Have you ever experienced moments when the mind, emotions and the very process of breathing seemed to be in tune with the beauty of God’s majesty? It is so easy to get distracted from that place when the reality of whatever is confronting us or demanding our time presents itself. There are times when we wish those moments of blissful harmony could last forever. I suppose that’s why so many use substances or entertainment to artificially stimulate that sense of contentment or elation. Have you noticed this feeling seems to fade the more we work? Work isn’t bad; work is actually good for us and has an abundance of reward. From the beginning, human beings were given something to do by our Creator. God is working; Jesus is working; and the Holy Spirit is working in us and They do so in a state of joy, peace, harmony, and strength while the enduring the unpleasant as evil tries to thwart Their purpose.
Certainly, God created us to accomplish things for His kingdom, for others, and for ourselves; and when we pursue these goals, it is a good thing. Friends, both the effort and the resting are necessary by God’s design. We’ve learned something marvelous when we can to do both simultaneously; conquer while being sustained in the serenity of God’s presence. Let’s pray.
Father God, we come to you in the name of Your Son, Jesus, the Christ, the Son o f Your love. We ask You, Holy Father, that Your Holy Spirit rest upon us; giving us wisdom and understanding; increasing our knowledge of You. By your Holy Spirit, counsel us on the works You have predestined for us as individuals. We pray that we grow in the fear of You as we abide in Your Son. We thank You because we know You will answer this prayer having called us into Your Beloved …
– Amen and Amen.
Outline & The Big Picture
Today, let’s take a look behind the temple veil into the Holy of Holies to see what is happening spiritually in Jesus’ prayer for Himself and believers in John 17. The focus of this blog will be on Jesus Christ’s priestly prayer which I have outlined as follows: (1) God’s love; (2) God’s Glory; (3) Christ’s Finished Work; and (4) Our Work. From this outline, the correlation may not seem obvious at first, but journey with me through our LORD’s incredible prayer that He uttered before making atonement on the mercy seat. The big picture can be stated as: Praying for the LORD’s will unifies us in God’s love for His glory.
(1) God’s Love: Eternal and Holy; Introduction
To gain a deep appreciation for Jesus’ prayer in John 17, we first look at how our triune God viewed the atonement of our sin. In order for God to make atonement (or appease His Holy wrath) for our sinfulness, He had to be both “kin” to us and our High Priest. Therefore it was it was necessary for the Son of God to be made like us in every way; then He could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sin (refer to Hebrews 2). Our ability to go through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary is based on His love which is eternal, holy and unchangeable (refer to Hebrew 6:18-19, Ephesians 2:4-6).
We can’t really fathom His love although we experience it to the extent that we can receive it. We sometimes wrongfully accuse God of having the kind of love we understand. If we consider how people love others today, we would have to admit that a human being’s love can be selfish, circumstantial, changing in depth and expression, and sometimes terminates. We either think of love in romantic terms or in as something we have. We should think of love in terms of a decision we have made or will make; a resolution to do; love should be a verb. The greater majority of people long to have; we long to have acceptance regardless of our actions; we long to give ourselves in relationship to those we have affection for to gain their affections. Is that because originally, we were created in His image? Maybe. If it is solely for that reason, then we can deduce that our ability to love has become perverted from God’s love because our love changes and is influenced by behaviour and emotions. I believe another reason we desire love is because we were created for His pleasure.
- Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. Revelation 4:11
We are mistaken if we think of God’s love as being synonymous with human love. God’s love is holy. When we think about God, we need to remember His character does not operate in one characteristic at a time. God is completely all of His attributes at all times without changing. God is all of His attributes at all times in full measure without changing.
- “For am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob. Malachi 3:6
- Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. James 1:17
Summary of God’s Character
Holiness, Love, Eternality, Mercy, Grace, Goodness, Omnipotence, Omnipresence, Omniscience, Immanence, Righteousness, Immutability, Self-Existence, Justice, Sovereignty, Transcendence (what we can know of God from Scripture)
In many cultures today, we tend to define love as separate from justice/judgement and righteousness. Many people seem to have difficulty with disapproving of a behaviour or activity and still demonstrating love and forgiveness. Although, in a parental or custodian relationship, these must coexist. Yet, many people wish to think of God’s love without judgement. If we have received Him as our LORD, we need not be afraid of His justice and His righteousness because He is also gracious and merciful. It is wise to have the fear/reverence of the LORD, and those who have accepted His plan of salvation need not be afraid of His character. Consider this: because God’s character is present at all times, we know His love is eternal as well. Aren’t you glad that God’s love, is gracious, merciful, good, immutable, self-existing, always present … and eternal!
- Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35, 37-39
God’s eternality is one of the reason’s God’s love is holy (other, set apart). God exists in and of Himself (this is aseity which is from Latin ā “from” and sē “self”, plus -ity); He is without beginning and without end (eternal). Before God created time, God was and is. God and all that He is (holy, love, grace, etc.) has always existed without a beginning but we have a beginning. We, as created beings, have difficulty understanding eternity and yet we intrinsically know that we have been created to be eternal. Having a beginning implies being created and requires a creator. Scripture states our Creator chose for His pleasure to love us before He made us and predestined those who accept His gift of salvation to be His children. He does not decide based on our actions; He elects us. This too is good news because as imperfect human beings we would not be able to be “good enough”!
- having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, Ephesians 1:5
- For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Romans 8:29
- He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11
- For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy… Isaiah 57:15
- “Known to God from eternity are all His works. Acts 15:18
- For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” … Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. Romans 8:15, 23
If you have been reading these Scriptures looking for a thread of connection between the outlined themes, you might be already taking a glimpse behind the veil in the holy of holies to the mercy seat. God is the greatest love we could ever experience because He knows how to fulfill the longings of our hearts because He created us for this expression. His great love adopts us and gives us a home in His love. Ever since sin entered into the world, we are by nature sinful, and without His indwelling Spirit we are unable to love like God. Romans 8:7, 9, 14-16; Galatians 4:4-6. As believers, we really ought to have empathy for those who have not yet experienced this grace and forgiveness that enables us to experience love and give it freely out of an imparted ability to love God. We should have a desire to show Him to others; to be His vessel in pouring out His message of redemption.
The object of God’s love before creation was Himself in the person of the Son of God, and the person of the Holy Spirit. They made a covenant of redemption between Themselves before creation. With God’s foreknowledge/omniscience, He foresaw mankind’s error. He chose to love us and redeem us from the fallen state. God manifested His love for His creation by being willing to sacrifice His Son to redeem His creation that would fall. This redemption was the planned atonement for the wrath of God for the sin of mankind. Jesus, the Son of God (who was also active in the creation) agreed with God the Father to lay down His life to save creation; likewise, the Holy Spirit was in perfect unity for both creation and redemption. That is God who’s love is of holy and eternal. He is the God who:
- sees the height of all evil and is willing to sacrifice Himself to redeem fallen humanity;
- purified us with His blood (sprinkling it on the mercy seat); and,
- who sanctifies us through the Holy in order to restore us into unity with Them/Him.
The Holy Spirit works in us to receive this supernatural love so that we can have His love for others. This is the Godhead’s gift to us. The gift and seal of the Holy Spirit who produces His fruit within us that radiates outward. (Galatians 5 and Ephesians 5 both speak about the 9 fruits of the Holy Spirit that must grow in every believer).
- Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:7-11
- Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace … In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, Ephesians 1:3-7, 11-13
God’s Love Windup
Without God’s holy eternal love, we would not be able to love God or others with pure motives. It was from this place of purity and love that Christ prayed His High Priestly prayer for God to bring us into His unity. Our job is to cooperate with the Holy Spirit who will help us remain focused on abiding in His love, in Him.
(2) God’s Glory: Jesus Prayed for Himself; John 17:1-5
Please read John 17:1-5 and then read this next passage.
- Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! …. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is… 1 John 3:1-3
We have no clue what this means yet. To be like Him, Creator of heaven and earth! How can we imagine such things: to love like Him; to live eternally with God? I have the yearning although I can not imagine what it will be like.
Our triune God’s love is based in His desire to glorify Himself which is the most righteous and loving concept. Since there is no love, no good, no peace and no righteousness without God, then the highest good and righteousness is to extend Himself, the source of all that is wonderful including love. As the source of love, He is worthy of adoration. By seeking His own glory, God extends more love upon His creation which gives Him even greater glory. Today we have such an emphasis on taking care of our planet and God would agree that we should take care of His creation. When He created the earth, He not only gave mankind dominion over it, He told us to tend the garden (Genesis 2:15). Aspects of humanity’s fallenness such as greed, pride, covetousness and even laziness has caused much ruin in God’s creation. God loves His creation and better than we do. He created everything we need for life and godliness and gave us work to do.
