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The Prayer Chapter
The seventeenth chapter of John contains the prayer which Christ spoke just as He entered the Garden of Gethsemane, and went from there to the Cross. As He prayed, therefore, He was knowingly approaching the great travail toward which He had steadily moved from before the foundation of the world. He knew all the time the anguish of His Calvary sufferings, and yet as the hour came nearer and nearer, the depth of the meaning of His sorrows must have gripped Him the more.
To us the remarkable thing in the prayer which Christ prayed lies in the fact that only once He mentioned His Calvary sufferings, and that only in a figure "the hour is come." Even as He mentioned the fact that the hour of His travail had come, He turned away from the bitterness of the cup He was about to drink and said, "Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee."
1. We have before us a new vision of the Cross. When men speak of Calvary, or of Golgotha, they think of shame, ignominy, and disgrace. Golgotha was a place of dead men's bones, of skulls; but Jesus Christ came and touched it, and it was immediately illumined with glory.
Around the throne in Heaven when ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands ascribe unto the Lamb power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and blessing, they ascribe it unto the Lamb that was slain. Jesus Christ had all of this in view when He said that the time for the Father to glorify the Son had come.
2. We have before us a new vision of how the Son glorified the Father. Christ said. "Glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son may also glorify Thee." The Son was glorified by His Cross, and the Son through His Cross glorified the Father. The Cross demonstrated God's love to a lost world; it demonstrated His grace and mercy in giving Christ as an atonement for sin, thus the Father is praised because of the ministry of His Son.
There is just one other thing we wish to show, and that is our third step.
3. We have before us, in the vision of the Cross, the method through which Christ Jesus imparts eternal life. In John 17:2 Christ prayed, saying, "As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given Him." What a wonderful vision of Calvary! The Cross to us is the covenant of God, in Christ, through which eternal life is given.
Peter and John said, concerning the healing of the blind man, that it was through Christ, namely, by faith in His Name, that the man had been made well. Then it was said, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under Heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
Thus, as Christ faced His Calvary work, He said that God had given Him power over all flesh to give eternal life to all who believed. If anyone tries to get to Heaven apart from the Cross, he will utterly fail. Lite eternal is in the hands of Christ alone, and it is given by Him only to those whom the Father has given to Him.
4. We have here Christ's definition of eternal life. He says in John 17:3 , "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only True God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent." Only those who have known the power of Calvary have eternal life, that is, life with the Father, and with the Son. The saints will exist in eternal life with God and with His Son, the Lord Jesus.
I. A FINISHED TASK (John 17:4 )
We are speaking of Christ's last prayer. As He prayed, He reviewed His past earth-life, saying, "I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do."
1. Let us take the first expression: "I have glorified Thee on the earth." The Lord Jesus in this is our example. He glorified, not Himself, but the Father. He sought, not His own, but the Father's. Have we not heard that this is the whole of man? "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." He who lives for himself, lives to lose everything which he obtains. He who lives for God and for His glory lives with rich rewards in view.
From this hour, let us seek to say what the Apostle Paul said: "For to me to live is Christ." Let everything that we are praise the Lord. Let everything we do give Him honor. Let everything we say render thanks and glory unto our God.
2. Let us take the second expression. "I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do." According to this, Christ recognized the fact that He came to earth on a specific task. He came to do that which He was told to do. Do not each one of us have a special task which is given to us to fulfill? God has said to everyone "his work."
The Lord Jesus, up to the moment of this prayer, had finished everything which God had given Him to do. Not one word had been left unspoken; not one deed had been left undone. He had wrought, not only the will of God, but the whole will of God. No greater ambition can come into any believer's heart than to follow his Master in finishing the work to which he, the servant, is called.
II. A GLORIOUS CONSUMMATION (John 17:5 )
Our verse reads this way: "And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was."
1. He who glorified the Father was now about to be glorified. Is this not always true with those who are the servants of God? If we give Him glory, honor, power, and dominion, He will likewise give unto us His glory. He will cause us to shine forever, even as the stars shine in the firmament of God; He will cause us to be clothed with all the radiant beauty and power and might which awaits all of those who faithfully follow Him.
2. He who glorified the Father was about to return unto the glory which He had with Christ before the world was. He had come forth from God, and now He was to return to God. It is true that Christ had an added glory, because of His Calvary work. We read of how He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross.
Then, the Bible says, "Whereby God hath also highly exalted Him, and given Him a Name which is above every name." However, Christ was not deified because He became a man. When He became a man He put off, temporarily, the magnificent glory which crowned Him with the Father. He laid it aside, and humbled Himself. Now, as He was ready to return to God, He was to return to that same glory which He had left. That glory was a glory which had been His with the Father before the world was.
All of that glory is the believer's inheritance. He has given His glory unto us. So it is, He wants us to be with Him that we may behold and possess His glory.
III. THE MANIFESTED NAME (John 17:6 )
We come now to a statement in the prayer of Christ which is altogether beautiful. He said, "I have manifested Thy Name unto the men which Thou gavest Me out of the world: Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me; and they have kept Thy Word."
1. We have Christ set forth here as the manifestation of the Father. He said, "I have manifested Thy Name." The names of God, however, are, in each case, expressions of the character of God, and it was this character which Christ manifested.
The Jehovah titles, each in their turn, are ascribed to Christ because they belong to the Father. Christ is Jehovah-Ropheca, "the Lord that healeth," because the Father is Jehovah-Ropheca.
Christ is Jehovah-Jireh, "the Lord will provide," because the Father is the Provider. Christ is Jehovah-Shalom, "the Lord our peace," because the Father is the Giver of peace. Thus we could go on.
Jesus said to Philip just before He prayed this prayer, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father; how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?" We stop only to ask if each one of us has sought to manifest the names of our God.
2. We have the saints set before us as having been given to Christ by the Father. We have no doubt whatsoever that in this verse the reference is to the fact that all those whose names were in the Lamb's Book of Life, were given unto the Son by the Father from before the foundation of the world. Jesus Christ did not go to the Cross on a guess; He went knowing exactly who, and how many would be saved. God does not force any of us to believe, but God did know whether we would believe, and whom He foreknew, them He also did predestinate.
IV. THE WORDS WHICH HE GAVE (John 17:8 )
Let us consider next, one of the gracious ministrations of Christ. Our verse says, "I have given unto them the words which Thou gavest Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from Thee, and they have believed that Thou didst send Me."
1. The words which Christ spoke were the words which the Father gave unto Him months before the time of this prayer. How many there are who imagine that God speaks one way and Christ another; that God loves one way, and Christ another. One poor woman in the hour of her sorrow said to me, "Don't talk to me about God. Talk to me about Christ I think He loves me." But Christ and the Father are one. Their words are one. Their will is one. Their works are one. What we want to consider, however, is a practical application.
Do we also speak the words of the Father? We are told to preach the preaching which He gives us. The Bible condemns the prophets who speak dreams or words out of their own heads. May our words always be His.
2. Those to whom Christ spoke received the Father's word and believed in Him. The Lord said, "They have received Him." Next, He said, "They have believed that Thou didst send Me." It is right to receive the words which Christ speaks as the very words of God, to believe that they are truth, inerrant, dependable, and altogether trustworthy.
Jesus Christ did not enter the world as other men have entered it. We come because we are born, and brought into the world through natural generation; Jesus Christ came forth from the Father. He spoke many times as having come from the Father.
V. A CIRCUMSCRIBED PRAYER (John 17:9 )
When the Lord Jesus Christ approached Calvary, He carried in His arms all those whom the Father had given Him. As one ponders the seventeenth chapter of John, he is struck with the number of times that Christ said, those "whom Thou hast given Me." Not only that, but He spoke of them under other descriptive terms. Certainly, He thought of each one of us. He prayed for each one of us.
1. He prayed for those who believed on Him at the time of His death. His disciples were among this number. They were very dear to Him. He could look into the faces of the eleven (Judas had gone out), and He could say unto them, "I have prayed for you whom the Father hath given Me." Of many others of those early days He could say the same words. He could, however, speak of many more than they. He said, "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their Word." Thus, He took you and me in the arms of His prayer, and carried us with Him as He went to the Cross, Let us note, also, some of the things for which He prayed.
2. What He prayed for those who believed. He prayed the Father to keep them through His own Name, to keep them from the wicked one, to keep them from the powers of the world, and from evil. He prayed that they all might be one, even as He and the Father were One. He prayed that they might be sanctified through the Truth, that they might be set apart wholly unto Him. The same Christ who prayed the prayer in the upper room is now praying in the upper Heavens; on high, at the right hand of the Father, He is interceding for us.
VI. CHRIST'S ATTITUDE TOWARD THE WORLD (John 17:9 ; John 17:21 ; John 17:23 )
The believer is given to Christ out of the world. He is not of the world. He is hated by the world. He is sent into the world with a testimony. All of these things were Divinely set forth in Christ's prayer. What, then, was the attitude of Christ toward the world? That is, toward the people who were outside the circle of His own, and who had not believed upon Him?
1. Christ said, "I pray not for the world." There is no doubt but that the Father and the Son love the world, but the world of the unregenerate are not loved, as He loved His own. There is as much difference in the Father's love for the saint, and for the sinner, as there is between light and darkness.
Jesus Christ at the right hand of the Father is not the world's Intercessor; He is there as the representative of His own, those who have been washed in His Blood, and who have been saved by His power. "He ever liveth to make intercession for us." No one dares for a moment to imagine that the unsaved have privileges along with the saved. The unsaved will pass into eternal darkness and despair, and the saved into the realms of light and life forevermore.
