those truths are truths. He's selected you before you are a twinkle in your daddy's eye.

But then, there came a time where God appealed to your choice, and you said yes to Him, and both are evident in the scripture. So you can argue with it, you can wrangle over it, can I just suggest you start enjoying it? I remember being in school when they picked teams, and I was always, almost always, the last person people want to pick. I wasn't like star athlete. Oh, Skip's on my team. It's like they'll get to me, but they'll get all the good guys first.

What I am told in the Bible over and over again is that he picked me and you to be on His team. And I read the end of the book by the way, His team wins. So I'm just going to enjoy it. If you want to wrangle over it and argue about it, have fun. Just don't bring me into it. I'd rather enjoy it while you argue about it, how's that?

"Now they have known," Verse 7, "that all things which You have given Me are from You. For 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 believe that You sent me."

Jesus said, I gave them Your words. And I always feel that that is what spiritual leaders, pastors, need to do, give God's word. Skip, why do you always have a Bible study when you have a meeting at Calvary? Because Romans 10, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. You want to grow in your faith? If you want to grow in your faith, don't close your Bible and pray for faith. You open your Bible and develop your faith. That's how it comes. The more you expose yourself to it and by God's grace implement it, you'll be changed from glory to glory.

So we receive His words. He says Verse 9, "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. 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 one".

209 times in your New Testament, 209 and the little phrase, the world is used. The world. In this passage in nine verses of this passage, it's used 12 times Jesus refers to the world, you're in the world but not of the world. I've taken you out of the world. I'm sending you out to the world. He uses this term, the world. What does that mean? It's the word cosmos in Greek. Cosmos, we get the word cosmology from it.

But there's a few different ways to look at the world. There's only one way He's referring to it. Let me explain. Sometimes the Bible speaks of the world of creation, right? God created the world. The earth is the Lord's the Psalm has said, Psalm 24, and the fullness thereof, the world and all who dwell therein. He's speaking of the world of the earth, creation, the universe.

Well, that is not how it's used here. He's not speaking up, because the Bible says do not love the world, neither the things that are in the world. So he's not saying, don't love your environment. Hate the plant when you go outside. Look at that tree and hate it, don't love it. That's not what it refers to when it says don't love the world. That's one way, the environment, the physical world.

Sometimes the Bible refers to the world as the world of humanity, the world of men. And when Jesus said, or John 3:16, for God so loved the world, He was speaking of people of the world. Jesus didn't die for trees and fish. He died for the humans of this world. God so loved the world. So when the Bible says, don't you love the world, He's not saying don't love people. Don't love the environment, don't love people, whatever you do. Now that would be contrary to the gospel.

There's a third way, and it is the most frequent use of that phrase of the world or cosmos. And it's very evident here. And that is the ordered system of worldly thinking and values around you. That's how it is used. The word cosmos means an arranged order. So the world is the arranged order where Satan is called the God of this world. And there are human beings that are a part of the system that don't love God, that hate God, that don't love Christians, that don't love godly values. That is the world you and I are in and are not to love, right, that system.

So we are living in a physical world surrounded by a human world that is imbued with a spiritual world view. OK, so for example, we used to have a, I don't even know if they have it on TV anymore, The Wide World of Sports. Is that still a show? OK, so that's like decades ago. But it doesn't mean there is a planet out in the galaxy that is called Sports that is revolving around the sun, it's its own world. Now I know a lot of men would love to go to a planet like that but, it just means that it is an arranged system of sport values, and people who love them, and activities that are arranged around them.

So when Jesus speaks of the world, I've taken you out of the world, it's out of that world system. I've delivered you from that way of thinking, that way of living. Let's read down to Verse 14, Verse 12, "While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me, I kept. None of them is lost except the son of perdition," that's Judas Iscariot, "that the scripture might be fulfilled. You But now I come to You and these things I speak in the world that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. 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."

That is the occupational hazard of following Jesus. Every occupation has its hazards. If you work on telephone poles, there's the hazard of getting splinters, or falling down, or getting electrocuted. Every occupation has its had hazards. The occupational hazard of being a Christian, of following Jesus Christ, is that the world system around you isn't going to like you. They're going to hate you, and you're going to be persecuted.