- as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2 Peter 1:3-4
Thank the LORD He redeemed us and restored us, calling us by His glory so that we could be partakers in His divine nature! Just imagine being united with such magnificence! In spite of our failures that are innate within the carnal nature, God who hates the evil that separates us from Him, has chosen to glorify Himself by extending grace and mercy to those who accept His plan of redemption! God’s hatred of evil can be found in (Psalms 5:5; Psalms 1:5; Psalms 130:3; Proverbs 6:16-19; Matthew 7:23; Matthew 25:41). Understanding our LORD’s desire for His glorification is vital digesting Christ’s priestly prayer for Himself and believers.
When Jesus prayed for Himself (John 17:1-5), His emphasis was on glorifying the Father through His glorification. Jesus prayed to His Father to resume their glorified union that pre-existed His humbling of Himself to intervene on our behalf by incarnation into a mortal body.
- God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power… Hebrews 1:1-3
Prior to this prayer, we read that Jesus prayed about His troubled soul (emotional distress) in John 12 because He understood the anguish He was going to experience when He would become sin for humanity.
- that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. … For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:19, 21
The perfect Son of God, who pre-existed in perfect union and unity in the full splendor of Their glory, became the Son of Man to be made sin for us; to be judged for sin and paying its price by death on a tree in our place; to bear the wrath of separation from the Source of all life for us. Our LORD foresaw those who He would die for revel/celebrate in their slavery to sin, even mocking Him. Friends, He saw our pleasure in sin as well. It was for us He endured such heartache.
“Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. “Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.” Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.” Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake. “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” This He said, signifying by what death He would die. The people answered Him, “We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?” Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them. John 12:27-36
We can see from John 17:1-5 and John 12:27-36 that Jesus prayed to the Father:
- for the will of the Father which was to glorify God and Son as the highest level of good;
- for people to come to know God by knowing Jesus Christ as the way to reconciliation with God;
- for the completion of the redemptive work (the earthly works having been completed, and the priestly heavenly work still occurring now in heaven);
- for the people God predestined to be saved (those given to Him);
The main concepts in the this first portion of Jesus’ prayer (John 17:1-5) is: (1) the glorification of Jesus Christ; (2) that those God predestined are God’s gifts to Jesus; and, (3) that the work of redemption was complete at the cross so that we could have eternal life. In essence Jesus’ prayer was to return Him to His original state and fulfill God’s gifts to Him so that we can further glorify God. What a thing! That redemption of our spirits and souls glorifies God; that in making us His vessels or extending His kingdom by indwelling us, we too are glorifying Him; that God foreseeing that we become like Christ, loved us so much that He bought us back from the slavery of sin so that we could be gifts to the Son of His love. Oh, just imagine what we will be when our sanctification is complete!
- He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, Colossians 1:13
- In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 1 John 4:9
God’s Glory Windup
It is absolutely fine to pray for ourselves! As we grow in the love of our God and in the knowledge of what He did for us, our prayer ought be focused on glorifying God through our lives. When we pray for health, joy, other blessings for others and ourselves, our reason should be for God’s glory to be made manifest to the objects of His love. Our compassion for others and ourselves needs to be for His good pleasure and not merely our own.
(3) Christ’s Finished Work: Jesus Prays for His Disciples; John 17: 6-19
When Christ prayed this prayer, He was speaking out loud for the benefit of His disciples (the 11 that were with Him; Judas had departed to betray Him). Jesus’ prayer would to help them through this time and would sustain them in the spreading of the gospel. Jesus also knew that His Words would be entered into Scripture for the benefit of humanity in the future.
In the prior passage (Verse 4), Christ confirmed with the Father that His work on earth was complete (having fulfilled all Scripture in the redemption plan leading up to His death). In this passage Jesus asked God to sustain the fruit of His labour which were the disciples who would proclaim the gospel. The Father was faithful to answer Jesus’ prayers which always aligned with God’s will (You can read a few examples in John 3:2; John 4:34; John 5:36; John 9:3; John 9:33; John 10:25, 37-38; John 14:10-11; John 14:31; John 15:10; John 15:24; John 19:30). The disciples were witnesses that each time Jesus prayed, God answered in a way that created belief and glorified His name. A great example of this is when Jesus called Lazarus back to life:
- Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. “And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” John 11:41-43
Christs’ prayer helped instill confidence in the disciples specifically since the knew God answered Christ’s prayers. They felt secure that God would sustain them by the power of God’s Word; that evil could not have them; that they would be sanctified; and that they would have Christ’s joy. It is also significant that Jesus pointed out that He hadn’t lost one of the disciples that God had given to Him eternally; and, He intentionally points out that there was one originally in the group that was called for the purpose of fulfilling the betrayal prophesy (Psalm 41:9; Psalms 109:6-8; Acts 1:16-20,25).