2. Christ said, "That the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me." In John 17:8 the Lord Jesus Christ said of His own, "They have believed that Thou hast sent Me." In John 17:21 , He said that through us, who had believed, He wanted the world to be led to believe. This is all akin to the great commission, "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature."
3. Christ said, "That the world may know that Thou hast sent Me." Here is the responsibility of sainthood. We should walk so near to the heart of the Father, and be so perfectly one with Him, and with one another, that the world may know how God has loved us, and has sent us into His service.
VII. THE SUPREME GIFT OF THE SON TO THE SAINTS (John 17:22 ; John 17:24 )
1. In John 17:22 we have two distinct glories: one is the glory of union with God, and the other the glory of union with one another. It was of this that Christ said, "And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one."
We hesitate and ponder over the marvelous thought that saints should have as intimate a union with all saints, as the Father has with the Son. Yet, this is that for which Christ prayed. This unity of believers Satan has sought to wreck ever since the day of Pentecost. In the early days of the Church there were schisms which were tending toward divisions. Today saints are divided under innumerable names and groups, many of which are antagonistic one toward the other.
This division among saints is a great stumbling block to the world. When there is perfect oneness among believers, then it is that the world knows that we are of God. Not only, however, does God give us the glory of being one with each other, but He gives us that supreme g"lory of being one with Him. The believer is indissolubly joined and linked in one life with the Father and with the Son. This is the glory of sainthood.
2. We have a second glory in John 17:24 . This is the glory which Christ had with the Father before the world was, the glory which He left when He came to earth. Jesus Christ said, relative to this glory, "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me: for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world."
How wonderful it will be, to be forever with the Lord, to behold His face, and to see His glory! Not only the glory of His Person, but the glory of His environment. When we think of His face as shining brighter than the sun, and His raiment bright and glistening in His earth transfiguration, what will it be in Heaven itself when we behold His glory, and the glory of His environment, which is reflected in all the beauty of Heaven itself?
We stood recently on Missionary Ridge, Chattanooga, Tenn., and looked down on the city far below. We also stood a; while back on Lookout Mountain and saw alone the city nestling in the valley, but also the winding of the river as it coursed its way mid the hills. It was beautiful beyond words.
What, however, will it be when we see the New Jerusalem with its river of the Water of Life, clustered on either side by the fruit trees which bear twelve manner of fruits?
How the City which lies foursquare, the City of pearly gates, of great walls of precious stones, of golden streets, with all of it illuminated by the light and glory of His face how the City will glitter and glow with dazzling glory! All of this awaits us over there.
The seventeenth chapter of John contains the prayer which Jesus Christ uttered in the upper room after He had taken of the Passover and had broken the bread and poured forth the cup.
We all realize that this prayer was spoken just as Christ was about to go out to Gethsemane and on to the Cross. In such an hour it was natural for the Lord to pray. He sought the Father's face, the face of the One who was destined to leave Him alone during the three hours that He was to pass around the cycle of His suffering.
Christ's prayer presents one of the most marvelous arrays of diction to be found anywhere in Holy Writ. It falls into groups of sevens. There are seven things stated about the world. Seven times Christ speaks of those whom the Father had given Him. Seven times He speaks of what He had given them. Seven times He looks backward upon the past of His earth life.
It is the latter group of seven which we will here present. Each verse of this group presents one of these marvelous retrospective statements of Christ, statements which carry a review of His work and will among men.
All of them tell of things which have been accomplished by Christ during His earth life.
In speaking of the chapter as a whole, there are a few things we might suggest:
Christ only once referred to His death, although Gethsemane and Calvary were immediately before Him. The mention of the Cross is seen, by inference, in the first verse when Christ said, "Father, the hour is come." This statement is brief, and yet it is a statement full of meaning.
That the word "hour" refers to the Cross, we know. Christ had known of that hour, because we read, "When Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end."
When Judas came to betray Him, Christ said, "This is your hour, and the power of darkness." When the Greeks said, "We would see Jesus," Christ was troubled and said, "What shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: * * Father, glorify Thy Name."
The Lord, as He prayed, frequently spoke of the Father, spoke of the saints, spoke of the glory, spoke of the Word, and spoke of the world, but only once did He speak of the Cross. He was looking beyond the Cross in anticipation at the glorious consummation of His life and in a blessed realization that He was soon to be with the Father.
He looked backward in review; He looked forward in expectation. The pivotal moment that lay between the retrospective and the perspective, the moment of His anguish, and substitutionary suffering, which He knew was upon Him, and of which He had just spoken to His disciples, was now set aside.
Let us follow with interest the backward look which the chapter gives us as we present the same.
