John 17 Part 2

Resumed from part 1

So, we can not know the Father apart from the Son. We saw that in chapter 14, “We can not know the Father apart from the Son.” Look at chapter 14, verses 6 through 11. That is why He involves “Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” I won’t go through all those verses, but He says, “I am the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father but through Me.” He also says, “I am in the Father and the Father is in Me.” And so, earlier, if we go all the way back to Matthew, chapter 11, we see another text in verse 27 and this underscores the same principle, which is an incredible claim if you really unpack this. Jesus is saying, that having “hidden these things from the wise and intelligent, and having revealed it to infants,” which means one does not enter into spiritual truth by mere intellectual acumen. It is not merely by your intellectual grasp that you gain spiritual truth.
This is something that is His gift and it is given to us. That is something that is spiritually revealed and that is why God has given it to people who would come to Him with the faith and trust of little children. “Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in your sight.” Now, listen to this verse, verse 27, because the implications virtually stun me. “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” Do you see what He is saying here? These are not the words of an ordinary sage or prophet. He is saying that He is the gateway to the Father. And no one can know the Father unless the Son wills to reveal Him to them. That’s about audacious as you can get. Think about the implications of that and they are absolutely astounding. And so, the point here is this; we do not just have enough just believing in God. In James 2:19 it says, “The devils believe and tremble.” The devils actually have orthodox theology, basically speaking. They are actually more orthodox in their theology than liberal theologians are. That is a true statement. Liberal theologians are very, very inadequate in their theological grasp. The devils have a better grasp; they do know that Jesus is God.
They well understand the authority of the scriptures. Having said that though, what good does it do you? Even if you have orthodox theology, what will that do? It will just give you a shrewder mind, but you will not have a changed heart. Theology is not sufficient unless we break through from propositional truth to personal truth. That is what James is really telling us, as well. We have to be people who are not just devoutly religious. There are a lot of devoutly religious people who don’t know God. They go to Church regularly. They recite the Creeds and listen to sermons, and yet they still don’t know God. They know about Jesus, but they don’t know Jesus. There is a huge difference. And so, going back to John 17, in verse 4 Jesus speaks about the work that He actually had on this earth. He describes this work as, “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.”
So, what did this work include? It included a variety of things. It included His messages, His miracles, the training of the disciples for the future, and, ultimately, that work was completed by His sacrifice on the Cross. Listen to Hebrews chapter nine, concerning the work on the Cross, and particularly verses 24 through 28. “For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world.” In other words, He would have had to be crucified again and again. “But now once at the consummation of the ages, He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” It was a once, for all, death and the death of Christ was the death of death, and He overcame the power of sin. “In as much as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,” which, by the way, is a verse that really goes against reincarnationism, “so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.”
So, the second time He comes, He will come in glory, and honor, and power. Thus, we see the need for us to understand that His work is complete and nothing remains. He sat down at the right hand of the Father, symbolizing the completeness and the fullness of His work. The one sacrifice was a once for all sacrifice, acceptable to the Father because the Son was divine. But it was also a real sacrifice because He was human. He also fulfilled all the laws that His Father had bestowed upon humanity.
So, you needed a God-man for that sacrifice to be genuine and to be efficacious. By the way, this purpose statement that we see in John chapter 17, verse four, is the third purpose statement that I can specifically identify: “Accomplishing the Father’s work.” In other words, the Father sent the Son for a particular purpose. He sent Him into the world to accomplish a particular end. I identify two other purpose statements that our Lord has made. Again, these are not His only purposes, but let’s put that together and see what Jesus saw as His fundamental purpose. If you go to Mark chapter ten, verse 45, “Even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for the many.”
So, He has come to serve us by giving His life. This is why He said, “The hour has come. This is why I came. I came not to be served but to serve and give My life as a ransom for many,” is what we see in that verse. Go, now, to Luke 19:10 and we see He gives a second purpose statement. “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which is lost.” That is a very good purpose statement. We can put these three together if we like. We can say that the Son of Man came into the world to seek people by giving His life. You could say to seek them and to serve them by saving them through His own life. Thus, having done that, He would sit down at the right hand of the Father, having accomplished the work that the Father had sent Him to do.
