Thursday, September 6, 2012

John 17:6-11

Yesterday, we looked at the first part of Jesus’ prayer, in which He prayed for Himself - that the Father would glorify the Son, so that the Son would glorify the Father. We need to remember that this is the same prayer time that is mentioned in Luke 22, Matthew 26, and Mark 14. It was prayed in the garden of Gethsemane. According to Courson, Gethsemane means olive press, where olives are crushed to release their oil. Courson writes, “The crushing, the pressing Jesus endured in Gethsemane as He was about to feel the wrath of His Father for the sin of all humanity, so far exceeds anything we can even begin to comprehend that it is rendered incomprehensible.” (Courson P. 407)

We know from these passages that Jesus prayed that the Father would take away the cup of suffering He was about to drink. But He also prayed, “Yet not as I will, but as you will...” In Luke it says, “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:44) I believe that Jesus was in anguish, not just because of what He was facing personally, but because of what He knew the disciples, and all believers would face. So, as we look at the rest of this passage in the next few days, let’s keep that in mind. He was so impassioned about what He was praying, that He was in anguish.

After praying for Himself, this is the first part of His prayer for the disciples:

“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word.  Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you.  For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.  I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.  All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them.  I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one. (John 17:6-11)

What jumps out at me immediately is that Jesus specifically said, “I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me.” Jesus was focused on those who believe - in this section, the disciples. Although we know, from John 3:16, that “God so loved the world...” Jesus was only praying for those the Father had given Him - the “whosoever believeth” from the rest of that verse. The whole world does NOT believe in Jesus Christ, and this is NOT a universal prayer here.

And more importantly, what is it that He prayed? That “they may be one as we are one.” This is what He agonized over for us. Unity within the Church is a huge part of our witness. Our unity is found in our understanding of who Christ is and what He accomplished on the cross. Most other issues are the minor things we not only disagree about, but what we form churches around! They are they things that divide and destroy our witness to the world(baptism, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, what day to worship, how to worship, how to take communion, what communion means, etc.).

Years ago, when I was new to the interdenominational group, Bible Study Fellowship (BSF), our teaching leader asked everyone to shout out the names of their particular churches. It was massive confusion, with an unintelligible sound. Complete discord! Then she asked us to shout out the name “Jesus Christ.” It was a clear, beautiful act of worship! When we unify around the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and God the Son, our witness is powerful. But when we let denominational arguments get in the way, we make anything but a joyful noise to the world! Jesus agonized over this, because He wants us to glorify our Father in heaven!

More tomorrow, but I want to give a tremendous praise report. I asked you to pray for Celeste, a fellow teacher friend who was hospitalized in great pain, because scar tissue was blocking her intestines (by the way, her previous surgeries that lead to the scar tissues were for cervical, not breast cancer, and C-section). Anyway, God heard and answered our prayers! The problem is gone, and Celeste is home. She texted me this message this morning, “Thank you so much! I am so humbled and thankful for everyone’s prayers and kind thoughts. The week was scary and yucky, but each day I tried so hard to stay in prayer, keep reading His word, and have faith that He would heal me. Praise God! What a lesson I learned in faithfulness! I can’t thank you enough for keeping me in your prayers...” Thank you, God!!! I am going to visit Jacob this afternoon, so I will give you an update later. Thank you, prayer warriors!!!

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