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Sep 23, 2012 | Joshua Claycamp

John 17:1-26, "One with the Word of Life."

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

            “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

            “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. 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. 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.”

Prayer for Sanctification

Let’s bow for a word of prayer.  Father, we thank you God that You know everyone of yours.  You knew everyone of us before you ever even spoke this world into existence.  God we know that you have sovereign control over all of the events of history.  We know, Lord, that you are working out all things according to Your purpose, according to Your plan, according to Your own council, and Your own infinite wisdom.  Lord, we thank You for Your omniscience, we thank You for setting the chess pieces as they are, so that events would transpire as they do so that your people would see Your glory as You have promised that we one day will.  Lord, we take great comfort in knowing that You will complete the good work that You began and we ask that you would complete it.  Father, I just echo Christ’s prayer.  I pray that you would just hear it again as we read it aloud, as I sit here and ask You to consider it.  Father, would you come off Your throne again, be moved by the righteousness of Your Son to sanctify us in Your word and in Your truth.  We ask these things in Jesus’ name, Amen. 

The Gift of the Magi

When you give gifts, you want to see the person you’re giving the gift to happy.  You want to see them rejoice in the gift that you’re giving them.  Now I know some of us give rather ridiculous gifts.  I have been guilty a time or two, of giving my wife a gift, that really in all honesty, was for me.  Home Depot gift certificate, for $50, come on now.  What’s Shanti realistically going to do with that?  The best gift I think I ever gave her, which wasn’t really for her—Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion—all nine volumes.  I said, Shanti, if you’re not planning on reading this any time soon, I could take it to my library, I’d be happy to pour over that. 

Now those are gifts, obviously, that are not intended to bring joy to the one you’re giving them too.  Those are really gifts for you.  But you guys know that when you give a gift to somebody, if you’re really trying to bless them, the ultimate purpose behind giving them that gift is because you want to see them happy.  When they’re genuinely happy, it will bring you happiness. This is the idea of every gift.  And there are really two qualities behind every gift that really make them a good gift.  If you want to give a good gift, there are two aspects to every good gift. 

  1. There’s an element of sacrifice in it, and
  2. There is s an element of thoughtfulness in it. 

You’re giving them something that will make them happy, and in that effort of giving them something that will bring them joy, you’ve had to carefully consider, you’ve had to carefully ponder, there’s been some investment of time, there’s’ been some labor of love involved in that.  There is sacrifice in that. 

O’Henry wrote a famous short story a few years back called The Gift of the Magi.  It’s a short story about two individuals. It’s a poor married couple, and they don’t have a lot of money between the two of them.  There’s two individuals in this story—James and Della.  James and Della love each other.  The story begins on Christmas Eve, and Della doesn’t have but $1.37 in her pocket, and she’s trying to find the perfect gift to give to her husband, James.  Now he has in his possession, a really cool gold watch.  It belonged to his father before him; it had belonged to his grandfather before his father.  That is his most prized possession.

Now all the ladies, as they’ve observed Della, they have always complemented her on the beauty of her hair.  She has long, luxurious, glorious, flowing, hair.  And it is the talk and envy of all the other ladies in the neighbourhood.  Now, as she is setting out this Christmas Eve to find a gift that will bless her husband’s heart, she stumbles across a platinum watch chain—something to go on that watch, his most prized possession.  The only problem is, it costs $21.  Now she has $1.37 in her pocket, so she’s about $20 short of what she needs.  She goes over to the wig shop, and though she takes great joy and great pride in her hair, she resolves to sell her hair, and they’ll give her $20 for that hair. Then she can buy her husband the watch that he wants.  She does this, she gets the watch, she goes home, she wraps it up, and she presents it to her husband upon arrival.  He gets home, he sees her.  She doesn’t have any hair.  He gives her an odd look, and he gives her his gift.