Based on Christ’s prayer, the disciples would understand God had never given Judas to Christ to be redeemed. It helps us understand that:
- Jesus and God secure our salvation and that our salvation is by the election of grace;
- that each member of the Trinity sustains us and keeps us from the grasp of the evil one.
Just as God was faithful to answer all of Christ’s prayers while He was performing His earthly ministry, God answered Jesus’ prayers to keep believers by imparting the Holy Spirit within them as a deposit, a royal seal (John 6:27; 2 Timothy 2:19; 2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 4:30).
Notice that Jesus did not pray for those who were “in the world”, the ones that were not given to Him.
Judas Iscariot was not truly a believer; he was seeking an earthly kingdom wherein he would benefit from being close to the king; his heart was greedy for his own desires – not the LORD’s (John 12:4-6; Luke 22:1-6; John 6:70-71; John 13:18). Notice that Jesus verbalized this prayer before Judas completed his betrayal demonstrating His complete agreement with the prophecies that needed to be fulfilled. Jesus wanted His disciples to know: (1) that they could trust God to save them because God is unchanging and His grace and election is for God’s good pleasure; and, (2) that whatever God declares over a person will come to pass.
Scriptures on Election: John 15:16; John 17:6; Romans 8:29; Ephesians 1:4; Ephesians 2:10; Philippians 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Romans 9:10-16; Romans 11:7; Galatians 1:15-16; Ephesians 1:5-6, 11-12; 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:14; 2 Timothy 1:9; 2 Timothy 2:10, 20; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 John 4:19
Just as God was faithful to fulfill prophecy in Scripture that was foretold hundreds and thousands of years earlier, and just as God was faithful to work miracles that pointed to Jesus Christ as the Messiah, God is faithful to keep us from falling! Praise God!
- Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen. Jude 1:24-25
- looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2
- For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. Hebrews 10:14
- The LORD will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands. Psalm 138:8
- being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; Philippians 1:6
Some might think that God’s election isn’t fair. Let’s consider things from a Godly perspective.
- God owns everything He has created for His pleasure, and as such, He can do whatever He wants with what He has made.
- God has chosen to give some people to His Son (the object of His love) because it pleases Him to bless is Son.
- God’s character is just which would mean that sin must be separated from His Holiness and the price for sin must be paid.
- God is righteous so He paid the price of sin making redemption available and righteous reconciliation possible.
- God has every right to extend a pardon or grace to whomever He pleases.
- God is glorified by showing grace because it demonstrates His sovereignty, love, mercy, righteousness, justice, and the rest of His character as the highest level of goodness.
Humanity often tries to evaluate God through a fallen lens and with a limited view of history and eternity; our perspectives are based on what’s relative to our sin nature. Let’s considered why Jesus did not pray for the others; those who were not elect of God. Jesus is in complete unity with God the Father therefore He always prays the will of the Father. Since God’s election is His sovereign choice of extending His grace to whomever He wills, Jesus only prays for those whom the Father wills.
Culture wants to accuse God of not being good because of the presence of humanity’s sin; they want to accuse Him of not being loving; or they want to deny His existence because of His longsuffering with our sin resulting in delayed judgment. Very seldom do people see that God’s goodness is extended to all of creation in very common ways:
- God allows the rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
- God offered His son to pay the penalty of Sin for all of humanity.
- God is long suffering with people.
- God sustains the world and everything in it for the benefit of mankind.
- God has declared His Word by His Son, by Scripture, by nature and through other believers.
- God sends warning of impending judgement through people, circumstances and Scripture
- God permits the choices people make.
The entire counsel of Scripture demonstrates that God’s love for humanity is common to all. He takes NO pleasure in sin or the death of the sinner. God’s righteousness and justice puts an end to sin by either redemption or wrath. God’s love causes Him to endure His own displeasure when the fulfillment of His justice requires the righteous penalty of eternal separation from Him.
