The Gospel of John: To Know and To be Known.

“O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:25-26)

John the Apostle’s inspired account of Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer concludes in vs. 25-26 of John 17. In these two verses, we observe the words know and known are repeatedly used. Let’s take time today to understand what Jesus was praying by using these words.

The word “know” (γινώσκω; ginosko) is the first word I ever learned from the Greek language. It means not only to have knowledge or to possess information but also to understand the information one possesses.

Jesus addressed God the Father as righteous. The word righteous (δίκαιος; dikaios) means proper and just. Jesus said in His prayer that God the Father was just, proper and righteous: not only in what He does but also in who He is. In this context, Jesus said that He understood or knew that Father was righteous, just and proper.

However, this is not how the world understands God. The fallen and rebellious world hates God and His righteousness. The world wants to do what it wants to do regardless of how unrighteous its behavior is in relationship to God. I John 2:15-16 says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.”

In fact, the world hates God so much that it does whatever it can to suppress the truth of God’s righteous existence. How foolish it is to try and suppress the existence of a righteous person who in large measure the world denies even exists. On the contrary, the passion for which the world hates God is an evidence of His existence. Why be opposed to someone who doesn’t exist? Unless, of course, He indeed does exist. Then the hatred makes sense.

Romans 1:18-21 says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

When a person truly knows God, by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone, that individual not only comes to a knowledge and understanding of God but also begins to love God. The believer’s love and understanding of God will evidence itself by an obedience to God’s commandments (John 14:15; I John 5:1-3). This love and affection for God is not just shown by them but it is also within them, by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.

John Calvin writes, “It is an invaluable privilege of faith that we know that Christ was loved by the Father on our account, that we might be made partakers of the same love and might enjoy it forever.”

To know and love God is to understand that He first knew and loved us (I John 4:7-11). Therefore, our loving response to Him is because of His initiating love for us. Our love for the Righteous One is because of His love for a sinful one.

Romans 11:33 says, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!”

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli de Gloria!

The Gospel of John: A Foretaste of Glory Divine.

“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:24)

As I am writing this devotional (December 18), I am coming down from the emotional and spiritual high from last evening’s memorial and celebration service in loving memory of my pastor and mentor Rev. William C. “Billy” Walker. What a praise gathering it truly was filled with touching and humorous testimonials, gospel music, spirit filled preaching and a church sanctuary filled with not only the wonderful presence of God’s people but also the holy presence God Himself. I, along with everyone else in attendance, did not want the evening to conclude.

Of the many memories I have of Billy was when he would lead in singing. It would either be as the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church of Southgate , MI or at Hiawatha Youth Camp where he served as camp director. One of the hymns I recall as being a favorite of his was Fanny Crosby’s Blessed Assurance. When we would begin singing the chorus, he would slow down the tempo so that we would sing each word measured and prolonged.

Today’s text from John 17:24 reminds me of the first stanza of that hymn. It reads:

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine
O what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of salvation, purchase of God
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

Jesus prayed to God the Father that all those who the Father had given to Him (John 6:35-66) would not only be with Him but would also see His glory. This is the glory of the only begotten Son of God, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). This glory is not only the substantive and holy character of God but also the brightness of His holiness which Jesus possessed before the universe began.

The memorial service on Monday, December 17 was a foretaste of glory divine, as is our personal salvation from God the Father by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone. The glory Jesus spoke of is the glory my pastor, mentor and friend is now in the presence of. It is also the blessed and assured promise that each believer possesses in Jesus Christ.

You may think of this hymn today as you go about your daily chores and responsibilities. You may even hum or sing it to yourself. Remember to hold out the words of the chorus.

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine
O what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of salvation, purchase of God
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood

Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blessed
Watching and waiting, looking above
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love

This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gospel of John: We are One.

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, “I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:20-23).

John 17:20 marks a significant transition in the content and intent of Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer. While initially His prayer was specifically directed to His disciples who were present with Him in the upper room, and by implication to all future disciples, in John 17:20 Jesus specifically refers to all those who would believe in Him. This implicates all those converted by the Holy Spirit, through the preaching of the Gospel, since the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). It includes you and me.

Jesus’ request to God the Father, on behalf of all future disciples, was the same as it was for those present with Him on the night in which He prayed His prayer. That we would also be sanctified by the word unto personal holiness and a commitment to share the Gospel thus fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20).

There has been some confusion over the meaning of the phrase “that they may be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you.” It is most frequently used as a plea for church unity in practice when it should be understood as a prayer for the historical unity we all share in the Holy Spirit in principle by virtue of the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2).