She opens the gift that her husband has bought for her, and he has got for her some really ornate, really elaborate combs for her to use as she fixes her hair.  He opens his gift, and he has a really nice platinum watch chain to go on his gold watch.  The only problem is that he had to sell his watch to get the money to buy her the ornate combs.  And so there they are, both of them, with perfectly meaningless gifts—her with a bunch of combs, but no hair; him with a watch chain but no watch, and in that moment, they realize that even though they have pretty worthless gifts, pretty meaningless gifts, their love for each other is sacrificial and thoughtful. 

Now the author, O’Henry, does an honest attempt at the end of the story to compare there, what you see there between these two individuals to the love that Christ has for His people. 

Manifesting the Name

What we encounter here in the first paragraph of John 17, is Jesus praying to the Father. He alludes to the fact that He had to step down away from glory in order to manifest His Father’s name to these people that He loves.  There was a real element of sacrifice, and we’re not even to the cross yet.  We’re just talking about the fact that Christ is wrapped in light, He dwells in unapproachable light, He is glorious before the foundation of the world.  And He steps away from all of that, and He takes on the flesh of a man, just so that He can come and reveal His Father to His people, that He can give His people the gift of knowing His Father.  And it has cost Him, and He hasn’t even come to the cross yet.  And so He’s about to accomplish salvation, and He’s praying and the first thing that He prays is,

“God, I have accomplished the work that You sent me to do.  I have glorified You on Earth.”  And He says in verse 5, “And now, Father, glorify me in Your own presence with the glory that I had with You before the world existed.” 

So the stage that has been set here is that Jesus has in His mind the entire totality of salvation, the whole plan to redeem Gods’ people from the beginning of time to the end of time, and He is aware of the fact that before He ever even came, before the Earth was ever even created, before any of this ever even happened, He was with God in glory, before the foundation of the world.  Now, here He is, at the threshold of the cross, at the epitome of His shame.  At the moment of disgrace.  And He’s asking God “glorify me, and give me back the glory that I had before the foundation of the world.”  Just the opening of that prayer draws you in.  What is going on here?  What would move a person to step away?  And of course that’s what He goes on to say in the next section. 

He says in verse 6, “I have manifested Your name to the people.”  Now I want you to note that, “I have manifested Your name.”  Now in the Hebrew world, in the Israel world, the Jewish world, a name isn’t just who you are, it’s not only how you are identified, but it speaks to your character, to who you are as a person.  So when Jesus says in His prayer to God, “I have succeeded in revealing Your name to Your people,” He’s not just saying, “I told them who You were.”  He’s saying, “I showed them who You were.”  And we can kind of gloss over that if we rush too quickly through the text, but what He’s really saying there is, “listen, there’s a characteristic, there is an attribute here, there is a holy loving God.”  You’ll recall earlier in this Gospel of John, Thomas, he’s talking to Jesus, and he says, “Jesus, show us the Father and it will be enough.  And Jesus’ statement, “I’ve been here with you this long, and you still don't’ know me?”  All that Christ was doing, all that He was coming to succeed in, was to show us who God really is.  Not jus this name, not just to describe Him to us, but to live before us that we could see Him, that we could behold His glory. 

And He goes on.  He says, “I have manifested Your name.”  Now I want you to lock that down—the reason that Christ came was to manifest His name.  He goes on, He says, I have manifested Your name to the people whom You have gave me out of the world, Yours they were, they belonged to You.  You own them.  They belong to You.  They were Yours.  And then He says, “You gave them to me, and they have kept Your word.”  Now He says, “I manifested Your name.  Your people belong to You.  You gave them to me.  I manifest Your name.  And they have kept Your word.”  You see here a back and forth between God, the Father, and Jesus, the Son.  He’s talking about His name and He’s also talking about His Word. 

