John 17 Part 3

Resumed from part 2

So, Jesus again seizes the great ‘I-am’ of the Old Testament, Exodus 3:11-14. What was Moses to tell Pharaoh regarding who sent him? Tell him that the ‘I-am’ sent you; the ‘I-am’ that ‘I-am’. That is the perfect name for God because He is the One who is the self-sufficient being and He is the self-existent One. God is the necessary being, He is not contingent. He is the only necessary being. There isn’t any infinite regress when His being and His existence are one and the same. We, on the other hand, are contingent beings. The world could go on without us and it never needed us. But God, by definition, is necessary.
Therefore, all things come from Him and through Him and for Him. And so, we see in this idea of Him being the great ‘I-am’, and we recall that Jesus spoke of this tremendous intimacy with the Heavenly Father and that Father is now ours as well. The word ‘Father’ is used 53 times in this Upper Room discourse. 53 times, in John 13 to 17, the word ‘Father’ is used. You see it used 122 times in the Gospel as a whole. Again, that is a concept that the Jews didn’t have, they looked to Moses and Abraham as their father. The idea of calling God our Father isn’t something they could fully understand. And, that it is a fatherly relationship that we can have, and that it transcends the faults and frailties of human fathers, which are always imperfect.
That is why I know a lot of people struggle with that word, ‘father’, because of the negative association they may have had in their own homes. We must realize that if we want to know what the Father is like, that He is lovable and trustworthy, you must look at the Son because the Son has revealed Him. Ask yourself the question, can you trust this Jesus? If you can, then you can trust the Father because He and the Father are One, they are both God, and He manifests the virtue and the glory of the Father.
So, if we continue, then, He speaks about the words, “Which You gave to Me I have given to them,” in verse eight, and, “They received them and truly understood that I came forth from You and that You sent Me.” Then He says, in verse nine, “I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours; and all things that are mine are Yours, and Yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them.”
Again, we have that mutuality. ‘Everything I have is yours, and everything you have is mine’. And so, there is this powerful picture of mutuality. But then, in verse 11, He says, “I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name,” so, He intercedes for these men, “the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as we are. While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.” Jesus knew, from the very beginning who would betray Him.
But, He kept all the others in His name. I see in these verses an emphasis on our security and our safety. I see that our safety always depends on the nature of God and not on our own character or conduct or performance. And, I love Philippians 1:6; “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” He began that work and He will bring it to completion and fruition.
So, once having worked the work of Christ in us, we now have a security, and, indeed, the Son of God intercedes for us. Not only in verse nine but also consider with me Romans chapter eight, which invites us to see that the Son of God Himself is interceding for us on the basis of all that He has accomplished. And so, in verse 34 it says, “Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God who also intercedes for us.” Then we can also turn to Hebrews, chapter four, and verses 14 through 16, and there I see another image of Him interceding for us. “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
For we do not have a high priest who can not sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need.” More specifically, look at Hebrews 7:25, which tells us, “Therefore He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” You see that His present work of intercession is illustrated in these verses. Thus, we, too, are ‘overcomers’, and thus we have security because we are being held in His hands. It is not on the basis of our performance, but on the basis of His that we have that security.
It is the understanding that it is not something we do, but the person we have embraced. Having embraced Him and have come to trust in Him, then we discover the true security that we need. We share Christ’s life and are ‘overcomers’. In 1st John 5:4 I says, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world-our faith.” Go back with me now to John 17 and verses 13 through 19, and He speaks specifically about the word, and how the word sanctifies us and gives us a genuine sense of growth and empowerment. Beginning with verse 13, He says, “Now I come to you; and these things I speak I the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves.”
Once again, He is speaking about this joy. You see, the word will give us joy. We’ve seen that joy really comes by transformation and never by substitution. That is to say, when there is pain in life it not a matter of substituting one thing for another, but rather using that painful situation and using it to be transformed, so that the ‘lead’ of our suffering can be transmuted into the ‘gold’ of God’s glory by means of His grace. And so, God, through His grace, transforms suffering into glory and uses it to create the Christ-like character in us. That is the process, then, and that gives us joy. I didn’t say it gives us happiness, but it gives us joy, because it transcends our circumstances.
