Thesis: Jesus prays for his own. Are you His?
I had originally planned on preaching John 17:6-19 in one sermon but as I prepared I became convinced that we would receive a greater benefit from slowing down a bit. So, my plan is to preach John 17:6-10 today and, Lord willing, preach John 17:11-19 next Sunday.
In verses 6-10 Jesus defines who his disciples are then in verse 11-19 the Son asks the Father for specific things concerning these disciples. The danger here is that we make these verses a history lesson and no more; looking at these verses as applicable only for those first disciples misses the point. Although the immediate application is for those first disciples I believe there is nothing said in these verses that does not apply to every disciple through the ages.
Here’s why this is important: Jesus has not stopped praying for his own. Hebrews 7:25 tells us Jesus “is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” In Romans 8:34 we read, “Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” Right now Jesus stands in the presence of the Father for the benefit of all those who belong to him.
The questions we want to answer today are these: How do I know I belong to him? What are the marks of the person who belongs to Jesus? How do I know Jesus is praying for me?
Read John 17:6-19
I. Every Christian is the personal property of the Father and Son
The Father gave you to the Son (6, 9, 10)
In the Toy Story movies why does Woody keep on going in spite of terrible odds and growing difficulty? Who did Woody belong to? Whose name was written on the bottom of his boot? Woody did what he did because he was Andy’s toy.
Look with me at verse 9, “I am praying for them.” Okay, Jesus is defining who he is praying for: he’s praying for them. Who is them? Let’s go on in verse 9, “I am not praying for the world.” Okay, so Jesus does not pray for every soul that ever existed. He’s not praying for those whose lives are lived in opposition to the person and desires of God. Back to verse 9, “I am praying…for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.” Jesus is praying for a particular group of people who belong to God and have been given to the Son
In verse 6 Jesus describes these people with these words: “Yours they were, and you have given them to me.” Jesus is praying for a group of people who in the mind and sovereignty of God have been called out of the world and given to the Son.
In verse 10 Jesus expresses ownership of these people with these words: “All mine are yours, and yours are mine.” We are the people of God because we are the personal property of God.
It is true that every person ever created belongs to God by nature of origin. He created the world so the world in the sense of creation belongs to God. But the Father and Son possess a deeper sense of ownership for those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Here Jesus is not praying for the world. Jesus is praying for those people who by the decree of the Father belong to the Father and to the Son.
Now be careful here. We can take this truth and twist it to our own glory like we are the grand prize given to the Son for his great sacrifice. You are not a pure and perfect reward. Some people as a sign of love receive new cars as a gift. That’s not you. You’re not the new car. Other people receive rusted out inoperable death traps as a gift. That’s you. You are a gift given to the Son that demands restoration and the cost of that restoration will be the very life of the Son.
The Father has given you to the Son for the purpose of restoration. And praise God that since you have been given to the Son your restoration is guaranteed. Jesus keeps, guards, and loses none (John 17:12). Since you are the personal property of the Father and Son your redemption, your salvation, is as good as done; not because of who you are but because of who Jesus is.
That giving by the Father to the Son is the foundation for everything that we’re about to look at. Without that giving none of these other marks would appear. At the root of all that you are and all that you enjoy as a Christian is the truth that you have been given by the Father to the Son. Let’s look at the marks of the person Jesus prays for:
II. Because you have been given to the Son you have seen the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ
In verse 6 Jesus prays, “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world.”
Has the Son revealed the Father to you?
In Luke 10:22 Jesus said, “All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
Jesus has the authority, “all things have been handed over to him by the Father.” As the One who has authority over all flesh and as the One who truly knows the Father, Jesus reveals the Father to those whom he chooses to reveal him. Jesus gives eternal life, he gives the knowledge of the Father, he manifests the name of the Father to those who the Father gave him out of the world.
John 1:18 says, “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but by me.” The Son is the source of knowledge concerning the Father. The Son is the way to have a relationship with the Father.
