Shall we turn to John's gospel, chapter 16.
Now, these words in the sixteenth chapter have to be understood with the background as Jesus has been in the upper room with His disciples. He has told them as He had the Lord's supper with them that He would not drink of the fruit of the vine until He drank it anew in the kingdom. After supper, He has washed their feet, giving to them an example of what the ministry is all about; it's that of a servant. And then there in the upper room He speaks to them of that beautiful relationship that they would have with the Father and with the Son, through the Holy Spirit; that He is going away, but He's going to come again. And He's going to the Father. And then they leave the upper room. Now, the cross is in front of Him. At this point He knows it. They're not sure. But He realizes that this will be His last chance to just really talk with them of the things that are in His heart. And so, in the fifteenth chapter, somewhere between the upper room and the Garden of Gethsemane, maybe while they're walking, Jesus is talking to His disciples, declaring that He is the vine, the true vine, the Father, the husbandman, and that God's purpose for their lives was that they might bring forth fruit. And that fruit that God is looking for is love. He wants us to love one another even as He loves us. And this emphasis upon bearing fruit, bringing forth that love one for another. Now in chapter 16 Jesus said,
I'm telling you these things, so that you'll not be offended (16:1).
Telling them, actually, of the things that are going to happen to them. "When you go out into the world, they're going to persecute you. They're not going to receive you. If you are of the world, then they would receive you and accept you, but you're not of the world. Now, I'm telling you this," Jesus said, "so that you won't get wiped out when you are not received by the world." It is interesting how that somehow in our minds we are idealists and we're prone to think if a person lives an honest, righteous kind of a life, everybody will respect them and appreciate them. But if you ever read of the hassles that these people have to go through who find money and turn it in, and are honest enough to turn it in, how that they get all kinds of hate mails, threatening...a lot of them have just had to move from their neighborhoods. Their neighbors were so totally upset with them for being honest. Harassed them, called them fools and harassed them, because of their honesty. And so, Jesus said, "Look, I'm going to tell you this before it happens, telling you these things now, so that you won't be offended.”
For they're going to put you out of their synagogues: yes, the time is coming, when whoever kills you will think that he is doing God's service (16:2).
This was surely true with Paul the apostle when he was a zealous Pharisee. And as they were stoning Stephen, Paul said, "I consented unto his death." Paul was holding the coats of those that were throwing the stones, urging them on, no doubt, in the stoning to death of Stephen. Declaring in Philippians chapter 3 that it was a part of his zeal towards God was persecuting the church. He thought he was doing God's service.
And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me (16:3).
Interesting that these people who were so steeped in traditions of the Hebrew religion. Jesus said of them, "They really don't know the Father." I believe that it is possible to become steeped in the traditions of Christianity so much so that you don't really know the Son. You know all of the traditions. You know all of the church traditions and you're bound up and caught up in the traditions. But it is possible to be very religious in a Christian sense as far as attendance in church and all, and be very religious, but not really know Jesus in a true and intimate way. And we've got to guard against that. That we don't get caught up in religion, but we get caught up in Jesus Christ, in the relationship, the personal relationship with Him. And many times, becoming religious is a real barrier to that relationship. God, keep us open! God, keep us flexible! Not rigid in a religious system and, God, prevent that we should ever devolve into a religious system and lose the real relationship with Jesus.
Jesus said, "They're going to do this thinking they're doing God a service when they kill you, but it's because they really don't know the Father, nor His Son."
But these things I have told you, that when the time shall come, you will remember that I told you them. And these things I did not tell you in the beginning, because I was with you (16:4).
“I was there to shield, I was there to take their buffeting and to answer their charges, and I didn't tell you this at the first because you had me with you. But I'm going away now. You're going to be on your own. And now they're going to be persecuting you for My sake, because of what you're going to be doing in My name." And truly, as we read the book of Acts, we find out that this did indeed happen. They were persecuted for the name of Jesus Christ, and for their ministry in His name.
But now I am going my way to him that sent me (16:5);
Going back to the Father.
and none of you have asked me, Where are you going? (16:5)
Now, Jesus said to the disciples in the fourteenth chapter, "I'm going away, and if I go I will come again and receive you unto Myself, that where I am there you may be also. And where I go you know and the way, you know." And Thomas said unto Him, "Lord, we don't know where You are going and how can we know the way?" He didn't say, "Where are You going?" He just said, "Lord, we don't know where You are going." None of them asked, "Well, Lord, where are You going?" He kept saying, "I am going away." But they didn't say, "Where are You going?" And He said,
But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow has filled your heart (16:6).
“Now, I said, 'I'm going,' and you're all sorry, but you haven't asked, 'Where are you going?'" If they'd asked, "Where are you going?" and they knew that He was going to the Father and, of course, it's revealed here in the seventeenth chapter, then they would not be so sorry for Him. In fact, they would rejoice for Him, though they would still probably be sorry for themselves.
Nevertheless I tell you the truth; [It is necessary,] it’s expedient for you that I go away (16:7):
This is necessary.
for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you (16:7).
Now, when Jesus took on a human body, of necessity He took on certain limitations of a human body. And one of the limitations of a human body is that of locality. Your body can only be in one place at one time. Now, that is frustrating at times. There are times when I wish my body could be two or three places at the same time, but as long as I am in this body I can't be. Now, there are sometimes my body is one place and my mind is another. And that happens to you sometimes when you're sitting here. I see your bodies, but sometimes I wonder, "Where are you?" But the body is limited to locality. Now, they are soon to be dispersed. They're to take the gospel into all the world. And it would be impossible for Jesus to be with them all if He were still in the body.
When Paul was heading out for Cypress and for Ephesus and all, if the Lord went with Paul, He couldn't be with Peter and John back in Jerusalem. So, the fact that they were now to take the gospel and go out with it, it was necessary that Jesus leave them and go back to the Father, back to the spiritual state no longer limited by the body, in order that He might send the Holy Spirit who can be with them wherever they go, because He is not bound to locality. And Jesus now in the Spirit is not bound to locality. So He said to His disciples, "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world...the end of this age. But it's necessary in order to be with you in this manner that I go away to be relieved from the limitations of this body." In order that again, as God, He might be omnipresent. And so, in order that the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, might come. "When I depart," He said, "I will send Him unto you." He said, "I'm going to pray the Father and He will give you another Comforter, even the Spirit of truth, that He may abide with you forever." And so here again, the promise of the Spirit.
And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment (16:8):
Now Jesus at that point, amplifies what He said the reproof of the Holy Spirit would be and, to me, the amplification is very interesting because it's not at all what I would think in just reading of the Spirit reproving the world of sin. When He reproves the world of sin, I think of all the horrible things that men are doing. I think of the murders, the cheating, the lying and all of these things. But Jesus said,
Of sin, because they believed not on me (16:9);
Interesting statement. Because you see, there is only one deadly sin, and that is the sin of not believing in Jesus Christ. I care not what you have done; it isn't necessary that I know what you have done, what your past may hide. I know this, that the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanses a man from all sin, no matter what's there. There is only one sin that really condemns a man when they stand before God, and that is the sin of not believing in Jesus Christ. “He will reprove the world of sin because they believed not in Me.”
Jesus said to Nicodemus, "For I did not come into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through might be saved. And he who believeth is not condemned, but he who believes not is condemned already" (John 3:17-18). Not because he's a cheater, a thief, an adulterer, a murderer; he's condemned already seeing he hath not believed on the only begotten Son of God. This is the condemnation. Light came into the world, but men would not come to the light. So that thing for which God will bring you into judgment is your not believing in His provision for your salvation through Jesus Christ. He will testify of righteousness.
Now, it would seem to me that the testimony of righteousness to us would be saying, "Now, this is the way a person should walk. You should walk in love, you should walk in truth, you should walk in mercy, you should walk in honesty..." and all of these things, showing us the right path and the right relationship that we should have to each other, testifying or reproving the world of righteousness. But, Jesus said,
Of righteousness, because I go unto the Father, and you see me no more (16:10);
Interesting statement. What Jesus means by that is that we have many varying standards of righteousness that men have established today. And even within the church body, there are different standards of righteousness. In some church bodies, it is very unrighteous for a woman to wear any kind of makeup or try to make herself look halfway decent at all. I'm glad I don't belong to those churches. But, to them that constitutes unrighteousness. Oh, the guys dress flashy, to be sure. But they try to put the women in very dull and unattractive garb and hair pulled back in a bun and so forth. And that to them is righteousness.
It is interesting to me that overall the church here in the United States is opposed to drinking any alcoholic beverage. I personally am. But in Sweden, the Christians there see nothing wrong with drinking beer, and when we were in Sweden and we were out to dinner with the ministers and all, they always said, "Do you want a beer?" And I always was shocked by that. But some of them were very shocked that my wife drank coffee. "Oh, my! Brother, we'll pray for you. What a poor witness, your wife drinking coffee!" While they were drinking their beer!
So, there are different standards of righteousness that quite often are cultural. The morals of a particular society and the standards of righteousness by which men set are usually standards of comparison. When I think of a righteous standard, I look around and I say, "Well, I'm better than he is. I wouldn't do that." And by looking at the faults of others, I can sometimes feel very smug and self-righteous. "Father, I thank you that I am not like other men, because I don't do the things they're doing and I do this, Lord." But Jesus said, "You do err when you compare yourself with men." Because I don't care how righteous you are, or how righteous I am, unless our righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, we're not going to enter the kingdom of heaven. And as far as outward righteousness and as far as a righteousness according to the law, they were so far beyond anything we ever dreamed of being, they practiced their whole lives trying to obey the finest points of the law, interpreting them and obeying the finest points of the law. And Paul the apostle was able to testify of his own experience as a Pharisee concerning the righteousness which is in the law. He said, "I was blameless." Jesus, though, said, "Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you're not going to enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:20). Don't you know that that blew the mind of the disciples? And caused them to say, "Well, pooph, what's the use? Let's go back fishing again. No way we're going to make that. I give up!" If you think that's tough, Jesus ended that message by saying, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). That does it, I'm through! Washed up! Hate to admit it, but I'm not perfect. And you don't have to take my word for it. My wife will be glad to confirm that.