What does Jesus pray for them? He says, Verse 15, "I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth." Please, please, please notice that Jesus does not pray a prayer of escapism. He didn't say, Father, the world's bad, You and I both know it, and they're going to find it out soon enough. And it's so bad, Father, they're going to need a cave to hide in, and a place to store their canned goods and their ammunition, and their whale blubber to keep them warm in cold nights, because the world's out to get them.

He doesn't pray that they would escape from the world. In fact, he says, I took you out of the world but I must send you, notice, he says, I send them right back into the world. "They are not of the world even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth." Look at Verse 18, "As you sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world."

Now compare what you just read in that verse. Verse 18 with Verse 6. Verse 6, "I have manifested Your name to them, to the men You gave me out of the world. They were Yours. You gave them to Me, and they've kept Your word". Now he says, "As you sent Me into the world, I also sent them into the world." Here's how it works. Jesus saves you out of the world system. He saves you out of the mess. He cleans the mess off around you and in you. Then He shoves you back into the mess. I send them back into the world.

You go, that's not very nice. Oh, it's actually very nice. It's very nice because how else are those other world-lings, those people out there going to know the Savior unless through your life that He sends you into? So He'll take you out of the world clean you up, get rid of the mess, send you back into the mess, but this time with a message. And when you speak the message to the people in the mess, it's incentive for them to get out of their mess, and get cleaned up, and get a message and go back in. It's just trickle down evangelism. That's just how it worked from the time of Jesus all the way on.

So our relationship with the world is that the world needs us. But let me throw something else at you. You need the world. Years ago when codfish as an industry in the Pacific Northwest was getting big and people wanted to export it all over the country, they decided that they would take and kill the fish of course and then freeze the fish and then send it to the locations. The problem is that cod is a delicate fish, and it loses a lot of its flavor when it's frozen and shipped.

So they tried something else. They took the codfish and sent it alive in tanks by itself in saltwater, seawater, and preserved it. Then they killed it and served it on the plates. The problem with that, is the fish by the time they got to market were mushy and not firm. Finally, they figured out what was wrong, and they started shipping containers of codfish and put in the tanks it's natural enemy the catfish. So that those poor little codfish were being chased by their enemy the catfish all across country from the Pacific Northwest to whatever restaurant they landed into. That kept them firm and tasty.

Here's my point. If you are in the world, but not in the word, you're going to become like the world. But if you are in the word and not in the world, you're just going to get fat and sassy. You'll be mushy. You need a little bit of chasing. You need a little bit of resistance. You need a little bit of challenge. And that's why when you go, man, I don't know why God would give me this job. That boss hates Christians. And I remember thinking that, because I had a lot of them. They seemed to attack me. They were my catfish.

And I tell you what, it strengthened my faith and made my witness bold, and my thinking clear, and my rebuttals pure. And so the world needs you, but in a sense you need them. You can't just be isolated. But you see, that has been the tendency of Christians for years. One of the responses of believers to the world has been to isolate.

The monastic movement started this way. Let's isolate Christians from the world, from worldly people, from a worldly environment. Let's get them alone. Let's get them in a monastery. Let's just in a nice place where they can sing nice songs together, and hear pleasant things together, and they don't ever have to go back out into the world.

And I've even met Christians go, I'd love to live in a Christian city or a Christian neighborhood where every single neighbor loves Jesus. I say, I think you just described heaven if I'm not mistaken. That's what you're going to get in heaven. That's not the earth. You need to get chased around a little bit. You don't need to isolate.

A second response Christians have had through the years is to insulate, to insulate. Now this was the approach of the Pharisees. Did you know when a Pharisee walked down the streets in Jerusalem they would hold their robes tight to them. They would put their heads down, so they wouldn't have to look at a pagan. They didn't want to get cooties. They didn't want to get defiled. They just walked and held their robes tight and rushed through the streets. They were insulated.

