9 “My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you. 10 All who are mine belong to you, and you have given them to me, so they bring me glory. 11 Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are. 12 During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me. I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold.—John 17:9-12 (NLT)
Even though, we call the prayer in Matthew 6 the Lord’s prayer, it is really an example of how we should pray. This prayer in John 17 is the Lord’s priestly intercessory prayer for all of God’s children. The ones that God had given Jesus to accompany Him on His earthly journey and all the others from then on including you and me. God had given them and us to Jesus because of His obedience. They would now bring glory to Jesus and to God. Jesus protected them by using the name of the Father and now that He is leaving, He is putting them and us in the hands of God to protect us by the power of His name. Once we accept Jesus and become the children of God, we are in His hands for safekeeping. There is nothing or no one that is more powerful than our God, There is no way we can be taken from His hands. Paul tells us “there is nothing that can separate us from God’s love”.
We have God living in us, we have God praying for us and we have God keeping us. What more could we possibly need? Knowing this should cause us to be faithful and fearless in our witnessing for Jesus.
6 “I have revealed you to the ones you gave me from this world. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything I have is a gift from you, 8 for I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from you, and they believe you sent me. 9 “My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you.–John 17:6-9 (NLT)
From verse one of this chapter, Jesus has been talking to the Father. He has been rehearsing to the Father all that He had done in obedience to the Father. Of course, God already knew all of this. But Jesus was specifically pointing out to His Father that the disciples had now accepted the truth of His words and the truth of who He really was. Jesus was leading up to His intercessory prayer for not only His disciples but for every person that would believe in Him from then until the end of this world. Starting tomorrow, we will be looking at THE most beautiful, powerful intercessory prayer that has ever been spoken by a human. And what makes it even more meaningful is the fact that it is only an example to show us what Jesus is doing in heaven right now. 24 But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. 25 Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.—Hebrews 7:24, 25 (NLT)
Just think about that for a minute, Jesus, Himself, is praying for us right now!
“What have we to dread, what have we to fear, leaning on the everlasting arms”?*** The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you. He drives out the enemy before you; he cries out, ‘Destroy them!’ —Deuteronomy 33:27 (NLT)
***Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” words written by Elisha Hoffman, music by Anthony Showalter
1 After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. 2 For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. 3 And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. 4 I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5 Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began—John 17:1-5 (NLT)
Jesus had given up all His glory when He left heaven to become our Redeemer. That mission was soon to be completed. He had not lost a single soul that the Father had given Him. (Yes, Judas was lost, but he obviously was never a true believer) Now, Jesus is asking His Father to bring Him back home to be returned to that glory. He will have accomplished everything that they had planned before the earth was formed. He, once again, tells us the way to eternal life is to know Himself and His Father, the only true God. Now, it is our turn to bring glory to the Father by living the same lifestyle that Jesus lived. 35 Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.—Matt. 9:35, 36 (NLT)
As we go, we should always be telling the Good News about the Kingdom, but there are those that Jesus puts in our path that He wants us to talk to about Him. Our lifestyle and actions should be such that people notice a difference between us and the world. If we allow the Holy Spirit that abides in us to do His work through us then we will produce the fruits of the Spirit and that will draw people to Jesus.
29 Then his disciples said, “At last you are speaking plainly and not figuratively.30 Now we understand that you know everything, and there’s no need to question you. From this we believe that you came from God.” 31 Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe? 32 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. 33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”—John 16:29-33 (NLT)
As Jesus spoke plainly to His disciples, they found it easier to understand the things He was telling them. Now they understood and believed that Jesus was the
Son of God. Now Jesus tells them that each one of them will abandon Him in His time of suffering. But He assures them that He will not be alone, even when they all leave Him. Jesus explains to them that they will have trials and sorrows in this world, but they can still have peace because He has overcome the world. We will have our times of trials as well. But we have someone now that the disciples didn’t have until later. When Jesus left, the Holy Spirit came to take His place. The Holy Spirit is not another god, He is the same God in a different form to perform a different function. We should not fear the trials and temptations that will come our way, because we have someone inside us who is more powerful than anything in the world. 4 But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.—1 John 4:4 (NLT)
How can we be called “over-comers” and “more than conquerors”, if we never have any problems to overcome or battles to win?
