Sunday 21st June

In His Steps – Prayerful

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 1 Peter 2:21

Today is the last in our current series “In his steps”. This week we are looking at Jesus spending time in prayer.

It is Father day today, and we haven’t done anything specifically for Father day, but it is a good moment, perhaps as we’re looking at this reading of Jesus praying just before He was crucified, to look at the relationship Jesus has with His Father. Some of us don’t have a really good relationship with our father, some of us have a very good relationship, some might not even remember our father. It’s really good to know that we have a Father in heaven that we can talk to and who knows all about us.

John 17 ‘Praying like Jesus’

This whole chapter is Jesus’ last prayer before Gethsemane. It’s often called his High-Priestly Prayer.
It’s in three sections: First Jesus prays for himself, then for his own disciples, then for us – his church.

It’s significant how Jesus begins his prayer. The word ‘glory / glorify’ comes five times in these verses.

  • How much more effective would our prayers be if we focused first on the glory of God?

We’re going to start with a couple of songs just focusing on God and how wonderful and glorious He is, trying to fix our eyes on God before we come into studying His word.

Song: God of wonders

Song: All heaven declares

A) John 17:1-5 Jesus prays for himself

1. There is the glory he already has

v.5 “The glory I had with you before the world began.”
He is the pre-existent Son. Equal with the Father. The “Word” that “became flesh and dwelt among us”.
Having “authority over all people” (v.2) because he created them.

And he has glorified the Father in his ministry.
v.4 “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.”
His work has been to bring the good news of the kingdom of God.
1 Thessalonians 1:5 tells us that the gospel came in power and in truth.

  • When did Jesus’ ministry reveal God’s power, and when did it reveal God’s truth?

Now his greatest work, the cross, will bring the redemption of God.

2. There is also the glory he will achieve

v.1 “Father, the hour is come; glorify your Son.”
We must be clear… He is not requesting more glory!
Jesus didn’t need more glory. He already had all glory. Matthew 28:18 “ALL glory is given to me…”
What he’s asking is that through his death he will glorify the Father and himself.
v.1 “Father the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you.”
The greatest glory that the Father willed was our redemption
And that would be accomplished in the death of his Son.
So Jesus’ obedience in going to the cross would glorify them both

  • How much is this a challenge to how you and I pray? And then to how you and I live?

That in every part of our life we bring glory to God.

And Jesus knows that after the cross, he’ll return to the glory he had before.
v. 5 “Glorify me in your own presence, with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

The glory of the cross is that it brought us eternal life
v.2 “You have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.”
v.3 “This is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

  • Pause to thank God for the eternal life you received because of Jesus’ death on the cross.

Song: Man of sorrows

B) John 17:6-19 Jesus prays for his disciples

1. That they may be safe

v.12 “While I was with them, I protected them and kept safe.”
Now he asks the Father to do the same. v.11 “Father, protect them by the power of your name.”
The reason they will need protecting is that they are “in the world” (v.15) but not “of the world” (v.14)
So they need protection from a world that will hate them because of the gospel they proclaim.
v.15 “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one.”
And Jesus wants that to be a source of joy for us. v.13 “…that they may have the full measure of my joy”

  • In a world that increasingly opposes the gospel, how can we also experience that joy?

2. That they may be sanctified

Because they are in the world, there is a danger that the world’s evil will engulf them. So he prays…

v.17 “Sanctify them by the truth…”
Sanctified means living a distinctive, consecrated life, set apart for God.

v.19 The example of our sanctification is Jesus himself.
For them I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.”

Jesus doesn’t need to be less sinful! He is dedicating himself to God’s purpose.
For him, that was a cross. Jesus calls us to take up our cross too and follow him.
He wants his disciples to be as committed to the purpose of god as he himself is.

  • If we live a distinctive, sanctified life, how might it look different from a non-Christian’s life?

C) John 17:20-26 Jesus prays for his church (Us!)

Isn’t it lovely to know that when he was here, Jesus prayed for YOU!

  • If you were only allowed to pray for ONE thing for the church, what might it be?

Jesus knows what single thing to ask for… “That all of them may be one” v.21
This whole last section is about one single thing: our oneness as a church.

Song: Be thou my vision

1. Oneness flows from the Godhead

We have one God, but the one God is three persons: Father, Son and Spirit.
And within the relationship of the Godhead there is perfect love and unity.
That’s why God can BE Love. It is the relationship between those three persons of the Trinity.
Jesus wants his church to live in the same love that he lives in.

v.26 “…that the love you have for me may be in them.”
v.21 “…that all of them may be one just as you are in me and I am in you.”
v.22 “…that they may be one, as we are one.”

2. Oneness is something believers are already given

We don’t have to try to become one; we are made one in Jesus. Galatians 3:28 “…All one in Christ Jesus”.
It’s not our achievement; it’s his gift. But we do have to live it out.

While we were born again as individuals, we are born INTO a family.
We not only belong to Christ… We belong to each other.
As in any family, so in the church. There is difference and diversity, but there must not be division
Satan’s favourite tactic is to subvert and divide, because it wrecks our witness and work.

  • Pray for the willingness to work in loving partnership with the rest of the church family.

3. Oneness is something the world must see

How can we mend a broken world if we’re a broken church!
The church can’t be part of the solution if she’s part of the problem!
The world will only listen if it sees the oneness of Christ in our own relationships and attitudes.

v.21 “…that they may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”

But… It must be a unity based on the truth of God.
Isaiah 7:9 “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.”

God grant us the courage to stand firm in our faith… and the love to stand together.

  • Thank God for the things here that encourage you.
  • Pray for the things here that challenge you.

Song: Build your kingdom here

This weeks key verse is Luke 6:12.
Next week will be moving onto our new series looking at the life of Paul, starting off with him being a persecutor and looking at how God can even use those working against him (Acts 9:1-17)