By Mark Blair
28 Aug 2011 Sunday
Worship song:Full of Power(Chinese Song)
|Opening||Sometimes, when we live in this world, we face a lot of troubles. And sometimes we lose our energy; we feel that we are very weak. Sometimes we feel that we are loseing hope. The following Chinese song that we are going to sing, reminds us "all of our hope lies in Jesus Christ alone. He is our peace, all of our joy lies in Jesus Christ alone". He lives with us for ever more. We declare that the one who is with us is greater than the one in this world . We are not of this world; we belong to Jesus, the King. He lives in us. We are strengthened in him. He conquered all of our enemies. Our Lord is our portion and our victory.|
Scripture Reading: John 17
Jesus Prays for Hisself (1-5)
1 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: "Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.
2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.
3 Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
4 I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.
5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
Jesus Prays for His Disciples (6-19)
6 "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.
7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you.
8 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.
9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.
10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them.
11 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.
12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
13 "I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.
14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.
15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.
16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.
17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.
19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
Jesus Prays for All Believers (20-26)
20 "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,
21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one:
23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
24 "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
25 "Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me.
26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."
Good morning, I greet you in the name of our Lord from the church that I serve just a few miles away from here, Beijing International Christian Fellowship over Zhongguancun, and I am happy that my wife and two of our three sons and our daughter-in-law are with us today and it is a great joy to be with you. Let's hear the Word of the Lord from John chapter 17.
This is an extremely sad moment in the narrative of the gospel of John, because for three years Jesus had been with His disciples for 24/7. They had laughed together, they had cried together, they had gone through every circumstance of life together. And in all things they knew that Jesus was with them. And now, they are told, that he is going away. The treasurer has betrayed Him. The strong leader, Peter, has denied Him. And now they hear, Jesus says in John 16:32 that,” A time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, ...You will leave me all alone...” And so this terrible news, that Jesus is going to suffer, that they also would suffer. And in fact, there must have been something very wonderful about this very prayer, because those who heard these words remained strong and by His grace remained together. Usually, when somebody says ”let us pray” , you finally say ”well, the sermon is over”. But here is a prayer, where we need to give attention, because this is exactly where the Lord has His message for us. In verses one through eight, you notice, He prays for Himself. In verses nine through nineteen He prays for His disciples. And in verses twenty through twenty-six He prays for the Church. And so this morning, almost this afternoon, I want us to consider, first of all, the Revelation of His Glory. And secondly, Redemption by His Grace. And thirdly, Relationship of Gladness.
1. Revelation of Glory
First of all - Revelation of His Glory. I think, that really is the main idea that we get from this prayer. Notice in verse one, Jesus, having finished His work now says, “Father, ...Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you..” In fact, it is almost like we are eavesdropping into a very private moment between the Father and His son, where the Son pours out His heart to His Father. In fact, it is the most sacred moment in all of the four gospels. It is almost like a son, far away from home, gets on Skype and says, “Dad, I am having a tough time. I am ready to come home.” Indeed Jesus calls upon the Father. We have in the Bible twenty one prayers offered by Jesus. And all of them begin the same way: “Abba”, ”Father”, with that intimate relationship between the Father and the Son. In fact, if you study the Old Testament you will never see a prayer that begins with ”Abba”, ”Father”, because it is only Jesus who tells us how we might come into that deep relationship with Him. And what Jesus would talk about to His Father is the theme of glory. In fact, the Psalmist says: “Who is the King of Glory, the Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.” The first reference in the Bible to glory is in the book of Exodus, where God Himself says:” I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” (Exodus 14:4) Glory is the fullness of God. It's everything He is in all of His power and might. It is everything that we can see about God, and everything we cannot see about God. His awesome holiness and righteousness and truth and justice, it is the fullness of God. And in fact, because of His glory, His enemies were destroyed in the Red Sea. Because of His glory His people were delivered through the Red Sea. And as Jesus has come, you notice, He has given up for a season His glory.