And as you work your way through this prayer, You’re going to see that there is symmetry here, almost as though the Word of God, the Truth of God, and the Name of God, are being used interchangeably as You’re working Your way through this prayer.  So much so that to know God is to know His Word.  To know His Name is to know Him, to know His word is to know His name, to know Him you have to know His word, and His name, which is revealed in His word.  All three of these things center in Jesus Christ.  To fully grasp His name, to fully grasp His character, to fully understand who He is, it is all grounded in the Scriptures.  So He says to Him,  “I manifested Your name to the people You gave me.  I have given them Your word.”  He says I have given them the words that You gave me, and they have received them, and they have come to know in truth that I came from You. And they have believed that You sent me. 


Now right there, you’ll notice if you go back to the beginning verse here, verse 6, He says, “Yours they were and You gave them to me.”   He has in view time before time.  This prayer that Jesus is praying, as He is praying, He is praying according to the Father’s will.  We use that expression when we pray. We don't’ want to pray things that are not of the Lord’s will.  And I think that this can become a very technical sort of thing in which we’re like, “is it God’s will that we be praying that I get that job that I’ve applied for,” and we start to stress over that.  “Is it God’s will for me to move to this city and for me to do this other thing?” And we stress over that.  I want you to just back up away from all the technical ways that we use that expression, “Praying in Gods’ will.”

And I want you to see Jesus, who is God. So, based on that fact, we can conclude that since He is God and He is praying—it is safe to say—He is praying in God’s will.  Ok, lets just go with that.  As He is praying, He alludes to the fact, that before time began, there were in the mind of God, before He has ever spoken the world into existence, people that He had chosen, people that He would call, and people that He would save.  These people, within this prayer, are referenced, in opossition and distinction from the world. 

He says in verse 9, “I am praying for them, I am not praying for the world, but for those whom You have given me, for they are Yours.”  We’re talking about Predestination here.  We’re talking about God before the foundation of time having a plan and succeeding and accomplishing His purposes.  What you need to know in this room is that before time ever began, before God ever spoke the Universe into existence, He knew, and I’m not just talking about humanity in general, He knew You specifically.  He knew You specifically.  He knew You by name.  He knew who You were.  He knew Your personality.  He knew how He would fashion You.  He knew how He would create You.  He knew how He would make you.  But more than this, He knew that He would save you, and keep you safe no matter what. 

Now there are a couple of verses here you might be like, “Uh, I don’t know about this whole predestination thing.”  I’m just going to show you a couple of passages, Johnny on the spot, I hope you’re ready—I’ve got a couple of verses I’m getting ready to throw out here.  Number 1: Jeremiah 1:5.  Jeremiah’s a prophet, and God makes the statement to Jeremiah, He says,

 “Before I formed you in the womb”—before you were ever created, He says—“I knew you. I knew you. Before you were born, I consecrated You,” which is an interesting term that we’re going to see later on in this text.  The word consecrated means to be set apart for a holy purpose.  And He says, “I consecrated You, I appointed You a prophet to the nations.” 

All of that happened before Jeremiah was ever even created.  Here he is, he’s a prophet, God has come to him, he has charged Jeremiah to go to the wicked house of Israel, to begin prophesying to them, to begin declaring the Word of God to them, and He makes the statement to Jeremiah, “before you ever even existed, before you were ever even born, I knew You and I appointed You, and I consecrated You, to this specific task. “  That means you and me, right here in this room, you need to know that God has a special, unique, particular plan just for you. You, specifically.  Me, specifically. 

He goes on in Jeremiah, and there’s a lot of other things. But there’s to other verses that I just want to show you from the New Testament.  Ephesians 1:4, again, in Christ, all of this is grounded in Christ.  Ephesians 1:4 says, “Even as He chose us”—now notice this, He chose us.  He made a decision.  He was going to choose…its like when you’re a kid on the playground and you’re picking teams for dodge ball, and you know you’re hoping you’re not the last kid to get chosen.  The statement here, “He chose us”—in distinction from the rest of the world.  He chose us, in Christ, that’s what the “in Him” there means, “before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.”  IN case you miss it, Paul later on in that exact same chapter, chapter 1 of Ephesians, verse 11, “in Him we have obtained, and inheritance”—and again, the ‘in Him’ there is referencing Jesus—“In Christ we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the council of His will.” 

