John 17:1                 The Most Remarkable Prayer                             4/18/2010      ßà   

 

 

 

 

 

 

#1.       Jesus Prayed (Mark 1:35, Luke 3:21, 6:12, 23:46, Psalm 18:5, 22:1, 30:3, John 11:41)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2.       Father (John 17:1, Heb 10:5, Luke 1:35, 3:38, Rom 8:29,32, 2Sam 7:13-14, Heb 1:5)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Gospel According to John, John 17:1 (2X). As you know, whenever we have a Lord’s Supper, the sermon is a little different. We have finished a series on Isa 53, and today I would like us to look at John chapter 17. This chapter, John 17, contains the most remarkable prayer in the Bible, for this chapter contains the Lord’s prayer before He went to the cross. Therefore the title of this sermon is, The Most Remarkable Prayer (2X). Let us read the first ten verses in this chapter.

Joh 17:1-10  These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.

What were the circumstances wherein the Lord Jesus uttered this prayer? He was walking on the way to the Garden of Gethsemane. Look at chapter 14, the last verse. At the end of John 14:31 the Lord Jesus said, “Arise, let us go hence.” Then they got up and started walking. All the words we read in chapters 15 and 16 were spoken while they were walking. Then beginning at chapter 17 we read, “These words spake Jesus,” which refers to the words recorded in chapters 14, 15, and 16. And thus, in chapters 14 through 16 the Lord Jesus addressed the 11 disciples, in chapter 17 the Lord Jesus spoke to His heavenly Father, but He was still walking, with most likely the apostle John was by His side. These were His last instructions to the disciples, and this was His last prayer to the Father before He died. What can we conclude from this apparently insignificant event? Obviously we can conclude that His last instructions to the disciples contained the most important points of the Gospel that He preached in the past three and one half years. We would do well to absorb these three chapters slowly and very attentively for they contain many doctrines that are essential, if we want to understand the Gospel that the Lord Jesus preached. For example, please turn to John 14:6 (2X). There the Lord Jesus said, in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” What does that mean for the billions of people who lived and died in OT time before the Lord Jesus came to this earth? When the Lord said, “No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” He really meant “No man”. It means then that the OT saints such as Enoch, and Noah, and Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and Moses, and David, and Isaiah, and Daniel were all saved because the Lord gave them the faith to look forward to the Messiah who was promised in Gen 3:15, where God said to Satan,

Ge 3:15  And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her Seed; He shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel. 

This was the promise of Messiah who was going to crush all the works of Satan and will strike the head of Satan so that he will die. Only the OT saints who were given the faith to look forward to this Messiah were saved. All the billions of others were excluded, because the Lord Jesus said, “No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” And thus, when the Lord Jesus atoned for the sins of all those whom He was going to save, He atoned only for those to whom He had given the faith to believe on Him. This tells us that the atonement of the Lord Jesus on the cross was a limited atonement, or a particular atonement, but it was not a universal atonement. He did not pay for the sins of everyone in the world, but He paid only for the sins of those to whom He had given the privilege of believing on Him. And so, only those who have received this faith from God shall be saved. The Lord Jesus said in John 6:44,

Joh 6:44  No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him

We can see that this is totally consistent with the statement of the Lord Jesus in John 14:6, where the Lord said, “No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” Paraphrased the Lord says in John 6:44, “No man can come to Christ by making a decision to believe on Jesus, for that is not the faith that was given him from God. Let us be careful to distinguish between a faith that was generated by man, and a faith that was a gift from God, which is given only to those whom God elected unto salvation.

This is just one example of how we need to work out every statement of the Lord Jesus in these three chapters, and this example shows us how carefully we need to read the Lord’s instructions in these last words. It tells us that the Gospel is not complete without the sovereignty of God.

#1.       Jesus Prayed (Mark 1:35, Luke 3:21, 6:12, 23:46, Psalm 18:5, 22:1, 30:3, John 11:41)