Now, if my righteousness must exceed the scribes and the Pharisees, if I can't create a standard looking around at men, where is the standard of righteousness that God will accept? If He won't accept that rigid standard of the scribes and Pharisees, what standard will He accept? And Jesus said, "The Holy Spirit will reprove the world of righteousness because I go to the Father." Now, Jesus, ascending into heaven unto the Father, the Holy Spirit bears witness by that that this is the righteousness that God can accept. So, the righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees is the righteousness of Jesus Christ, which is imparted to us by our faith in Him. And so, when Paul talked of the righteousness of the law being blameless, he then said, "Yet those things which were gain to me, this righteous standing I had as a Pharisee, blameless, those things which were gain to me I counted loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ; for whom I suffered the loss of all things and do count them but dung that I may know Him and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness which is of the law, but the righteousness which is of Christ through faith" (Philippians 3:7-9). The righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees, and the righteousness that the Father will accept. If I want the Father to accept me, if I want to enter the kingdom of heaven, I must enter in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Nothing less will do.
Now that, for the moralist, once and for all declares that no matter how moral, honest, good a person, benevolent, charitable you may be, you cannot make it on your own. We all need Jesus Christ. We all need to believe in Him. For believing in Him, my sins are forgiven. I'm no longer condemned. Believing in Him, I now have the righteousness of Christ imputed unto me. And,
Of judgment (16:11),
Jesus said. Now, I read in Revelation that there is a great white throne judgment where God sits upon the throne to judge the world. "And the nations, small and great, will stand before Him. And death and hell will give up the dead which are in them; the sea will give up the dead which are in them, and all the small and great will stand there before God to be judged out of the things that are written in the books. Whosoever's name is not found written in the book of life will be cast into the lake burning with fire, and this is the second death" (Revelation 20:11-14). That's not the judgment that the Spirit is testifying about. Well, there's another judgment.
There's the judgment seat of Christ, before which all of the Christians have to appear to receive the things done in their bodies, whether good or evil. Where our works are to be judged by fire and whatever remains will be rewarded for, what sort of works we have done. There will the motives of the hearts be tested. Jesus said, "Take heed to yourself, that you do not your righteousness before men to be seen of men. For I say unto you, you have your reward."
If you're only doing it for a show so people can look at you and say, "Oh, my, isn't he sweet, isn't he wonderful? Isn't he good?" And if that's your motive in doing it, those plaudits and applause and all that you receive from men is all the reward you'll ever get. We are to do our righteousness before God in such a way as to not try to draw attention to ourselves. "Let your light so shine before men, that when they see your good works, they will glorify your Father which dwells in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).
And so, we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. And there we will be rewarded for the way that we have run the race. But that isn't the judgment that the Holy Spirit is speaking about.
"Of judgment," Jesus said,
because the prince of this world is judged (16:11).
Interesting. He doesn't talk about our judgment, but He talks about the prince of the world being judged. And where was the prince of the world judged? He was judged upon the cross. Paul tells us in Colossians, chapter 2, that Jesus spoiled those principalities and powers, which are rankings of evil spirits. He spoiled them there on the cross, making an open display of His victory, triumphing over them through the cross. Therefore, let no man judge you. The prince of this world has been judged. There on the cross Christ defeated Satan.
Satan has tremendous power. When God created the world and placed man upon it, God gave to man the dominion over the world. God said unto Adam, "You're to have dominion over the fish of the sea, the fowl of the air, over every living and moving and creeping thing; for I have given it unto you." But man, in the Garden of Eden, gave it unto Satan. So that man was no longer the ruler of the world, but Satan became the ruler over the world. And we see today the disastrous consequences of Satan's rule, in the wars, the suffering. All of these things, disastrous consequences of Satan's rule. We pray, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven." But you do not see that yet. As in Hebrews, we read God has put all things into subjection unto Jesus, but we do not yet see all things in subjection unto Him. We still see a world in rebellion against God, and we still see the fruit of that rebellion in this world in which we live.
One day, by the grace of God, we will live in a world that God intended. And there are marvelous descriptions of that world in the Old Testament, where the lion will lie down with the lamb, and a little child will lead them, and the deserts will blossom like a rose, and there will be streams in the deserts and rivers in dry places, and the lame will leap for joy and the dumb will be singing praises unto God, and the blind shall behold the glory of our Lord. No physical maladies, for the former things will be passed away and all things become new. And there'll be no sorrow or suffering, for you'll see the world in harmony with God, and you'll see the world as God intended it and wants it to be. But right now, we see a world in rebellion. And we see men under Satan's control. The Bible tells us that Satan has taken them captive even against their wills. Paul said "that we might take them from the captivity of the enemy, who has taken them captive against their wills" (II Timothy 2:26). Paul tells us that the God of this world has blinded their eyes that they cannot see the truth. There are men today who cannot see the truth; they are bound by Satan's power. They are blinded by him.
We see men in bondage of corruption, bondage of sin. We see it holding men in its power and we've seen the vain futile struggle of man to try and free himself from that power of darkness.