They didn't do evangelism, of course, there's nothing to attract an unbeliever to that. And they mocked people who did evangelism. Your Master eats with tax collectors and sinners. I can't believe He hangs out with those people. Well, like codfish got to hang out with the catfish, because in a spiritual economy that's how catfish can be converted into codfish. So he hung out with tax collectors and sinners. So to isolate and to insulate are not good approaches to the worldly system around you.

A third approach many of us have tried is to vegetate. I see this too often. This is a believer who's just completely apathetic. People are going to hell every day. At least I'm not. There's no passion to share their faith with the lost at all. They may not be isolated or insulated, but they have vegetated. They're like spiritual couch potatoes.

There's another response that I find troubling and that is to imitate the world. Be just like them. Try to prove to worldly people that I'm just as cool as you are. Look, man, I'm as hep as you are as if your hepness is going to attract them to salvation. If there's no difference between an unbeliever and a Christian, why do they need to convert? What are they converting to? There's no difference.

So clearly, the solution is not to isolate, insulate, vegetate, or imitate. Jesus' solution is to permeate. I'm going to take you out of the world, clean you up, tale the mess off you and around from your soul, and put you back into it so that you permeate the world. Isn't that what Jesus said? You are the salt of the earth and salt was used to decontaminate meat in those days. Well, the salt has to touch the meat, has to touch the contamination to kill the germs. So that's His plan. I send you out and Jesus said like sheep in the midst of wolves.

But I'm looking at a few ex-wolves here tonight who are now God's sheep, because others were sent into your life and at the boldness to stay decontaminated and to preach truth to you. That's Jesus' style. And for their sakes, Verse 19, "I sanctify myself that they may also be sanctified by the truth." Now Verso 20, we're going to finish this up to the end. Jesus prays for you.

"I do not pray for these alone." That is, these disciples, these immediate followers, but also for those who will believe in me through their word. That's you and I. We're reading the testimony of one of those close followers tonight. They wrote Matthew, and they wrote John, and they will write first Peter, second Peter, first John, second John, third John.

They'll give their testimony and the gospel baton will be passed down. He is praying for you. Jesus was praying for you then. Do you know Jesus is praying for you now? Do you know that Jesus' work is not finished. You go that's heresy, Skip. No, it's not heresy. The cross, He's finished with that work, but He has a second work He's doing. It's called the work of intercession. Hebrews Chapter 7, He ever lives to make intercession for you. I just want you to think that Jesus prays for you. I want you to think about that.

I remember the evening I was speaking in North Carolina, and that afternoon I had the privilege of having a meal at Dr. Billy Graham's house. And he said, hey, listen, before you go speak, I want to pray for you and your message tonight. So he prayed. And I'm thinking this to myself. Billy Graham is praying for me. This is going to be awesome. Cause if he prays, you know it's going to be awesome. That's what I'm thinking.

And it was as if the Lord said. well, do I count? Man, I live to pray for you. It's what I live for. To pray for you, and you, and you, and by name, before the Father. He ever lives now at the right hand of God to represent you and to pray for you. He prayed for you then. He's praying for you now. He worked for you then. He's working for you now.

"That they may all be one," Verse 21, "as you, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one in Us. That the world may believe that You sent me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are One. I in them, You in Me, that they may be made perfect in one. And that the world may know that you have sent Me and have loved them as you have love Me."

Now Jesus looks toward the future and He prays for us. He prays that we will be unified, we will be one. It's tempting to read this and to sort of cock our head a little bit and go, wow, now there's a prayer of Jesus that I don't think was answered. Because if I'm not mistaken I've read my Bible and even those disciples got into arguments a lot. They were arguing who was going to be the greatest so I'll check that off as being evidence against the answer of this prayer.

Also, I recall that guys like Paul and Barnabas were at each other's throat in the book of Acts. And the argument got so strong they had to part each other's company. They couldn't even hang out with each other. They had to break fellowship with each other. And I've looked around at all the different denominations and hear how Christians talk smack about each other from one town to the next, so where's the unity? Where's the love, Bro?

Here's what I want you to know. Unity isn't something you produce, it's something you already have. Whether you enjoy it or not, you've got it. In Galatians, Chapter 3, Paul writes that there is neither Jew nor Greek. There is neither slave nor free. There is neither male nor female. We are all one in Christ. He says it is a fact whether you know it, experience it or not, I've done it.