John 17:5 “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”
1.1 Given Up
Indeed, in order to become a model man, and live a humble life of suffering on the earth, Jesus set aside for a season His glory. Incarnation meant for Jesus humiliation as He volunteered to be a servant. And so indeed, if we ever would see the full glory of God before us, we would fall dead like the armies of Pharaoh. Paul explains it to the Philippians that “Jesus, in the very nature of God… has made Himself nothing…” during the season on the earth as a servant. Isaiah says that “He has no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him”.
1.2 Given to Some
But you realize that in the gospel of John, this glory is given to some. In fact, the first miracle is in chapter 2, when He turned water into wine, and John says, “He thus revealed His glory, and His disciples put their faith in Him”. And so for that nano-second, God revealed the glimpse of His glory for the disciples to see the wonder and the power of the Lord Jesus Christ. And so, that is why John begins the gospel, saying,
John 1:14 “We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
1.3 Given Back
And now in this prayer, Jesus is anticipating that glory to be given back to Him.
John 17:1, “Father, the time has come, glorify your Son that your Son may glorify you.”
John 17:5, “And now Father, glorify me in your presence.”
And so that pre-incarnate glory that He had with the Father and the Spirit before the world began is now going to be restored to the ascended, exalted and victorious Son.
And we know that this is a prayer that God answered. The same John, who wrote this gospel, also wrote the book of Revelation. And there in the first chapter of Revelation, John sees the answered prayer, John sees the overwhelming glory of the Son of Man, exalted, risen from the dead. Indeed, John sees the shining glory of the risen Lord revealed by the angels sent by God. The writer of Hebrews says, “Jesus lives for ever…” Therefore, He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, and He always lives to intercede for them. What an amazing thought, Jesus Christ is alive now! And He is praying for us right now! And indeed, the very prayer that we read from John 17 echoes the truth of His reality. John 17 is the longest prayer of Jesus, therefore, it is going to be the longest sermon you will ever hear this morning (that is a joke). Not only long in many verses, but it is long in its impact that even now, two thousand years later, as far away as Beijing, here we are, gathered together to think and to wonder about the prayer of our Lord. And so, Jesus has been given glory, and He prays for us,
John 17:20, “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.”
And so that even then, two thousand years ago, as Jesus prayed to His Father, He was also praying for you, and praying for me. An amazing thought!
1.4 Given to Us
And so, that glory is also given to us.
John 17:10, “Glory has come to me through them…”
John 17:22, “I have given them the glory that you gave me.”
John 17:24, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory.”
Is not that amazing? I do not know if you can wrap your head around the idea. I do not know if I can wrap my head. How can a sinful vessel, like me, be filled with the glory of God? But that is what He says. He says that, in fact, the very reason that we are gathered is to know Him and His glory.
When we worked in Africa, one pastor said, “To glorify God is to make God big in the eyes of others!” And indeed, that is a great description of the glory of God. God is awesome, and that is what it means to be glorious. And Jesus says in John 16:33,
John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace in the world. In the world, you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.”
What is interesting about this chapter is that 19 times in John 17, Jesus uses the word “world”, and it seems that no matter he is thinking about His Father, He is very conscious that we are here, in this world. The world hates the disciples,
John 17:14, “The world has hated them for they are not of the world.”
The world hates Jesus.
John 17:15 “If the world hates you, keep in mind, it has hated me first.”
But amazingly, in this world that hates God, God, John 3:16, “loves this world and gives His son.” That is the glory of God, isn’t it? That is the glory of God that we are not to escape from this world, but we remain right here. That is the glory of God that He gives us power in this world that we might serve Him even if we are hated. That is the glory of God that we might respond in love and forgiveness even if the world hates us. Indeed, the Psalmist says,
Psalm 3:1-3 “O Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, God will not deliver him. But you are a shield around me, o Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.”
And so we see this revelation of glory.