So, we can rejoice when we hear the bridegroom’s voice. Now, I must say, Jesus was a Man of sorrow. We know that from Isaiah 53:3, but He was also a Man of joy, not the joy that is the fleeting levity of a sinful world, but an abiding enjoyment of the Father’s life and of His word.
So, He didn’t depend on outward circumstances, but rather on inward spiritual resources that were hidden from the world. In verse 14 He says, “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”
So, He goes on to speak about how the word gives us an assurance, even though the world hates us because we don’t belong to its system and we are called not to be conformed to the system, in Romans chapter 12, however, we also know that the word reveals the love of the Father to us. It exposes the world as well; the world’s pretenses, the world’s deceptions, the world’s vices, and so the better you know the word the better you understand how the world operates. You will see the real thing and you will see the radical contrast between. It would be good for you to do the following exercise. Take an hour in which you read the Bible. That’s not a long time; you think nothing of watching something on TV for three hours. Then, turn on prime time TV and watch that for an hour.
Then, go back to the Bible and you will see a total disconnect. The problem is that we feed on those kinds of things and want things that God would not find is best for us. Cal Thomas once said he reads the New York Times and then picks up the Bible to get the other side of the story. The fact is, and I often put it this way, if we bracket our day, our first thought is to the paper and the last thought is the 11 o’clock news, then we are in trouble. Those are the most important thoughts of your day. My conviction is for you to make the choice to set your minds on the things above at the beginning and then at the end of the day as well. What I love about the word is that it reveals all the stratagems of the world’s system. It is always the same, just new wrinkles of the same stratagems. Better technology, but the same kind of appeals; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. Money, sex, and power. Basically, these are the pulls of the world and we know this. People haven’t changed.
Now, the world, therefore, will compete with the Father’s love. And so, it is needful for us not to neglect the word of God. D.L. Moody put it this way; he wrote in the front of his Bible, “This book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book.” He is saying that if you want to see the first step toward moving into the sphere of the world and its values, it will be by neglect of the Scriptures.
So, I strongly encourage us to review that and keep it a priority in our minds. And, by the way, not merely to relegate the times we are reading Scripture to the times we feel like doing it, but rather to times we choose to do it because we know in that way we are creating a context in which we can have a meeting with God. It is not just some kind of law-bound duty, but rather it the means by which we can get to know Him. I have to stress this again because for years and years when I read the Bible, I just did the reading and the thinking. I have discovered now, though, that I have to read in a different way; read with a spirit that is attentive to God’s Spirit; with more slowly and see what the Spirit would teach me through the word.
Now I can a communication and a conversation. I can speak to Him but also, through His Spirit, He can communicate to us and the way He best does that is that you must stop after a key verse and just listen and allow the Spirit of God to speak to your heart. If you are reading several verses, there may be one that stands out more than any other. That is a hint that you want to meditate on that. Secondly, there may be a phrase within that verse that stands out to you. That is another invitation and I would make that perhaps the word or phrase that I would seek to carry with me throughout that particular day.
Every time you come to the same passage in Scripture you will find something new that you didn’t quite see the time before because His word is living and active and its resources are boundless. And so, looking to the text and to verses 15 through 17, He says, “I do not ask You to take them out of this world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” The word, then, imparts God’s power for holy living. He has moved from the idea of security to the idea of sanctity. I want to show you something that will be of help. God’s word and God’s truth comes to us in three ways. Jesus just said, “Your word is truth.” But, what does He say in John 14:6? “I am the way and the truth and the life.” But, what does He say in 1st John chapter five, in verses six and seven? It tells us, “This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.”
So, the Spirit is now called the truth. You see, all three are called the truth and note that they are not just pointing to the truth, they themselves are the truth because, in fact, they are all God, but they are not each other. But, they are fully, equally, and inexhaustibly, God. That is the mystery of the Divine Trinity we have seen before. They are co-eternal and co-equal, but they are not each other, but they are God. And so, in that mystery, then, we see from these verses that are The truth.

 

 

Continued in part 4

2 Replies to “John 17 Part 3”

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