I've done it. It's a done fact, Ephesians, Chapter 4, there is one body, one spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism. That's unity. Unity does not mean uniformity. It doesn't mean we're all going to agree on everything. Oh, there's no unity. We actually think differently. That's what humans do. If you get two people that think alike about everything ... thinking. We have differing opinions. We don't all have to think the same things. There's room for disagreement.

I would dare say that all of the cardinal doctrines of the faith you and I agree on. OK, there may be certain things about eschatology or new mythology we have difference of opinion on, but we're one. So it's a done deal. It's a fact. But having said that, it is something we should be endeavoring to keep the Bible says.

Again, Ephesians 4 endeavored to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. So it's something we shouldn't be working against. We should actually be trying to reconcile, trying to build bridges to people and not separate people. We should be endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit. Why? Because then the world will know that you sent Me.

And as Jesus prays for them, He's thinking of the impact of those future believers on the world around them. And He knows if there is a unity among them, that it will make the church attractive to the unbeliever. A church in turmoil, what unbeliever wants to go visit that? Oh, they fight all the time. I'm going to go there. Awesome, I just love conflict.

Then to close off the prayer, one minute left. "Father, I desire that they also whom you gave me may be with me where I am." That's heaven. That's the Father's house. That's where He's going. "That they may behold my glory which you have given Me. For you loved me before the foundation of the world, oh righteous Father. The world has not known You, but I have known You. And these have known that you sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name and will declare it that the love with which you loved Me may be in them and I in them."

He prays for unity and then He prays for glory. Not for Himself, but he's praying for glory for you, that you will be in heaven with Him. Every time a believer dies, Jesus' prayer is answered. It's one more in the very presence of God enjoying His presence, seeing His glory. That's why I make a point at every funeral saying, this person, the last breaths she took on earth, the first breath she took in heaven. It was something like this, wow. Because I'm beholding the glory that Jesus had with the Father from before the world was and it's awesome.

Interesting that He prays about heaven after He prays for unity on earth. And here's what I think. Here's the correlation. When we lose our focus of heaven, we start fighting on earth. When we keep our focus on heaven, it balances out all the disagreements we have on earth. It tends to take the sting away from the battle, because I look at you, I go, you know what? I'm going to have to spend forever with you. That's a long time.

I mean, you're going to be sharing heaven with me. I'm like run into you walking down one of the streets of heaven, I want to try to get along with you now. I know I'm going to be perfect and redeemed and so are you, but I want to endeavor to keep ... spirit now. So I'm thinking of heaven but I'm also thinking that I want to work this out. I think they go hand-in-hand. "And I have declared to them Your name and will declare it that the love with which You loved Me may be in them and I in them."

Father, we thank You that 2,000 years ago, the Savior that we worship was thinking about us. He was praying for His men, His disciples. He was thinking of what would lay ahead of them. He knew their tendency would be to go up into that upper room and lock the door and live there forever. But he wanted them out, and He would send them out, like salt out of the salt shaker, like sheep in the midst of wolves.

But He prayed that you would keep us from the clutches of the evil one. So Lord, as you send us out the rest of this week with friends and with family, people we work with, people that we think are obnoxious to us. I pray, Lord, that you would help us to reach out to them. And through the difficulty strengthen our own fiber lest we get flabby and overfed, and not exercised in righteousness and godliness before the eyes of this corrupt generation.

Lord, we're humbled that while we're praying for You or praying to You through the name of Jesus, is that Jesus is at the right hand, your right hand right now praying for us, daily interceding for us, thinking about us. It's staggering, Lord. It's breathtaking. Your love is so deep, your care so meticulous, that after trotting this holy ground all we can do is humbly bow. But at the same time, like Jesus, lift our eyes toward heaven, the place we will one day be with You in glory to behold you face to face.

Get us ready, Lord, for that. Help us to get along with each other now to endeavor to keep the unity of the spirit in that bond of peace with our eyes toward heaven, our feet on the earth in Jesus' name. Amen.

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