All true believers in Christ are in union with Christ. As such, they are not only in union with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, but also with every other true believer in Christ. This is one of the evidences for the truth of biblical Christianity that people from all walks of life, social-economic strata, or political persuasions, are one in Christ.

Dr. John Walvoord writes, “All believers belong to the one body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13) and their spiritual unity is to be manifest in the way they live. The unity Christ desires for His church is the same kind of unity the Son has with the Father: just as You are in Me and I am in You (cf. John 10:38; 17:11, 23). The Father did His works through the Son and the Son always did what pleased the Father (5:30; 8:29). This spiritual unity is to be patterned in the church.”

The glory which Christ gives all true believers is the substantive character of God now indwelt within them by the Holy Spirit and by a corresponding new nature in Christ.

2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

John Calvin writes, “Our happiness lies in having the image of God restored and formed anew in us, which was defaced by sin. Christ is not only the lively image of God, in so far as He is the eternal Word of God, but even on His human nature, which He has in common with us, the likeness of the glory of the Father has been engraved so as to form His members to the resemblance of it.”

May the glory of God, His substantive character, be seen in each of us who call Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

The Gospel of John: Sanctified in the Truth.

“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.” (John 17:17-19)

God the Father’s will to send God the Son to the world mirrors God the Son’s, Jesus Christ, will to send His disciples into the same fallen and sinful world. The word “send” comes from the Greek word ἀπέστειλας (apesteilas). It is the word from which we derive our English word apostle. It means to send someone out with a message that must be communicated. The message that must be communicated is the Gospel.

Jesus also communicated that for the sake of His disciples, He consecrated Himself. To consecrate (ἁγιάζω; agiazo) means to dedicate oneself to a task which has been assigned. The task for which Jesus was consecrated to was His substitutionary death, burial and resurrection on behalf of all true believers.

Dr. John Walvoord writes, “For the benefit of the disciples, Jesus sanctified Himself. In what sense did Jesus need to sanctify Himself? Was He not already set apart to God and distinct from the world? Yes, but this sanctification refers to His being separated and dedicated to His death. And the purpose of His death was that they too may be truly sanctified. The words “truly sanctified” are literally “sanctified in truth.” This probably means that God’s truth is the means of sanctification (cf. comments on v. 17). The purpose of the death of Christ is to dedicate or separate believers to God and His program.”

Jesus’ consecration to the task God the Father gave Him is the same consecration that we are called to make. All true disciples of Jesus are called to consecrate, dedicate or sanctify, themselves to the task for which Jesus has given them. The task at hand is found in Matthew 18:19-20. It is known as the Great Commission.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

This is our mission: to our families, friends and those who God brings into our lives. The calling of Christ is the same calling given to each disciple. We are held to a commission and to God’s holy command.

John Calvin comments, “It is because He (Jesus) consecrated Himself to the Father that His holiness might come to us; for as the blessing of the first-fruits is spread over the whole harvest so the Spirit of God cleanses us by the holiness of Christ and makes us partakers of it.”

Are you daily consecrating yourself to personal holiness and faithful communication of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Refresh your commitment to God’s call in your life each day.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

LORD’S DAY 4, 2019.

On each Lord’s Day this year, we will examine the 52 devotionals taken from the Heidelberg Catechism which are structured in the form of questions posed and answers given.

The Heidelberg Catechism was originally written in 1563. It originated in one of the few pockets of Calvinistic faith in the Lutheran and Catholic territories of Germany. Conceived originally as a teaching instrument to promote religious unity, the catechism soon became a guide for preaching as well.

Along with the Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dordt, it forms what is collectively referred to as the Three Forms of Unity.

The devotional for LORD’S DAY 4 is as follows. Please take note of the biblical references given in each answer. The theme, since the LORD’S DAY 2 is the sinner’s misery.

Q. But doesn’t God do us an injustice by requiring in his law what we are unable to do?

A. No, God created human beings with the ability to keep the law.1 They, however, provoked by the devil, 2 in willful disobedience, 3 robbed themselves and all their descendants of these gifts.4

1 Gen. 1:31Eph. 4:24.
2 Gen. 3:13John 8:44.
3 Gen. 3:6.
4 Rom. 5:12, 18, 19.

Q. Does God permit such disobedience and rebellion to go unpunished?

A. Certainly not. God is terribly angry with the sin we are born with as well as the sins we personally commit. As a just judge, God will punish them both now and in eternity, 1 having declared:

“Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey
all the things written in the book of the law.”2

1 Ex. 34:7Ps. 5:4-6Nah. 1:2Rom. 1:18Eph. 5:6Heb. 9:27.
2 Gal. 3:10Deut. 27:26.

Q. But isn’t God also merciful?

A. God is certainly merciful,1 but also just.2 God’s justice demands that sin, committed against his supreme majesty, be punished with the supreme penalty—
eternal punishment of body and soul.3

1 Ex. 34:6-7Ps. 103:8-9.
2 Ex. 34:7Deut. 7:9-11Ps. 5:4-6Heb. 10:30-31.
3 Matt. 25:35-46.

May truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Gospel of John: Sanctification!

