Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #310 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading John 17 today and our focus is on What Did Jesus Pray About? When Jesus Prayed, What Did He Pray For? What Can We Learn About Prayer From the Way Jesus Prayed? We are a daily 10ish minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Nepal, Bangkok, Thailand, Himachal, Pradesh,India, Kano, Nigeria, Groningen, Netherlands, Guatemala City, Guatemala, Quebec, Canada, Omaha, Nebraska, Memphis, Tennessee, Austin, Texas, Houston, Texas, Petersburg, Virginia, Cleveland, Ohio, San Francisco, California, Bakersfield, California, Honolulu, Hawaii, Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Greenwood, Mississippi. Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
When most people think of prayer and Jesus, they think of the Lord’s prayer, and that is not wrong at all, but in John 17, we get what is the longest recorded prayer of Jesus anywhere, so we get to see and hear what Jesus prayed about, and how He prayed, and what we learn here is really quite eye-opening. Let’s look at the prayer of Jesus and then learn from it. How about we read it first?
How does Jesus start His prayer? Very simply – one word: FATHER. Not, “Dear God,” or “Heavenly Father,” or anything more than simply saying, “Father.” That tells us that we don’t have to say “dear” at the beginnings of our prayers, but we most certainly have the freedom to do so. After that initial address, how does Jesus proceed? Interestingly, He begins to just sort of talk things through. “the hour has come. Glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you,” He starts off with a statement framing the reason why He is praying – the hour is come…meaning that He has come to His time to die. He states it very matter of factly – seemingly devoid of emotion, but not at all missing emotion when He is praying in the Garden of Gethsemane with such intense emotion that His tears were as blood dripping off of His face. But here it is simply a statement of fact – it is time for me to do what you sent me to do, essentially. And then Jesus makes His first request – that He would be glorified by the Father, so that He could, in turn, glorify His Father. After this, He begins to talk about His disciples, and how He did what His Father had wanted Him to do in terms of teaching them, and He tells His Father that His disciples believed the teaching. This is interesting, because God knows this information, Jesus isn’t telling Him new information, Jesus is simply talking things through with His Father. We don’t often think of prayer like this – we usually think of it as some mixture of requests, praises, thanksgivings and asking for forgiveness, which is all right and proper in prayer, but we rarely think of prayer in such almost conversational ways as Jesus is engaging in here.
Beginning in vs. 9, Jesus begins to request more things in prayer, but He still maintains the conversational tone. Take vs. 11, for example, which reads, “1 I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by your name that you have given me, so that they may be one as we are one.” Jesus first tells His Father the situation and then asks for protection for His disciples, and then gives a reason for His request. This tells us that it is okay to view prayer as talking things through with God, and since Jesus is engaging in prayer in this manner, I believe it tells us that it is not merely “ok” to pray in this way – a more conversational sort of way – but it is the very best and most appropriate way to pray.
Notice vs. 17, “ 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. ” This is an interesting way to pray that I suspect most of us don’t regularly do – Jesus asks His requests and then follows it up with a statement of truth, and we can certainly do the same – asking for a request and then following up with a portion of Scripture that matches up with what we are asking. An example – “Father, we ask you to raise up people in our church who will boldly take the good news of Jesus to our city, because your son Jesus said that the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Please send out more workers, Father!” This is a perfectly appropriate way to pray, and not the least bit pretentious or showy.
And in the last part of His prayer, Jesus prays for us, and I mean, quite literally, you and me! Not by name, of course, but we see that He is praying for us in vs. 20, “20 “I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in me through their word.”
And what does He pray? He prays for unity – oneness – that we would have the same unity in relationship with each other that Jesus has with His Father! I love these words of Tim Keller that helps us understand the kind of unity that Jesus prays for His church:
When Jesus Christ was on earth, all of his ministry power resided in one spot in one time, and as great as that was, he could only be in one place when he was on earth at a time. We’re told in Ephesians 4, when he ascended into heaven, he sat down at the right hand of the Father and he gave gifts to men. That is such a critical passage. First of all, it tells us when he triumphed, he turned around and gave out his own ministry abilities to us, so some of us can do some things Jesus did and some of us can do other things.
That means his ministry abilities are scattered out throughout the entire world. They can penetrate every land. They can penetrate every layer of society. They can penetrate every culture and subculture and sub-subculture. Do you see what he means? The picture is of a mosaic. Here is a beautiful mosaic of Jesus Christ. Have you ever seen one? I have. Millions and millions of gorgeous little pieces of glass when fit together show us Christ, but any one of them without the others is just a very pretty little piece of glass. That’s the way you and I are.
The Bible teaches us that together, all together, everybody pulling and doing what they can do best, we actually can show the city Jesus Christ. Individually, doing our own thing, we’re only, in many cases, very pretty little pieces of colored glass. Are you following this? There is an amazing statement in Ephesians 2:17, where Paul says to the Ephesians, “Christ came and preached peace to you and led you to himself.” Now that is an amazing statement. You know where Ephesus is, do you not? It’s in Turkey.
What is Paul saying when he says, “[Christ] came and preached peace to you?” When did Christ go to Ephesus? When did Jesus Christ do a preaching mission? He went a lot of places in Palestine, but he never left that one little spot. When did he go to Ephesus? Paul must mean this: Somebody went to Ephesus. Somebody used their gifts. Somebody communicated the Word of God using gifts from the Holy Spirit, and it’s just as if Jesus went, because Jesus Christ is now at large in the world through us.
Timothy J. Keller, The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive (New York City: Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2013).
Bible Memory passage for the month of November: John 14:6 “Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
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