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(John 17) The REAL Lord's Prayer

(John 17) The REAL Lord's Prayer

by Stephen Davey
Series: Sermons in John
Ref: John 17

If Jesus were to pray for you personally, what do you think He would pray for? Would He ask God to give you more money? A bigger house? A better job? No. Jesus did pray for us in John 17 and those materialistic requests weren't anywhere on the list. Join Stephen in this message to find out what did make the list.


The Real Lord's Prayer

John 17

I invite you this morning into the prayer closet of Jesus Christ - to listen in as God the Son talks to God the Father... a prayer that is so packed with great truths that we can, as William Barclay said, "grasp only fragments of them."

It is the last lengthy discussion between Father and Son, just hours prior to the crucifixion.  Certainly, the prayer of anyone who is about to die, is worthy to be listened to with a sense of awe.

Let's turn in our ongoing study of John's Gospel to chapter 17, a chapter which, in one writers words, is called "the holy of holies" within the gospel of John.  We'll just slip quietly in and listen and try to grasp some of the fragments. . .and, I trust, be forever changed because of it.

Notice,  vs. 1.  These things Jesus spoke; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify Thy Son that the Son may glorify Thee."

Now before we dive in headfirst, we need to notice a profound truth that is easy to overlook - the prayer begins with the word, "Father!"

You need to understand that, nowhere, either in the Old Testament or in any other document prior to Jesus Christ, does any individual Israelite ever address God as "Father".

By the time of Jesus, the name of God - Yahweh (yod, heh, vav, heh) - four Hebrew consonants - was considered so sacred that ordinary people were not even supposed to know it, far less to speak it.  That name - Yahweh was so sacred that it was never pronounced, except by the High Priest when he went into the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement.

When the Jewish copyists were copying the Old Testament scriptures, and they came to that name in the text, they would stop, wash their hands, select a new quill, write the name, discard of the quill and then continue on with their work.

Now there were many names for God - Elohim - creator; Jehovah - redeemer, Jehovah Jireh, Jehovah Sabaoth - but look at verse 6.  "I manifested Thy name to the men whom Thou gavest Me out of the world; Thine they were and Thou gavest them to Me, and they have kept Thy word."

Jesus is saying, "I've revealed your name to my disciples. . ."  Now, while you could substitute the word nature for name, and Jesus certainly revealed the nature of the Father to the world, I believe He's referring to this new name which no Jew had ever before dared consider in relation to a awesome Holy God - "Father".

The name Father is used by Jesus 53 times in these last 4 chapters alone.

Every time Jesus prayed to God he called Him Father.  More than 120 times in this Gospel alone does Jesus reveal something breathtaking - something unimaginable - the only time Jesus ever prayed and didn't refer to God as Father was when He hung on the cross and cried, "My God my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"  He didn't call Him Father then; why?  because it was at that moment when Jesus became our sin and intimacy with the Father was broken.

Otherwise, for him his intimate relationship was expressed by the name "Father."

Now. . .if you were about to die, what would you pray about?

As we listen in on this conversation between God the Son and God the Father, we will discover something very interesting. . .He's praying for you and me.

Jesus Christ is passionate that you and I experience a few things and in this last recorded lengthy prayer - he makes at least four special requests.

I want to suggest four words - four passionate desires of our Lord for those He prayed for

Intimacy with our Father

The first word is the word intimacy.  Christ prays that you and I might experience the intimacy with our heavenly Father that he experiences with the Father!

Go back to verse 1b.  Father, the hour has come, glorify Thy Son, that the Son may glorify Thee.

2.  even as Thou gavest Him authority over all mankind, that to all whom Thou hast given Him He may give eternal life.

3.  And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.

Now I have to tell you, there is something special about being prayed for and hearing the prayer.  When my family prays and my wife mention me and prays for me it does something for me.   Or like this past Friday night as my little girl pryaed, "Lord please help Daddy with his sermon"   You don't know what that does for me.

 I want to remind you that He's praying for you!

You could take your pencil and write your name all through this chapter as I did. . .

     -v. 3.  And this is eternal life, that Stephen may know Thee

     -v. 8.  For the words which Thou gavest Me I have given to Stephen; and Stephen

received them, and truly understood that I came froth from Thee, and Stephen believed that Thou didst send Me.     Write your name throughout this chapter!  He's praying for you!

     -11.  And I am no more in the world; and yet Stephen is in the world, and I come to Thee Holy Father, keep Stephen in Thy name.

Imagine that - He's praying for me. . .He's praying for you!

And what is He praying for?  First of all - he's praying that you will be intimate with the Father.

Go back to verse 3.   This verse provides the definition of eternal life -  "And this is eternal life"  Are you ready for the definition?  "And this is eternal life - that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.

The Father is viewed throughout the New Testament as the "fountain of divinity" - the head of the triune God.  To refer to the Father is to refer to the divine counsel and will of the Triune God.