“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17)

The Word of God is filled with significant words. Particularly important are those words which specifically direct us to the doctrine of salvation. These words include regeneration, justification, propitiation, redemption, reconciliation, and adoption. Also included in this list is the word sanctification.

Sanctification is the devoting or setting apart of anything to the worship or service of God. It may include the separation of utensils, buildings, or places from everyday secular uses for exclusive dedication to holy or sacred use. It also includes the separation of individuals to the worship or service of God.

Jesus specifically spoke of sanctification in His High Priestly Prayer. He prayed to God the Father that He would sanctify the disciples. The verb sanctify (ἁγίασον; hagiason) means to make holy and to dedicate.

As one Bible dictionary explains “sanctification involves more than a mere moral reformation of character, brought about by the power of the truth: it is the work of the Holy Spirit bringing the whole nature more and more under the influences of the new gracious principles implanted in the soul in regeneration. In other words, sanctification is the carrying on to perfection the work begun in regeneration, and it extends to the whole man (Rom. 6:13; 2 Cor. 4:6; Col. 3:10; 1 John 4:7; 1 Cor. 6:19).”

How are the disciples of Jesus to be sanctified? Jesus said “in the truth.” Truth (ἀληθείᾳ; aletheia) is that information which corresponds to reality. Notice that Jesus did not pray “in truth” but rather “in the truth.” Jesus had a particular source of truth in mind.

Jesus identifies the truth He had in mind in His next statement: “your word is truth.” The Word of God is the truth which sanctifies the believer resulting in increasing holiness. More than containing God’s truth, God’s Word “is” truth. It presently and actively exists as the truth of God.

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Sanctification. This verb also occurs in John’s Gospel at v. 19 and 10:36. The idea of sanctification is the setting apart of something for a particular use. Accordingly, believers are set apart to serve the Lord exclusively so that the believer desires to obey God’s commands and walk in holiness (Lev. 11:44–451 Pet. 1:16). Sanctification is accomplished by means of the truth, which is the revelation that the Son gave regarding all that the Father commanded him to communicate and is now contained in the Scriptures left by the apostles. Cf. Eph. 5:262 Thess. 2:13James 1:211 Pet. 1:22–23.

I Peter 1:14-16 says, As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

As Bible teacher Robert Rothwell concludes, “We are to pray for ourselves and for others that God would sanctify us in the truth of His Word (v. 17). God sets us apart from the world by making us more like Him, and He makes us more like Him by transforming us according to the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:1–2). As we read Scripture, hear Scripture preached, study Scripture, and meditate on Scripture’s precepts, we learn to think God’s thoughts after Him. We begin to reflect His character more and more. We are equipped to go into the world as Jesus did, proclaiming the truth without compromise and calling people to repentance and faith.”

May each of us continue in this journey of sanctification, to the glory and praise of God (2 Peter 3:18).

May biblical truth and God’s grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

The Gospel of John: I Am Not of the World.

“I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” (John 17:14-16)

Jesus often spoke of the world’s hatred for His disciples (John 15:18-25) So does the New Testament (I John 3:13-15). The fallen and sinful world system of thought and behavior hates God and is in rebellion against Him. Consequently, the world hates Jesus’ disciples. The world hates us. Always has, always will.

Jesus then prayed something quite interesting. He prayed, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” When the Holy Spirit brings a sinner to faith in Christ resulting in conversion through the preaching of the gospel, the sinner does not immediately go to heaven. Rather, all true believers remain on earth to accomplish the mission and task God has given to each one to accomplish.

While on earth, believers become targets for the evil one: the devil (Job 1-2). Jesus prayed that God the Father would protect us from the devil. No that we would immediately be transferred to our heavenly home. What a precious prayer by our Lord.

Dr. John MacArthur explains, “The reference here refers to protection from Satan and all the wicked forces following him (Matt. 6:131 John 2:13–14; 3:12; 5:18–19). Though Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was the defeat of Satan, he is still loose and orchestrating his evil system against believers. He seeks to destroy believers (1 Pet. 5:8), as with Job and Peter (Luke 22:31–32), and in general (Eph. 6:12), but God is their strong protector (John 12:31; 16:11; cf. Ps. 27:1–32 Cor. 4:4Jude 24–25).