I don’t know if you play chess; I don’t really play chess, I try, but its not actually like very good chess, but we try.  What God is saying here is that He has set the chessboard.  He wants to see, not only Satan defeated and overthrown, but He wants to see certain people come to faith in Him.  He wants to see certain pieces fall one by one, according to a very particular, very meticulous, very coordinated plan.  All of this, He is accomplishing.  Now Jesus praying in the will of the father, what do you suppose is the driving factor here?  What is it that moves Christ?  When He is praying in the will of the Father, you’ll notice the very first thing He says, “Father, the hour has come, glorify Your son, that the Son may glorify You.  Since You have given Him authority over all flesh to give them eternal life, to all whom You have given Him.”

Now, look at verse 4.  “I glorified You on Earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.  And now Father, glorify me in Your own presence with the glory that I had with You before the world existed.”  He says, “Father, glorify Your Son that Your son may glorify You.” 

The thought that is on Christ’s mind there is that God should be glorified.  So when Christ is praying in the will of God, as we use the expression, the thing that concerns Him, the thing that consumes Him is whether or not God is honored.  Which means that when we’re praying in ‘the will of the Father’, we should be praying not for and foremost for wisdom—should I take this job? —not first and foremost for wisdom—should I move to this city? Or should I apply for this new position? —And I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with asking God for wisdom.   But you need to understand that wisdom is contingent upon the fact that you will use it to glorify God.  And the first thing you should be praying, when you pray, as Christ clearly demonstrates here in this prayer, right before HE goes to the cross, is that God would be honored, and that He would be glorified. 

Crack Cocaine Praying: Escaping the World

When we pray, I just fear that sometimes our prayers are like crack-cocaine.  When an individual takes drugs, the desire is to escape from reality, to have a high.  Sometimes, I think, that when we pray, we do not stop and consider what would bring God most glory in that moment.  Sometimes when we pray, our desire is to escape from the circumstances in which we find ourselves.  And Jesus is in a pretty tight spot here.  He’s about to be crucified.  HE could pray, “God, get me out of this.”  In fact, He’s really stressing over it.  In Matthew, He does ask, “Lord, if there is anyway possible, let this cup pass from me.”  But he backs up off of that statement and says, “Your will be done.”  But here, John is recording His prayer and there’s no mention of escaping what He has to face.  There’s no mention of getting out of the cross, there’s no mention of getting away from the reality of His situation.  When we pray sometimes, be it sickness, financial hardship, job decisions, career choices, I fear that when we ask God to give us certain things, our desire in those prayer requests is for our own personal happiness at the expense of His glory.  And that is not a prayer that really pleases Him. 

Now hear me carefully.  I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with asking God to alleviate something, or to give you a good job.  What I am saying, is that if the thing that dominates your thought, if the thing that totally consumes your petition before the Father is you, and it never ever becomes a priority in your prayer life that He would be most glorified, then your prayer is dishonoring Him.  His glory, His honour, as the great King that He is should be foremost in our prayers.  IT was foremost in Christ’s prayer and He was facing a far worse situation than you and I have ever faced in our entire lives.  And He’s sitting here and He’s saying, “God! You be glorified.” 

Now we use prayer sometime as a sort of escape from reality.  The whole, “lets just pray and lets just believe, and God will give us the things that we want.”  For example, “I’m in a financial hardship, I can’t pay my bills, I’ve racked up 100’s of 1,000’s of dollars on my credit card!” and there are people out there who teach, “brother, you just don’t have enough faith.  God is happy to pay that $100,000 credit card debt you’ve got, He’s happy to pay that off, and you know what?  He’s happy to give you a million dollars more.”  And evangelicals properly label it as the health and wealth prosperity gospel.  The idea that God is a magic genie, that he’s a Santa Clause, and everyday is Christmas in His perspective.  And His only desire is to pour out upon you financial blessings, material wealth, and to get you out of any jam that you’re in.  So if you would just believe, just have faith, just struggle to believe a little harder, then God would save you from that moment.  That is the escapism that is running from reality.