Jesus has already made it clear that He and the Father are equally divine;

yet the Son came to represent and fulfill the will of the Father - the predetermined counsel of the Divine Will.

He is no less deity for obeying His Father's will than I am less than human when I obeyed my earthly Father's will.

So. . .to come to know the Father is to come to know the Triune God, and you can't come to know God unless you've come to know Jesus Christ.

Now back to this interesting definition - "This is eternal life"  Now this phrase is often understood only in terms of duration. 

Ask the average Christian, "What is eternal life?"  And they'll answer, "It's life that never ends. . .it goes on and on and on and on.

Oh no!  Eternal life isn't just about duration - even the wicked will live forever.

The key word in this definition is the little word "know" - "This is eternal life, that they may KNOW Thee!"

Look over to verses 25, 26.  O righteous Father, although the world has not known Thee, yet I have known Thee; and these have known that Thou didst send Me; and I

have made Thy name known to them, and will make it known. . ."

John 17 begins and ends with the same passion for intimacy with the Father.

Now there are two different words translated "know" - one is the word givosko - to know by experience/relationship.  It's the word used for such intimate knowledge between a husband and wife which finds expression in physical union - "He knew her"

It's a word that refers to knowledge by total openness/ close association/deep friendship.

The other word is oida which means to know by the acquisition of cold hard facts.

Which word do you think Jesus is referring to? 

Now there's nothing wrong with oida - knowledge of God by way of propositional truth and fact.  I spent 10 years of my life in Bible College and Seminaries to study the facts about God and I can discuss the ontological equality of  God and the economic subordination of function within the Godhead.  I have a theological grid/an orthodoxy that serves as a filter for experiences.  Christian pulpits today lack this grid while it pursues a multitude of experiences and we are racing toward disaster with experience behind the wheel. 

BUT - You can acquire facts about God without ever developing a relationship with God.

And so the word Jesus selects in verse 3 is the word "ginosko" - He says, "This is eternal life - this is really living - to know the Father - by close association; by deep friendship; by total openness.

Eternal life is now!  It's not just duration - it's relationship!!

Malcomb Forbes - the man with the publishing empire - a billionaire who owned property around the world, castles in France - his annual party was a televised event for the elite and popular.  He'd load up his personal jumbo jet and take a planeload of friends to other parts of the world on whims. . .he became best known to me as I would read articles in the newspaper or hear about him on the news;  one statement he made however sums up the emptiness of this unbelievers life.  He once said, "He who dies with the most toys wins."

He said, "Life is not relationship - life is possessions - things!

A few weeks ago Marsha and I were in Austin Texas and one of the speakers we heard worked closely with the Counseling organization of Minirth and Meir.  He said something fascinating - he said, "I can't be 100% sure about this but I'm coming to believe that kids who didn't have a father to play with, can grow up to become people obsessed with toys."

Is it possible that the American obsession with cars and boats and toys and clubs and parties and clothes and trips could be that people are vainly trying to fill a void that was created by their father who never took time to play hoops or barbies or pitch a ball or bait a fishing hook or play hopscotch.

The solution isn't to go back and bait a hook, by the way - in fact for many of you your father is no longer alive - the solution is timeless - if you want to really enjoy living - if you want to enjoy and experience eternal life now - if you want to cast off the American obsession of things and stuff - you can - by developing a relationship with your heavenly Father.

John writes in his first epistle: "And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding in order that we might know Him who is true. . .this is eternal life. (I John 5:20)

Life is not having the biggest, the best, the most expensive, the newest, the prettiest, the strongest. . .life is knowing the Father!

And Jesus prays, "Father, I want them to know Thee intimately."

The second prayer request concerns the

Security of our salvation

verse 9 records, "I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine;

10.  And all things that are Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine; and I have been glorified in them.

Now the first error to overcome is that since Jesus is praying exclusively for His disciples, He must then not have any concern for the world.  The fact of the matter is that Jesus must have concern for the world or he would not be found praying for his follower to be witness to the world.

The point is, Jesus prays for our protection and security - that is a prayer that certainly cannot be prayed for the world, because they are not of Him.

Go on to verse 11.  And I am no more in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to Thee, Holy Father; keep them in Thy name, the name which Thou hast given Me, that they may be one even as we are one.

12.  While I was with them, I was keeping them in Thy name which Thou hast given Me; and I guarded them, and not one of them perished - but the sons of perdition,

that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

Now, should anyone look at Judas and say, "Aha, Jesus was not capable of bringing all His sheep home safely"  the Lord makes it perfectly clear that Judas was never one of His own.  he wasn't a man who was saved but then lost His salvation. . .he was a man who pretended masterfully to be a disciple but in the end sold his Teacher for the price of a slave.