I. I HAVE GLORIFIED THEE ON THE EARTH (John 17:4 , f.c)
The Lord Jesus as He stood in prayer looked backward over His earth life, and, summing up all that He had done, in one brief expression said, "I have glorified Thee on the earth." There is something very striking about this. The Father glorified the Son, and the Son glorified the Father. Three different times God spoke out of the blue, giving glory to the Son, and saying, "This is My beloved Son"; "This is My Son, My Chosen," and, "I have both glorified, and will glorify again."
The Holy Spirit is now glorifying the Son. He speaks unto us of Christ. He takes of the things of Christ and shows them unto us.
It is not strange therefore that the Son glorified the Father. He spoke of the Father constantly throughout all of His ministry. He spoke with words which revealed the love and the compassion, the gentleness, and the graciousness of the Father.
That which comes before us is the review of our own lives. If, at the end, we expect to be able to say in truth that we have glorified the Father and glorified the Son, we must begin now to do all for the glory of God. Whether we eat or whether we drink or whatsoever we do must be to His honor and to His glory.
The Bible speaks of some who glorify themselves, of others who glory in men, and of some who even glory in the flesh. Let us glory in the Lord.
"Christ, by highest Heaven adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord,
Late in time behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin's womb;
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th' Incarnate Deity,
Pleased as Man with men to dwell,
Jesus our Immanuel!
Hark! the herald angels sing
'Glory to the newborn King.'
Hail, the heavenly Prince of Peace!
Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Risen with healing in His wings;
Mild, He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing
'Glory to the newborn King.'"
II. I HAVE FINISHED THE WORK (John 17:4 , l.e.)
1. A specified work. When the Lord Jesus Christ came down to earth, He came with a specific task before Him. He said, "I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do." Christ did not enter this world as a sightseer, or a casual visitor to move around as a guest whose steps are ordered by his host. He came with His life planned beforehand to its final detail. At twelve years of age, He said, "Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?"
We wonder if we have realized that God has also planned our lives? We should seek to fulfill the good works which God hath afore prepared for us. We should know that the steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord. We should consider that He goes before us, and we are sent forth by Him.
2. A work gladly done. Christ not only did the work that His father gave Him to do, but He did it gladly. In the volume of the book it is written of Him, "Lo, I come: * * I delight to do Thy will, O God." Even in Gethsemane Christ was ready to do the Father's will, for He said, "Nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt."
Are we, too, ready to go, ready to stay, ready to do His will? Are we ready to do it with a note of praise. To say "Amen" is not enough, we should live with a big "Hallelujah" on our lips concerning all that God asks us to do.
3. A work completed to the last step. Christ said, "I have finished the work." All that was written in the Prophets was fulfilled this was God's revealed will. All that God had purposed, even though not prophesied was fulfilled. Christ did all the work.
Beloved, what greater boon could be ours than to know, when we come to leave this world, that we have done all that God wanted us to do. Not a step left to be taken, not a stone left to be turned.
May we not go before our task is a finished task.
"To the work! to the work! We are servants of God,
Let us follow the path that our Master has trod;
With the balm of His counsel our strength to renew,
Let us do with our might what our hands find to do.
To the work! to the work! There is labor for all,
For the kingdom of darkness and error shall fall;
And the Name of Jehovah exalted shall be
In the loud swelling chorus, 'Salvation is free.'
To the work! to the work! in the strength of the Lord,
And a robe and a crown shall our labor reward:
When the home of the faithful our dwelling shall be,
And we shout with the ransomed, 'Salvation is free.'"
III. "I HAVE MANIFESTED THY NAME" (John 17:6 )
1. The Jehovah titles. Most of us are familiar with these wonderful names ascribed to the Lord in the Old Testament Scriptures. There is Jehovah-jireh, "The Lord will, provide." There is Jehovah-shammah, "The Lord is there." There is Jehovah-rapha, "I am the Lord that Healeth Thee." Again we have, Jehovah-tsidkenu, "The Lord our Righteousness"; and Jehovah-nissi, "The Lord our banner"; and Jehovah-shalom, "The Lord our peace."
The Lord Jesus manifested all of these names unto those whom God had given Him. He showed forth God as the Provider, the One who is enough; He had told forth God as the ever-present One, the One who is there; the all-omniscient One.
Christ manifested God as the healer of His people; He declared Him as the giver of peace, as the Shepherd of the sheep; as the giver of righteousness.
2. Other names of the Father. If God was Elohim, the creative God, Christ so manifested Hint, for He also was God the Creator; if God was the Almighty God, the God who was able for any and every emergency, Christ had so made Him known. There was no name of the Father, that Christ had not revealed to men. In fact, Christ said, "He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father." He said that He wrought the Father's works, did the Father's will and spoke the Father's words.
What we wonder is whether we are telling forth the names of the Lord. Bible names stand for character and worth and work; are we manifesting these names of our Lord in a faithful way?
We bear the name of our earthly parents, do we give them honor? We also bear the Name of our Lord, we are called "Christians," do we give Him the honor and glory which is its due?
