Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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Jesus Prays for His Disciples

(John 17)

In John, chapter 16, Jesus spoke to His disciples of His coming death. He said, (vs. 32), “Indeed, the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone , because the Father is with Me.” In preparation for their imminent separation, Jesus prayed for His disciples, as well as those who would follow after them. This prayer is recorded in chapter 17, and is followed by the betrayal and arrest of our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane, recorded in chapter 18 of the text.

It is instructive for us to note the content of the prayer. In this, the final prayer spoken on behalf of His followers in their own presence, His prayer stands as a sermon on what is important for those who would follow Jesus.

Jesus Affirms His Deity

In verses 2 and 3, Jesus affirms that He is the Son of God, and has all authority, thus affirming His own deity. “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You. As You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.” Any man today who blatantly denies the Deity of Jesus, or who as a consequence of his doctrine denies His Deity on earth, directly contradicts the Lord’s affirmation of His own standing before the Father.

Jesus Prayed for the Safekeeping of His Disciples

In verses 6-19 of the text, a special prayer on behalf of His disciples was offered. It is interesting that the gist of the prayer was for the protection of his disciples. The need for this protection was evident because of the warfare they would wage; against the world with the truth. He states, (vs. 15-17) “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You sould keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” The truth of God’s word remains the only weapon we have in this spiritual war. Any call today for compromise or tolerance is tantamount to a dulling of “the sword”, or a laying down of the only weapon given us by God. It is the “power of salvation” (Romans 1:16), and must be “earnestly contend(ed)” for (Jude 3).

Jesus Prayed that You and I Might Have Unity

In verses 20-26, Jesus prayer was extended to all others who would believe through the preaching of the disciples. In effect, in this section of scripture we have revealed His prayer for you and me. Again, it is instructive to see what his sentiments were for us. Surely we ought to work for what Jesus so desperately wanted us to have. The verses reveal His desire was Unity for all who believed after Him. (vs. 20-21), “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they aslo may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” Again, we must point out that His call for unity is attainable only in agreement with one another. There is a call today for tolerance of differences, instead of insistence upon unanimity of belief regarding the doctrine of the Lord and His apostles. Paul called for the disciples in Corinth to be of “one mind”, and “all speak the same thing”, not be tolerant of their differences (1 Cor. 1:10). John said, “do not receive him into your house nor greet him”, concerning the one who did not abide in the doctrine of Christ (2 John 10). The Bible is very clear on the basis of unity. It is based upon the “one faith” (Eph. 4:5).

Is it not interesting that the two things of most importance to Jesus are perhaps the two most important things for us today?

  1. Santicification in the truth of God’s word
  2. Unity based on that word.

Those who stand for truth have ever been persecuted and reviled because of that stand. They have been castigated for being too “harsh” and “unloving” for their insistence that unity be based upon agreement in the doctrine of Christ. This passage reveals however, that in making that insistent demand they are only fulfilling the final wishes of the Master Himself. May we be one that, “the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me” (vs. 23). And may the “love with which You loved me” (vs. 26) be in us. It is only through a stand for truth, tempered with the Love of Christ, that we can obtain the unity for which our Lord prayed. Is it not a worthy goal to which we should aspire?