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The Upper Room Ministry (10)

C Jones, Cardiff

John chapter 17 (cont.)

The Lord had always done those things that pleased His Father (Jn 8.29). He had always glorified His Father "on the earth" (17.4) and done everything His Father had given Him to do. Before He came into the world He had said, "I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart" (Ps 40.8). To please, obey, and glorify His Father and to finish the work His Father had given Him to do had always been the Lord’s aim and purpose (Jn 4.34). Soon, on the Cross, He would utter that great cry of victory, "It is finished" (Jn 19.30). These words are surely the most wonderful, momentous, and significant ever spoken, for they tell us that He had accomplished all He had come to do. Now, just before His crucifixion, He could speak as if He had already been crucified, buried, and raised from the dead, for He said, "I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do" (v.4). God has a work for each of us to do. He has given gifts to each one of us to use for His glory and the help, blessing, and edification of each other, and it behoves us to use our time, energy, and resources in accordance with His perfect will and for His glory.

At the Lord’s birth the heavenly host praised God and said, "Glory to God in the highest" (Lk 2.14), and the Lord now expressed the desire that after glorifying both His Father and Himself by being crucified He would return to heaven and be glorified with His Father, "with the glory which I had with thee before the world was" (Jn 17.5). These words take our thoughts back to His eternal existence in heaven and make us think of the glory He had in eternity before the world was created. The Lord had glory with the Father before the world was, but He also acquired glory by coming to earth and doing His Father’s will. He is now once again in heaven where He sits "on the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Heb 1.3), and there continues His ministry of intercession for believers.

I am glorified in them

The Lord revealed the unchanging character, nature, and attributes of God His Father to the men the Father had given Him "out of the world" (v.6; Jn 6.37; Mt 11.27). These men had come to know the Lord, and all that He had revealed to them of Himself revealed His Father to them. He had said, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (Jn 14.9). After His resurrection, the Holy Spirit would reveal to these same men great truths regarding the Lord Jesus Christ. These men, "his own", were separated from the world and to God (2 Cor 6.14-18). They had been with Him. They loved Him and had been taught by Him. He had given them God’s word (vv.6,8,14,17), and, although they had their weaknesses and failures, they had believed and obeyed that word, and the Lord graciously said to His Father, "they have kept thy word" (v.6).

Because the truths had been revealed to them by God (Mt 16.17), the disciples believed that God had sent His Son into the world, that He came from God, and that the words He spoke were from the Father (Jn 17.7,8). The Lord was not, at this time, praying for the world but for "his own", that is, believers who had been given to Him by His Father (v.9). The Lord, praying as the equal of God His Father said, "And all mine are thine, and thine are mine" (v.10). He said, "I am glorified in them". The Lord will be glorified in believers when, in the power of the indwelling Spirit (1 Cor 6.19), we live lives which are Christ-like.

The Lord prayed as if that which was yet to be had already come to pass, and as if He had already returned to heaven. His concern was not with Himself but with His disciples who would remain "in the world" (v.11), and He asked His Holy Father to keep them through the stresses and tribulations that lay ahead of them. He wanted them to be kept from harm and, in unity of holiness, Christ-likeness, fellowship, and purpose, doing the will of God. During His time on earth, the Lord had kept the disciples (Jn 6.39) in His Father’s name, that is, in His power. He had kept them just as, in the future, His Father would protect, watch over, and keep them physically, mentally, and spiritually (17.12). None of the disciples who were believers had been lost, but Judas, "the son of perdition", who had never been saved (Jn 6.70,71), betrayed the Lord, and in so doing fulfilled prophecy (Ps 41.9).

The Lord allowed the disciples to hear Him interceding for them, and He would continue this ministry in heaven. Thoughts of His intercession would give them joy. It was His desire that "his own" might know true lasting joy, the Lord’s joy. The Lord would experience joy in doing His Father’s will, communing with Him, and in being raised from the dead. He had joy in knowing that, after His departure, His own would be cared for and watched over by His Father (17.13). His joy was to be theirs eternally (Jn 16.20,22,24).

Yet again, the Lord spoke of the world’s hatred for His disciples (17.14; Jn 15.18-21). He had given them the words God wanted them to hear and they had believed the Lord’s teaching. This had changed them and, by grace, they were now "not of the world", but resembled the Lord Jesus Christ and, as a result, the world would hate them. Despite the fact that they were not of this world, they were going to stay in the world to witness for God, serve Him, and be a channel of blessing to the world. The Lord prayed that His Father would keep them from "the evil". If the testimony was to flourish, the disciples needed to be kept from the havoc and confusion which would otherwise be wrought by Satan and the powers of evil (v.15). Believers are "not of the world", just as the Lord is not of the world (v.16). The lives of Christ-like believers highlight the wickedness which is all around them in every aspect of the world’s activities. The Lord prayed that His disciples might be sanctified, set apart by the Word of God, and that they might serve Him in the world. Meditating on the Word of God in submission to the Holy Spirit and obeying the truths He reveals result in sanctification (James 1.22). The Lord said, "Thy word is truth" (v.17). The Word of God shows us our spiritual condition and reveals to us the will of God (Ps 119.105). Knowing and obeying the Word will cleanse us and keep us from sinning (Ps 119.9,11; Jn 15.3; Eph 5.26), and will help us to lead separated lives, grow to spiritual maturity (1 Pet 2.2; 1 Cor 3.1-2), and serve Him in accordance with His will.

The disciples were sent into the world by the Lord as His Father had sent Him (17.18). The Lord had revealed God to men and now the disciples, enabled and empowered by the Holy Spirit, were to reveal to men the truths God wanted them to know. The Lord said, "And for their sakes I sanctify myself" (v.19), that is, He set Himself apart to do and complete all that His Father had sent Him to do, for the Father’s glory and the salvation and blessing of believers.

To represent, speak, and work for the Lord, those of us who are believers must, by the power of the Spirit and the Word of truth, be sanctified for God, that is, set apart and separated from the world so that we might be enabled to do His will. It is His desire that believers should really and truly be clean vessels fit for the Lord to use (2 Tim 2.21). The command is, "Be ye holy" (1 Pet 1.15,16).

To be continued.


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