"Join all the glorious names
Of wisdom, love, and power,
That mortals ever knew,
That angels ever bore:
All are too mean to speak His worth,
Too mean to set my Saviour forth.
Great Prophet of my God,
My tongue would bless Thy Name;
By Thee the joyful news
Of our salvation came:
The joyful news of sins forgiv'n,
Of hell subdued, and peace with Heav'n."
IV. I HAVE GIVEN THEM THY WORDS (John 17:8 )
No man ever spake as Christ spake. His words were Spirit, and they were life. His words did not merely contain truth, they were Truth. Christ spoke from the Father, No man had ever heard the Father's voice, yet we have heard Him, in His Son.
Christ said, "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."
Christ said. "I speak unto the world those things which I have heard of Him." Again He said, "As My Father hath taught Me, I speak those things." No wonder that Christ could say, "My record is true." He spoke what He had seen with the Father, and what He received from the Father.
The thing which concerns us is the bringing of this message to our own hearts. Are we not given words to speak? Words that are from God? Did not the Prophet say, "He that hath My Word, let him speak My Word faithfully"?
God said to Jonah, "Preach * * the preaching that I bid thee."
The Christian is not sent forth to preach visions of his own head. He is set forth to preach what God has given Him to preach.
"Preach the Word," is our commission.
God has said, My Word shall not return void, but "it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it," and "it shall accomplish that which I please."
Is there any message comparable to the Word of God? The unfathomable Word is a fountain of good things that never runs dry. The everlasting Word is a garden of evergreen life, that never grows old. The life-giving Word is the Bread from Heaven which brings salvation for evermore. The prophetic Word is a Lamb that lightens the pathway through the present darkness, and shines even unto the perfect day.
Is there anything that we could preach like unto the Word of God? It is a rock on which men may safely build, it is a covert into which men may run and be safe; it is seed which, when planted and nurtured by the Holy Spirit, springs up unto eternal life. It is a star that will remain undimmed throughout a long eternity.
The Word of God is all my stay,
I'll tell its story day by day;
I'll seek to live its message true,
And tell it forth in all I do.
V. I HAVE KEPT THEM (John 17:12 )
Seven different times in this prayer Christ speaks of those whom the Father gave Him. Among those seven things is the one before us now, "Those that Thou gavest Me I have kept."
The security of the believer does not; depend upon his holding on to Christ, but on Christ's holding on to him. It is not that we have kept Him, but that He has kept us, that makes our eternal life secure. To Peter, Christ said, "Satan hath desired to have you,... but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not."
Where are we kept? In our key verse it says that we are kept in His Name. That is a wonderful environment for the believer. No place of shelter could be afforded us so delightful as His own Name. We have already heard in this study of Christ's statement, "I have manifested Thy Name," that Name we described as Jehovah-jireh, Jehovah-rapha, Jehovah-shammah, Jehovah-nissi. In these and the other Jehovah titles, we are safely housed.
There is another place where He has kept us. He has kept us in the hollow of His hand. In John 10:28 Christ said, "Neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand." He also said, "My Father, which grave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand." What a wonderful double security is here!
But from what are we kept. First of all we are kept from the evil one. This was what Christ prayed, "I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil." Sometimes we sing", "Safe in the arms of Jesus," and thank God we are safe! Safe from the world's temptations; safe from the snares of Satan; safe, for ever, safe.
"Oh, safe to the Rock that is higher than I,
My soul in its conflicts and sorrows would fly;
So sinful, so weary, Thine, Thine would I be;
Thou blest 'Rock of Ages,' I'm hiding in Thee.
Hiding in Thee, hiding in Thee,
Thou blest 'Rock of Ages,' I'm hiding in Thee.
In the calm of the noontide, in sorrow's lone hour,
In times when temptation casts o'er me its power;
In the tempests of life, on its wide, heaving sea,
Thou blest 'Rock of Ages,' I'm hiding in Thee.
How oft in the conflict, when pressed by the foe,
I have fled to my Refuge and breathed out my woe;
How often when trials like sea-billows roll,
Have I hidden in Thee, O Thou Rock of my soul."
VI. I HAVE GIVEN THEM THE GLORY (John 17:22 )
Could Christ give unto His own any gift comparable to the glory which the Lord gave to Him?
We should remember that the glory of Christ was first of all the glory which He had with the Father before the world was. Secondly, there was the glory which His Calvary work brought to Him.
The Lord Jesus is now exalted at the right hand of the Father, the Lord of Glory. Our hearts leap within us as in prophetic vision we hear the four living ones, the four and twenty elders, and ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands ascribing power and riches and wisdom and honor and strength and glory unto the Lamb who was slain. Our hearts leap again as every creature which is in Heaven and on the earth and under the earth, and such as are in the sea are heard saying, "Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever."
