June 25th 2017: Ian Middlemist

Ian-June 2017 John 17: The Highly Priestly Prayer

We are included in this great high priestly prayer of Jesus. We are just like Jesus because of His calling on our lives.

‘And I am no longer on the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.’ (John 17:4). Jesus was going, but we are staying. Jesus came, the God-man came into the world. The second person of the Trinity entered into this world. He came, but is at home today in heaven. It’s amazing God’s people are still here on earth. The reason for this is that we should be a witness for Jesus Christ in this world. How are Christians to cope in this life? Jesus prayers for them. It is Jesus’ obligation to look after us in this world. This prayer spans all of time. Jesus’ prayers for us today are sufficient to make us stand in this world.

‘They are mot of the world, just as I am not of the world.’ (John 17:16). Just as Jesus is not of this world, so we are not of this world. If you are a Christian, saved by Jesus Christ, you are not of this world. We are different. The Bible defines how we are different. The world has different meanings. The world, also known as the cosmos can mean the universe created by God. It can mean the planet earth itself. If can mean the totality of human existence. Here, in John 17, it means the order of this world, how it thinks in unity against God, alienated from God, opposed to that which is to come – the Kingdom of God. The ruler of this world is the devil, ‘Now is the judgement of this world, now will the ruler of this world be cast out.’ (John 12:31). We should have concern for our neighbours who are living under this dictator’s rule, the devil’s rule. The world is alienated from God, ever since the Fall. The systems of this world are against God.

The world does not want God. But Jesus says we are not of this world. We have been hand-picked out of this world to receive a position in His glorious kingdom. Our whole life is now a compass set towards God. Our direction is set towards God. We will be hated because we have embraced Jesus Christ and the Word of God, ‘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.’ (John 17:14). If you have any doubt the world hates God, look at the cross, how Jesus was killed. If you’re a Christian you are not of this world, you make Jesus your delight. He is precious. ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame.’ (1 Peter 2:6).

We will be hated, just as Jesus was despised. You may not want to consider this, but Christians are rejected because we have Christ as our leader. There will be uncomfortable silences when we mention we’re a Christian, or mention the name of Jesus. It is difficult because people don’t want to hear His name. Every time this happens, be encouraged, don’t stop saying His name. Be reassured you are a follower of Jesus Christ.

‘As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.’ (John 17:18). Just as Christ was sent into the world by His Father, so we are now sent into the world. Jesus did not just appear as an accident, He was sent from heaven. The whole of the Old Testament points to Jesus. He was sent into the world. We know from the words said at His birth He was set apart.

Jesus was sent on a great rescue mission – to achieve our salvation, ‘For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.’ (John 3:16). Jesus picked us out of the world, He chose us. What a great honour! He washed us. He hung on the cross, He had our names written on His hands. He picked you out to triumph over death and hell. He will work in us that we will defeat sin in His power. In the end He will present us faultless before God. We have been picked out of this world but we are in the world. Some see this as being separated. They see the sinfulness of this world and want to be separated from it. But this denies the truth that there is an inward nature of sin. And what about all the people who need to hear about Jesus? Don’t forget about those around you. Jesus sends us into the world in His power.

Some are happy to compromise with the world. But the church is very different to the world. How can a Christian sing along with songs that are clearly against the church? Or laugh at jokes that are against Christ? They can’t. Psalm 1 reminds us ‘Blessed is the man whom walks not in the counsel of the wicked.’ (Psalm 1:1). We should not compromise. Don’t be ashamed.

‘And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.’ (John 17:19). We are set apart. Just as Jesus was consecrated, so are we. We are consecrated and sanctified. To consecrate is to be set apart. Jesus was set apart by God the Father, so He set Himself apart – for death – so He might save us. To be sanctified is to be made holy, joined with Jesus in His consecration. We are set apart for the work of redemption. Jesus is determined to save those He will save. We are involved in the salvation of others too. He delights to use His church to save others by the preaching of the gospel. We can’t save anyone, only Jesus saves. We can’t open blind eyes. That work belongs to Jesus and Jesus alone. But we are called to bring His redemption message. We are:

Hand-picked out of this world;
Citizens of heaven;
Different – we have a heart for God;
Sent into the world.

‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ (Matthew 28:19-20).

We have a great commission. It is for all who believe. All of us are sent in to the world to share the gospel. It is the truth that sets us apart. We are to live holy lives, devoted to Jesus Christ, in the place He has set us. Our holiness is vital to this mission. We are not to be defiled by sin. Not all of us are called to be evangelists or pastors but let us have confidence in Jesus Christ and work where we have been called. We are to serve Christ. Do you realise your calling – the great privilege you have been given? We are ambassadors for Jesus Christ. Christ prayed His followers would have an attitude of mission. Let’s pray He would give us the heart too.

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