25 “I have spoken of these matters in figures of speech, but soon I will stop speaking figuratively and will tell you plainly all about the Father. 26 Then you will ask in my name. I’m not saying I will ask the Father on your behalf, 27 for the Father himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God. 28 Yes, I came from the Father into the world, and now I will leave the world and return to the Father.”—John 16:25-28 (NLT)
When Jesus said that He had been speaking in figures of speech,, He was referring to the parables He had used to explain things to the disciples and His followers. 13 “Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand—Matt. 13:13 (NASB)
(If you are wondering why Jesus spoke in parables, let me encourage you to do an exegetical study of Matthew 13:10-17)
For the rest of His time on earth before the Crucifixion, He would only be teaching His disciples so He could now speak plainly to them. Jesus is starting here with an explanation that from now on, they (and now we) have to do the praying (led by and assisted by the Holy Spirit which He is sending). This is all based on the love of God for His children. God’s children are those who believe and love His Son, Jesus Christ. If we are in tune with the Holy Spirit, God will give us whatever we ask in the name of Jesus. Now, we know that Jesus is in heaven interceding for us and the Holy Spirit prays through us and for us. This isn’t “pie in the sky” or “get rich quick” praying, this is agreeing with what God Himself (after all, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are God) is praying for us. This is down on our knees, heartfelt, fervent “get me through today” prayer. We just need to get plugged into the current and access the power that God has made available to us.
[When I started writing this short devotional, this is not where I thought I was going, but here I am and It sure feels right. I am glad you came with me.]
20 I tell you the truth, you will cry and be sad, but the world will be happy. You will be sad, but your sadness will become joy. 21 When a woman gives birth to a baby, she has pain, because her time has come. But when her baby is born, she forgets the pain, because she is so happy that a child has been born into the world.
22 It is the same with you. Now you are sad, but I will see you again and you will be happy, and no one will take away your joy. 23 In that day you will not ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you anything you ask for in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy will be the fullest possible joy.—John 16:20-24 (NCV)
From desperation to delight, a part of the journey that most, if not all, of us must go through on our way to heaven. It’s that part of the journey we would like to skip, but God doesn’t allow any shortcuts. It is in those times that we learn where our true allegiance is. The disciples had been on a mountain top experience while they were walking with Jesus, but now they were in the valley. But as the McKameys sing’ “the God on the mountain is still God in the valley”. At this point in time, the disciples didn’t have the luxury of looking at the cross from the resurrection side. Those three days would seem like a lifetime to them. Jesus knew this and encouraged them to be faithful. Ask the Father in my name and He will fill you with joy, the fullest, possible joy.
13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.–Romans 15:13 (NASB)
16 ”After a little while you will not see me, and then after a little while you will see me again.” 17 Some of the followers said to each other, “What does Jesus mean when he says, ‘After a little while you will not see me, and then after a little while you will see me again’? And what does he mean when he says, ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” 18 They also asked, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.” 19 Jesus saw that the followers wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking each other what I meant when I said, ‘After a little while you will not see me, and then after a little while you will see me again’?—John 16:16-19 (NCV)
The last few days before the crucifixion of Jesus must have been very perplexing to the disciples. They had expected that Jesus might set up an earthly kingdom. Instead, He keeps talking about leaving and they won’t know where He is going and they can’t come with Him now. What could Jesus possibly mean that they would not see Him for “a little while” and then they would see Him? What could He mean by saying they couldn’t come now, but they would come to Him later. Jesus could have been referring to two events. “A little while” could be the 3 days He will be in the grave. But since God is not bound by the way we measure time and since He said that He was “going to the Father”, the little while could be from then until each of them arrived in heaven. Either way, it was a disturbing and sad time for them. A time that we will never have to endure. Since God has sent the Holy Spirit to indwell each of us that accepts Jesus as our Savior, we will never be without Him.
We will never be alone. I am reminded of the old hymn “Have Faith in God”
Have faith in God when your pathway is lonely.
He sees and knows all the way you have trod; Never alone are the least of His children;
Have faith in God, have faith in God.