In vision we are carried into the New Jerusalem which shall descend from Heaven. We read that that City will have the glory of God. In it will be the throne of God and of the Lamb; God is its light, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
Let us now gather up all of this glory the glory that Christ had with the Father, the glory that He now has exalted at the Father's right hand, the glory which is His when He comes in His Second Advent; let us add His glory in the Eternal City then, let us hear Him say, "The glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them."
No gift could be more marvelous. Silver and gold, honor and fame, the world and all that is in it fade into nothingness when compared to this bequest which Christ has made to those whom the Father has given Him.
"I gave My life for thee;
My precious Blood I shed,
That thou might'st ransomed be,
And quickened from the dead.
I gave My life for thee:
What hast thou given for Me?
I spent long years for thee,
In weariness and woe,
That an eternity
Of joy thou mightest know.
I spent long years for thee:
Hast thou spent one for Me?"
VII. I HAVE KNOWN THEE (John 17:25 )
As the Lord Jesus looked back reviewing His earth life, He spoke of seven things. Six of these have been brought before us. "I have glorified Thee," "I have finished the work," "I have manifested Thy Name," "I have given them Thy Word," "I have kept them," "I have given them Thy Glory." These six things sum up a marvel in the retrospective, which the Lord alone possessed.
We now come to the seventh and final statement, "I have known Thee." As the Lord Jesus moved among men, He moved in the actual presence of His Father. He said of the world, "The world hath not known Thee." It knew not the Father, because it knew Him not. When Christ said, "I have known Thee" He gave tremendous authority to all that He had said about the Father. He and the Father were one. Whatsoever the Father did in Heaven, He did on earth. Whatsoever the Father said in Heaven, He said on earth.
Jesus Christ could speak concerning the Father with all authority for He knew the Father. He could tell of what was in Heaven for He had come down from Heaven. He could describe that which awaits the believer, dwelling upon the many abiding places and mansions there, for He was a resident of the Glory.
The Lord Jesus had a sustained relationship with the Father. There never was a moment that so much as a shadow passed between them, until that last moment when Christ was made sin for us upon the Cross.
We wonder if there is not also an intimacy which is both hallowed and sacred which we may sustain with Christ and with the Father. Did Jesus not say that He and the Father would come in and take up their abode with us?
"Abide with me: fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide:
When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me!
I need Thy presence every passing hour;
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter's power?
Who like Thyself my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, oh, abide with me!"
"IS FATHER ON DECK?"
Years ago, Captain D-------- commanded a vessel sailing from Liverpool to New York, and on one voyage he had all his family with him on board. One night, when all were asleep, there arose a sudden squall, which came sweeping over the waters until it struck the vessel, and threw her almost on her side, tumbling and crashing everything that was movable, and awaking the passengers to a consciousness that they were in imminent peril.
Everyone on board was alarmed; and some sprang from their berths and began to dress.
Captain D---- had a little girl on board, just eight years old, who of course awoke with the rest.
"What's the matter?" cried the frightened child.
They told her a squall had struck the ship.
"Is father on deck?" said she.
"Yes, father's on deck."
The little thing dropped herself on her pillow again without a fear, and in a few moments was fast asleep, in spite of winds or waves.
Child of God, shame to your doubts and fears, is not our Father on deck? Remember this when the next squall strikes your barque: "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."
The Christian and the World
We face a sad spectacle in the history of the church at this time. The world has become so entrenched in the life and activities of the church, that it is frequently impossible for one to decide whether it is a churchly world, or a worldly church.
The "birds of the air" have certainly lodged in the branches of the mustard tree. The children of the wicked one hold high carnival in the conduct of the so-called Christian church.
God wrote an eternal law on the first page of the Bible when He separated the light from the darkness. The call of God is for separation from the world. The endeavor of Satan is to lead the church into world-mixing.
Centuries ago Balaam, utterly failing to curse Israel, advised Balak, king of Moab, to mix his sons and daughters with the Children of Israel in the bonds of married life. This Balak did with disastrous results to Israel.
The Book of Jude prophesies that certain men would creep into the church unawares. Of them Jude wrote, "Woe unto them! for they had gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward."
The Book of Revelation goes a little deeper when it gives warning to the church at Pergamos, saying, "Thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the Children of Israel."
When Samson lay his head in the lap of Delilah his hair was shorn, and he lost his power.
The church of today has lost its power whenever it has welcomed the world into its midst; or, when it has gone after the world, seeking its patronage.
The reader of this study should know what is meant by "the world." Certainly, it does not mean the trees, nor the ferns and flowers: nor is it the rivulets and the rivers. The Holy Spirit tells us that the world consists of "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life." These things are the things of the world.
In the wilderness-temptation the devil showed Jesus Christ all of the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, offering to hand them over to Christ upon the one condition that He would fall down and worship him.
The church today is proffered the same opportunity. We have forgotten that no man can serve God and mammon; neither can the church at the same time serve God and the world.