- “For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord GOD. “Therefore turn and live!” Ezekiel 18:32
- “Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’ “Therefore you, O son of man, say to the children of your people: ‘The righteousness of the righteous man shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression; as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall because of it in the day that he turns from his wickedness; nor shall the righteous be able to live because of his righteousness in the day that he sins.’ “When I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, but he trusts in his own righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous works shall be remembered; but because of the iniquity that he has committed, he shall die. “Again, when I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ if he turns from his sin and does what is lawful and right, … “None of his sins which he has committed shall be remembered against him; he has done what is lawful and right; he shall surely live. Ezekiel 33:11-14, 16
- For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. Hosea 6:6
- “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Matthew 9:13
- “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8
- Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:14-15
In the John 17 priestly prayer the imagery of the High Priest in the Tabernacle or Temple becomes clearer: Jesus as a human High Priest before the altar of incense readying Himself to enter the Holy of Holies. He has eaten at the table of shewbread or taken communion the Passover meal; He as the light of the world has shone the light from the lampstand; and, He is now offering up fragrant prayers to sanctify (set Himself apart) before the blood of The Lamb is spilled on the mercy seat to atone for all of those who are in covenant with Him. Jesus is transitioning from the role of Prophet (who declares the Word of the LORD) to our Great High Priest (who ever lives to make intercession for His people). Praise God, Christ will appear again as King of kings and LORD of lords.
To understand Christ’s earthly ministry, we need to remember that a prophet of God was to declare God’s message: sometimes they acted it out, told stories and parables, and always spoke the Words God gave them to speak (predicting future events, delivering conditional judgements as a warning, and sometimes announcing impending judgement as a conclusion). A separate study of Scripture pertaining to the following categories can deepen the understanding of Christ’s earthly works:
- Attestations of Christ (by God, by John the Baptist, by His Works, by devils, by believers, by Himself);
- His teachings (in the Parables, Synagogues, “the Temple”, Open Air, and spirits in prison);
- His predictions (of His denial by Peter, His sufferings, the defection of His disciples, His death, burial, resurrection, ascension, false christs, the destruction of Jerusalem, fame of the woman who anointed Him, the accommodation for the Passover, Peter’s martyrdom, and the success of His Gospel);
- His Miracles (throughout the gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)
I believe we could study our whole earthly lives and not arrive at all that Christ had done while on earth and yet we know the most paramount to you and I is the redemption of our souls.
- And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen. John 21:25
Christ’s Finished Work Windup
We can have confidence that God will have an amazing eternal future especially since Christ now lives to intercede for us. The entire Trinity is fulfilling God’s sovereign election! His righteousness and immutability guarantee it. He cannot lie (…the Scripture cannot be broken, John 10:35 Christ did not pray for the world because He knew who was elect but He prayed His disciples would be made holy. Our holiness should be a notable distinction and being extensions of His goodwill, we should pray for all people. He will answer the prayers that align with His will.
(4) Our Work: Jesus Prays for All Believers; John 17:20-26
In this next passage of Scripture, we read that Jesus was also praying for all who would believe in Him based on the preaching of the Gospel. That’s you and I! With His earthly ministry over, the spreading of the news about the Messiah’s redemptive work became the responsibility of the church. The church is referred to Jesus as “the called ones”, ἐκκλησία ekklēsía – (Strong’s G1577) as first mentioned in Matthew 16:18. Jesus’ earthly ministry ended with His ascension to Heaven where He is currently fulfilling His High Priestly work, and we as called individuals took over the role of declaring His Word.
- But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Hebrews 10:12-17
Praise God! Thank you, LORD Jesus! Family of God, can you see this? We are positionally already perfect in Christ although we are currently being sanctified and have many human flaws. Imagine that when God looks at us, He actually sees the Son of His love; He sees us in Him so His wrath cannot be poured out on us even though Holy God’s wrath would normally consume or burn up sin. We are not appointed to wrath but not because of anything we can or cannot do – it is His grace extended that spares us from wrath; it is His love for His Son.
Jesus Christ, the glorified God Man, is sitting with God interceding for His called ones, those the Father has given Him which include all believers in this age of grace. And, while He is still working in His High Priestly role, He has given the church work to do. The same God who called people in the Old Testament times to be prophets and watchman for His purposes, has called you and I to proclaim what Jesus fulfilled in His death and resurrection by using the gifts He gave us. Ezekiel 3:19-21 outlines how God holds the objects of His favour accountable to do as He directs in compelling others to serve God.
- And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 1 Corinthians 12:28
- Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20
- Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. Colossians 1:28
- Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. 1 Thessalonians 5:14
- let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins. James 5:20
- Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. 1 Timothy 4:16
Jesus said in John 13:35 that our love for one another would demonstrate that we are children of God. Does it? The LORD prayed that we would be one in His Spirit; unified by God’s will, His love, His Word. God has done His part; are we doing ours? He prayed that we would function as one just as God the Father and God the Son had unity while they were still being distinct.