It was a custom for Jesus to pray. He prayed always and at every occasion. For example we read in Mr 1:35 “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” The Lord Jesus prayed during His baptism. We read in Lu 3:21, “Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,” He prayed early in the morning and He prayed late at night. We read in Lu 6:12 “And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” He even prayed just before He died on the cross, for we read in Lu 23:46  “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.” Many are the prayers of Jesus. Most of His prayers are not recorded in the NT, but we find many of the prayers of Jesus in the Psalms. Therefore these are called Messianic Psalms. For example, when we read in Psalm 18:5, “The sorrows (lit: the cords) of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented (lit: confronted) me,” we know from these words that this is a Messianic Psalm. This is one of the prayers of the Lord Jesus on the cross. When we read in Psalm 22:1, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” we know immediately that this is another Messianic Psalm containing a prayer of the Lord Jesus on the cross. When we read in Psalm 30:3, “O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit”, which literally reads, “O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast made me alive from among them that go down to the pit”, we know immediately that this was a prayer of the Lord Jesus after His resurrection. And so on. There are many prayers of the Lord Jesus recorded in the Psalms, if we only had eyes to see them. But the most important prayer of the Lord Jesus is John 17, which is also called “The High Priestly Prayer.” In John 17 the veil is drawn aside, and we are admitted with our great High Priest into the holiest of all. Here we approach the secret place of the tabernacle of the Most High. Therefore let us listen with humble and reverent hearts, for the place on which we stand is truly holy ground. We have here a model of Christ’s high priestly intervention for His disciples and for us, which He continually makes in the immediate presence of God, on the ground of His completed and accepted sacrifice. We know this from the fact that the Lord Jesus prayed here audibly in the presence of His disciples. He wanted them to know what a wondrous place they had in His heart, and He wanted them to be assured that all His influence with the Father would be employed for their advantage. The Lord Jesus hereby gave an example of His intercession with the Father in heaven, and He wants to let us know how much He loves us. In His function as the Mediator between God and man He wants us to realize that the guilt of our sins was erased at the time of the cross and the glory that the Lord Jesus receives was for our benefit also. This prayer that we read in John 17 is a standing monument of Christ’s affection for the church. In it we are permitted to hear the desires of His heart as He spreads them before the Father, seeking the temporal, spiritual and eternal welfare of those who are His own. And then remember the words the Lord Jesus spoke at the grace of His friend Lazarus. There the Lord Jesus said in John 11:41, “And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always.” Always. Is that not comforting to know that the prayers of Jesus on our behalf will always be heard? Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Hebrews, Heb 4:12 (2X). We have the comfort of always having an Advocate before the Father in heaven. What we also always must keep in mind is the Wisdom of God. We should make this detour before we continue in John 17.

We have a God who is infinitely wise. What are the implications of the fact that God is infinitely wise? The first and foremost implication is that God knows each one of us so intimately that He can say in Heb 4:12, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” In other words, if the Word of God has that wisdom to discern the thoughts and intents of the hearts of men, even before we have carried out our evil deeds, then certainly God Himself has the wisdom to know each one of us so intimately that He can know the future because He knows how each one of us will react under any of the circumstances He places us in. And thus, God is never surprised because He knows the end from the beginning. Therefore, God will never have to make a decision somewhere in history that He did not foresee from the beginning of time. This is a principle we must carry through in all our doctrines, for God’s Wisdom may not be compromised. Therefore if God decides to save Mr A and not save Mr B, then God already knew that before the foundation of the world. That is why God says in Eph 1:4 that “He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world”. He chose us, the elect, and placed us in Christ before the foundation of the world. And the act of placing us in Christ guarantees that we are predestined to inherit eternal life in the NH&NE. Moreover, Eph 1:4 says, “in order that we should be holy and without blame before Him”, which means that we should be totally justified in body and soul before Almighty God. Only at the end of the world shall we be totally justified in body and soul before Him. Before that moment in time we will be only justified in our soul. And then we recognize three events in time concerning the justification of our soul: #1, Before the foundation of the world, #2, At the time of the cross, #3, at the time of our regeneration in the 20th or the 21st century. It is only from the time of our regeneration that we are growing in grace in our bodies, for that is the time when we switched from serving Satan to serving Christ. But God already declared us justified in AD 33 when the Lord Jesus Christ hung on the cross on our behalf. For example, God says in Rom 4:25, “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” And there are many other verses which declare the same truth. In other words, God declared our souls justified when Christ rose from the grave, and He also declared our souls justified at the time of our regeneration. What is the difference between the justification of our souls at the cross and the justification of our souls in the 20th or 21st century? The only difference there can be is between our sins and the guilt of our sins. And so, in AD 33 God declared our souls free from the guilt of our sins, and in the 20th or the 21st century at the time of our regeneration God declared our souls free from sins. But since we were in Christ from before the foundation of the world, God already declared our souls free from the guilt of our sins in anticipation of Him declaring us justified at the time of the cross, for Christ is the spotless Lamb of God who must remain spotless in order to qualify as the Lamb of God. And all this is in harmony with the wisdom of God, who knows the end from the beginning. How then will regeneration begin? It begins when with our physical ears we hear the preaching of the Gospel, and God the Holy Spirit applies this preaching to our soul so that we also hear the Gospel with our spiritual ears. This is how faith, the gift from God, comes to the saving of our body and soul, so that we might be justified by faith, which is not our faith but the faith of Christ. That is why God says in 1Cor 1:21, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” And although we hear with our body, and the Gospel sinks into our mind, which is in our body, our bodies do not attain to the blessedness of our souls until the time of the Rapture on the last day.

