I’m no theologian, and there is so much about the Bible I still have to discover. I have learned so many new things this year by being a part of Bible Study Fellowship. We have been studying John, and boy, it has been eye opening. There is so much that I have not seen before. So much new insight into Jesus’ life on earth. It has been bringing everything together for me. God has used everything I have been learning in John, sermons, and Bible studies, and made it one big lesson. Only He can tie all of these seemingly random stories and pieces from His Word together. He even does it in a beautiful, loving way. He wants me to draw close to Him, and has been drawing me all of my life. I don’t deserve that, but I am so thankful He has never given up on me.
The thing that my mind can’t stop thinking about is the lesson from a few weeks ago. We were in John 17. This is the chapter right before He is arrested. He prays the entire chapter. He starts by praying about the fact that the hour has come, and that it is time for Him to finish the work God gave Him.
I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
John 17:4-5 NIV
Then, His focus turns towards the disciples. He prays for them from verse 6 to verse 19. Wow. My favorite part of His prayer is this:
I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you would take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.
John 17:13-15 NIV
What a prayer for other believers. This is such an awesome example of how to pray for each other as we are out ministering to others, and doing our best to live for Him. I want to have that full measure of joy, and I am betting you do too. I also don’t want to be taken out of the world, if God is still using me, and to see how He prayed for protection from the evil one. Not safety, but from the evil one. I’m not saying it’s wrong to pray for safety, but as the Lord leads. Following Christ is definitely not safe, nor do I want to be a comfortable Christian. It does give me great comfort to see the prayer for protection from the evil one. That is the eternal, and that is what is most important. All of the disciples were martyred, except John. So, they were not kept safe from the trials and hardships of following Christ, but were kept safe from the evil one.
Finally, the chapter closes out with Jesus praying for all believers. Also, for future believers. That includes us, ya’ll! Seriously. I could not believe what I was reading! I’m guessing I have read this before, but I did not grasp that part. It just overwhelmed my soul, and the thought that we have words written down, that we can read anytime of Jesus praying for us. Crazy. Also, it is again, another example of how to pray for one another. Here is my favorite part of our prayer:
…May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one- I in them and you in me- so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
John 17:21-23 NIV
So, we get to be in complete unity with God, and then with each other as well. That is what God wants for us, to be in unity with Him, but then with each other as a body of Christ. I love the part at the end of that verse that says that God loves us, even as He loved Jesus. That is a lot of love from God. Jesus was completely obedient to Him, even unto death, the Bible tells us. God loves me just as much. Pretty incredible, and pretty incredible to know that He wants to be close to me, and that He sent His Son to pay the high, high price to save my life. The only thing He asks is that I believe in and accept His Son. These are things to really think about with Easter coming up. The resurrection is of course the best part. Let’s not forget all that Jesus did for us, and what God must have gone through watching His Son take our wrath. Jesus kept obeying in all of the events leading up to the crucifixion, and He never overlooked anyone needing salvation along the way. Even in the agony He knew He was facing, He took time in John 17, to pray for His disciples, and then to pray for us. He really could’ve taken up that whole chapter praying for Himself, and no one would have blamed Him. Even in facing a horrible death, knowing that He would be separated from His Father, He prayed for us.
Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
John 17:24 NIV
PS. Please go and read the entire chapter, don’t just take my highlights. See what God shows you when you read it!