12 “I have many more things to say to you, but they are too much for you now. 13 But when the Spirit of truth comes, he will lead you into all truth. He will not speak his own words, but he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is to come. 14 The Spirit of truth will bring glory to me, because he will take what I have to say and tell it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine. That is why I said that the Spirit will take what I have to say and tell it to you. –John 16:12-15 (NCV)
Jesus has many more things to tell us as well and like the disciples we are not spiritually ready to hear some of them. God opened up the “mystery” of the Gospel in the first century, Paul uses the word mystery seventeen times in his writings. (In the KJV) 6 However, I speak a wisdom to those who are mature. But this wisdom is not from this world or from the rulers of this world, who are losing their power. 7 I speak God’s secret wisdom, which he has kept hidden. Before the world began, God planned this wisdom for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this world understood it. If they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.–1 Cor.2:6-8 (NCV)
The eighth verse gives us a clue as to why God has mysteries. If the world had known the great plan, they would never have crucified Jesus or killed Him in any other way for that matter. But the Holy Spirit has so much more that He wants to tell us. So much more that He wants to accomplish through us. 20 With God’s power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine. 21 To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus for all time, forever and ever. Amen–Eph. 3:20,21 (NCV)
If we walked in the Spirit, without doubt, God could accomplish so much more through each of us. He is able! It is worth repeating! 20 With God’s power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine. 21 To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus for all time, forever and ever. Amen–Eph. 3: 20,21 (NCV)
He is able!
5 Now I am going back to the One who sent me. But none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Your hearts are filled with sadness because I have told you these things. 7 But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go away. When I go away, I will send the Helper to you. If I do not go away, the Helper will not come. 8 When the Helper comes, he will prove to the people of the world the truth about sin, about being right with God, and about judgment. 9 He will prove to them that sin is not believing in me. 10 He will prove to them that being right with God comes from my going to the Father and not being seen anymore. 11 And the Helper will prove to them that judgment happened when the ruler of this world was judged.—John 16:5-11 (NCV)
The disciples must have wondered how Jesus going away could be better than having Him here, face to face. But Jesus knew that His time to leave was very near at this time. He also knew that the Helper could do something that He, in human flesh, could never do. That was to actually live inside a human being. The Helper, the Holy Spirit would take up a permanent residence inside those that accepted Jesus as their Savior. The Holy Spirit could be omnipresent, He could dwell in all of us at the same time thus as God had promised, we would never be alone, He would always be with each of us. He will prove to unbelievers that not believing in Jesus is the sin that caused Jesus to die on the Cross. He will prove that judgment happened when satan was judged. This judgment is spoken of in Isaiah. 12 King of Babylon, morning star, you have fallen from heaven, even though you were as bright as the rising sun! In the past all the nations on earth bowed down before you, but now you have been cut down–Isaiah 14:12 (NCV)
This judgment was also the event Jesus was referring to in Luke 10, when He said: 18 “Yes,” he told them, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning! 19 Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you.–Luke 10:18,19 NCV)
In this statement, Jesus tells us He was there in heaven when satan was judged and He witnessed satan being cast out of heaven. And now, Jesus has the blessings of the Father to give the disciples and us authority over all the power of the enemy. The Holy Spirit is the guarantor of that promise of authority and He fights our battles for us.
1 “I have told you these things to keep you from giving up. 2 People will put you out of their synagogues. Yes, the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are offering service to God. 3 They will do this because they have not known the Father and they have not known me. 4 I have told you these things now so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. “I did not tell you these things at the beginning, because I was with you then. 5 Now I am going back to the One who sent me. But none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?–John 16:1-5 NCV
Jesus is warning His disciples and us that there will be times when the path will not be so smooth. There will be times when we are mistreated and offended for the Gospel’s sake, but we need to press on. Paul thought he was doing a service for God when he was persecuting and killing Christians. He was walking in darkness but he encountered a powerful Light that changed his life. As long as Jesus was here with the disciples He knew that He would be the target for all the abuse. But now that He was leaving, He knew that He had to reinforce the things He had been teaching them. We need that same encouragement every day in our lives. It is easy for us to become frustrated and want to give up, but we have a friend that sticks closer to us than a brother. He is always with us. As Paul learned after his life-changing event, we must suffer with Christ. There is a cross for each of us to bear. But we must remember and hang onto the conclusion that Paul came to in his journey. 18 The sufferings we have now are nothing compared to the great glory that will be shown to us. 19 Everything God made is waiting with excitement for God to show his children’s glory completely.—Romans 8:18,19 NCV
6 God began doing a good work in you, and I am sure he will continue it until it is finished when Jesus Christ comes again–Philippians 1:6 NCV