What Jesus is doing here is turning over the guardianship of His chosen ones to the it were, placing us in the Father's hands.

And no one who belongs to Jesus Christ will be lost!

I like the way  Stanley put it in his book, Eternal Security, "If Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost, and yet we can somehow become unsaved - and therefore undo what Christ came to do - wouldn't it be wiser for God to take us home to heaven the moment we are saved in order to insure we make it?  Isn't it really risky to force us to stay here?

Yes it is risky, IF our security is in our hands, based on our faithfulness.

Yes it is risky, IF God could somehow fail His word.

Look again, 11b "Holy Father, keep them in THY NAME!"

Juan Ortiz spoke of a conversation with a circus trapeze artist.  The performer admitted the net underneath was there to keep them from breaking their necks, but added, "The net also keeps us from falling.  Imagine there is no net.  We would be so nervous that we would be more likely to miss and fall.  If there wasn't a net, we would not dare to do some of the things we do.  But because there's a net, we dare to make two turns, and once I made three turns ‑ thanks to the net!"  Ortiz makes this observation:  "We have security in God.  When we are sure in his arms, we dare to attempt big things for God.  We dare to be holy.  We dare to be obedient.  We dare, because we know the eternal arms of God will hold us whenever we fall." 

Some like to talk about the perseverance of the saints; I like to talk about the perseverance of the Savior!

Now I know there are some who don't like the idea of eternal security because they believe the doctrine leads to license and sin.  To say that eternal security is going to lead to license and sin is like saying that just because we have Blue Cross/Blue Shield insurance, we're going to play with loaded guns or drink hydrochloric acid...I've got insurance! 

In fact, the very next prayer request deals with the matter of personal holiness and separation.  In light of our security, Jesus now prays for our . . .

Purity in our world

v. 15.  I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.  16.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

17.  Sanctify them in the truth, Thy word is truth.

The word "sanctify" in verse 17 is the word hagiasmos.  It means to set apart for holy service.

It cannot mean sinless perfection, otherwise, how could Jesus say - v. 19.  For their sakes I sanctify Myself. . ."

The point is, just as Jesus was separated for service, so the believer is separated for service.  We are in the world, but not like the world.

Jesus is praying that the believer will have contact with the world without being contaminated by the world.

Ladies and Gentlemen, one of the primary reasons we are not winning the world is because we are not providing any different way of life!

As Howard Hendricks was fond of saying, "The more like the world you become, the less you will impact it for Jesus Christ."

Now, the issue of personal hagiosmos/separation is a difficult subject, because it not only deals with black and white issues that are clearly spelled out in scripture, but gray areas where each believer must determine choices.

Douglas MaGlaukin, in a recent publication, has offered an insightful help in this area by offering 7 principles that can serve as a guide for the believer in determining right from wrong - in areas which the Bible never addresses. 

How can I be in contact with my 21st century world without being contaminated by the world - so that I might win the world.

Principle #1 - expediency

That is, while it's possible for Christians to spend time and energy on a number of things, as you build your system of values and priorities, never let the permissible become the enemy of the essential.  Paul wrote in Philippians "approve those things that are excellent".   What's good may not be what's best.

Principle #2 - enslavement 

There is the thought of being brought under the power of something - to be mastered by a habit or activity is to be enslaved.  Paul wrote, "All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything."

Principle #3 - Enrichment

This is the positive side of separation - In I Cor. 10:23 Paul declared, "All things are

lawful, but not all things are profitable.  All things are lawful, but not all things

edify."  Paul says, in effect, there are a lot of things you can do, but the criteria is not

whether or not you're breaking one of God's laws, but whether or not it is serving to edify your walk with Him.  I happen to believe that the greatest enemy to your personal enrichment is television - surveys reveal that the average American watches television over 4 hours every day...aimlessly, mindlessly wandering from channel to channel...the principle of enrichment could revolutionize your life!  Imagine what you could be with that extra 15-20 hours a week (letter you could write; conversations you could have; walks you could take; ministry you could get involved in!)

Principle #4 - Exaltation

Paul continues in that same chapter v. 31 to say, "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

Every Christian should live with the fact that God's reputation is at stake in our behavior.  Our goal should not be to see how much we can get away with but what can we do that will exalt His name and character.

Principle #5 - Endangerment

In chapter 8 of I Corinthians, Paul writes, "if food causes my brother to stumble (that is - it causes his faith to be crushed), I will never eat meat again, that I might not cause my brother to stumble."

Here is the principle that you and I are responsible for the protective care for younger and weaker Christians.  Maturing Christians, who take seriously their responsibilities to those who are watching the, will avoid anything in their lives which might cause others to stumble and fall.  Rather than taking your brother to edge of the cliff and showing him how close he can get to the edge before falling off - you'll desire to protect him by your own lifestyle of purity and integrity.

Principle #6 - Entanglement

Listen as Paul wrote to his young spiritual Son, Timothy.