This raises the question about our purpose as well. Because we also have been given work to do, haven’t we? I have stressed this before, but I will do it again, you really need to hammer out a ‘life purpose’ statement before God. I would encourage you to pray about that. Think about how you can summarize what God’s purpose is for you. Write down several points and then try to synthesize it into a single statement and revisit it from time to time until it becomes clearer and more crisp and more meaningful. It doesn’t happen all at once. I would encourage you to do this over a period of time. Again, I often put it this way; we often have purpose statements for our business, but not for our lives. That strikes me as very strange. We are more diligent, vis a vis our businesses than we are asking, ‘why am I here, where am I going, what is my purpose’? Sure, we all have a universal purpose of growth and reproduction. When we came to Christ, He didn’t suddenly pull us right up into heaven. We are here to grow in His image and to reproduce that life in the lives of others.
But, I believe in addition to that, in our arena of influence, and in our unique backgrounds, we have a unique way of doing that and expressing that universal purpose.
So, we all have an arena of influence, and we all have spiritual gifts. We all have certain temperaments and personalities and experiences and backgrounds that crafts for you a specific purpose and when you try and identify that purpose it is a good thing to review where you have been and to see where you think that has given you a life message. My strong and firm belief is that you and I are men and women of destiny. We have a destiny, to be fulfilled as we embrace the Father’s purpose by prayerfully pondering our purpose for being on this planet. That is what Jesus would often do, going to lonely places and think that through. That is why I can’t stress too much the idea of you taking a 24-hour retreat by yourself, and in that 24-hour retreat do the following three things. The first thing to do would be to review your past. Then you would also want to look at your values; what are my commitments and priorities in the present.
Then, consider the future, where do you want to be? I don’t mean a five-year plan. But, what you can do is have a particular vision of what God has in store. There is a trajectory, a vector, and a vector has momentum and direction and we find that God will actually animate the experiences of our past and, in the present moment, work them in such a way as to allow us to make mid-course adjustments along the way. This is why I have often told people, as well, that your greatest years are often going to be the last ten or fifteen years of your life. Why would that be? You must allow it to be that way. Many people retire and they retire from life. I am not down on you retiring from your career, but I am down on retiring from life. If anything, that is the time your ministry can really take off. Rather than just becoming inert and frittering your time away, I believe that they can be the most effective years of your life because you are now a person of skill and knowledge and then you can invest that.
So, you ask God to show you how to take the entire pattern He has given you and invest it in other people. Where can you take the passion He has given you? So, that is just a thought about our own purpose statement. Let’s continue on with the text, and look at verses six through twelve and look at the great privilege of our security in Him as we come to know Him. From verse five we see, “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory, which I had with You before the world was.”
So, we have Jesus referring back to the glory that was known even before the foundation of the world. Turn back, for a minute, to John chapter one, and if you reviewed that great prologue in verses 1 through 18, we see that the Word was with God, the Word was God, and all things came into being through Him. Jesus was around well before the world, and in fact He is co-eternal and co-equal with the Father, and so He is referring to the glory that He had before the world was and that ultimately He is going to go back to that glory and that when He asks the Father to glorify Him together with Himself, it is the pleasure of each to glorify the other. There is a co-inherence and mutuality and other-centered love among the three persons of the divine Trinity.
This gives us the ultimate foundation for communication, communion, and love in our own lives because God is a relational being and we are in His image as relational beings. That, we all know, is the most important thing in our lives. If push came to shove, what would you discover were your greatest treasures? You know it is going to be people. It’s not going to be your possessions, or your position, or your power, or your prestige. It is going to be people. It is not what you have. It is not what you do, but it is who you are and who you have loved, and who loved you. There is this idea of relationships. Why is that the most important thing at the end of the day? Because that is what God is. He is a relational being.
So, then, continuing, in verse six Jesus says, “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.” That is a beautiful picture. Again, they were God’s gift to the Son. The Father’s gift, and “They have kept Your word.” In verse seven, “Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You” Now, they have finally gotten it. “For the words which You gave Me,” from verse eight, “I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me.” This is an allusion back to when they said, “Now we know that You understand all things,” which is from the very last part of chapter 16. They finally came to understand this powerful meaning.

 

 

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