2. Redemption of Grace
We secondly see the “Redemption by Grace”. You might say, “Why does Jesus pray at this moment of His ministry?” The simple answer is “He needs it”, just like “we need it”.
2.1 Sanctified Christ
In fact, He said in John 16:32, “You will leave me all alone, but I am not alone, for my Father is with me.” And so we see here a sanctified Christ. He says in verse 1, “Father, the time has come.” It is very interesting in our study of the gospel of John, perhaps you have seen this, every time you find the word “time”, it is a reference to His death. It starts in chapter 2 at the miracle of Canaan where Mary wants Him to make that water into wine, and He turns to His mother, and says, “My time has not yet come.” It is almost like Him saying, “Hey mom, let’s get on the same page here.” Or in chapter 7 where He says, “No one laid a hand on Him because His time has not yet come.” Or in chapter 8 where “No one seized Him because His time has not yet come.” But it is clear by the time you get to chapter 12 when Jesus says,
John 12:23 “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. … 27 Now my heart is troubled. What can I say? 28 ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this very reason that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name. And then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ … 33 And He said this to show the kind of death He was going to die.”
And so, when our Lord says “now the time has come”, He is speaking about the cross, He is anticipating the moment that He will suffer for you and for me. And in that way, He is being sanctified. What is “sanctify”? Well, it simply means “to be set apart”. The bus you rode on this morning became sanctified when you, His servant, went inside. The comb you used for your hair this morning became sanctified when you, His servant, touched it upon your head. This auditorium became sanctified when we, the people of God, came inside to worship Him. And so Jesus similarly says, “I now set myself apart for the work of the cross I came to die.”
John 17:19 Jesus says, “For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified."
In fact, when Judas, the betrayer, in chapter 13, goes out, Jesus says,
John 13:31-32 “Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, God will glorify the Son in Himself, and will glorify him at once.”
Isn’t it awesome?! The way John reveals the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ through the work of the cross. Jesus will be glorified, “why?” “Because He is going to die for His people.”
From the human point of view, Calvary was a revolting display of man’s sin; but from the divine point of view, the cross revealed and magnified the grace and glory of God. – Warren Wiersbe
2.2 Sanctified Christians
So in Christ, we are called to be also sanctified.
John 17:2-3: For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
Jesus is saying He rules over all things. Jesus has come to redeem His chosen people and the amazing thing is that we have been invited to know this Christ; that we are invited to be set apart from the world that does not know Him, to be set apart from the world that hates Him, and enter in now to the love of God. Eternal life is not so much everlasting life as the knowledge of the everlasting one.
2.2.1 Reality: In the World
And we need to know this reality right here right now in the world.
John 17:15: My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.
I have news for you. Even if you want to follow Jesus Christ, it is not a guarantee that it is going to take away all your problems. You might still have pimples; you might still have a pot belly (look at me); you still might have all kinds of problems in this world of trials, and tests, and temptations… In fact, Jesus says, “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16.33 NIV) You might not get a CD of your band; you might not get your mansion on earth, but the promise of the gospel is in this world you will know Him and His protection.
Jesus says to the disciples:
Matthew 10:16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.”
That is a pretty scary verse, isn’t it? I mean the wolves can rip your throat right open, and Jesus is saying, “I meet these dangerous animals, I am with you.” Somebody has said, “We are clearly not to isolate ourselves from the world. But we must never forget that the world is a dangerous place. The only safeguard is the provision of the Shepherd that He has made to be with us, and in us. ”(Ray Stedman) And so in this world our identity is not of this world.
2.2.2 Identity: Not of the world
John17:16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.
John 8:23 Remember back in chapter 8, Jesus told the unbelieving religious leaders, “You are from below; but I am from above. You are of this world; but I am not of this world.”
And now Jesus is inviting us to also not be of this world. You say, “How do you do that?” Well, Jesus of course is a real man, He was born, He lived, He cried, He suffered, He laughed, He died, even if we will, He went through all these experiences of life. And yet He was not from this world.
