(9/12) Seeing yourself in the Bible - Alexander the Great - The story is told that as Alexander the Great approached Jerusalem, its citizens were waiting in terror of certain death and the pillaging of
their city. Josepheus, the famous historian of Israel, reports that the high priest Jaddua, along with other priests and citizens, dressed in white robes and stood outside the city. Jaddua had on a headdress with a gold plate
that had the name of the Lord God on it.
Alexander commanded his army to halt and approached the high priest, intrigued by the dress and the name on the plate of his headdress. Puzzled, Alexander told the high priest that he had dreamed of this
very scene. The priest reached into a canister and pulled out a scroll that had the prophecy of Daniel in it. Written over two hundred years earlier he showed Alexander chapters 7 and 8 which in symbolic language foretold the
Greeks conquering Persia and the leader becoming great. Alexander saw himself in the Hebrew Bible. In awe, he spared Jerusalem and treated the Jews with dignity.
Did you know that in chapter 17 of John's gospel, you are mentioned? Though not by name, it is clear that you and I were on the mind of our Lord Jesus on what would be His last evening before His passion
What was on His mind - His deepest desires before His death are revealed to us in this prayer.
Three purposes- for this sermon-
To Encourage you - He cares about you- He is praying for you now -Heb. 7:25; Romans 8:34; 1 John 2:2. Perhaps this will give us some insight to what He is seeking as He speaks for us in heaven. My
To Challenge you to pray for the things Jesus wants- When we were commissioned to pray in Jesus name, or with His authority, we were to seek the things that He seeks. Well, this reveals to us the things
that He really wants and I believe that we should seek the same things as we pray, especially as we are praying for revival in His church, our families, and our country. If we have given our lives to Him as His servants, His
soldiers, His kinsmen, then the things He wants should be the things we want. Amen? Amen!
To Challenge you to make it happen in your time. That is, since Jesus prayed for these things, I know what He wants me to not just pray for, but to do. Amen? Amen! The continuance of His life's work would
depend on His Father honoring this prayer.
The Scene - Jesus our Lord has just had His Passover meal with the 12, and had given them His last instructions before His arrest. He had washed their feet, identified a betrayer, a denier, and told them
He would be leaving them for a while. He gave them a new Memorial Meal, and the New Commandment. He told them He would sent them a permanent helper in the Holy Spirit and gave them a new commission to pray in His name to
accomplish His purposes. He told them to bear fruit and not to think it strange that the world would hate them. They sang a hymn and then left the upper room to go to the Garden of Gethsemane where He would pray in horrible
agony and then be arrested, tried, beaten, and condemned to die.
The Place - By the brook Kidron was a ravine with a channel that came from the temple to the ravine and in which the blood of over a quarter of a million Passover lambs that had been sacrificed had
flowed. The stench of lambs blood was a reminder of what was about to happen to Him, Jesus paused here to briefly pray what is the longest recorded prayer we have by Him in the Bible.
The Prayer - He wanted to talk to His Father about the purpose of His life, and the continuance of His work. His life's goal would depend on the guys He had disciplined and on the ones that they in turn
would disciple, and that is us. He wanted to commit us to the Father's care. He knew that to accomplish their purpose they would have to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil. His mission depended on their's and our
faithfulness, because there is no plan B. There is not enough time to go deep into this prayer but notice with me that it is in three parts.
First, He Prays for Himself -(vv.1-5) His Glory - To Glorify the Father, This was the joy set before Him that the author of Hebrews tells about in 12:2. To be back home, to pick up the glory that He laid
aside to become one of us, and to have His Father honored by what He has done. His mission had been to reveal the invisible God to people so they could have His life and know personally this awesome God.
Second, He prays for The eleven Apostles. But I believe that verse 20 implies that what He asks for them He is asking for us as well. I believe there are 6 specific requests that He prays to the Father
Unity (vv.6-12a) - Notice that this is not for the world (v.9) this is for His disciples. He has revealed God's name and God's plans and God's words to these men. They have believed Him and followed Him
and to them He would entrust the building of His Church. Three reasons why He prays for their unity. First, is because of their their diversity. These were men that He chose to follow Him and all were from diverse backgrounds.
The only things they really had in common was that they were Jews and they had faith and love for Jesus. To this point, He had held them together (v12a). They had already argued many times about who would be the greatest. They
probably disagreed with Simon Zealote's views, they may not have liked having a tax collector as one of them. When He would be gone and before the Holy Spirit would be given, what would hold them together? He had already told
them that they would scatter that night and leave Him. What would bring them together again? Only God and their mutual faith. Secondly, Their joy, His joy would depend on their unity (v.13). He wanted them together to know the
inner delight of being world changers, of giving people hope in a dark and uncertain world. Their joy would come in fulfilling the purpose that God has for them. Many people are chasing the wind looking for joy or happiness that
can only come by fulfilling the purpose for which you were created and rescued to fulfill. It will be the inner delight of knowing that you can face your own inevitable death with confidence and hope because of what waits for us
in the presence of God. Jesus focused on that joy when He faced the cross and in John 15:11, and 16:24 He says He wants you to have it too. Thirdly, He prayed for their unity because the world will hate them (v.14). John has
already told us that the world would rather have darkness than light and would hate the light. Jesus had just told them that the world would hate them because it hated Him. Today, in this world, no name is so loved and yet so
hated as the name of Jesus. Unity is necessary to stay strong and encourage each other.
