John 17 – Joy
The Main Idea: Because of the joy and peace He has promised, you should pray like Jesus.
Key Verse: John 17:13 – “I say these things to while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.”
Prayers can be classified many different ways. Some classify prayers into Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication (ACTS). You can say there are continuous prayers vs. closet prayers. There are private prayers and there are public prayers. I would say that there are prayers that are prayed just between you and God and then there are prayers that we pray out loud for the benefit of other people that might happen to be listening.
For example: The Pharisee prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
Or have you ever prayed that God would give you something but you say it out loud so that people might “answer” your prayer. You might hear your kids pray these kinds of prayers around their birthday or Christmas.
Or parents might pray like this around their kids: “God, help Isaac to realize he should clean his room every day.”
Jesus prayed a prayer in John 17 that was partially meant for the benefit of his listeners, I believe, because they heard it and wrote it down. It is the longest recorded prayer of Jesus. It is only about 627 words long and takes about 3.5 minutes to read it out loud, but it is extremely important. Warren Wiersbe calls this “the greatest prayer ever prayed on earth and the greatest prayer recorded anywhere in Scripture.”
I believe the heart of Jesus’ prayer is in the very center, verse 13. It says, “I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.” We have been discussing the last few week what it means to have real joy in our life as Christians. When Jesus says that he said “these things” I believe he is referring to the lessons that Jesus had been teaching throughout the last supper, what is recorded in John 13-16. The “full measure of my joy” is something that they weren’t thinking. I think if Jesus would have said something like this earlier in the week then they would have understood it a little better. Maybe after the Triumphal Entry when so many people had celebrated his coming to Jerusalem. The disciples were probably in a great mood after seeing that and because of the Passover celebration. But now, he says this in a very confusing time. Judas had already taken a bribe to betray Jesus. Jesus had told Peter that he was going to deny him three times that night. Jesus had not followed the 2,000-year-old Passover script that everyone knew by heart. And now, he prays this prayer about having the full measure of joy. If you look at that last thing Jesus said before he began this prayer he says “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.” I think the BIG IDEA here is that because of the peace and joy of Jesus, we should pray like Jesus.
It’s amazing that we get to see and hear Jesus’ prayer at this time. The teaching is done. The ministry is over. No more teaching and dialogue sessions. No more campfires at night. No more boat rides through stormy seas. He knows his life is going to come to an end in less than 24 hours.
Jesus starts in 17:1 “Father, the time has come.”
1. Jesus had a real, personal relationship with God in Heaven. He called him “Father” 3 times in this passage. We cannot have hope or joy or peace without having God as our Heavenly Father. He will never let us down like our earthly fathers. He will love us unconditionally. He will protect us because He loves us and has our best interests in mind.
2. At his most difficult time he turned to God the Father in prayer. We have the tendency to go to anything but to God when troubles hit. We go to our families, our spouses, and our closest friends first. We might even go to doctors that we think will help us before turning to God. And even after that, we still try to self-medicate. We don’t treat the problem, though; we treat the symptoms of the problem. And we don’t really treat them very well. We only mask them.
3. Jesus prayed that God would be glorified through Him, and that God would return Him to the glory that He had in heaven before coming to earth.
For us/ how should we pray:
-We need to turn to God in our most difficult times and not something else V. 1 Many people hope in things other than Jesus to make their life ‘good’. College education, a spouse, a home, losing weight, a fat bank account, a nice car etc. These are functional saviors; people think if they attain them, they will be happy. What they really need is Jesus.
-We need to pray for ourselves and we need to let others pray for us. V. 5. We need to stop being bashful or you could say it’s prideful, and admit we need prayer. Have you ever been sitting in a small group and you get ready to pray together? The leader will see if anyone wants to share “prayer requests” before you start. It’s inevitable that someone will want prayer for their mom’s sister’s nephew who is having problems with his mother-in-law. That’s good, but what about you. How can your friends pray for you?
-We need to pray for God’s glory in our life. V. 5. When difficulties come up, which you know they will, we need to pray that God would receive honor, praise, and glory because of it. That we could suffer well. That we could endure. That we could finish the race well.
Next, Jesus prays for his disciples. They have been with him for the last three years. They know him well. In fact, John, who is recording this, is one of Jesus’ closest friends. It must have been hard to hear what Jesus was about to say because he says in verse 11 “I will remain in the world no longer.” I want to highlight three things out of this prayer that Jesus prayed for his disciples:
1. Protect them in verse 11. He says he is not going to be around any more to protect them from evil temptations and so He is praying that none of them will fall away.
2. Jesus doesn’t pray that they would be removed from the world. V. 15. He is leaving, but he wants them to stay involved in the world. Not like the Essenes. The Essenes lived in various cities but congregated in communal life dedicated to asceticism, voluntary poverty, and abstinence from worldly pleasures, including marriage and daily baptisms. This is the passage of Scripture where we get the phrase “Be in the world, but not of the world.”
3. Sanctified them by the word. V. 17 “Sanctify,” means “set apart.” I learned this lesson when I went to my first Thanksgiving meal with my wife and her family. My wife’s family is from East Liverpool, OH, which is the Pottery Capital of the World. They have plates, and then they have “sanctified” plates that are only used for special occasions.
Becoming sanctified means to become “set apart” for God’s special use. This happens at the moment of salvation and it is also is a lifelong process of spiritual growth. We are sanctified by the word, which is truth, not just true. This implies that God’s Word does not simply conform to some other external standard of “truth,” but that it is truth itself; that is, it embodies truth and it therefore is the standard of truth against which everything else must be tested and compared.
Our response to Jesus prayer:
-Pray for your disciples – those that you have influence over.
-Be an answer to Jesus’ prayer, be missionaries in the world in which you live. V. 18
Finally, Jesus prays for other believers:
1. Jesus prays for unity/oneness. He knew there was going to be difficulties after he left. This small group of Jewish men was going to proclaim to the world that Jesus came back to life. Obviously, some people are going to call them crazy. They were going to tell everyone that Jesus was the only way. That isn’t going to set well with the religious leaders. And they are going to get followers that are Gentiles, non-Jewish people that love God are going to follow the new teachings of a Jewish rabbi named Jesus. Questions are going to come up like do they follow the rules and customs of Jewish culture? They are not Jewish, but they are going to get converted to Christianity by a Jewish missionary/teacher so the first question I would ask is “how many Jewish rules do I need to follow?” Can I still eat pork? I like bacon. Do I have to get circumcised? Jesus says, I love them..make them one.
Three Points from Jesus prayer to consider:
1. True unity is when Jesus’ mission is followed biblically. V. 21
2. Unity is not uniformity. FEC motto: In essentials: unity. In nonessentials: freedom.
3. Unity around Jesus is a witness to the world. It shows the world that God is love.
One modern Indian pastor told Phillip Yancy, “Most of what happens in Christian churches, including even miracles, can be duplicated in Hindu and Muslim congregations. But in my area only Christians strive, however ineptly, to mix men and women of different castes, races, and social groups. That’s the real miracle.”
Our response to Jesus prayer:
-Pray for other Christians that you know.
-Pray for unity around the person of Jesus.
-Pray that people will hear and accept the gospel of Christ because of our Christian love.
This is how Jesus prayed at this most important time in his life. Because we have peace and joy through Jesus we should pray like Jesus.
1. Pray for yourself in bad times that God would be glorified.
2. Pray for your disciples: your children, your family, those in your immediate sphere of influence.
3. Pray for other believers, especially those that you have disunity with or that you disagree with.