Now, the Holy Spirit is reproving the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment because the prince of this world was judged. What that means is that you don't have to be under Satan's power. You don't have to be under the bondage of corruption. But because of the cross of Jesus Christ, His victory over Satan there at the cross can become your victory. And through the power of Jesus Christ, you can have complete victory and power over the world, the flesh and the devil. You don't have to be under his power. Actually, what Satan holds today, he holds by what is called "usurped power and authority." It's not really his. He still usurps it.
You remember that when God rejected Saul from being the king of Israel, because of his disobedience, God said to Samuel, "How long are you going to grieve for Saul? Let's move on. Go down to the house of Jesse and anoint one of his sons to be the king over Israel." So Samuel snuck down to the house of Jesse for fear of Saul. And he said to Jesse, "Would you bring your sons before me?" And the first son Eliab came in, a big guy and handsome, and Samuel thought, "Alright, this surely is the one that God has chosen for the king." And God said unto Samuel, "Samuel, don't look on the outward appearance. For I don't look on the outward appearance, I look on the heart." Eliab's not the one. So, one by one the sons of Jesse marched in and marched past Samuel, and each one the Lord said, "No." Finally, Samuel turned to Jesse and he said, "Don't you have any other sons?" "Oh, yeah, I have one more, but he's just a kid, he's out watching the sheep." "Well, call him in." And when David came in, this ruddy little kid, the Lord said to Samuel, "That's the one." And he took his oil and he poured it over David's head, and anointed him as king of Israel.
Now, as far God was concerned, David was the king. God anointed him as king. However, Saul didn't believe that. And we read in the next few chapters how that Saul did his best to destroy David and to hang on to the kingdom which God had taken away. "Because you have rejected God from ruling over you, God has rejected you from the kingdom," the prophet had told him. But he did his best by force to hold on to that which God had taken away.
Now, the same is true today in the lives of people. Jesus, you see, has died for the world. But Satan still holds people under his power, but it is like Saul; it's usurped power, it's no longer legally, rightfully his. Jesus has purchased them by His blood. And therefore, we can enter into that victory of Jesus over Satan, and we can also lay claim to lives that Satan is holding, that we might take them from the captivity of the enemy who has taken them captive. And I can bring these people before the Lord, case by case, and I can say, "Now, Lord, I claim the power of Jesus Christ and His victory over the power of Satan that is holding them and blinding them. Lord, deliver them from the power of the enemy and from the blindness."
Now, I can't save them through my prayers, but I can at least bring them to the freedom of choice. We talk about free moral agency, and it's almost a misnomer. There is no way you can say of a sinner that he is a free moral agent. He's the most bound person in the universe. His eyes are blind and he's being held by the power of Satan. How can you say he's a free moral agent? He's a slave unto the tyranny of the enemy! But through prayer, I can make him a free moral agent. Through prayer, I can break the bondage in which he is held by Satan's power, and through prayer, I can open his eyes to the truth. At that point, being a free moral agent, he can then choose, without this oppressive work of Satan blinding his eyes and twisting and perverting his logic. And so, that really is the thrust of prayer towards the sinner, is that of setting them free from this bondage of Satan, because Satan was judged at the cross and he has no legal rights over them any more. And we can claim the victory of Christ life after life, setting them free from the bondage of darkness.
I have many things to say, but you can't bear them now (16:12).
They're not ready for them.
So, when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth: for he will not speak of himself (16:13);
Talking of the Holy Spirit, He declares that He will be a guide for us into all truth, and He will not testify of Himself,
for whatsoever shall he hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He will glorify me (16:13-14):
So, the ministry of the Holy Spirit is not to exalt Himself. And I do think that when as a church we start making a big emphasis upon the Holy Spirit, we are placing an emphasis where God hasn't placed an emphasis. For the emphasis of the Holy Spirit is upon Jesus Christ. He doesn't testify of Himself, but He glorifies and seeks to glorify Jesus Christ. "And He will tell us things to come." Paul the apostle was directed by the Holy Spirit in his ministry. And he was shown by the Spirit the things that were going to happen in his life. I have had a very marvelous experience of having the Holy Spirit lay out for me the things that God had in store and was planning to do in my life. And the Holy Spirit will testify of things to come and will glorify Jesus Christ.
for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you (16:14).
In other words, "He will receive from Me and reveal to you."
All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore I said, that he shall take of mine, and will show it to you. A little while, and you will not see me: and again, a little while, and you shall see me, because I go to the Father (16:15-16).
Now He's talking about the cross and about His death. "A little while and you're not going to see Me, but yet, a little while and you will see Me, because I go to the Father."
Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What in the world is he trying to say to us, A little while, and you will not see me: and again, a little while, and you will see me: Because I go to the Father? And they said therefore, What is this that he is saying, A little while? (16:17-18)
I don't know what he's saying.
Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and he said unto them, Do you inquire among yourselves of what I said, A little while, and you will not see me: and yet a little while, and you shall see me? Verily, verily, I say unto you, That you are going to weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice (16:19-20);
Talking again of His crucifixion. "You're going to weep, you're going to lament, and the world around you is going to be rejoicing.”
and you shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy (16:20).