When you think of Jesus what do you think of? Is he a healer or a good teacher? Is he counter-cultural or an outdoors man? Is he a good listener or a compassionate friend? Now Jesus certainly is those things but Jesus is more than those things. If your understanding of Jesus goes no deeper than these things it is possible that you do not know him. Jesus did not come to be your healer, teacher, or friend like that’s all you needed. Jesus came to show you God such that you would love God and long for God. You don’t need a healer or a friend or a good example. You need God.
So here is our first mark of all those who have been given by the Father to the Son: you have seen God. When you think of the glorious God of the universe you see Jesus. When you think about perfect justice and perfect mercy you see Jesus. When you think about grace and truth you see Jesus.
Christian and non-Christian alike pray to God that he would show you his glory in the face of Jesus Christ. All those who belong to Jesus have seen the glorious character of the Father in the face of the Son.
Now our second mark
III. Because you have been given to the Son you have kept the Father’s word
Look again at verse 6, “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.”
Do you cherish the word of God?
You keep what you value and you value what is important. Are you keeping the word of the Father? Now don’t fast forward to obedience. Obedience is there in “keeping” but if you start with obedience you’re playing with fire. I started this section with the question “Do you cherish the word of God?” on purpose. Those people who belong to the Son are those people who treasure the revelation of God recorded in the bible. In the first century, those people who belonged to the Son were those people who treasured the revelation of God seen in the person and heard in the words of Jesus.
Keep your eyes and your mind in verse 6. Why does anyone keep, treasure, listen to, and heed the word of God? Because the Son has revealed the name of God to that person. You don’t keep God’s word and then God reveals himself to you. No, the Son chooses to reveal the Father to you and in response to that glorious revelation you keep his word. You keep his word because you are his. You are not his because you keep his word. That order is very important. It’s the difference in law (because I kept his word I am his) and grace (because I am his I kept his word).
So here’s our second mark: Jesus prays for those people who keep God’s word in response to the fact that they belong to God and has seen the glory of God.
Now our third mark
IV. Because you have been given to the Son you know the words of the Son are the words of the Father
Verse 7, “Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them.”
Are you convinced of the divine origin of Jesus’ words?
Because you belong to the Father and have been given to the Son, because the Son has revealed the Father to you, and because you cherish his words now you know that everything that the Father gave the Son is from the Father.
Surety concerning Jesus is a product of two things: the work of the Father giving you to the Son and you keeping the word. As the Father and Son come and make their home with you (John 14:23) their presence will drive you deeper into the word. As you go deeper into the word and as the word abides in you your assurance concerning the authority of Christ will increase.
Verse 7 is emphatic in a weird way. Why not just say, “Now they know that all I have is from you?” Why emphasize the giving Father? Why is it important for us to know that everything given to the Son by the Father is from the Father?
Right before I sat down to work on this section of the sermon I read Matthew 17 and the account of the transfiguration. The light bulb went on. There on the mountain the Father spoke to the disciples and told them, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him (Mt 17:5).
Why should we listen to Jesus? What reason do we have to believe that every word he spoke is reliable and authoritative for our lives? Verse 8, “For I have given them the words that you gave me.” Where did the words of Jesus originate? The words of Jesus are from the Father. And how did the Son get those words? The Father gave those words to him. And what did Jesus do with those words? Jesus gave those words given to him to his disciples. And what did the disciples do? They received those words; they took them for themselves. As Jesus spoke the words and as the disciples kept the words their assurance concerning the divine origin of those words increased.
Church, Jesus has given us the words of the Father, are we listening? You see, reading, memorizing, and meditating on Scripture has very little to do with how busy you are or how tired you are. Reading, memorizing, and mediating on Scripture has everything to do with who you believe Jesus is. If Jesus is the Son of God who gives to us the words of God then we’ll listen to him, we’ll be convinced of the worth of his word, and we’ll keep his word. But if Jesus isn’t God, if he hasn’t been given the words of God, then you won’t read the bible.
I’m not saying this to guilt you into reading the bible; that’s a worthless goal. I’m saying this so you will step back and question yourself concerning why you don’t read the bible. Disciples know that the words of the Son are the words of the Father and so disciples cherish those words.