Bring it! Followers of Christ can take it.

That is not what Jesus prays here. You’ll notice that at two different points in this prayer, He says, number 1, “I’m not praying for the world.”  Number 2, He says in verse 15, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world.”  Jesus Christ is very specific.  One, I’m praying for the people You’ve given me from eternity past.  Two, I am not praying for the people You have not given me from eternity past.  I am not asking that You would do anything for these people. I’m praying for these people that You’ve given. And here’s the last thing, I’m not praying that You would remove the people that You’ve given me from the people that You’ve not given me.  I’m not praying that You would take them out of the horrible situation that they’re in.  Do you face, in your life, hardship?  Yes, absolutely.  We live in a fallen, broken world.  Do you face sickness?  Yes, absolutely.  We all are sick, we are all going to die as a result of the sin that infects this world.  Do you struggle emotionally, spiritually, in your day-to-day walk?  We all do.  And again, it is because of the world which we have built.  And Jesus’ prayer in that moment is never, at any moment, to remove us from that. 

This is what Jesus prays: Hardship?  Bring it.  Suffering?  Bring it.  Difficulty?  Bring it! Heartache?  Bring it!  Torment? Bring it!  And He says, ‘you want to know why?  Because You have given me these people.  They are in Your hands, so it really doesn’t matter how hard it gets.  It really doesn’t matter how difficult it gets.  It really doesn’t matter how much any of us are struggling, Christ is completely confident that the plan of the Father from before the foundation of the world will absolutely be successful. 

Now what that means for you and me: if you’re hurting, there is Grace in this passage.  You do not ever at any moment in time, no matter how you’re struggling, no matter how the enemy is ripping you to shreds, you do not ever have to fear that at the end of time, it will not work out well for you.  There is no assurance given by Christ in this prayer that our lives will be easy.  There is no assurance that He will remove us from any hardship, or any suffering, or any struggle.  The promise is there, as He is praying for us, that He will deliver us to the Father in glory.  Its there.  And its real. 

Sanctification is Our Work

What should we do with all of this?  I want you to look with me at verse 15. “I do not ask that you take out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.”  Now He makes this statement, “they are different from the world,” cause He has saved us, He has chosen us, He has called us from before the foundation of time.  He says, “they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”  Now look at this, verse 17--what do we do with this understanding that those of us in Christ have a destiny? What do we do with this reality that we are saved by faith, that we are saved by Gods’ grace on the cross?  There is nothing that will ever forestall the plan of God.  We may take dramatic steps backwards. But He promises He will always work in our lives.  He will always bet here.  He will always rescue us.  No matter what, He will get us to Heaven.  Now with that knowledge, that we don’t do anything, that we don’t earn anything, that we don’t contribute anything to our salvation, Jesus knowing He’s going to go to the cross in just a few short hours, He’s going to save us in just a few hours, its already done in His mind.  His prayer is, verse 17, notice this, “Sanctify them in the truth.  Your word is truth.” He goes on, and He says, “As You have sent me into the world”—now He’s just said, “sanctify them.  God ‘I’m praying in my own name, as part of the trinity, I’m praying in the will of God.  Sanctify them; I’m sending them into the world.”  Not only is He not asking God to not take us out of the world, but He, as our King, quite intentionally, quite deliberately, is sending us into the world.  He’s not asking for us to be spared, but the world, the wicked, sinful, lost world, which He is not praying for, is necessary to our sanctification.  He says,” I am sending them into the world as You have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.”  Verse 19.  “And for their sake, I consecrate myself that they also may be sanctified in the truth.