John Calvin writes, “He (Jesus) shows in what the safety of believers consists; not that they are free from every annoyance, and live in luxury and at their ease. But that, in the midst of dangers they continue to be safe through the assistance of God.”

Jesus also made a statement at this point in His prayer that we might overlook. I know I have until recently. The statement is “I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”

The repeated phrase “I am not of the world” is similar in structure to Jesus’ previous I AM statements which the Apostle John records. The first was “I am the Bread of Life” (John 6:35). The second was “I am the Light of the World” (John 8:12). The third was “I am the door of the sheep” (John 10:7-9). The fourth was “I am the good Shepherd (John 10:11-16). The fifth was “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25-26. The sixth was “I am the way, the truth and the life (John 14:1-6). Again, Jesus used the significant phrase “I Am” (ἐγώ εἰμί; ego eimi) to indicate that He presently and actively exists as Yahweh Incarnate.

However, in John 17:14 the negative adverb “not” is conspicuously added to Jesus’ I AM statement. In the most emphatic of declarations, Jesus declared in His prayer that He in no way presently and actively exists as belonging to the fallen world system. Jesus did not belong, and never will, to any system of thought and behavior which is in rebellion to God the Father, God the Holy Spirit and/or Himself.

The implication of Jesus’ statement is huge. Believers in Christ must never presume to think, believe or behave in a way that is disobedient to the Word of God and justify such thinking, believing and behaving as in some way approved and sanctioned by Jesus. Jesus will never lead any of His disciples, or the unconverted for that matter, to disobey the revealed Word of God. This is because Jesus is not of the world. It is also because the written Word of God is the revelation of the person and work of not only God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, but also God the Son.

Take some time today while in the midst of your daily responsibilities to thank God that He is your strong protector. He always will be. Thank Him also that He is not of the world. He never will be.

May truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

The Gospel of John: Found, and never to be Lost.

“While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” (John 17:12-13)

Jesus continued His High Priestly Prayer in John 17:12-13. He prayed that God the Father would guard and protect His disciples (John 17:11) as Jesus had during His three years of ministry. The eleven disciples in particular, and all disciples of Jesus in general, are gifts from the Father to the Son. As such, God the Father protects and guards each one of us who truly know Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Jesus indicated that all true disciples who belong to Him will never be lost. The word lost (ἀπώλετο; apoleto) means to be ruined, destroyed or to die. This means that those who have true faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord will never experience the reality of being eternally ruined, destroyed or lost as Judas Iscariot.

While Judas was lost, the other eleven were listening to these words Jesus prayed. Jesus said they would derive great comfort and joy in the aftermath of Jesus returning to heaven following His completed mission on earth.

Bible teacher Robert Rothwell writes, “Only one of Jesus’ original disciples was lost—Judas. His betrayal was ordained in the Scriptures (John 17:12); consequently, we may infer that Jesus never prayed for him. In fact, both Judas and Peter betrayed our Lord, but only Peter returned to Him. Why? Because Jesus prayed for Peter and not for Judas (Luke 22:31–32John 21:15–19). The efficacious prayers of Jesus made Peter persevere, and they will make all His true disciples persevere.”

Dr. John Walvoord explains, As the Good Shepherd, Jesus took care of the flock entrusted to Him by the Father. But Judas was an exception. He is here called the one doomed to destruction (lit., “the son of perdition”). Judas was never a sheep and his true character was finally manifested (cf. 13:11; 1 John 2:19). He was a “dead branch” (cf. comments on John 15:2, 6). Judas did what he wanted (he sold Jesus). Yet he was an unwitting tool of Satan (13:2, 27). Even people’s volitionally free acts fit into God’s sovereign plan (cf. Acts 2:23; 4:28). Thus Judas’ betrayal of Jesus fulfilled (i.e., filled up in a larger sense) the words in Psalm 41:9 about David’s betrayal by his friend.”

Romans 8:35 says “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

What a tragic figure Judas turned out to be. He was so close to Jesus and yet as far as heaven is from hell. Pray for those you know who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. They may attend church worship services but they are as lost as Judas. May, by God’s grace and mercy, be found.

May truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

The Gospel of John: Guardian of our Salvation!

“And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me that they may be one, even as we are one.” (John 17:11)

Jesus had been with His disciples for close to three years. In that period of time they had grown to love and depend upon Him. In fact, it was during Jesus’ Upper Room Discourse (John 13-17) that Jesus had to continually encourage His disciples, due to their growing grief and troubled hearts because He announced He would soon leave them.