This means that while each person in the body of Christ may have different functions and abilities, have different emphasis in ministry, and are called to different types of needs, we are still members of same body. This means that there should be no ethical disunity/ dissensions because we have one Shepard. Scriptures containing these truths include: Romans 12:4; 1 Corinthians 12:12, 20; John 10:30.
- Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, … stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, Philippians 1:27
- There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28
- There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. Ephesians 4:4-6
- Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. Colossians 3:12-14
- Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:8-9
- For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. 1 John 5:7
The only challenge in my mind is how to love people whose actions cause displeasure. I believe our LORD has demonstrated this to us. God has loved people in action (with deeds and gifts) although He was displeased with their sinfulness. He consistently showed His faithfulness throughout the generations by providing goodwill in His deeds. He did so by sustaining sources of food and the very universe; aligning various human relationships; giving humanity abilities to increase in knowledge; and, using His church to provide comfort, community support, warnings of impending judgement, and sharing the gospel.
Jesus directed His followers to freely love because we have been forgiven freely. God does these things for people who are at enmity with Him (Romans 8:7) which tells us that God’s love endures His unpleasant feelings towards evil actions, and that He sets the bar high for us because He indwells us.
- “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Matthew 10:7-8
- See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. 1 Thessalonians 5:15
- If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Romans 12:18
What does one do with the unpleasant feelings then? The Son of God prayed for Himself knowing what He was about to endure. He prayed that He fulfill His earthly purpose and be glorified with God as He was prior to His incarnation. The most powerful and effective thing we can do on earth is pray as we go about doing what God has told us to do.
- Pray that the Holy Spirit will help us with unpleasant feelings.
- Pray that we are able to forgive and bless those who hurt us.
- Pray that God’s will be done in our lives and in our world.
- Pray that we remember to remain hidden in Him when life’s troubles present themselves.
We know God will answer this prayer which will include the increase of love for others and joy inwardly. He will also deal with those who hurt us but how and when is His business.
Remember, He chose to extend grace to us and He may have chosen to do the same for those who offend us, or maybe He has chosen to give them justice. Thank God for His character that righteously and loving judges all things.
Christ concluded His prayer for us to be filled with the same love God has for Himself. This is amazing because God answers Jesus’ prayer. What goodness, what grace, what love! Jesus prayed that the same eternal, holy love of God that gave His Son all power and authority over all of creation would abound in our hearts. The love that joins us into the beloved just as Jesus is joined with the Father, and Holy Spirit.
Notice that the acceptance into this unity and love is not based on length or quantity of service. We know this because Jesus said to the thief on the cross, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43 . The thief had no time to set things straight or perform any acts of service. What grace! Yes, there will be rewards for service and our eternal assignments may be based on our earthly investment; and, glory to God, the measure of His love, contentment and blissful harmony have nothing to do with our works. It has everything to do with God’s love for Jesus, with God’s faithfulness to answer Jesus’ prayers which results in His incomprehensible love for us while He changes us and perfects us until that day!
When we add distance in our relationship with Him, He draws us back through His love. The accuser may try to tempt us to stay away from Him, but family God, God answers Jesus’ prayers and He uses whatever measures required to bring us back into that unity. One day, we will be joined with Him in the Holy of Holies/His presence serving Him in whatever work He gives us to do being completely satisfied by Him.
- “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. John 14:3
- “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ … “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ Matthew 25:21, 23
God fulfills His Word so we can rejoice knowing that one day we will be permanently abiding in all that He is because this is His good pleasure. Why not spend some time understand the character of the one we are trusting our eternity to?
- But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18
- Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 1 John 3:2
Our Work Windup
Our purpose is to glorify God in all that we do. Jesus is our example: He prayed, He spoke God’s Words, and He lived in the Holy Spirit’s empowerment. We have this same ministry: prayer; declaring redemption because of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection; and, using the gifts He has imparted in each of us to build His kingdom by loving others. Prayer is connection to the holy of holies where god meets with us. Prayer accesses Holy Spirit empowerment to glorify God by LOVing Him and others in the face of circumstances and life’s demands. Praying the Word or God’s will is how we conquer while being sustained in the serenity of God’s presence. Why? Because prayer is communion with God who answers Jesus’ prayers while we are hidden, united in the beauty of His holiness, His covenant.
All Scripture used in this blog is from the New King James Version, unless otherwise specified.