Tuesday, February 3, 2015

John 17:1-26 Jesus prays for us

Every so often here on the study blog, we open up our posts for prayer requests from all of our readers. It's always an honor to be able to pray alongside another Christian, isn't it?

It's always encouraging, too, to be prayed for by someone else, and also to be prayed with. We are separated by miles, and some of us by continents, but we are all drawn together in prayer. Especially when someone prays for you in your presence, you feel warm, comforted, and encouraged.  There is even a sense of closeness, both between us and between us and God.  It's almost as if we are knocking on heaven's door together -- side by side. It's really an awesome way to build relationships between us as Christians. It can even ensure unity in the church as a whole, for it's hard for divisions to fester when people are praying together.

It's one thing for us to pray for (and with) one another, and bring our brothers and sisters in Christ before the Lord in prayer. It's quite another to realize that in Jesus we have someone interceding on our behalf!  Jesus prays for us -- He goes to the Father on our behalf.

                      Consequently He is able for all time to save those who approach
                      God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for
                      them.  (Hebrews 7:25)

                      It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right
                      hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. (Romans 8:34)

I read a quote from a Robert McCheyne that said: "If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me." Have you had the experience in your church, or in your home, of having someone sitting right next to you, bringing your concerns and requests before God? We need to imagine that Jesus is sitting with us as we read John 17, for He truly prayed this prayer for us, and for His disciples.

This passage is a telling of Jesus' final moments with His disciples before being arrested. And He prays for them. Knowing that He will be leaving them, He knows that praying for them is the best way to prepare them -- asking the Father to protect, to sanctify, and to make us one.

Let's look first at His prayer for our protection, alright?

I heard a sermon one time that offered this illustration:

                   The Cherokee had a unique way of training their young men. On the
                   night of a boy's thirteenth birthday, after he had learned hunting, fishing,
                   and scouting skills, he was put to a final test. He was placed in a dense
                   forest to spend the entire night alone. Up until that night, he had never
                   been away from the security of the family and extended family. But on
                   this night, he was blindfolded and taken several miles away. When the
                   blindfold was removed, he was alone in the middle of a thick woods,
                   and he was scared! Every time a twig snapped, he visualized a wild animal
                   ready to pounce. After what seemed like an eternity, dawn broke and the
                   first rays of sunlight entered the interior of the forest. Looking around, the
                   boy saw flowers, trees, and the outline of the path. Then, to his utter
                   astonishment, he beheld the figure of a man standing just a few feet away,
                   armed with a bow and arrow. It was his father. He had been there all
                   night long. 

Jesus' first prayer on our behalf is a prayer for protection. Unlike the young Cherokee, we have the advantage of already knowing that our Father is there to protect us; although, just like the boy, we don't always see our Father guarding us. Jesus asks the Father to protect us, to guard us.

From what are we being protected? Jesus asks that we receive protection from the evil one, that we would be guarded when faced with temptation, opposition and persecution. He makes it clear that it is inevitable that we will face these things.

But we can also notice that He doesn't ask that we be removed from these things. He says, "I do not ask you to take them out of the world." But while we are in it, He wants us to be protected and guarded. In fact, if we look at the root of the word, it can also mean "to preserve." Jesus wants us to be preserved while we are in the world. He also says, "Protect them in your name that You have given Me." This is the same as saying, "Father, help them to be faithful and true to what I have given them."
He was asking for us to be preserved, protected and guarded no matter who or what attacks us. And then He said it was so we would be one, as He and the Father were One. So, He is entrusting our lives, and the life of the church, into the Father's hands.

And we know that no one, nor any thing, can move us when we are in those hands.


Belinda said...

I always thought of the prayer He prayed before His capture in an abstract sort of way. I just considered Him praying for those about Him at that time. But while reading that passage again yesterday, I realized He was praying for ME. How could I have gone so long without knowing that?! God truly does teach us something every time we read His word, IF we are open to receive it.

I'm so thankful He cared and continues to care for me!

Cathy said...

There is a song that is currently being played on the radio, by Chris Tomlin, called "Whom Shall I Fear" that talks about the God of Angel Armies being our protector. I love the picture that presents of the protection that is lovingly placed around us. This is the chorus:

I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

The one who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

Without Christ's prayer for us, and His sacrifice for us, there is no way we would be able to come even close to having the confidence to know, to the depths of our beings, that this is true. That even when we don't feel His presence, yet He is still there, loving and protecting us.