Can you imagine the joy of Easter morning? The resurrection, when they saw the risen Lord? Their sorrow turned into joy.
A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour has come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembers no more the anguish, for the joy that a man is born into the world (16:21).
And so, Jesus uses this as a graphic illustration of what He was about to go through; the travail of His soul, the anguish of the cross. But in order that men might be born into the kingdom, all of the pain and the suffering and all is so quickly forgotten when you're swallowed up in the joy of the birth of a new child. You forget. They say that it is one of the hardest pains to bear, and one of the easiest to forget. A child has been born into the kingdom. "And for the joy that was set before Him, Jesus endured the cross though He despised the shame" (Hebrews 12:2). And so, He's talking really of Himself, the anguish that He was to go through. But for the joy of those being born into the kingdom He was willing to do it.
Ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man can take from you (16:22).
You're going to go through this time of sorrow, but, oh, you're going to rejoice because I'm going to see you again.
And in that day you will ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it to you (16:23).
“You're not to ask Me, your prayers are to be unto the Father. They are to be in the name of Jesus Christ." And our prayers today should actually be addressed to the Father in the name of Jesus.
Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name: ask (16:24),
In the Greek it's imperative, "Please ask..." intensive.
and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full (16:24).
So, the Lord is saying, "If you'll ask in My name, you will receive." And through this prayer life, receiving, brings such fullness of joy to the life of the believer.
These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time is coming, when I will no longer when I will no longer speak unto you in proverbs, but I will show you plainly of the Father. And that day you will ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God (16:25-27).
And so our prayer is to the Father. We have direct access to the Father. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we might make our needs known before God. In the name of Jesus, I can approach the Father, and yet, I really fear and tremble for those who think that they have direct access to the Father apart from Jesus Christ. They have lost the consciousness of the holiness of God. The Jewish people today say, "We do not need Jesus. We can go directly to the Father." They forget that their fathers did not go directly to the Father, but they came through much sacrifices through the priests. And the priests went to the Father for them. Jesus said, "I'm not going to say that I'm going to ask the Father for you. You can go directly to the Father." If I can go directly to the Father, then surely I don't need to go to Mary to ask Jesus to go to the Father for me. Or any of the other saints. And prayers to Mary and the saints are church dogma and tradition without scriptural foundation. There's no value in praying to Mary. In fact, I would be a little hesitant to do so, lest Jesus said, "Who is my mother?" For when Mary was outside and could not make her way to Jesus because of the crowd, she sent a message in and said, "Tell my son I'm out here...his mother is out here with his brothers." And Jesus, when they brought the message, "Your mother's outside, she wants you," He said, "Who is my mother? Who is my brother?" Now, if I was going to Mary in heaven and said, "Dear Mary, intercede for me," and Jesus would say, "Who is my mother?" I would be in trouble. I don't have to go through Mary. I can come directly to the Father through and in the name of Jesus.
I came forth from the Father, and I am coming to the world: again, I am leaving the world, and going to the Father (16:28).
“I came from the Father, I came into the world." "He who was in the beginning with God thought it not robbery to be equal with God" (Philippians 2:6). "In the beginning was the Word,” (John 1:1). “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14). "I came into the world…” “The world was made by Him, but the world knew Him not. He came to His own, His own received Him not.” “…but I am going back now to the Father." You see, He said, "You haven't asked Me where I'm going." Now, He's telling them, "I'm going back to the Father."
His disciples said unto him, Lo, now you are speaking to us plainly, and not in a proverb. Now we are sure that you know all things, and you need not that any man should ask you: by this we believe that you came forth from God (16:29-30).
You see, they were asking among themselves, "What is He talking about, 'You're going to see Me in a little while'?" And then He says, "Why is it that you're inquiring among yourselves what am I talking about when I say this?" And they said, "Hey, we don't know what's going on, and you don't need that any man should ask thee."
Jesus answered them, Do you now believe? Behold, the hour is coming, yes, is now come, when you're going to be scattered, every man to his own, and you're going to leave me alone (16:31-32):
Here they are affirming, "Lord, we believe." And Jesus said, "Well, yes, but in just a little while you're going to be scattered. Your faith is going to be tested like you can't believe. And you're going to leave Me alone." And Jesus said,
yet I'm not alone, because the Father is with me. These things I have spoken unto you, that ye might have peace. In the world you will have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (16:32-33).
And so, Jesus said, "I'm telling you these things because I want you to have peace. In the world, you're going to have tribulation." Now, He is not saying here that the church is going through the Great Tribulation. And there's a vast difference between the tribulation that I experience as a child of God and the Tribulation that the world is going to experience as a rebel against God. "In the world you will have tribulation." Why? Because you're not of the world. Where does the tribulation originate against the child of God? From Satan. From the world itself. Where does the Great Tribulation originate? Its origin is God, as God comes to judge the world for the rejecting of His Son. So there's a vast difference between the tribulation that the church faces in the world and the Great Tribulation that the world will face when God has removed His righteous remnant out of the world, and then begins to judge it for its rejection of His Son.