Protection (v.15) - from the evil one -Satan knows that if He can divide he can conquer. He is relentless in his desire to tempt God's children to fail, just as He tempted Jesus. This is why Jesus taught
us to pray every time we pray, "deliver us from the evil one." He will try to undo you by presenting situations in which you will revert back to the old ways in response. In Luke 22:31, Jesus told Peter that Satan has requested
permission to attack him and the others, and God apparently granted him that permission. He will try to deceive you with half-truths and issues of logic just as he deceived Eve (2 Cor. 11:3). He will do all he can to get you to
doubt God's love for you or the validity of His promises and His word. These next 3 days would be an especially vulnerable time for these men. 2000 years later, it is no different. Satan is doing all He can to discourage,
defeat, and destroy, God's children, their message, and their testimony. I think that right now in Heaven Jesus is praying for your protection from the evil one.
Sanctification (v.17) -The word, "Sanctify," means to set apart for a special purpose. Some of you may have special chinaware, silverware, table clothes or even furniture or rooms in you house. When I was
a child we had a "good room," in our home. Only special company ever went into the, "good room." It was set apart. Its what God said He had done with Jeremiah (Jer. 1:5). Notice that Jesus doesn't ask God to put us in a special
place to keep us away from the world that needs us and may hate us, but to set us apart with a purpose in the world. That purpose will be; to establish Jesus' church, to continue His work and ministry. They and we and have been
left in this world with a mission. It is the same mission as Jesus and that is to tell people how to know God and have eternal life. It is to be salt and light. What sets us apart from the world is that we alone have the truth
of God, and His salvation. The rest of the world is in darkness and will be lost unless we fulfill our mission. Jesus wants us out of the salt shaker and into places where our light can shine and where decay can be retarded.
Brothers and Sisters, may we never forget that we are not set apart to meet in Holy Huddles on Sunday Mornings but to continue the life and ministry of our Lord Jesus.
Third, He Prays for Us. (vv.20-25)
Unity - (vv20-23) Just as He prayed for the eleven to have unity, so He prays for us as well. Not uniformity. He never expected us to all be alike. He created us different to be different. We all have
different tastes in things, different backgrounds, different personalities. We can even have our own opinions about whether church leadership should be congregational, elder led, pastor led, denominational led, but what He is
seeking is that we be one and united in our purposes, and in our faith; that all of us would love God with all our hearts and would love others the way He loved us and would seek to love the lost of the world enough to go to
them and show and tell them about Jesus. He wanted our unity of love and purpose to be the visible testimony and confirmation that He really is the Son of God sent to redeem man. To enable us to manifest this unity He has given
us His glory, His very presence with us, His Holy Spirit to reside in us to enable us to to do what we are not capable of doing apart from Him. He wanted us to be one with Him and one with each other in our purpose to accomplish
His ministry. The apostle Paul had this prayer of our Lord in mind when he wrote to the Ephesians and encouraged them to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:1-3). This will take a lot
of humility, grace, and patience, but the world is watching and it longs to see that what we have is the real thing. If we can't get along with each other, then what do we have to offer? But when we are one with Him in His
purpose and one with each other, what the world sees is Christ in us, because all of us will be letting Christ minister through us with His Holy Spirit giftedness. This is what the perfection of verse 23 is referring to (cp.
Destiny (v. 24)- In verse 15, He says that He doesn't want the father to take us out of the world but to protect us, because of the job that needs to be done, but here He looks ahead to the time when the
job will be done, and we will all be with Him. Part of our reward will be to share in His glory and enjoy Him forever. Part of that glory will be to see Him as He really is. We will not see the meek and mild foot washer that let
Himself be a lamb that would go silently to the slaughter; instead He will be the King of Glory in His elegance and we shall behold Him (Rev. 22:4). It will be to kneel before His judgment seat and have Him say, "well done," and
place that crown on our heads. None of us deserve to be with Him, but Jesus is asking that those who will receive His grace would be secured in their destiny and share in His glory (Romans 8:17). How often we pray for God to
heal a loved one because their absence will leave a hole in our souls, but Jesus is looking for the time when we will not need healing and will no longer be subject to the effects of sin's curse, and we will be with Him and see
Him in all His splendor and our salvation will be complete.
Relational Love (vv. 23, 26) The last petition of our Lord as He prayed for us, is that God's love would be evident in us. His love for us should keep us close to Him and His love through us should keep
us close to each other. The world would see and know that the Father loves us as much as He Loves Jesus because Jesus is in us.
Several things emerge from this prayer
- There is no plan B for letting the world know God and His eternal life. He has entrusted that to us.
- We must look out for each other. Unity is going to require that we focus more on Christ and each other than on ourselves.
- We must look out for the enemy. Our protection is going to require that stay alert. (1 Peter 5:7)
- We must look within and remember that we have been set apart for a purpose. To fulfill that purpose we need to know and follow His truth in His word.
- We must look up and remember that our hope isn't in this world but in the glory we will share forever with Jesus.
- We must never forget that God loves us as much as He loves Jesus.
Do you know God? Do you have the hope of Eternal life? Are you in awe that before Jesus went to the cross, you were on His mind? What will you do to make His prayer a reality?
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman