Jesus Prays for You

John 17 is a very rich passage – it’s Jesus’ prayer before he is arrested, falsely tried, beaten and crucified. In it we see several things that are emphasized.

  • Glorifying God – Jesus glorified God on Earth.  How?  By fulfilling the Father’s plan perfectly and faithfully. Likewise, we glorify God by doing his will – avoiding sin and pursuing righteousness, making disciples, and many other God glorifying things. (v1-5)
  • Word of God – Jesus says that he ‘gave them the words you gave me’ (v8).  We are blessed that we have these words.  Think of how many people gave their lives in order for us to have English Bibles, how long people before us didn’t have access to them, and how many people still don’t have access to God’s words in their own language. Treasure God’s word – study it, meditate on it, soak in it.  Jesus’ mission was partially to give us the words of God.  They are pure truth, and bring spiritual growth (AKA “sanctification” v17)
  • Prayer – Jesus is praying for the Father’s strength to finish the mission…he knows exactly what is before him – the cross.  If Jesus prayed for strength to stay the course – how much more should we?
  • Jesus prays for you – well, if you are a believer that is.  v20-21:

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17:20-21, ESV)

Jesus prays for those who will believe in him thru the work of the disciples who will faithfully carry his words forward in the future.  Followers of Jesus are still carrying on that mission – bringing God’s word – holding fast to this ‘word of life.’ (Phil 2:!6) The word brings spiritual life!  Jesus, the God-in-flesh, came from the Father on a mission to redeem a sinful fallen human race, to give the precious words of life, that those who believe may have life in his name. As we draw near to Good Friday and Easter, how sweet these words are.

Path to Peace

In John 14:15-31 Jesus describes a sequence of interdependent events –

  1. If you claim to love Jesus you will know and obey his word (14:15, 21)
  2. If you love Jesus, you are loved by the Father (v21)
  3. If you are loved by the Father, Jesus loves you and reveals himself to you (v21)
  4. If Jesus reveals himself to you, he and the Father will make their home with you (v23)

This all starts with knowing and obeying the word of God, this is the whole Bible – not just the words that Jesus said.  There have been those that have gone astray in thinking that passages like these give them license to only obey what Jesus actually said when he was here on Earth (AKA a “red letter Christian”) – whereas in truth, all of the Bible is the word of God, it is all one story – God and his gracious redemption of a sinful human race in Jesus.  Therefore, Jesus himself says that all of Scripture is about him. (Luke 24:27)

This brings it down again to knowing and understanding Scripture.  It astounds me to realize that so much false teaching in the Catholic Church, other mainline denominations, and of course the cults all start with an improper interpretation of God’s word and it snowballs from there.  Fortunately, we are not left to fend for ourselves in understanding Scripture and it doesn’t require a seminary degree – enter the 3rd person of the three-in-one-God:  the Holy Spirit.

In our same passage, Jesus explains —

“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
(John 14:25-26 ESV)

The Holy Spirit is our Helper to teach us and cause us to remember God’s word.  This is a spiritual exercise – so pray thru your reading of God’s word daily – that the Holy Spirit would cause you to know, believe, and understand God’s word, and give you the courage to obey out of love for God.  Remembering that you are then loved by the Father and Jesus reveals himself to you and not only that – makes his home within you.

All of this – brings us inner peace as we fulfill the purpose God created us for – to know and enjoy him forever and bring him the glory he rightly deserves with our lives —

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
(John 14:27 ESV)

Getting to the Real Issue

In working my way through John, we see the theme of belief coming up over and over again. This is the reason for the writing of the book (see John 20:31). However people coming to understand and believe that Jesus was the long prophesied Messiah and God in flesh wasn’t a good thing for everyone. The Pharisees had a big problem with it. Why? See John 11:47-48

“What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”

This is the real issue – this is why the Pharisees are coming up against Jesus so strongly. If too much of a stir was caused, and too many people came to believe in who Jesus was they would lose the temple, their semi-autonomous status with Rome, and perhaps closest to their hearts – their status and prestige of being the religious rulers of Israel. Obviously this totally misses the point that Jesus came so that their people might be reconciled to God – they didn’t care about that!

The parallels to our lives are clear – God requires that we surrender everything in our lives to his control, that our lives would now be joyfully used for his glory and not our own self-serving purposes. I can clearly recall resisting God many years ago when he was drawing me towards him, as there were things in my life that I was fearful I would lose by coming to Jesus and I didn’t want to give them up. This is common as I counsel with people who are stuck in sin and life isn’t going well, yet they will not surrender all of their lives to him they want to hold onto parts of it. That’s not how it works.

Jesus says this later in John 12:25-26 “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world (in other words, loves Jesus more than his earthly life) will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.”

To follow Jesus as his disciple means that everything in your life is his, what are you afraid of losing? Turns out, when you lose your life, you actually find it’s true meaning and purpose.

Bread of Life

I love it when my private Bible reading crashes into the public preaching of the Word.  Last night we heard a great word from Pastor Ryan on Exodus 16 with Israel being provided manna from heaven to sustain them in the desert.  He took us to John 6 as Jesus claims to be the “bread of life” and how again, things of the OT shadow things in the NT.  Turns out the whole Bible really is one storyline – God..and his redemptive plan to save a fallen human race.

Three things I noticed in John 6 this AM:

  1. Belief – John isn’t called the “gospel of belief” for nothing.  Here again we see the theme of belief running strong.  Perhaps most clearly in the exchange of v28-29 where those listening to Jesus ask him what must they “do to be doing the works of God?”  Jesus’ answer:  “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”  (um…Me…Jesus…that’s who.  Believe in ME as God in the flesh and what I’ve come to do and that you need a Savior)
  2. Trinity – even though the word ‘trinity’ is not in Scripture, it’s theme is unmistakeable.  Here we see Jesus as God in the flesh, we see the Father as the one who sent Jesus, and we also see the Holy Spirit.  v63 says it is “the Spirit who gives life.”  God the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to the plan of God in Christ Jesus. Once your eyes are open, and you believe the gospel you are regenerated – given new life by the Spirit, not through any works or merit of our own, as v63 says “the flesh is no help at all”
  3. Jesus = Life – Bread is a metaphor for life.  Bread (food) sustains, yet it needs to be replenished.  God gave us this rhythm of hunger, thirst and eating, drinking as a model to point to what Jesus offers – complete fulfillment and satisfaction.  Jesus says that “I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”  Jesus completely satisfies us because that is the way God has made us – to live a life in the purpose you have been created for to glorify God by being totally satisfied in Jesus, not sin.

These truths are hard for some – mainly for those whom God hasn’t opened their eyes to the precious gospel of Jesus. We see that “many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.” (v66)  The truth demands a response, sometimes that response is rejection – God is the one that draws (v44) and the Spirit is the one that gives life (v63) – our role is believe in Jesus (v29) so deeply that we testify to God’s glory by finding our joyous fulfillment in him alone.

I love the exchange with Jesus and his disciples at the close of the chapter, Jesus, seeing the many that had left him says in v67 – “Do you want to go away as well?”

Peter responds in v68 “To whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

May we respond like Peter when faced with the temptation to find satisfaction in sin, may we our hearts be content and satisfied in Jesus alone – the true Bread of Life.

Acts 4 – Be Clear, Be Bold, Be Boasting…and Bob

Below is the text of message from a Praise and Worship Night on 7/23/11 at Green Pond Bible Chapel.

For audio click here.

I want to talk to you all tonight about that name Jesus and we are going to look briefly at a story in the book of Acts where the disciples are starting their ministry the church is very young,  just getting off the launching pad.  Jesus has been crucified, buried and has risen back to life and now has gone back to heaven.

We are gonna plunge into Acts 4 where we last left our heroes Peter and John they were in deep doo doo because they were preaching about the name of Jesus and some folks didn’t like that.   In this episode of the Peter and John show, our heroes are in trouble for healing a man.  Let’s get some background here and listen

[read Acts 3:1-10]

So there’s this dude, we’ll call him Bob.  Bob has been sitting on a blanket at the entrance to the subway in Penn Station for ever.  Everyone knows who Bob is, he is there every single day.  Crippled.  On his blanket.  Holding up his ratty, torn, faded, sign.  Begging for spare change.

Peter and John, on their way into church see Bob. Bob wants money.  These are disciples, not the most lurcative occupation one could chose in those days, also not the safest and most popular as we will see in a minute.  Peter heals him. Boom. Do you see the power of the apostles?! We pray and beg for God to heal people, they just say “You.  You are healed. Get up.” Wowness. Playas from another laya.

As for Bob – leaping and praising God.  Bob has been this way for over 40 years.

OK, so jump over to Acts 4 now and listen as I read…here’s where it hits the fan.

[Acts 4:1-22]

Stop after v12.

Do you see this?  Are you catching this…Peter and John just spent the night in the pokey they are surrounded by dudes in suits who think a good time is poking them with sticks, playing Let’s ask the disciples 746 questions and maybe slap them around a bit.  These are the religious leaders of the day, the guys in the church. They are questioning them, hard direct questions. You who are Christians, do you ever get questioned?  What kind of questions – “You go to church? Really?  You like a Christian band?  You are going to a WHAT?  A worship night, what in the name of Rupert Murdoch is a worship night?!”