#2.       Father (John 17:1, Heb 10:5, Luke 1:35, 3:38, Rom 8:29,32, 2Sam 7:13-14, Heb 1:5)

John 17:1, These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:

The Mediator here addresses God as Father. God was His Father in a threefold sense. First, He was His Father, for by Him did the Lord Jesus receive His human nature, miraculously. From Him did the Lord Jesus receive His special body, made in the likeness of sinful man, but absolutely without sin. His body was prepared for Him by God. We read in Heb 10:5, “Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:” So God became the Father of His human nature. Therefore the angel said to His mother Mary, “Also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35). God the Son united Himself with the egg in the womb of Mary, and that unity was the Incarnation. God indeed sent His Son, God the Son. He and the man Christ Jesus, the Son of Mary, became one Person, not two persons. Secondly, God stands in the relation of “Father” to our Lord, when we consider God as the “Head and Representative” of the whole family that will be redeemed from among men. In this sense Christ is “The firstborn among many brethren” (Rom 8:29). When we read in 2Sam 7:14, “I will be his father, and he shall be my son”, we should not think of Solomon, for 2Sam 7:13 speaks of “the throne of His kingdom forever”. Moreover, God specifically states in Heb 1:5, that 2Sam 7:13-14 does not refer to Solomon but to Christ. We read in Heb 1:5, “For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?” Thirdly, when the Lord Jesus Christ calls to the Father, He could be calling from the vantage point of God the Son calling out to God the Father, the first person of the Triune God. In that sense He is not addressing Him as an obedient Son but as an equal, for both the Father and the Son are equally and fully God. Which one of these three possibilities do we assign to the text at hand? We first of all have to look at the context, and then we can decide who is speaking. Is it the Savior, the Christ who atoned for our sins addressing His heavenly Father, or is it the One who is the firstborn among many brethren speaking to the Head and Representative of the whole family, or is it God the Son who is addressing God the Father? When we read John 17 we realize that it is the Savior, the Christ who atoned for our sins, who is addressing His heavenly Father with great affection. It is the relationship of sonship. He expresses His love, and confidence, and submission. In whom should a Son trust if not in His Father? It was as if He said, “I trust in Thy power, Thy wisdom, Thy faithfulness, and Thy love for Me. Into Thy hands I commit Myself. I am certain that Thou wilt hear My prayer, for Thou art My Father. Then He said,

Seven times did the Lord Jesus speak of that awful hour. The first time was in John 2:4, where He said to His mother, “Mine hour is not yet come”. The second time is found in John 7:30 where we read, “Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come.” The third time is found in John 8:20 where we read, “and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come.” The fourth time is found in John 12:23 where we read, “And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.” The fifth time is found in John 12:27 where we read, “Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.” The sixth time is found in John 16:32 where we read, “Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.” The seventh time is found in John 17:1, where we read, “These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:” The hour that was referred to seven times was the hour of His humiliation. Six times was the Lord Jesus reminded of that awful hour, but the seventh time He said, “Father, the hour has come”. It was the time when He would be subject to man’s will, and He would be delivered into the hands of those who would crucify Him. This seventh time was the greatest hour of all, for the hours began to be numbered. It was the hour when the Son of man had to terminate the labors of His important life by a death still more important and illustrious. It was the hour when the Lord of glory, the judge of all the earth, would step down from the judge’s bench and pay the penalty that was required by the law of God for millions of bankrupt sinners who cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand. It was the hour for fulfilling many prophecies, and types and symbols which for hundreds of years had been pointing forward to this hour. It was the hour when events took place which in the history of the entire universe can find no parallel: when the Serpent was permitted to bruise the heel of the woman’s Seed; when the sword of Divine justice smote the suffering Servant of Jehovah; when the sun refused to shine; when the earth rocked on its axis; but when the elect company were redeemed, and when heaven was gladdened, and which brought and shall bring glory to God in the highest into all eternity. And what glory is this? No, it is not an outward glory of much fireworks and sparkle and shine, but it is a glory that claims victory over sin. This is truly great glory, for the evil that ruled with sin is very great and mighty. There were two petitions from the Lord Jesus to His Father. The first plea was, “Father, glorify Thy Son”. Give Him the victory over Satan, and death, and Hell, so that all those Thou hast given Me will be with Me when I am taken up into glory. The second plea was, “Father, the hour has come.” The time appointed for granting this petition has arrived, which means that in the wisdom of God now is the correct time. The Passover is at hand. The Roman Empire is in place, and crucifixion has been the established as the mode of execution. The Roman highways have been built for the Gospel to travel through the entire Roman Empire. The Zealots are ready to deliver the nation of the Jews into the hands of the Roman armies. Everything is ready. The hour has come. Glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee.

      AMEN.                       Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.