2 Timothy 2:4.  No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.  And also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.

Some of you are so caught up in your career pursuit that you have no time to serve Jesus Christ - at best you can carve out an hour to come to morning worship - Paul would say, you're entangled.

Some of you are hear but your mind is on the latest stock prices listed in the Sunday morning paper - your mind is constantly swept up in the building of your financial kingdom on earth - Paul would say, You're entangled.

Finally, there is the Principle of #7 - Equivocation

To equivocate means to hesitate between two opinions, to be unsure, doubtful or uncertain.  Listen to Paul in Romans 14, the classic passage on eating and drinking things offered to idols; a context that no longer exists today, but the principle surely does.  v. 22.  The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God.  happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves, but he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin."  In other words, in issues that the Bible doesn't directly address, if you are not sure what God would have you do, don't do anything!

Paul uses a word that has all but disappeared from the evangelical vocabulary - in verse 22 he refers to your own "convictions".

Do you have convictions?

-Young lady - that you will only date Christian men

-young man - that you will protect the purity of your date

-married couple - that your marriage is for life? 

James Boice told of hearing the vows read at a wedding - a wedding of two unbelievers who conveniently rewrote the traditional vows to read, "We will cherish one another as long as (life shall last) . . . as long as love shall last.

-businessman - that your expense accounts will be honesty      reported?

Jesus Christ is praying that you will live a sanctified life - set apart for holiness, distinctive in witness, effective in ministry.

"Oh Father, I pray you'll make them pure by thy word!

Peter Marshall was the chaplain of the United States Senate; also the pastor of a downtown Washington church that was packed to the rafters to his this Scotsman preach.  He died young, his wife Cathryn went on to become a well known author whose novel Christy has been turned into a dramatic television series.  She said that after Peter unexpectedly died she realized that life is not measured by duration but by donation.  It doesn't matter how long a person lived but how a person lived. 

Every sanctified, purified life will make a donation!

Finally, Jesus goes on to ask the Father for another critical request.

For - Unity in our church

Notice v. 20.  I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one, even as Thou, Father art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst

send Me."

Unity - not uniformity

We are called by God to reproduce, not duplicate ourselves.

This unity is based on truth.  Verse 16 declared first the necessity of truth. . .then to those who adhere to the truth of God's word - there can be unity.

When many people see the word "unity" they think immediately, "Oh we should get all the denominations together and present a unified front to the world."

Trouble is, many churches and denominations  do not believe the truth about Jesus Christ.   AND PURITY OF TRUTH PRECEDES UNITY.

I have a secular article written by a secular magazine - Newsweek, August 1993 which headlined an expose on the mainline Protestant denominations of our day:

"The mightiest Protestants are running out of money, members and meaning!"

The author goes on to reveal the lack of theological integrity based on the scriptures and how that is the fundamental reason mainline denominationalism is losing ground.

If you don't stand for anything - who cares?! 

So to just get all the denominations together won't accomplish anything.  I like the way Erwin Lutzer of Moody Church put it - "Getting several cemeteries together will never produce a resurrection."

Jesus Christ based our  unity on the truth of His deity, His resurrection, His word holding primary authority, His return, a literal heaven and hell, etc.

Trouble is, those of us who believe all of that still find it easier to be disunified than unified.

Operation World this past week covered the Ukraine - and the fact that  the church is facing serious threats.  Freedom has brought about some serious problems.  Part of the problem is that under communist persecution, many Christians were bribed and blackmailed to become informers and this has left a deep problem in how the faithful Christians handle those who bowed, compromised, collaborated or even joined the persecutors.

Is the church going to model forgiveness for the world to see.

In the first century, the first challenge of the church was whether or not they would forgive Saul of Tarsus and allow him in!

What does the church mirror to the world?  Factions, fighting, competition, pride?  Or forgiveness, compassion,  honesty, truth = unity!  For the sake of winning the world!!!!

Look at verse 23.  I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity (into a unit!) that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and didst love them, even as Thou didst love Me.

Jesus asks the Father, "Oh Father, make the church worldwide and this local church here unified. - make them a unit - that they may win the world.

One more thing - Jesus makes his last request - it's in verse 24 and it will come as quite a surprise to you. . .Father, I desire that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am, in order that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me.

Imagine that -   Jesus said earlier that He was returning to the Father's house - he now says in this prayer - "Father, what I really desire is that my disciples be with me in Your house."

We pray to live longer on earth - Jesus prays that we be with Him in heaven. . .we want to stay here, Jesus wants us up there!  Amazing!

Well, we'll slip out of this sacred prayer chamber now. . .we've been privileged to hear the Savior whisper his deepest desires to the Father.

He's prayed for you and for me - and what are his requests?  and what are our privileges?

intimacy with the Father               security in our salvation

purity in the world                       unity in the church


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