Here’s my first challenge to you tonight:

Be Clear

Note our heroes, Peter and John – what do they say?  v10-12.


Don’t just say God.  Drop the J-Bomb.  God is vague to someone not Biblically informed – JESUS.

It’s also salvation

Acts 4:12 – there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

Here’s another clear verse, this is perhaps one of my favoritest verses in the Bible – 1 Timothy 2:5-6.  That’s the gospel. Be clear.

It’s hard to be clear, isn’t it?  It’s much easier to just kinda waffle a little bit right?  Well, let’s look back at our passage and see more from our guys.

[Read v13-14]

Be Bold

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.

Be bold in Christ.

it doesn’t take anyone any more special than you are.  These were common uneducated men. Don’t let yourself think “I can’t, I don’t know enough….blah blah blah.”  Be clear and be bold.  Go big or go home.

Be so bold that you astonish people – I’m so sick of the status quo -why blend in with the rest of America?

Be so bold that people recognize Christ in you. Do people recognize that YOU have been with Jesus? Listen – here is one of the most important things I’m gonna say to you tonight.  Let me see everyone.  Some of you are in here, and you are claiming to be Christians, but your lifestyle is not backing it up. You got zero street cred to walk around being bold if your life is full of sin.   Be full of Christ, not sin.  You cannot be bold for Christ with others if you are not bold for him alone.  Don’t even try it.  Get you and Jesus fixed first. Being bold for him means saying no to sin to yourself first. I know how it is, some of you are gonna get all fired up and go calling your friends and be like “You need Jesus.  Yeah I said it, JESUS!  You need him you are going to hell.  Wait where are you?  At the bar?  Dollar drafts?  I’m in.”

So what I’m saying is that before it comes out of you, it has to be in you.  Jesus has to own you.   Watch.

[read v15-22]

You see this seen the suits have a problem.  “They healed Bob.  Bob has been there for 40 years!!! Everyone saw it.  And worse yet, Bob guy is here today standing right there! (v14)This is BAD! What are we going to do?  OK, have them go out so we can talk. ” [they go out, suits talk, they come back in] “OK, here’s what we are gonna do. Just don’t do that anymore, OK. No more mentioning the name of Jesus.  We mean it.”  [Peter and John look at each other like ‘that’s it?  I thought they’d stone us for sure]. Peter and John reply, “Um, Mr. Suit, you see we can’t honor that request.  Whether or not we’re in bigger trouble now, is up to you, but we can’t stop. We can’t.  It’s in us.  Jesus owns us, we can’t help but speak the name of Jesus.”

Be Boasting

v20 – “for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”  Even at great risk to personal health and safety, the disciples couldn’t help but speak the name of Jesus.  They could not be silenced.  Remember Bob?  What was his reaction?  Leaping and praising the name of Jesus.

The essence of worship, is not singing songs – that’s cool and all and Biblical, but it’s more the act of worship in our everyday lives. It’s to be so overwhelmed with Jesus it oozes out of you.

If we are truly Christians – we have been made new.  We have new hearts we have new lives, we now live in Christ, not for ourselves.  We have a story to tell, God has done a work in us he has changed us, healed us, saved us.  I will tell you that if you saw me 15 years ago, you would want to be nowhere near me.  I was a different person, Christ has come and made me new – new affections, new habits, new language, new appetites, new LIFE – lasting change in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  If you are longing for that, if you are here tonight and you don’t know that change, and listen, just because you are here in a church event doesn’t man Jack. There are plenty of people in churches who aren’t saved.  He is reaching out to you tonight, reach back and respond to him in your hearts tonight.

One of my favorite Crowder songs is “Come and Listen” – the chorus goes “Come and listen to what he’s done.”  We’re going to play that song over the system here.  The next band is going to quietly make their way up here and quietly set up.  I am going to make my way to the back of the church, outside the double doors here of the sanctuary.  There are going to be other leaders, elders, counselors from GPBC who are going to be out there with me.  If the Holy Spirit has moved in your heart tonight, come tell us what he has done.  Come tell us what you think he is doing.  Come tell us how he is calling you for lasting real change in Jesus Christ.   We want to pray with you.  So as the song is playing,  Pastor Jack’s band will set up – make your way out the doors and see us.

Let’s pray.

God we come to you tonight in worship, mostly in song – but now in our hearts, our inner selves, our core.  You made us, you know us.  There are those in here who know you and know you well, give them an even bigger appetite for you.  Yet there are also those in here who claim to know you,  but don’t really or maybe don’t claim to know you at all.  You don’t own their hearts, their affections, their appetites – Spirit:  claim them in the name of Jesus tonight.  Come to them, regenerate them, make them new. Give them hope, give them lasting change in the name that is above every name, the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.