This word, “sanctify,” it’s kind of a really uppity, religious sounding word.  I just want to break it down for you.  It’s from the Greek word, “haggios”, the verb, “haggiozo,” to sanctify, to make holy.  What it means is that there is a God in Heaven who is holy, who is different than you and me.  We are sinful.  We are depraved.  We are broken.  He is nothing like us in that He is perfect. He is righteous.  There are no similarities in terms of us being like Him.  He is completely different than us.  He is a Holy God.  And we are not. 

Now, when Jesus says here, “sanctify them,” He is praying to God.  He is about to be crucified.  And His request is, “God, would you make them holy.”  That’s what the word, “sanctify” means.  And you can’t really understand that word, ‘holy’, without understanding the One for whom we are to be holy for.  To be holy is to be fitted, and to be prepared to enter into the presence of God.  That’s the only reason you’d be holy, is to enter the presence of the Holy one.  The only reason you should strive to be holy is so that you would be fit and prepared to go somewhere where that was actually required. And there’s nowhere else in the Universe where you need to be holy, other than when you strive to enter into the presence of God.  And so, now you need to follow me here, Jesus is saying, “I’ve already accomplished it.  I’ve already finished it.  They are already saved.  It’s already going to happen.  You have given me these people as my gift.  It’s a good gift.  It shows thoughtfulness.  Its shows sacrifice.” 

You specifically, when the Father thought to bless His Son, He thought to Himself—now God was already happy, He needs nothing—but as the Father is thinking to Himself, “how can I bring happiness to the heart of my Son?” He thought of You. 

You are to bring joy to the Son.  You’re that perfect gift.  And He loves you.  Now we have made a huge debacle of this whole thing.  We’ve sinned.  We’ve messed up.  But we’re still that perfect gift because He is going to make us that perfect gift.  He has already made us that perfect gift.  And in His mind’s eye, He is already, from eternity past, achieving and accomplished—past tense—the mission of presenting us to the Father.  We’re that really cool package under the Christmas tree with a big bow, and silver-wrapping paper.  We’re that cool one that wants to be opened.  Now before that happens, He says, “make them holy.” He has already made us holy, but now He is praying for the Father to continue to make us holy. 

This word “sanctify”—it indicates that we’re not yet holy in the experiential sense, in the sense that even though in Gods’ eyes, we are perfect, without blemish.  Yet the reality is that we still struggle with a sin nature.  And Christ’s prayer is that we would be made holy.  How does that happen?  In the truth.  It says “sanctify them in the truth.  Your word is truth.” Now, He says, “I’ve manifested Your name, they’ve come to know and believe that I’ve come from You, that You’ve sent me.  I’ve given them the words that You’ve given me.  Sanctify them.  Sanctify them in the truth, Your word is truth.” 

The All Sufficient Scripture

So we have Name, Word, and Truth, all swirling around here.  The Scriptures reveal the Lord of the Universe to us. Christ’s prayer here is not, “God remove them from the world, save them from the world. Keep them from hardship.  Keep them from going through difficulty.”  His prayer as He’s on the threshold of being crucified, is that we would be made holy—He has already made us holy, it’s already a done deal—but that we would strive for holiness, that the Father would make us holy.  That this would be accomplished the Scriptures.

Now that is an incredible testimony to the sufficiency of the Bible to all things related faith and to our worship.  I mean, that is a powerful testimony right there that we need nothing else to live a life satisfying and pleasing to God than the Bible.  His statement there is, “You’re not holy.  I have made you holy.  You still struggle with sin.  I want you to step into the sphere of the word.  Step into the Scriptures and as you are in the Scriptures, as you are in the word, I am going to send you in the midst of the Scriptures, back out into the world, where you will be hurt.  Where you will be broken.  Where you will be afflicted.  Where you will be beat up.”  And the question is, “What? That seems like a harsh way to sanctify us.” 

And yet that’s exactly what He says in the very next verse, if you’ll look with me, Christ’s statement is in verse 19, “for their sake, for these people”—ESV translates it “consecrate”, its not consecrate, it’s the exact same word, “for their sake I sanctify myself that they also may be sanctified in truth.”  The foundation of what Christ does on the cross opens the door that we can actually begin the process of becoming holy.  Christ’s statement is, “I am making myself holy.  I am setting myself apart to You.  I am setting myself and devoting myself to this task, that You have given me, in order that they also can be made holy.” 

Why doesn’t God just make us Holy right now?

The question comes in at this point: Jesus is praying a pretty tough prayer.  He wants us to be holy.  That’s good.  He’s sending us into the world, and He’s not praying for those people. That seems bad.  Why doesn’t God just make us holy right now?  Have you ever wondered that?  Why is this process of becoming a holy Christian so painful?  Why does it take so long?  Why do we have to wait until we die and step into Heaven to be perfectly sanctified?  I think one clue comes from Romans 9:22-23. Paul writing to the Romans asks a rhetorical question: “What if God, desiring to show His wrath and to make known His power, has endured with much patience, vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of His glory for vessels of mercy?”  Now, I just wonder, couldn’t it be God’s purpose in this phrase, “enduring vessels of wrath” isn’t in some way intended to reveal to us what it means when He says, “has endured with much patience those who have been prepared for destruction in order to make known the riches of His glory to the vessels of mercy”.  Could it be that His purpose in that is a pointer to us in terms of us understanding more fully and more completely just how merciful He is?  He does not do justice swiftly.  He leaves us in the world to see the horror, to see the atrocities, to feel the pain.  That is a part of His process for making us holy.  And the closest answer I could come up with from the Scriptures for why God continues to leave us in this mess, is that He would make known the riches of His glory to those of us who are vessels of mercy.  In some way, our knowing God’s character, our understanding His love, His patience, His grace, His goodness, His willingness to put up for great long periods of time.  In order for us to really grasp that, we have to struggle through it feeling it the way that He feels and experiences it and as to restrain Himself from doing justice.  He wants us to understand more fully His character.  He wants us to understand more completely who He is as a person.  And the only way that happens is if we go through the insanity of this world. 

Say, “Ok Josh, I’m going to go through life.  I’m going to strive to grown in holiness. I’m going to strive to be the answer to this prayer request that Jesus prayed for me.  I’m going to try and become more and more sanctified.  What does that mean?”  Sanctification, growing in holiness, means that you observe a decreasing frequency of sin in Your life.  Spiritual maturity means that the desire and the will to carry out sinful deeds is gradually diminishing.  In other words, you no longer want to sin.  You no longer engage in sinful activities.  You no longer delight in those types of things.  God begins to work in you a different desire.  So, to be sanctified, to be growing in grace, to be answering this prayer that Jesus prays for you and for me, which we ought to be praying for ourselves, and for each other, means that on some level, we should be decreasing the tendency in our life to desire to sin.  Now we’re not doing that.  Christ is doing that in us.  But we should note that in our own lives. 

When Sanctification doesn’t seem to come

Now in this moment, this is where some of you take a deep breath, and you say, “Ok, I don't’ see any of that. I don't’ see in my own life, any growth.  And I love the Lord, I pray to Him everyday.  I read my Bible everyday.  But I tell you now, I’m just as bad, if not worse, today than I was when I first prayed to receive Jesus.”  I think you should be cautious in that assessment.  I think that’s a good assessment to make, but there’s a paradox here.  As we grow in sanctification, number one, we should have a decreasing tendency to sin.  But lets’ not forget the other side of it too.  We should have a growing sensitivity to sin.  It may be that you are not making real, tangible progress in ceasing those sinful activities.  Or, it may be that you are, and as you are, you become more and more and more sensitive, and more and more and more aware to those little things in your life, that no matter how hard you try, no matter how hard you struggle, you just cant’ seem to forsake those things. 

And couldn’t it be that that sensitivity, that awareness, isn’t that a mark of God’s Grace in your life?  My mother taught me a valuable piece of wisdom when I was five years old.  The smaller the cookie gets, the harder it crumbles.  As we begin to conform to the image of Christ, as we begin to shed those broad-based things, like not going to the pub and getting drunk on Friday night, not doing drugs, not doing all these really grotesque things that really destroy the temple of the living God, and we find ourselves like, “Yeah, but I still struggle with little things like anger, and pride, and jealousy.  And I just don't’ feel like I’m making any progress in those things.”  Just know that you’re going to struggle with those things until you die.  And the fact that you’re concerned about it is evidence that God is working in Your life.  So you can take joy in that. 

Measuring Sanctification

Paul does make this statement: that sanctification has degrees.  You can grow.  He prays in Philippians 1:9 that your love would abound more and more, we’re going to look at that in a few weeks.  He says to the Thessalonians in 1st Thessalonians 4:1 that they are to do good works more and more.  He tells the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 9:10, that God will increase your harvest of righteousness. Meaning your ability to harvest righteousness will increase.  And he prays in 1 Thessalonians 3:12, “may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all.”  So over and over again, Paul is aware of the fact that we are to grow in sanctification.  We are to grow in holiness.  But its not like we can measure it.  Its not like I can throw down a line here between me and that pew, and it’s about 15 feet or so to the front row here, and we can mark that off in feet and inches.  Growth in holiness is something that can be discerned, but it is not necessarily something which can be quantifiably measured.  You are to know on some level that you are growing in holiness.  Now how much you’re growing, that’s a matter that could be debated forever and nowhere in the Scriptures does it say that we should be debating those types of things.  But this truth needs to hang over all of us—Jesus prayed that we would grow in sanctification as we struggle in the world. Which means, we’re all in the world, you and me.  There’s no escape from reality here.  So that prayer of the prayer request has been answered. 

Are you growing in Sanctification?

Next question: are you growing in sanctification?  Just answer that in your own heart, before the Lord.  Ask yourself this question: “Am I becoming more like Jesus?  Do I discern anything happening in my life? Different desires?  Greater sensitivity to sin?  Decreasing frequency of actual objective, identifiable sins that I know are wrong that I refrain from?”  If you don't’ have any of that, you need to be very very concerned.  My King died on the cross.  This prayer request is being answered.  Which means that if its not being answered in your life, maybe He’s not praying for you.  Which means, if its not being answered in your life, you might be a part of the world, not a part of the elect.  That should weigh on you. 

Is Christ Praying for Me?

The last thing we need to see from this text here, Jesus isn’t’ just praying for His immediate disciples, He’s praying for the people who will trust in Him through their word.  He makes the statement, “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.  That the world may believe that You have sent me, and the glory that You have given me, I give to them.  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.”

And here’s another question: if Jesus is praying for you, are you becoming more and more one with your church family?  Are you growing more and more and more into the image of Christ alongside other believers? Do you see a harmony in belief and thought and practice between your life and the life of Joe Christian sitting next to you?  And if there’s none of that, that’s another real clear way that you might answer the question, “Is Christ praying for me” 

We are to be the Father’s Gift to the Son and to the Father

Jesus’ desire is to give us to the Father, that we would be a perfect gift.  As I think on the story of the Magi, I’ve always wondered, how would that story be better written to reflect the Gospel?  And I think this is the way it should be written: The husband sacrifices fro His bride.  His bride forsakes her hair for the sake of her husband.  So far so good.  Jesus and the church.  They both end up poor, clinging to each other.  Somewhere in this story, a Father should step in and say, “I give you back everything you ever lost by glorifying you.  I bring you home into eternity where you will never feel pain, you will never feel hurt, and you will never ever ever feel the need to sacrifice ever again. Where you can behold the glory of the father. “ And that’s the last part of Christ’s prayer, verse 24: “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.” Isn’t that an amazing prayer request?  I know He’s praying according to the Lord’s will.  I know he’s praying for me.  I know He’s praying for many of you.  That’s a prayer request that Jesus absolutely will answer, that the Father absolutely will answer.  We will one day know glory. 

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