Sermon – October 18, 2020
This life is hard to keep balance in. Sin so affects us that we have a difficult time not over-adjusting to the problems that we face. We often see our problems in life, and think that Jesus is the easy solution to them. But, in doing this, we often just use Jesus as a holy talisman, a trinket used to get us what we really want. Or, reacting to that, we show Jesus as the high and mighty God, but forget that he doesn’t just demand our obedience, but wants our love and affection in light of the good he offers. In John 17, Jesus offers a prayer that helps us walk this fine line. As he prepares to leave the disciples, Jesus prays for his own glory, which is also for the good of us all.
1. The purpose of Jesus’ prayer
The purpose of Jesus’ prayer is that his Father glorify him. Yet, even this is not a final purpose; the glory that he receives rebounds to the Father’s glory. Each glorifies the other – Jesus glorifies the Father in that the Father’s will is worth dying for; the Father glorifies the Son for he must acknowledge the worthiness of his life. This never ending cycle of glory increases for eternity, and therefore gives us the fuel we need to exist for eternity. Our eternal lives will never be boring, lonely, or sad. But, rather, as God is infinitely glorious, we will always be entranced by his power, might, goodness, and majesty forever.
2. The preparation of Jesus’ prayer
If the beginning of Jesus’ prayer is about his own glory, and how that is for our eternal good, what gives him the right to pray in such ways? Simply the fact that he has already accomplished the will of the Father – he has modeled the name (the character and nature) of the Father to the disciples, and has kept them in it. He has done this, not because they are worthy in any way, but simply because they have always belonged and been set aside for this end by the Father.
3. The problem of Jesus’ prayer
But Jesus is leaving, and the hatred of the world will become ever more pointed at the disciples. This is the problem of Jesus’ prayer. The most natural thing would be for the disciples to be taken out of the world, but Jesus emphatically refuses such a solution. What he proffers doesn’t alleviate the problem, but instead will exacerbate it. He prays that we become more like what the world hates – Jesus Christ himself. We should become more like him in taking on his work, and living in his joy.