SEE MATTHEW 16:13-17



Dear Friends,   

            Hearing someone’s fervent prayers tells us a lot about them and their relationship with God and people. Praying out loud and publicly was part of the Jewish tradition (John 11:41-42; 12:27-30) and was often accompanied with physical gestures such as raising the eyes and/or hands toward heaven. (v.1)

           This is Jesus’ farewell prayer as He prepares to leave His closest friends and yet longs to return to His Father’s side where He dwelled for all eternity before His incarnation. It is just prior to His agonizing prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane as He recalls to His Father His passionate priorities and prepares Himself for the cross. "Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.” (v. 2) His Father’s glory controlled every aspect of His life. He only wanted His own glory to reflect back to His Father’s glory and, at the cross, the ultimate act of self-giving love, we see the depth of God’s love. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself.” (2 Cor. 5:19 NLT) Jesus is God with a face on; a God filled with glorious love that came near in Christ and embraced His redeemed loved ones for an eternal union.

        Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world”. (vv. 3, 6) Here Jesus speaks of His passion to reveal His Father to us and redefines the summum bonum of life from grabbing all the gusto you can get, to knowing God intimately and experientially. God had said the same to Jeremiah saying, and I paraphrase, “life is not about money, intelligence and power, but it is about knowing and understanding Me.” (Jer. 9:23-24)

            I pray for them. And glory has come to me through them.” (See verses 9, 10) Here we see Jesus’ intercession and care for the disciples and again His passion for God’s glory; that they, like Him, would live for the glory of God. Thus the question, “Does this glorify God?” would be the thought that would accompany our every decision. And the primary ways we glorify God is through our love and reverence for Him and our unity with other believers. “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.” (v.11) It is only through our mutual love and reverence for God that we are drawn together in union with each other. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”(Eph.5:21)     “They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.” (Vv. 16-19) Being in the world but not of the world is the tension of not “loving the world” (1 John 2:15-17) but loving the lost people in the world for Christ’s sake. (John 3:16) Thus Jesus prays that we will be sanctified by His Word/truth so we will be different from those in the world (set apart – holy) but in a winsome way that will draw the lost to Him not with a “holier than thou attitude” that will push them away from Him. And even our sanctification and holiness would be impossible if Jesus hadn’t sent the Holy Spirit to do this sanctifying work in us. (John 20:21-23)

            "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message 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. 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.”  (Vv. 20-23) Though vv. 9-19 refers specifically to the disciples at that time they apply to all of us. But then Jesus looks down the corridor of time and sees us (v.20) and all who would come to know the Lord through these first disciples. Our “spiritual” genealogy (the one that really matters) goes back to the first disciples – an unbroken chain from one generation to the next. Christianity is always only one generation away from extinction. Again we see Jesus’ priorities: God’s glory (v. 22) through our love and reverence for Him, our unity with each other (v.21) and concern for the lost in the world to come to know Him. (v. 23)

            "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.” (v.24) Hear the intense love the Lord has for us as He longs for us to be with Him in heaven where we will be truly and finally one with Him and with each other in the ultimate sense. “And the people came together and the people came to dance and they danced like a wave upon the sea.” (Yeats) Heaven will bring intimacy with our Lord and a community of joyful, loving relationships with true unity among every nation, tribe, people and language group.

            Gary Burge in the NIV Application Commentary gives a good summary of Jesus’ prayer and the application to us His body, His church: worship, word, WELCOME and witness. This call we have meets the need both for us, God’s people, and for the prodigals who have yet to come home.

             1) WORSHIP – People are not looking for religion but they are looking for the reality of a transcendent yet personal God. A Being who is worthy of all of our love and humble obedience. Yes, many are looking in wrong places such as New Age and false religions but this reveals the hunger for the one true God. Burge and many other evangelicals note the distinctive of heartfelt worship in the fast growing charismatic and Pentecostal churches across the world and encourage this to be in every believer. Jesus wants us to know Him and respond to Him in this way (v.3) to experience both the “otherness” (Holiness) of God and yet His Presence in our hearts and our midst. Jesus’ relationship with the Father modeled this even as seen and felt in this prayer; love and reverence for God and a passion for others to know Him. He was always talking to God or talking about Him. His followers and the crowds could see His love for God even as our children can see our love for our spouse as we visibly demonstrate it with affectionate words and touch. We, like our Lord Jesus, are called to this demonstrative, whole-hearted love and reverence for Him (Mark 12:30) so people can see and be drawn to Him.                           

            2) WORD – But we must worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:23) with our passion for Him anchored in His Word and not be, “tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.” (Eph. 4:14) As we keep our sails up (heartfelt worship) we must keep our rudders down in the water of God’s Word. That is why Jesus prays, Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (v. 17)

            3) WELCOME – But not only are people looking for transcendent spiritual experiences with God grounded in truth they are looking for community; “Jesus with skin on” – as someone has said. And we see this in Jesus’ prayer,so that they may be one as we are one.” (v.11) The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are a Divine Community of mutual love in whose image we have been made. Our fallen nature makes us autonomous and independent (Isa. 53:6) but in our new natures (2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 4:22-26) we long for genuine relationships with our new family – the family of God. (1 Cor. 12:21) And in an ever-increasingly lonely and dangerous world we need each other for the wolf loves the lone sheep. Again it is because of our mutual love and reverence for God that we are drawn together in union with each other. Unless we stay submitted to Him we will not be committed to each other.       

            4) WITNESS – Now strengthened by our Lord and each other we lock arms and move out into a hostile world system that opposes God in order to be like Jesus who came to “seek and save those who are lost.” (Luke 19:10)  “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” (v.18) We have to be careful how we think about this evil world and remember that "God so loved the world (lost people in the world) that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) I am so glad He sent someone to find me and I’m sure you feel the same.

         When Christians are one with God and one with each other, we can together find the lost and expand His family with more praise resounding to our great and glorious God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.     


                                                                                     In it with you,

                                              Len and Kristen

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