These words spake Jesus, and he lifted up his eyes to heaven (17:1),
Now He is finished with His disciples and He turns now to the Father. He said, "I am not alone; the Father is with Me." And conscious of the Father, He now offers what should be titled the Lord's Prayer, for this is indeed the Lord's Prayer. He gave to the disciples a model prayer, which is often called the Lord's Prayer. But this is the true Lord's Prayer. "He lifted up his eyes to heaven,”
and he said, Father, the hour is come (17:1);
When He began His ministry in Cana of Galilee, and Mary came to Him and said, "Son, they have run out of wine," He said to his mother, "What's that to Me? My hour is not yet come." And, all through His life, He was conscious of His movement towards a definite hour, a definite time. And this was always, from the beginning of His ministry, the movement was towards this hour. Many times we read, "For His hour was not yet come." He was always conscious of the hour that was coming. And now He has come to it. And He declares, "Father, the hour is come.”
glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee (17:1):
The hour is come, but how is the Son to be glorified? By being lifted up on the cross. And so here, Jesus is talking to the Father about the cross and saying, "Let's go on with it, glorify Thy Son,” that in and through the cross He might glorify God.
As you have given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him (17:2).
How is the Father glorified? By Jesus granting to you eternal life, citizenship in the heavenly kingdom. "Father, the hour is come; now glorify Me. Let Me go ahead and bear the cross, let Me die in order that through My death I might grant eternal life to those who will believe, as many as You have given Me." Interesting term. In Acts we read, "And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed."
And this is life eternal, that they may know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which you gave me to do (17:3-4).
Jesus said that He came to seek and to save that which was lost. Now He declares His work is finished. On the cross it was complete. He cried out His last words before commending His spirit to the Father, "It is finished." What? The work of redemption for man. The path back to God is complete. Man does not have to live alienated from God any longer. Man can now walk in close communion and fellowship with the Father once again. His work of redemption is finished. Provision for man's sin is now made. And that which has separated man from God can be put away and man can live in fellowship with God.
And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was (17:5).
Now this is moving on from the first. The first was talking about the cross. Now He's talking about that glory in the heavenly kingdom. "Now, Father, the work is finished. I'm going to the cross; it's finished. Now glorify Me with the glory that I had with Thee before the world was." "He who was in the beginning with God and thought it not robbery to be equal with God..." "Now, Father, I want to enter back into that glory that I had with You before the world ever existed. I have manifested Thy name unto the men which You gave Me out of the world. Thine they were, and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word." Now, what does Jesus mean?
I have manifested thy name unto the men which you gave me out of the world (17:6):
God is not His name; God is His designation. Lord is not His name; that is His title. His name is Yahweh, or Jehovah. And how did Jesus manifest His name? The name Jesus itself is a contraction of the Hebrew "Yahovah-shua" or "Yashua," which is Jehovah is Salvation. Jesus said, "I have manifested Your name." He bore the name of the eternal God, the name Yashua, Jehovah is Salvation. "I have manifested Thy name unto the men which You have given to Me out of the world.”
thine they were, you gave them to me; and they have kept your word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which you gave me; and they have received them, and have surely known that I came out from thee, and they have believed that you did send me (17:6-8).
And so, Jesus, in the first part of His prayer, is praying concerning this little company of believers, the disciples that are with Him. And in this first part, His prayer is centered around them. "You have given them to Me. I have manifested Your name to them. They are Yours, but You have given them to Me, and I have given to them Your words. And things are now complete because they believe that You have sent Me.”
And I pray for them: I don't pray for the world (17:9),
At this point. He's not praying for the world; He's praying for this special group, the disciples.
but for them which you have given to me; for they are yours. And all that is mine is yours, and yours are mine; and I am glorified in them (17:9-10).
"Oh, that Christ might be glorified," Paul said, "in my body whether by life or by death." And that should be the desire of each of us; "Oh, God, glorify Thy Son in and through me." "I am glorified in them."
Now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, I'm coming to thee. Holy Father, keep through thy own name those whom thou hast given me (17:11),
Now He commits the keeping of their lives unto the Father Himself. "Holy Father, keep through Thy own name..." What a beautiful prayer of intercession! It lets us know a little bit of what's going on in heaven. The Bible says that, "Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ who has died, yet rather, is risen again, and is even at the right hand of the Father making intercession" (Romans 8:34). In Hebrews 7:25 we read, "Wherefore He is able also to save unto the uttermost all who will come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for us." And this is a good example of the intercessory ministry of Jesus, as He is praying to the Father for His disciples. And what a fabulous prayer! "Holy Father, keep through Thy own name those that You have given to Me,”
that they may be one, as we (17:11).
And now, this is the prayer for His disciples, this unity, "Lord, that they may be one." And as we read this prayer of Jesus, and as we almost feel like we're eavesdropping, you know. You feel a little embarrassed and a little ashamed because it's such an intimate, personal pouring out of His heart to the Father that we're given an insight here to. Absolutely beautiful! I love to just meditate on this seventeenth chapter of John, as I read this ministry of Jesus for His disciples, and then later on, for me. And His prayer for them? That they may be one.
While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou hast given to me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the Scripture might be fulfilled (17:12).
“I kept them, Father, all but the one, the son of perdition..." That's quite a title given to Judas Iscariot. Another time we read the same title is given to the Anti-Christ; he is called the son of perdition. There are some who believe that Judas Iscariot will be the Anti-Christ. There are indications that this is possibly so; this is the strongest, and the strongest argument that they can present, the fact that both of them are called the son of perdition. I personally do not believe that Judas Iscariot is the Anti-Christ, but there is that possibility. And I don't deny the possibility. If you want to say, "Yes, he is," I won't argue with you, because I don't know. I don't feel that he is. I feel that evidence points to another, but I wouldn't argue with you and I would say, "Well, it's possible that you are right, because it IS possible that you are right." It is possible that Judas Iscariot could be the Anti-Christ. And I believe that on the basis of the them being called the son of perdition.
And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves (17:13).
Now, here Jesus is talking about His joy right in the face of the cross, "that they might have My joy fulfilled in them." Jesus said, "My peace I give unto you, not as the world give I." We have His peace, we have His joy, we have His love. These are those things that He imparts unto us. No other religious system does this. Buddha didn't say, "My love I give to you; abide in my love." They couldn't say that, but Jesus does. He is saying, "Look, it's My joy being fulfilled in you." And so, it is the peace of Christ which passes understanding that keeps our hearts and our minds. His peace, His love, His joy. You see, I cannot in myself fulfill the divine idea. God wants me to love as He loved. I can't. But I can be an instrument through which His love flows. God wants me to have His peace, but I get upset. I can't in myself just mesmerize myself into a placid state. But I have experienced that glorious peace of Jesus Christ in the midst of the most wild situations, the most tense situations. Suddenly, that peace of Christ just comes down and fills my heart and my life; and hey, it's alright, we're going to be okay, we're going to make it. Because the peace of Christ has just filled my life. And again, that joy that is indescribable; it's full of glory, that joy of seeing God work. "My joy fulfilled in themselves."
I have given them thy word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I don't pray that you take them out of the world (17:14-15),
I wish He had sometimes! Sometimes I look at what's happening; I see the deterioration of our nation and I see the rising taxes, and I see the attempt of the schools and the government to totally divorce the thought of Jesus Christ and all from our public life. And I see the rulings of the courts and I see so many just plain stupid iniquities. And I get out my atlas, and I start looking for some island in the South Pacific, and I dream of just selling out and saying, "Come on, let's go. I found this island out there in the South Pacific; it's uninhabited, but it's got plenty of fresh water, good clean air and we can just go there and we can build a new world, a new society, you know. And we can start over again, just like our forefathers had the opportunity when they came to the United States." But Jesus said, "Father, I don't pray that you take them out of the world." Oh, that means that I've got to stick around.
but that you should keep them from the world (17:15).
“Don't take them out, Father, but keep them from it." The Christian is like a ship which is made to float in the water. As long as it's floating in the water, it's alright. The only danger is when you get the water in the ship. The ship is to be in the water, but you get water in the ship and then you get into trouble. The Christian is made to live in the world. But you start getting the world in the Christian, you get into trouble, like getting water in the ship. You're going to sink. So, "Father, I don't ask You to take them out of the world, but do keep them from the world." What a beautiful prayer! God, keep me from the world. The pressures sometimes are so great to conform to the world, to the worldly patterns. We become accused of all kinds of things; but, Oh, God, keep us from the world.
They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. But sanctify them through thy truth (17:16-17):
That is, "Separate them." And the word sanctify is to separate, to set apart. "Set them apart, Father, through Thy truth.”
for thy word is truth (17:17).
“Keep them from the world, separate them from the world, Father, through Your truth; for Your word is truth.”
And as you have sent me into the world, even so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself [or, I set myself apart] that they also might be set apart through the truth. Neither do I pray for these alone (17:18-20),
Alright! Now He's expanding His prayer beyond the realm of the disciples who were with Him at that moment, and He expands it right on down to you and to me. And now, enter in to that beautiful place...I feel like taking my shoes off, I'm on holy ground, as my Lord now intercedes for me. And what does He pray for me? "Neither pray I for these alone,”
but for them also which shall believe on me through their word (17:20);
You see, I've come to believe on Jesus Christ through the Word, through the words in the New Testament. And because I have come to believe on Jesus Christ through the Word, I am included in this prayer that Jesus was offering to the Father there in John 17. And what does He pray for me and for you? Again,
that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me (17:21).
Jesus' prayer for the church is that of unity, that we might be one. And I think of how tragic it is and what a poor witness to the world that the church is so divided and so fractured. Now, that is not an indictment against denominations. I see the purpose of denominations; I have no problem with that. The only problem I have is when people get denominational, when they cannot see the whole church and the whole body of Christ, but they see their own little segment only and exclude the rest. That's contrary to the prayer of Christ.
