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Apr 30 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

April 28, 2019


Luke 10:21-24; 22:31-32 and John 17:1-9

Intro: Today it will feel like we’re moving backwards in time

Last week we jumped to the end of John’s gospel, because it was Easter Sunday
– today we return to night of Jesus’ arrest prior to his crucifixion
• think of what we are doing this way:
◦ some films include flashbacks to events that occurred prior to the current period
◦ flashbacks supply explanations or fill in important details
• so this week and next, will be like flashbacks for us
◦ scenes of events leading up to Jesus’ resurrection
– the “Church Calendar” is an ancient tradition
• it divides the year into seasons attached to specific events
◦ it also provides daily scripture reading to keep those events in mind
• according to the Church Calendar Easter is not a day but a season
◦ it goes from Easter Sunday up to Pentecost Sunday
◦ so it is fitting to return to the cross and resurrection during this “season”

Jesus and his disciples are on their way out of Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives
– they have not yet crossed the valley that separates the two mounts
• Jesus has said all he had to say to them
• now he concludes his final teaching with a prayer
– there is too much to his prayer to go over in detail this morning
• it is like the entire gospel has been compressed into one chapter
• find a time when you can come back to it and read it slowly

There is nothing like this prayer in the Synoptic gospels

We know Jesus prayed – and he prayed a lot (especially in Luke’s gospel)
– he sometimes prayed for his disciples
• as when he chose the twelve to be his apostles (Lk. 6:12-13)
• he also prayed specifically for Peter (Lk. 22:31-32)
– but except for once when he praised God and then in Gethsemane,
• the Synoptic gospels did not record the contents of his prayer
• even though he taught the the disciples to pray,
◦ and even told them what to request,
◦ the words of his prayers are not reported in Matthew, Mark, or Luke

John takes us into this particular prayer of Jesus
– and doing so, he takes us deep into the heart of Jesus
• he allows us to eavesdrop
• to hear what were Jesus’ concerns in this last hour with the disciples

Key themes from the story of Jesus appear in this prayer

For example:
Jesus frequently addresses God as “Father”
(also, “Holy Father” in verse 11 and “Righteous Father” in verse 25)
Jesus again refers to his “hour”
– this first instance was to his mother, My hour has not yet come (Jn. 2:4)
– but now his the hour has come (Jn. 17:1)
Related to his hour is glory
(and that he glorified the Father and the Father glorifies him)
– from beginning of John, God’s glory has to do with his self-revelation
◦ this is how God had manifested himself to Moses (Ex. 33:18; 34:5-7)
◦ and his presence to Israel (Ex. 16:6-10)
– in John, this is how God manifests himself to the world through Jesus
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (Jn. 1:14)
– in regard to Jesus’ glory, John sees through the Synoptic vision of cross
– he sees the suffering and shame, but he also sees beyond that
Andreas Kostenberger tells us that in Mark’s gospel “the cross is . . . a place of shame, humiliation, and suffering for Jesus”
◦ the soldiers mocked him, the priests mocked him,
◦ bystanders mocked him, even the thieves next to Jesus mocked him
Kostenberger says, however, that in John, “the cross is . . . the place where Jesus will be glorified,” and he explains that “John enlists Isaiah to show that, contrary to the world’s perspective, the cross was not in fact a place of dishonor, humiliation, and shame, but instead constituted the location where Jesus was exalted for his willingness to die for the sins of the world as the lamb of God and obedient Son of the Father.”
Eternal life
Believing and knowing (Jn. 17:8, 21 and 23)
The world
– as a force of resistance and persecution
– in verse 9, Jesus said his prayer was not for the world
◦ at least not at this point
◦ however, he does not exclude the world from his prayer
◦ reaching it is his end goal
The oneness of all his followers
– a oneness he shares with his Father and with us (Jn. 17:21-23)

Jesus also covers:
The past:
I have manifested your name
I have given them the words
I have guarded them
I have sent them into the world
The present:
I am praying for them
I am no longer in the world
I am coming to you
I am not of the world
The future:
keep them in your name
keep them from the evil one
sanctify them
– that his followers will be with him
– and he prays for those who in the future will come to believe in him

A chain is formed from these themes in Jesus’ prayer

For example, his glory
– verses 1-5, the Father shares it with his Son, Jesus
– verse 22, Jesus shares it with his disciples
– verse 23, the disciples reflect it to the world
God the Father to Jesus — Jesus to his apostles — the apostles to the world
– the same chain is formed with:
• the Father’s name (v. 11), and words (v. 8)
• the Father sending Jesus into world (v. 18)
– Jesus includes in his prayer, every link in the chain
• through the centuries, all the way down to us

Now that we’ve seen some features of prayer, I have a confession

Reading through this prayer has always been confusing for me
– I quickly lose Jesus’ train of thought
• the prayer jumps around from one subject to another
◦ it jumps ahead, and then it jumps back, and then repeats itself
• I have trouble seeing the logical connections between his thoughts
◦ and I feel like I have to hold onto too many ideas at once
◦ I have not been able to find a structure to Jesus’ prayer
– it’s like reading the mumbo jumbo in a legal document
• perhaps we don’t have to hang on to all the pieces,
◦ or carefully track all of its twists and turns
• if not, then how else could we read it?

Technically, Jesus was not talking to his disciples
– this was not another discourse or lecture – it was a prayer
• Jesus was talking to his Father – and at a very stressful time
◦ he opened his soul and poured out what was in it
• the prayer did not have to be organized and neat
◦ its style was not logical, but emotional
◦ and that, I believe, is what we are supposed to feel
– if you spend enough time with this prayer,
• you will feel its depth and beauty
• and the you will find the depth and beauty of the one who prayed it
◦ the strong emotion of Jesus prayer leaves its impression on us
◦ this is what we are to receive from this prayer — its impression
◦ so that our inner lives are shaped by it
– these are all the things Jesus wants for us
• but it is important to feel the intensity of his desire (e.g., v. 24)
• that is what will move us to align our wills with his prayer

Just to be clear, although this is a prayer, Jesus was still teaching
– as before, he was teaching by example
• and his example was that they were to keep their eyes on the goal
◦ keep themselves close to God and all his resources
• they were never lose sight of the big picture
◦ and the picture in Jesus’ prayer is very big
◦ the scope of his concern is worldwide

Conclusion: Before praying, Jesus lifted up his eyes to heaven

Turning our heads and line of sight is how we orient ourselves,
– and how we move, how we turn our whole bodies
• that John takes note of our Lord’s gesture is significant
◦ we do not pray with our bodies,
◦ but we cannot pray without them
• posture makes a difference
◦ to pray with our whole person is to present our bodies to God

What drives us? Sometimes we don’t even know
– perhaps you hate losing your temper,
• promise yourself you never will again — and then you do
– I think we’re drawn by desire, but driven by something else
• if we drop our guard and let what’s deep inside come up,
• I think we will discover a great emptiness
◦ even Christians feel it –a longing for something that isn’t there
◦ a need that’s never been met
• it’s there, but we don’t want to face it
Anthony de Mello was right when he said, “And when the emptiness surfaces, what do you do? You run away, turn on the television, turn on the radio, read a book, search for human company, seek entertainment, seek distraction. Everybody does that. It’s big business nowadays, an organized industry to distract us and entertain us.”

The more distractions, the more blockages we create
– preventing the light of God’s glory from reaching that deep emptiness

Jesus prayed for us
He is still praying for us,
that God’s glory will reach us,
reveal God to us
and that he is with us here and now.
He prays for us to be healed
and to be filled–with his joy (v. 13)
and with his love (v. 26)
and that every day we will
reflect his glory to the world

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