Sanctification is not instantly completed in us on the first day, but that we make progress in it through the whole course of our life, till at length, God, having taken away from us the garment of the flesh, fills us with His righteousness. – John Calvin
2.2.3 Responsibility: Sent into the World
So we are in this world but we are not of it, our identity has been changed. Therefore we have also in this world a responsibility, that is we are now sent into the world. And you might say,＂Well, if the world is going to hell, why does Jesus leave us here?” Well, that is the very answer to the question: we are left in the world with a responsibility as His servants, as His ambassadors, as His witnesses, that we might make Him known to the world that is dying without Him.
John 17:18: As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.
We are going to a better place. But we are here now to point others to the way.
John 17:17, Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
So if you want to know Christ even today; you need to know His Word; you need to open the scriptures, because it is in sacred scripture that you will meet a sanctified Christ.
3. Relationship of Gladness
And finally, the third point is our relationship that we have now in Christ with gladness. And I pray that even this morning we are a contented people.
Jesus says in verse 4, “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.”
You realize that one of the great themes of the gospel of John is “the finished work of Christ” that he has done everything necessary for our salvation, and so when they found Jesus with the Samaritan woman as they came back with Jiaozi that they thought they would eat with him, He said,
John 4:34 “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work.”
You remember on the cross in John chapter 19 as Jesus cried out dramatically, “It is finished.” (John 19:30 NIV) That the work of salvation that He came to do has now completed by His death.
Indeed, somebody has said and this is not very flattering, but it is absolutely true: the only thing we add to the plan of salvation is the sin to make it necessary (Eric Alexander). There is nothing we can do. Indeed, if we try to do something, to save ourselves; we will only make ourselves more lost before the Holy God. God in Christ has done everything necessary for our salvation, He has finished the work, He completed the work of the gospel, and so we praise now His life is complete because His work on earth is complete. Now you might say, “How could His life be complete? He never made it to Alexandria; He never got to Rome; in fact, He never even came to Beijing! How could His life be complete?” Well, even in that limited geography in which He lived, He was complete! He never got married; He never fathered a child; He never grew to old age; He never saw His grandchildren! But He was complete. Because He has finished the work that the Father had given Him to do.
The Psalmist says, and I think Jesus would say,
Psalm 31:14- 15 “I trust in you, O LORD; you are my God. My times are in your hands.”
O Lord God, when you give your servants to endeavor any great matter, grant us also to know that it is not the beginning, but the continuing of the same to the end, until it be thoroughly finished, which yields true glory; through him who for the finishing of your work, laid down his life, our redeemer, Jesus Christ.
-Sir Walter Raleigh
You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in you. -Augustine
You see, without God, we are empty. Without God, we are unfulfilled. But Christ, who has done and finished the work of God, He is complete. There is nothing lacking in Him, because He has finished the work. Somebody has asked:
Q: What is the chief end (purpose) of man?
A: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.
Westminster Shorter Catechism
That’s why we are here. We are given the privilege, that even here we will know the contentment of His glory and His joy.
Therefore we are called to celebrate. No, we are not to ESCAPE from the trouble of this Life & Reality, but we are called even IN this life to know God.
John 17:13 "I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.
Is that an awesome phrase: “the full measure of my joy within them”? Did you have that joy this morning? Do you know the fullness of Christ in your life? That’s why He came! Nothing in this world, none of those computers that you find across the street, not even an iPad, will give you as much joy as knowing Jesus Christ of having the fullness of God in your life. And so He asked his disciples to live in that joy. Remember when they were sent on mission in Luke 10, they came back and said:
Luke 10:17 "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name."
John 17:22-23 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
I don’t have the metaphysical ability to understand how one God can reveal Himself in three persons, or how one God has put Himself in over 1 billion of his followers. I don’t know how He did that. But that is exactly what this passage says. That’s exactly what it tells us: that we are His own.