Now our fourth mark
V. Because you have been given to the Son you know the Son came from the Father and was sent by the Father
Verse 8, “they have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.”
Those who belong to Jesus are convinced that he is divine
It is impossible to be in a right relationship with the Father while denying the deity of the Son. You cannot be right with God the Father while rejecting the truth concerning God the Son. Those who belong to Jesus are those people who know Jesus is fully God; he came from the Father.
This is all connected. Since Jesus is divine, sent from God, his words are the words of God. Since his words are the words of God you should listen to them. As you listen to the words of God you will be convinced of their truth and you will keep them. Assurance concerning the deity of Jesus comes as we listen to the word. Assurance concerning the authority of the word comes as we acknowledge that Jesus is God.
Those who belong to Jesus are convinced that he is divine
Those who belong to Jesus are convinced that he was sent by the Father
Verse 8, because Jesus gave us the words of God, we believe that the Father sent him. As we listen to the words of Jesus we become convinced of the authority of those words. As we become convinced of the authority of those words we become convinced concerning the mission of Jesus Christ. Through the words of Christ we come to believe in the mission of Christ. Jesus was sent by the Father to rescue, reconcile, restore, and redeem us. How do we know that? We’re convinced by the authoritative word.
Do you want a strong faith concerning the person and work of Jesus Christ? Then do some thinking concerning the origin of the person and words of Jesus. Where are you going to find some food for thought? Here’s some food for thought: the words of Jesus.
Those who belong to Jesus are convinced that the person and work of the Son are all divine in origin. It is all of God.
Here is our fifth and final mark of those who belong to the Son
VI. Because you have been given to the Son you glorify the Son in your life
Verse 10, “All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.
How is Jesus glorified in you?
Where in your life are you putting the greatness of Jesus Christ on display? Maybe you’re glorifying Jesus by turning off the computer or TV and opening your bible. You are declaring the worth of the Son in that decision.
Maybe you’re glorifying Jesus by doing what the word says. You declare the greater worth of the Son by listening to his voice as authoritative over all others. When the Word says one thing and your heart or your friends or the world says another you glorify the one you listen to.
Maybe you’re glorifying Jesus by joining him in his mission. You declare the great worth of the Son when you do what he sent you to do. When a soldier does what he’s not supposed to do it’s called AWOL. But when a soldier does what he’s supposed to do it’s an honorable thing. It could be that your life is wrapped up in good things that are keeping you from God-glorifying things.
Maybe God wants you to invest yourself and his word in your kids or grandkids but you can’t because of your decision to do something else. Maybe God wants you to invest yourself and his word into your neighbor or a coworker but you can’t because you’re too busy doing good but not God-glorifying things.
Because we belong to him let’s give our lives to the cause of making the greatness of Jesus known.
VII. Let’s end by marveling over grace
All of these are possible only because of grace
You see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ because you have been given to him. You keep his word because you have been given to him. You are convinced of the authority of the word of Christ because you have been given to him. You are convinced of the divine origin and mission of Christ because you have been given to him. You glorify him because you have been given to him.
Everything good that you are and do is caused by the fact that you are the personal property of the Father and the Son. So God doesn’t ask his children to become something they are not, God is just telling you to be who you are; you are his.
May the grace of God displayed in his choosing, giving, calling, cleansing, adopting, and equipping of you empower you to act like you belong to him.
Think about the exact men about which Jesus is praying
Jesus defines the group of men surrounding him in these last moments before the crucifixion with these words: belonging to God, keepers of the word, convinced of the truth, believers in the person and mission of the Son, and those who glorify the Son by their lives.
Jesus says, “this is true of them” and what do they do at the first sight of difficulty? They tuck tail and run. What’s happening here?
Hold fast to this gracious truth: Jesus all ready sees you as what he’s making you into. If you heard this sermon and at each point you thought, “that’s not me” know this: if you belong to Jesus he all ready sees you that way and he committed his life to getting you there. Do not despair that you are not perfect. Cling to the fact that because you belong to him he will not let you go. He will transform you into the image of his beloved Son.