I. GIVEN TO CHRIST OUT OF THE WORLD (John 17:6 )
When the Lord Jesus Christ went to the Cross He died in order that He might save us out of this present evil age according to the will of God, the Father. The call of God has always been one call to the believer: "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you." There can be no fellowship between righteousness and unrighteousness. There can be no communion between light and darkness. There is no concord between Christ and Belial.
"What part hath a believer with an unbeliever?" "What agreement hath the temple of God with idols?" "How can two walk together except they be agreed?"
Between the church and the world there is an impassable chasm. They are separated by a gulf that cannot be spanned.
The call of Peter at Pentecost was, "Save yourselves from this untoward generation." God has written in terms irrevocable, "Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men."
Jesus Christ is the Blessed Man who walked not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seat of the scornful. We who name His Name, may count ourselves blessed, only as we walk as He walked, God has said, "My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not." The Holy Spirit wrote in I Corinthians, not to company with fornicators. He also wrote, "Not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater or a railer, * * with such a one no not to eat." In Ephesians, we read: "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them."
With such Scriptures before us, no one will hesitate to confess that God has called us out of the world.
In the time past, we walked "according to the course of this world," according "to the prince of the power of the air," the spirit that energizes the children of disobedience; but now, we have been quickened, and raised, and made to sit together in Heavenly places in Christ Jesus, and we are called to separation, that we may dwell apart, with Him.
In the time past, "we all had our conversation in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind"; but now, in Christ Jesus, we "who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the Blood of Christ."
In the time past, we were "Gentiles in the flesh": at that time we were "without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world"; but now, we are no more "strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God."
Let us remember the solemn words of our Lord.. "The men which Thou gavest Me out of the world."
II. "I PRAY NOT FOR THE WORLD, BUT FOR THEM WHICH THOU HAST GIVEN ME" (John 17:9 )
Those who were given to Christ out of the world hold a very special nearness to their Lord. We are not to understand from our verse that Christ did not love a world of sinners, and that He did not pray for them in any sense. We know, that on the Cross, He cried in behalf of His persecutors, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
We should remember that Christ, when He spoke the words of our text, was standing with the Twelve in the upper room, in prayer. To be sure, He loved sinners, for He had come down from Heaven to die for them. However, He peculiarly loved His own. Seven different times in this chapter which contains His prayer, Christ spoke of those whom the Father had given unto Him. From this we gather that Christ held His own in the most intimate ties of relationship.
There is a verse in Deuteronomy which says, concerning Israel, "For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto Himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth."
There is a verse in Peter's First Epistle which is in line with the verse just quoted. It reads, "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people: that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light."
How wonderful it all is! God called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees, but He called him, and the Children of Israel who were in Abraham's loins, into a special nearness to Him. They became unto God a people above all the people upon the face of the earth.
How wonderful it all is! The same God who called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees, has called us out of the world; however, He called us out of darkness that He might lead us into light. He called us out of the world, that we might be a special people unto Himself.
III. "THESE ARE IN THE WORLD" (John 17:11 )
When Christ called His children out of the world, He did not take them to Heaven, nor did He transplant them to some other planet untouched by sin and Satan.
Christ, Himself, was about to leave the world, and to go to the Father, but His children who believed on His Name were to be left in the world.
There are some who have sought an isolation from things terrestrial which is not of God.
The Christian can be in the world and yet be out of it. He can be in it without being in fellowship with it, and thus fulfill the injunction, "Love not the world." A ship belongs in the water, but woe betide the ship when the water is in it. We can be in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation, without being partakers with them in their evil deeds.
One day in a mining city, we walked mid the smoke-begrimed buildings; everything around us was soiled no, not everything, for, to our amazement, we saw. a beautiful flower, white as snow and unsullied by the dirt in which it dwelt. Even so, hath God made it possible for us to be in the world, without being worldly.
The Lord Jesus, Himself, was in the world, and yet He was the Holy One of God.
IV. "THE WORLD HATH HATED THEM" (John 17:14 , f.c.)
When the Lord Jesus Christ came into the world, the world knew Him not. The Son of God was betrayed into the hands of sinners.
We remember how Christ said, "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you." He also said, "I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."
It is always true that, to the extent that the believer or the church lives separated from the world, he will be hated by the world. If the world does not hate us it is because we have conformed ourselves unto the world.
There is but one message in the Word of God for a separated saint: "In the world ye shall have tribulation," God speaks unerringly, and God has said, "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
There are some who argue that the world has had a change of heart, and that, today, if Jesus Christ came back, the world would know Him, receive Him, and acclaim Him. This cannot be true. Quite the contrary is true. Jesus said, "I am come in My Father's Name, and ye receive Me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive."
This world instead of being robed and ready to receive Jesus Christ, is ready, with open arms, to receive the anti-christ. The prince of this world is corning, but he will have nothing in Christ.