Fellowship is not only defined in terms of what we share in together. It also involves what we share out together…a community in which Christians actually share their thoughts and lives with one another.
And so the challenge for us who know Him: it is not enough just sitting here, during an hour or so of worship on Sunday mornings. We need to be together even throughout the week. We need to grow together in the depth of fellowship of knowing Him. So we are called into both an exclusive and an inclusive relationship:
Exclusive relationship: Only Jesus can take us to Heaven,
Inclusive relationship: Only Jesus connects us on Earth. The entire world is welcomed to come and know Him by Faith.
And so obviously, we have our differences in passports, faces, figures, preferences, personalities-all quite different; but we find our unity in Jesus Christ who has made us one!
The presence of Jesus with His diverse disciples was the unifying factor – then and now. No Jesus, no unity. -Yours Truly
With compassion, Jesus prays:
John 17:25-26 "Righteous Father, though the world does not know you..."
Do you have that heart of Jesus? Have you felt that heaviness? “Oh, Lord! The world does not know you.” Has it burned upon you the reality of how many millions do not know the Lord Jesus Christ? As Jesus is about to resume that full state of glory with His Father, He can’t forget the reality of a lost world. He is burdened for their salvation. Jesus was surrounded by many religions; but no Roman, no Egyptian, no Babylonian, perhaps not even any Pharisee or Sadducee really know God in the way that Christ had come to reveal Him. And so now having prayed for the world, Christ will go to the cross, and purchase the world with His blood.
John 13:1 Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.
You know it means the cross. You know it means He is going to be nailed there for you and for me to bear upon Himself the fullness of our guilt, sin and shame, and to pay in His body the punishment that we should pay. He was giving up His life so that we might live. That’s the love of God, that’s the gospel of Christ, that’s exactly why He came. And I pray that love for which He prayed we would know in a deeper and more glorious way so that it will change your life; so you will enter into His Salvation; so you will know Him, not just as a strange God far away, but as a Savior who has come to give his life for you. And having come to know Him, you therefore enter into a service; and you, like Him, leave the comforts of all that you know and are familiar with and come to know and follow Him, and give your service to the Christ who gives you His salvation.
What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it — we're called children of God! That's what we really are.
Lord Jesus Christ, we worship you this morning, the glorious Son of God, who came to the world, who revealed your humility and servant heart to us, who revealed to us the fullness of glory even upon the cross, as you there suffered in our place as our Savior and our King. We marvel this morning at this prayer that you uttered to your Father just hours before the cross: the prayer of sweet communion with the Son and the Father; the prayer of power, asking that those who would believe in you through the proclamation of the gospel would know the joy in which you’ve come to give. In fact, even this morning as we’ve gathered together to worship you, we are revealing the very answer to this prayer, the power of the risen Christ, and the wonder of gospel that He has given. Lord, help us to know you as our Savior and our God. I pray this morning for anyone here who doesn’t yet know you that you by your Holy Spirit will open their hearts and minds and reveal your glory to them. And I pray, Father, for those of us who do know you that we will again commit ourselves to the work of your service. You have loved us to the end. Now we may give ourselves to the work of Kingdom of God. Lord, build your Kingdom in Beijing. Lord, build your Church in China. Lord, reveal your glory to the ends of earth. We pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen!
With love and strength in Jesus Christ, summarized by Marjo, Franz, Amy, Katherine and Chong.
- Spiritual Growth
Talk Time (English or Chinese) 12:30-13:30 Sunday, See Online Courses.
Bible Study for New Believers 12:30-13:30 Sunday.
Bible Study Groups.
Need Prayer? Please come forward to the Prayer team.
- Pastor Wu represents China by preaching in UNIVERSIDE 2011 ShenZhen. May the Lord bless UNIVERSIDE 2011 and revive China's church. see Report in Chinese
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