Jesus continued to pray on behalf of His disciples. He prayed that “I am no longer in the world.” Similar to His previous announcement that He had already overcome the world (John 16:33), Jesus stated that His departure back to heaven was an accomplished fact. His death, burial, resurrection and ascension was a certain and sure accomplishment.

However, while He acknowledged that He was no longer in the world, Jesus also recognized that His followers were: “but they are in the world.” Once again, we must recognize that the word “world” does not solely mean this inhabited planet but rather the fallen world system of thought and behavior which is in continual rebellion against God, His Word and His followers.

Jesus, in announcing that He would soon return to the Father, He prayed that God the Father would protect the disciples: “Keep them in your name.” To keep (τήρησον; tereson) means to guard and protect. This is a strong request by Jesus to the Father. In your name refers to the character and person of God.

Bible teacher Robert Rothwell writes, “In the Old Testament, the name of the Lord frequently appears as a stand-in for God Himself or for one or more of His attributes. Thus, to trust in the name of the Lord and not in chariots is to trust in God Himself for protection (Ps. 20:7). Similarly, to say that the name of the Lord is a “strong tower” in which the righteous find safety is to say that righteous people are protected by the mighty power of God (Prov. 18:10). Given that background, for Jesus to pray that we would be kept in the name of God is for Him to pray that we remain united to God through trusting in Him.”

These who Jesus prays for are those who the Father has given to Him. Jesus’ prayer is that believers in Christ would be in unity with one another as they are in union with Christ and with the Father. The unity of which Jesus prays appears to be one of desire and purpose: to glorify the Son.

While the church is composed of many members, we are one body of believers (I Corinthians 12). Every disciple is valuable, protected by God the Father and interceded by God the Son.

Take time today to recognize and acknowledge the scope of our salvation involves both heaven and earth.

May truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

The Gospel of John: Intercession.

“I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.” (John 17:9-10)

One of Jesus’ ministries while He was on earth, and which by the way continues today while He is in heaven, is the ministry of intercession. To intercede is to intervene or to mediate on someone’s behalf. In His High Priestly Prayer, Jesus stated that He was specifically praying for His disciples: the eleven in this particular context and by extension all those who would follow Him.

I John 2:1 says, My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” The word “advocate” (παράκλητον; parakleton) means intercessor and helper.

Hebrews 7:22-25 says, “This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”

Jesus said, “I am praying for them.” The word praying (ἐρωτῶ; erotao) is a present, active verb meaning to continually ask or to request on behalf of someone. The personal pronoun “them” refers in the text specifically to the eleven.

However, Jesus then said, “I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.” By His next statement, Jesus indicated that He was not only praying for the eleven in the upper room but also for all those who God the Father had given Him unto salvation. This includes believers today.

Jesus also said that He was not praying for the world. The word world (κόσμου; ksomou) means those who belong to the fallen, rebellious and evil system of thought and behavior which is in opposition to God and His followers.

Jesus again announced that God the Father gave to Jesus those who follow Him. Prior to belonging to Jesus, believers, or the elect, belonged to God the Father (John 17:2, 6). Believers in Christ presently belong to both the Father and the Son.

The result of belonging to Jesus is so that He would be glorified, honored and praised. To glorify (δοξάζω; doxazo) means to praise and honor Jesus because of His glorious greatness. According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, this is the believer’s ultimate goal and purpose. “Q. 1. What is the chief end of man? A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

John Calvin writes, “He (Jesus) openly declares that He does not pray for the world, because He has no solicitude but about His own flock, which He received from the hand of the Father. This is a most excellent testimony for confirming our faith: that Christ never will cease to care for our salvation since He is glorified in us.”

As another commentator explains, “Jesus makes it very clear in His High Priestly Prayer that He is praying not for the world but for those the Father has given Him out of the world (John 17:9). The primary focus in verse 9 is on His first disciples, but Jesus later extends the prayer to cover all who believe through the witness of the disciples (v. 20). Jesus, in other words, has a special work of intercession only for Christians—both those who already believe and for those who have been chosen by God and have not yet come to saving faith (but will surely come to believe).”

Do you realize that Jesus is interceding for you right at this moment? He does so for all true believers in union with Him. Take the time today to thank Jesus for His faithful ministry of intercession. As musician Carolyn Gillman wrote:

And He’s ever interceding, to the Father for His children;
Yes, He’s ever interceding, to the Father for His own;
Through Him you can reach the Father, So, bring Him all your heavy burdens;
Yes, for you He’s interceding, So, come boldly to the throne.

May truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!