V. "YE ARE NOT OF THE WORLD" (John 17:14 , l.c., 16)
Twice we have the statement concerning the saints, "They are not of the world." Each time that statement is circumscribed by a second statement, "Even as I am not of the world."
1. Jesus Christ was not OF the world, because He came forth from the Father. He said on one occasion, "Ye are from beneath; I am from above."
The believer is not of the world, because he was "born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."
2. Jesus Christ was not of the world, because His Kingdom was not of this world. He said, "If My Kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight."
The believer is not of the world because his citizenship is in Heaven. He is called to lay up his treasures in Heaven, and not upon the earth. To him God says, "Look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen." He is to "love not the world, neither the things that are in the world."
The Christian down here has no continuing city, but he seeks one to come. If he were of the world, the weapons of his warfare would be carnal; but because he is not of the world, he is fighting the good fight of faith.
3. Jesus Christ was not of the world, because His wisdom was not of this world. He, Himself, never entered into the wisdom, the scholarship, which this world teacheth. His wisdom was from above, even as He was from above.
The believer is not of the world because his wisdom is not of the world. The world by wisdom knew not God; for, had they known Him, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. The wisdom which is from beneath, that is, the wisdom which controls the world, knoweth not the things of God. The wisdom which is from above knoweth freely the things of God. If any of us lack wisdom let us ask of God who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not.
May God help the believer, and the church, to remember that they are not of the world, and therefore they should not live after the world. Woe, unto those who go down to Egypt for help.
VI. "SO HAVE I ALSO SENT THEM INTO THE WORLD" (John 17:18 )
This verse is strikingly strange at the first glance. If we are called out of the world, and are not of the world, but are hated by the world; why then are we sent into the world? There is but one answer, "As the Father hath sent Me, even so, send I you."
Why did the Father send the Son into the world, when He knew that the world would crucify Him? He sent Him because He loved the world. Why are we sent into the world? Because God still loves the world. We are sent into the world for the same reason that Jonah was sent to Nineveh, that we may give a warning to the world, and call them from their sin.
The gracious words of John 3:16 are doubtless in your mind, "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son."
The Lord Jesus speaks of the sower who went forth to sow the seed, and "the field was the world." God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. This ministry of reconciliation He hath committed unto us, as though God did beseech men by us.
Before Christ left to go to Heaven, He said, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature." Let us obey this command.
VII. "THE WORLD HATH NOT KNOWN THEE" (John 17:25 )
We now begin to understand the reason for everything which has gone before. God has called us out of the world, because the world hath not known Him. He has held us in a peculiar position in His love and prayer, praying for us and not for the world, because the world hath not known Him. He has said, "The world hateth you," because the world hath not known Him, and because it knoweth us not. He hath said, "Ye are not of the world," because the world hath not known Him. He hath sent us into the world, to a world that hath not known Him, because He wants the world to know Him and to believe in Him.
With what pity must the Lord have prayed! He was now about to go out to die on the Cross because the world had not known the Father, and because it knew Him not.
Even to this hour the world does not know the Father. The god of this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving, lest the glorious Gospel of Christ should shine in upon them, and convert them.
As we move among men, let us move with pity in our hearts, remembering the prayer of our Lord, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."
There are few more impressive illustrations of the shame and degradation which comes through departing from the Living God, than that exhibited in the downfall of Samson, the judge of Israel. Consecrated to God from the earliest period of his existence; chosen and appointed for a specific work, endowed with a magnificent physique, and bound by the solemn vows of Nazariteship; while true to God he was the terror of Philistia and the deliverer of Israel. But when he yielded to the influence of sensual delights, and told all that was in his heart to a wheedling, coaxing, treacherous woman, suddenly he found himself a captive, shorn of his strength, forsaken by his God, and led away, the slave and scorn of those who had feared him in days gone by.
How different from Samson the mighty athlete on the wild hills of Judea, was Samson the poor, blind captive, grinding in the Philistine prison-house! No longer a hero, a warrior, a conqueror, but degraded to do the work of the meanest slave; he was helpless in captivity and bondage, and was forced to toil on in bitterness and disgrace.
And is not this ever the fate of those who, chosen of God to do His work, fall from high estate, and are led captive by Satan at his will? Are there not today many men who might have been heroes for God, but who are condemned to grind in the Philistine prison-houses, and bear the deep disgrace of Philistine chains? Are there not many who have been led astray by appetite and passion and temptation, and who now in bondage and dishonor lament the high estate from which they have fallen, and loathe the bondage from which they cannot escape?
Let the Nazarites of God take warning from the fate of Samson, and flee from temptation; and let those who are beguiled by the tempter and led astray from their allegiance to God, consider how their course must end; and let them turn with all their hearts to the Living God, and resist the devil, steadfast in the faith, and unshaken in their loyalty to Him who has redeemed them by His Blood and saved them by His grace.
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Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on John 17". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent