Key Verse: John 17:26 “I have made You known to them, and will continue to make You known…”
Chapter 17 is known as Jesus’ “High Priestly Prayer” for His disciples. It gives special insight into Jesus’ assessment of His own ministry. It also helps us see what He expected of His Father in terms of the ongoing life of the church-to-be.
First, let’s look at Jesus’ self-assessment. What did He do? It shouldn’t surprise us that the number one thing Jesus did was to make the Father glorious on earth. “I have brought You glory…” (v.4). How? By “completing the work You gave Me to do.” In other words, by obedient action.
Then, Jesus revealed the Father “to those whose You gave Me” (v.6). To put it another way, Jesus uncovered God to the disciples (that’s what “revelation” means: “to uncover”). In doing so, He “gave them the words You gave Me” (v.8). The uncovering was consistent with the Word of the Father. It was God’s Word. This is what Jesus did and what Jesus was. He was God’s Word even as He spoke God’s words.
But Jesus also had expectations of His Father. He asks Him to protect them (vss. 11b,15). He asks Him to “sanctify them by the truth…” (v.17) and to bring them “to complete unity” (v.23). He wants them to dwell in God (v.21).
Then Jesus makes a promise. He says He will “continue to make You [the Father] known” to the disciples (v.26). He will continue to uncover God so that the emerging Church will be drenched in an overflowing knowledge of God. Christianity will not be static, but dynamic: ever growing “from faith to faith” and in the “grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” This growth however, will be rooted in the solid soil of the Word of God. The living Word will always be the focus of the written word. The word will reveal the Word, and the Word will reveal the Father.
Key Verse: John 15:7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”
I’m afraid a lot of us see God as a celestial errand-boy. He’s there to do our will, meet our needs. And some of us have adopted various “get-what-you-want” systems. We think we know how to manipulate Him: all you need is to master the right praise system or prayer system and the magic button reveals itself — push and enjoy. And to add fuel to our fire, we quote half truths, or whole truths out of context. For instance, “…ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” But we ignore the great qualifier.
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you…”, This is the great qualifier. God is not a giving us a carte blanche. Our will must conform with God’s will or there is no deal. Our desire must spring out of His desire, and His desire is that we “bear much fruit”, thereby glorifying that “Father” (v.8). Fruitfulness is the litmus test. God’s glory is the chief end.
There are other qualifiers in this chapter. For instance, “You are My friends if you do what I command” (v.14). Or, “If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love…” (v.10). And what is Jesus’ command? “My command is this: love each other as I have loved you” (v.12). The Lord isn’t looking for religious people, or holy voters — He’s looking for disciples — people who make Him glorious before the world.
I suppose the reminder that always bears repeating is this: we serve God, He doesn’t serve us. He loves us with an everlasting love, and sent His Son to die for our sins, but He will never let us reduce Him to a means of achieving our own ends. In fact, when our faith becomes a way of getting our way, we’ve become heretics.
Jesus is Lord. He calls the shots.
Key Verse: John 14:2 “I go to prepare a place for you.”
The death of a loved one always catches us off guard. We may have known for months that the tumour was malignant and our loved one was living with a six month sentence; but when the moment of death occurs, we’re not as ready for it as we thought.
The next few days are a flurry of activity — phone calls to relatives and friends, visits to the undertaker, visits from those same relatives and friends, family meetings, and finally the funeral itself. After the interment, there’s usually a social time, lots of tears, scores of pledges to keep in touch, “if there’s anything I can do, don’t hesitate to call”, and then the crunch. Walking into that empty room; seeing those clothes still hanging in the closet; expecting to see him/her in their favourite chair. But the worst thing for many is seeing that empty place at the breakfast table. They’re not there: they’ve left their place.
But, as far as God is concerned, they’ve taken their place. Our loss is heaven’s gain. Jesus said, “I’m going to prepare a place for you.”
“A place for you.” Isn’t that a wonderful thing! It affirms our individuality. It affirms God’s providence. It affirms Jesus’ power and purpose in and for our lives. It affirms hope.
Think back. So much of what you are today is the product of “places” you have occupied over the years. That bedroom. That treehouse. That cottage. That desk. Places that have imprinted your indelibly for a lifetime — positively and/or negatively.
What a joy to know there is one place none of us have seen yet; and it’s the most important place of all. We will bear its imprint for eternity. And Jesus is the designer and builder!
It’ll be a masterpiece!
Key Verse: John 13:16 “…a servant is not greater than his master…”
I think most of us have the instinctive ability to discern between the merely obsequious and the purely altruistic. Huh? How’s that again? What I mean is, we can usually tell when someone is being self-serving even while appearing to be serving us. And we can tell when someone is helping us purely for our sake, with no ulterior motive. In most cases, the altruistic person is ministering from a position of strength; not physical, mental, or financial strength, necessarily, but from moral strength. However shy, retiring, or self-effacing they may appear to be, there is a deep inner security characterizing their private world. They have moral fibre rooted in spiritual peace.
Notice the foundation of inner strength out of which Jesus ministered in this chapter — He “knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God…” (v.3). Jesus had nothing to prove and nothing to gain by washing His disciples’ feet; but He did have a lesson to teach. Because He was their Master and Lord, His disciples would never be able to justify a superior attitude to the masses who would embrace Christianity over the succeeding centuries. Jesus had assumed the most lowly posture in washing His disciples’ feet; for the remainder of the world’s history, no Christian leader could afford to do less.
So we don’t serve to get; we serve to give. Rather than striving, we rest in the confidence that we are loved. God has committed Himself to us, and He never backs down from what He has promised His children.