In John Chapter 17 and verse 14, we are continuing with the prayer that Jesus prayed just before His arrest and crucifixion. Jesus prayed to the Father and said, "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." Even though Jesus is no longer in the world the way that He was when He was with the disciples, one of the things that Jesus has given to all believers is His Word. Jesus is the living Word because the Bible says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." To know Jesus and to think about Him, and to be blessed by Him: we have been given the written Word of God.
All day long, we hear, we see, we think in relation to words. Words are the principal means of communication among humans. And God has also used words to communicate that which He wants us to know. The words of God are concrete and reliable and have put down for us in written form. There are many words in the world, and you hear the words; but there is only one Word of God, and it has been given to you by Jesus to renew your Spirit, to enlighten your path, to give you a philosophy of life, and to reveal to you the person of God. If you know Jesus you will love the Word of God, and you will make it your life-long goal to understand it better and to live by it, because Jesus has given it to you.
There are several great differences between believers and non-believers, and one of the differences is their relationship to the Word of God. The unbelievers do not value or desire to live according to the Word of God. The unbelievers do not have the same play book or the same plan or the same philosophy of life. There is a difference of ideas. As in many things where there are differences between humans, the unbelievers will hate the believers because of these differences. Of course, we are not to hate them; but to always be ready to invite them into the community of God. "The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men, able to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God perhaps will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth."
In John 17:15 Jesus prayed, "I pray not that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil one." Jesus left the world, but He did not take His believers with Him. Life on this earth is a gift from God and an opportunity. In some ways it would be better to leave the world and to be with God. Certainly, those who have died and who have gone to be with God are much better off than we are, but God wants us here for a reason. We will join those on the other side soon enough. Until then, there are things to do in His service. Wise is the person who understands that they are here to serve God, and happy is the person who understands more and more the will of God for them and who does it.
God has put us in the world. The world can be a dangerous place, and the greatest dangers in the world are the spiritual dangers from the evil one. If God loves your soul and wants to save you, then the devil hates you and wishes to see your ruin. The devil has much power and many schemes to use to keep humans under his control with the lusts of the flesh and the pride of life. But if you are safe in the arms of Jesus, you have nothing to fear from the evil one. He cannot touch you now, because Jesus died in your place and because Jesus prayed the Father that you would be kept from the evil one. The things that Jesus prayed for will be fulfilled.
In John 17:16-17 Jesus said, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." Jesus said that His believers were not of the world. Most of the world is in spiritual darkness, and there are certain characteristics about this majority of people that set them apart as being people of the world. They are man-centered instead of God-centered. They tend to be selfish instead of generous. They do not know God, and therefore they do not desire to serve or please God. They do not understand the things of God, nor are they interested in them. But the believers in Jesus are not of the world. The believers have a standing and a relationship with God that sets them apart. This is not a standing that they have gained or merited, but itís one that was given to them because of Jesus.
Jesus prayed that the believers would be sanctified. To be sanctified has a spiritual side as well as a practical side. On the spiritual side, we are already sanctified because of our relationship with Jesus. We have been given freely a position of sanctification. Thatís why all believers are called saints in the Bible. The saints are the ones who have been sanctified by God. In this sense you have already been sanctified, if you believe in Jesus. But there is also a practical side to sanctification, which refers to you learning to keep yourself unspotted from the world. We need to learn to be in the world, but not of the world. Thatís practical sanctification. According to this prayer of Jesus, practical sanctification can only be accomplished through the word of God. The word of God is the guidebook and the source of inspiration. Itís only with help from the word of God will you be able to keep yourself unspotted from the world and will you be able to learn to be in the world but not of the world.
Jesus said, "Thy word is truth." The reason that too many people in the world do not have any absolutes to live by, is because they do not use the word of God as their standard. No matter how intelligent someone is or how well-educated they are, they wonít be able to find the truth without the word of God. They will be just like Pilate who asked, "What is truth?"
Remember that Jesus said that the word of God is truth. Not your opinions, not your interpretations, not your traditions; but the word of God is the truth. Some people should spend less time presenting their opinions and their illustrations, and more time presenting the word of God; because itís the word of God that will sanctify you from the world, and itís the word of God that is the truth.
In John 17:18-21 Jesus prayed and said, "As you have sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in thee, that they also might be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me." Again Jesus prayed about the unity of all the believers and their oneness with Him and the Father. In His prayer Jesus showed a great concern for those who believe, and He was also concerned for those who do not believe. Jesus prayed concerning the world "that the world might believe that you have sent me." Instead of criticizing the world and condemning the world, maybe Christians should spend more time doing what Jesus did: praying for the world.
In John 17:22-26 Jesus prayed to the Father and said, "And the glory which you gave me, I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them and thou in me, that they may be made complete in one; and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them, as you have loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom you have given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which you have given me: for you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world has not known you, but I have known you, and these have known that you have sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them."
Jesus said that He declared to the disciples the name of the Father. There is something about the name of God and how a human uses that name that makes all the difference in the world. When someone uses the name of God in vain, a very negative atmosphere and impression is created. But when someone uses the name of God with reverence and respect like Jesus did, then a very positive effect will result. If you want to have the right kind of influence on the people around you, then you donít have to say very much: just be sure that you at least use the name of God with reverence and respect in the open from time to time, and in some ways you will affect people the same way that Jesus did, and God will be glorified.
We have come close to the end of the life of Christ. In the next chapter Jesus will be arrested, unfairly judged, and unjustly condemned to die. But Jesus was well prepared for the hour of suffering that was His destiny because He had prayed to be strengthened for the crisis that He would face. We know that Jesus had the option of calling 10,000 angels to destroy the world and set Him free; but instead of doing so, Jesus chose to surrender to the will of the Father and to suffer and die for the sins of the world. When we pay close attention to the prayer that Jesus prayed in John Chapter 17, we are not surprised that He surrendered to the death of the cross, because in His prayer He prayed that the name of God would be glorified, that believers would be strengthened and unified and in other ways taken care of, and that unbelievers would come to believe. He thought about others instead of Himself. When you put the glory of God above your own interests, and when you put the well-being of others above yourself: you will do the right thing.
Because Jesus was surrendered to the Father and because through prayer He relied upon help from the Father, He was prepared for what lie ahead. John 18:1-3 says, "When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with His disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples. And Judas also, who betrayed him, knew the place; for Jesus often went there with His disciples. Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns and torches and weapons." Obviously, Jesus was arrested in the night time, because Judas and the others came with torches and lanterns. Some things never seem to change. Those who are in spiritual darkness often use the darkness of night to do their ungodly deeds. Do they think that God cannot see them?
In John 18:4-6 the Bible says, "Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon Him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom are you seeking? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus said unto them, I am he. And Judas also, who betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward and fell to the ground." Even though this band of men came with weapons to arrest Jesus, it was Jesus who was in control. Jesus spoke, and the men fell backward to the ground. Ultimately it is the word of God that humans most fear: not only do they fall back, but they run from it, trying to find any philosophy or excuse that will help them hide from the truth.
These men came with wicked purposes to do a very evil deed, but we know that this entire series of events that led to the crucifixion of Jesus was actually the will of God. No other way would you or I or the rest of the sinners of the world have any hope of the salvation of our souls, except that Jesus be crucified. God is in control. Even in the darkest hours of human activity, God is always still in control; and God can even use the evil deeds of evil men to accomplish His perfect will. Thatís why Romans 8:28 says "that all things work together for good to those that love God and to those that are the called according to His purposes."
In John 18:7-9 the Bible says, "Then asked he them again, Whom are you seeking? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore you seek me, let these go their way: That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spoke, Of them which you gave me have I lost none." Again we see how Jesus was in control of the situation. He told the men that they could arrest Him, but that they could not arrest His disciples. In every situation in life, God determines who lives and who dies. If He still has something for us to do, then we will survive no matter what else happens and we will go on. If He is done with us on the earth, then and only then will we die. "If God be for us, who can be against." No matter what man does, ultimately itís God who is the giver of life and the taker thereof. "The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."
Notice that Jesus said about the 11 disciples, "of them which you have given me have I lost none." This obviously means that once someone comes to know Jesus as Savior, their soul will never be lost. We might deny Him, but He will never deny us. The death of Jesus on the cross was the atonement for sin. You can never atone for your own sins, and therefore the fact that you are accepted by God is based upon what Jesus has done, not what you have done. Everyone who has ever turned from their sins and believed on Jesus, when they stand before God at the judgment will find once for all that what Jesus said to the crowd who came to arrest Him was true: "Of those which you have given me have I lost none."
Copyright; 2000 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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