Someone brought to my attention this morning a letter that they had received from their pastor, who was all shook because they were going to Calvary Chapel. He said, "That name does not exist in the Bible; thus, it's a sin for you to go to a church with that name. And I can document from Scripture that it's a sin to go to a church that isn't called the church of Christ." And as I read it, my heart ached for the narrowness, the shortsightedness. He is actually going against the very prayer of Jesus when He was praying, "Lord, may they be one." May God free us from the narrow sectarianism and kind of a thing that would say, "Well, I'm from Calvary Chapel." May we not identify with a particular system or whatever, but may we be able to identify with just the body of Christ and say, "I am a child of God; I'm a Christian," and let that be our identity. And if someone else says, "Well, I'm a Christian," praise the Lord, I'm one with you. "Oh, but I'm a Baptist!" I don't care. "Well, I'm a Presbyterian!" I don't care. You love my Lord? I'm one. Divisions may come, but God help us not to be any part of the division when it comes. If people want to divide themselves, that's their problem. God help us not to become any part of a division of the body of Christ. For when his body is divided, he is the one who bleeds.
I don't want to go against the prayer of Christ in any way. I want to be open to accept as brothers in Christ anyone who has truly received Jesus Christ as their Lord. And I don't care if they baptize forwards or backwards or they sprinkle or whatever! I don't want to divide over those issues.
It's tragic, the things that have divided the church of Jesus Christ, the divisions that have come. And they're contrary to the very thing that Jesus was praying. May God help us to be so broadened in our view of the church, that when one member suffers we will suffer with him; when one is exalted we'll be exalted with them. That we'll not become jealous because we hear that a fellowship over here is growing rapidly and they've got this and that and the other. "Well, they're this and..." God help us, keep us from that nasty mouth of putting down the body of Christ because they don't go along with us. "Lord, we saw some casting out devils, and they didn't want to come with us. And so we stopped them." Jesus said, "No, you shouldn't have done that. If they are doing it in My name, they can't very well be speaking against Me." "Lord, they don't want to receive us over there. Do you want us to call down fire from heaven and destroy them?" He said, "Wait a minute! You don't understand the nature that you're to have." And so, His prayer is that we would be one.
And the glory which you gave to me I have given to them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, you in me, that they may be made [complete] perfect in one; and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them, as you have loved me (17:22-23).
Now Jesus is saying that this unity should come to pass for a witness to the world. "That the world may believe that You have sent Me." And I believe that there are many people that have been turned away from Jesus Christ because of that terrible faction and party spirit that exists in Christianity, as people have put up their denominational barriers and confined themselves. You know, "We are..." And people look at the church fighting and competing among itself. They see the bitternesses that arise and the church is not that witness that Jesus would have us to be.
Father, I will that they also, whom You have given to me [this that I love], that they may be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which you have given to me: for you loved me before the foundation of the world (17:24).
“Father, those that You have given to me, I want them to be with Me in that glory, that they might see Me in My glory.” Oh, how I long to behold Jesus in His glory! How I long to see Him there sitting upon His throne, to see Him in that glorified state. How I long to be a part of that company in the book of Revelation that sings, "Worthy is the Lamb, because He was slain, and He has redeemed us by His blood out of all of the nations, tribes, tongues and people, and has made us unto our God kings and priests.” And we will reign with Him upon the earth. Worthy is the Lamb to receive glory and honor and dominion and might and power and authority. To see Him in that glory, I long for that day.
Now, the thing that thrills me is that I'm certain that if anybody's prayers are effective, they are the prayers of Jesus Christ. When I've got Him praying for me, I tell you, I can't lose. I'm certain that His prayers are powerful and effective, and that the Father is going to answer His prayers. I have all of the assurance in the universe that I'm going to be there, to see Him in His glory. He asked the Father that that might be so; and surely, the Father will not deny His request. Isn't that exciting!
O righteous Father, the world has not known you: but I have known you, and these have known that you sent me. And I have declared unto them your name, and I will declare it; that the love wherewith you have loved me may be in them (17:25-26),
You see, it's going to be in you. You're to love as He loved. He'll put His love in you. He'll do it for you. "That the love wherewith You have loved Me might be in them,”
and I in them (17:26).
Christianity, different from religion, because Christianity is a dynamic, it is the dynamic of the Author who has come to dwell within me to take up residence within my life, and to do in me what I cannot do in and for myself. Through the power of the risen Christ, I have the power to live the life that He has asked me to live.
And so, we have just made a cursory study of the seventeenth chapter. I would encourage you before you go on to eighteen and nineteen to go back and read it over two or three more times, just to meditate upon it. Read it a verse at a time, and just stop and think about it and let the Spirit of God minister the truth to your heart. And let the words just sink in, the prayer of Jesus on your behalf. And then, we'll go on next week to chapters 18 and 19. You see, the eighteenth chapter begins, "Now when Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the brook of Kidron, where there was a garden..." So, this was spoken somewhere between the upper room and the garden, before He came to the Garden of Gethsemane. And so, now we'll enter into the garden with Him, and this experience unto the cross in our next study. May the Lord be with you this week, working in your life His glorious work. May this be a time of spiritual growth, as you get into the Word and as you study and as you yield your life to God, that His love might be manifested through you. That His joy might be fulfilled in you. And that His peace might just keep your heart, your life, your mind. And may you just begin to experience more and more that beautiful work of God's Spirit in your life, as He conforms us daily into the image of Jesus Christ. And so, God bless you, fill you with the Spirit, keep you in His love. In the name of Jesus.