In my last post we saw Jesus’s heart to glorify the Father. The love of the Father produced a faith in Jesus the Son of man to completely surrender his self-well to the purpose and plan of his Father. In obedience he proved both his faith and his love. Jesus’s resurrection proved the Father’s love for the Son. The two are one in heart.
Today’s prayer shows us Jesus’s heart for the church in its infancy. In John 17, Jesus intercedes on his disciples’ behalf. In our language he’s “got their backs.” They have confessed him before men.
“And Simon Peter answered and said,
Thou art the Christ,
the Son of the living God…
And Jesus answered and said unto him…
upon this rock I will build my church;
and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
( From Matthew 16:16-18)
Now, Jesus confesses them before the Father.
“For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me:
and they have received them,
and have known surely that I came out from thee,
and they have believed that thou didst send me.” (verse 8)
Now, as he prepares to return to the Father, Jesus gives his disciples back into the keeping of the One who gave them to him.
“I pray for them:
I pray not for the world,
but for them which thou hast given me:
for they are thine.
And all mine are thine,
and thine are mine:
and I am glorified in them.”
These men have honored Christ who has honored them. It’s hard to say good-bye to those he holds in his heart. He knows the world they face. He knows the One who will keep them.
And now I am no more in the world,
but these are in the world,
and I come to thee.
Holy Father, keep through thine own name
those whom thou hast given me,
that they may be one, as we are.”
He prayed for his disciples to have his joy.
“And now come I to thee:
and these things I speak in the world,
that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.”
The Father answered his prayer as the Holy Spirit descended, the word spread, and the church grew as more disciples came into the kingdom of God.
“And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.”
Jesus continues to seek the Father’s care and keeping of them when he prays-
“I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world,
but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.”
“But the Lord is faithful,
who shall stablish you,
and keep you from evil.”
2 Thessalonians 3:3
Then as Jesus has sent these into the world, he prays for their sanctification, their need to be set apart from the evil and the lies that would seek to destroy them and the fledgling church.
“Sanctify them through thy truth:
thy word is truth.”
“Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God…
By the which will we are sanctified
through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all…
For by one offering
he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”
Jesus leaves them with promise and assurance.
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth:
It is expedient for you that I go away:
for if I go not away the Comforter will not come unto you;
but if I depart, I will send him unto you…
the Father himself loveth you,
because ye have loved me,
and have believed that I came out from God.”
Jesus left them with a purpose.
“That we should be to the praise of his glory,
who first trusted in Christ.” Ephesians 1:12
Jesus began with a handful of men whom he loved. The church was conceived. It suffered birth pangs until Christ’s resurrection and Pentecost. Then came the joy. Love of the church filled and fills the heart of Christ.
”Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
That he might sanctify and cleanse it
with the washing of water by the word,
That he might present it to himself
a glorious church,
not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing;
but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
Even today the church Jesus loves suffers from growing pains. But one day he will come and take her for his own. Until then we find the church is still in his heart and he still prays on her behalf. More on that in the next post. Until then, remember we are the church.