Christ's Prayer for His Church

Bible Book: John  17 : 11-20
Subject: Prayer of Jesus for Church

What we call the Lord's Prayer is really the Model Prayer. That is the prayer that Jesus gave us to pray. The true Lord's Prayer is in John 17. This is the Prayer that he prayed for us and it is a prayer for the church. For two thousand years, Jesus has been at the right hand of the Father pleading and praying for us for four or five things to be. Look in verse 20. Jesus had just told the disciples that he was leaving them and going back to heaven. They were deeply shaken. It was hard enough when he was here. How will it be when he is gone? Seeking to reassure them and direct them into his perfect will, he prayed for them and let John and the other disciples listen. So, John recorded what he heard Jesus say was the prayer that he would be praying for thousands of years, for everybody that would be a part of His Church. He said, "Lord, I'm not praying for only these disciples that are listening, but for everyone who will ever believe in me through their word. This is my prayer for everybody that shall ever believe on me." This is the only occasion that we have insight into the heart of Jesus as to his prayer for the church.

I. Father, Keep Them Verse 11

Protect - insert the word keep. It is a better word to use. It is truer to the Greek. The King James and New American Standard reads, "keep them". In context the issue at hand is keeping them. The disciples were deeply shaken. It was hard enough when Jesus was here. What is it going to be now that he is leaving? One of the disciples denied him. One doubted him. And one even betrayed him, Judas, whom hanged himself. One would think that there may be some of us who will be lost. But Jesus confronts the issue head on and helps them to understand about Judas. Jesus was not praying that prayer for his benefit. Jesus did not need to ask the Father to keep them eternally saved. He knew the Father was going to do that anyway. The prayer was not for the Father's sake. The prayer was for their sake. In John 12, Jesus is praying again. Jesus commented, "This is not for my sake. This is for your sake." He wanted them to hear and know that the Father was going to keep them. They were in an interim between the coming of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit. But he does not want you to worry, no matter how hard it's going to get, I'm going to keep you. Jesus said on this rock, I'll build my church. It's not the responsibility of deacons, pastor, people, committees or staff. It is the responsibility of Jesus. There is security. He knows they are thinking of Judas, who he did lose. So he explains that and says I haven't lost any so I'm not going to lose any of them. That is except Judas. He explains; in order that the scripture may be fulfilled. What scripture? That he was a devil from the beginning and went to his own place. Judas was never a Christian who lost his salvation. He was a hypocrite who never had it in the first place. Jesus explains that for their benefit.

II. Father, Fill Them Verse 13

Joy is one of the fruits of the spirit. There can be no joy in a life without the fullness of the Holy Spirit. You are my witness, my people. I'm leaving as the light of the world but there is going to be greater light in all of you. It has to be a bright & happy light. There is no joy unless you can let it go. The most consistent characteristic of the need to control is misery. When we can let it go and let God be God. Let him be Lord of the church and Lord of our lives. Then there is the freedom of the joy that comes.

III. Father, Protect Them from the Evil One Verse 15

We live in hostile environment. This is the devil's territory. The spiritual said it so well, "This world is not my home. I'm just passing through." The devil is the prince and power of this age, on this playing field. Lord, help them to know that they will be protected from the devil.

IV. Father, Sanctify Them by the Truth

He said that there is going to be spiritual fatalities in the world. But the church is not a showcase for the saints. It's a hospital for the sinners. The worse people are, the more welcome they are, and the more they need to be here. When a brother falls in the battle against the devil, he is not to be booted out. He is to be loved and embraced.

V. Father, Make Them All One Verse 20

This is Jesus' prayer for every church in America that all of them may be one. The emphasis is on the harmony and unity of the church. Jesus sees this as a critical issue. It is characteristic of the Greek language not to use superlatives. Not many adjectives. You don't find expressions like: this is the most super, wonderful, glorious thing that ever happened. If the Greek language wants to emphasize something, it just says it again. There are no incidences in scripture where anything in a passage is emphasized by repetition more than three times, except one. Here Jesus says five times, please help them to get it. Verse 11: please help them to commit, that the church must be one. Verse 11: so     that they may be one as we are. Verse 20: that they all may be one. Verse 20: that they may also be in us (as one, as we are). Verse 22: that they may be one and that they may be brought to complete unity, and that the world may know that you sent me. Five unprecedented times He said; that they may be one. It is not uniformity for which Jesus prays. It is unity.

Prayer for unity presupposes a dis-uniformity. Suggesting that we are all different. But the different things are in harmony around the centrality headship of Christ. Again, it is not uniformity for which he prays, but unity. And he uses the trinity as an example. The Father is in charge. The Son is submissive to the Father. The Holy Spirit carries out the will of the Father. You have different functions in the Trinity; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all equal but different. So there is not uniformity even in the Trinity. Is there unity in the Trinity? Of course! There is no uniformity in a tree. There are   leaves, roots, bark, sap and apples. But is there unity in a tree? Yes!

Now Jesus is saying this to us. There is something that forms a backdrop to give creditability to your witness. As you are out there and I'm leaving you here to be salt and light to impact the world, there is something that gives creditability to all of that happening. And that is the unity of the congregation.

The greatest problem in the world besides sin is disharmony. Is there in government, among nations, a home, anywhere disunity does not exist? The world is looking for something where there are examples of how unity works. In fact, it is that vacuum in which the anti-Christ will step and make false unity and bring a false peace to the world. That will cause the world to honor him and accept him. The world hungers for peace.

When they see in the church that we are the showcase, the only place in the world where people can be different, all willing to lay aside their desires for the good of the whole so there might be unity.

When that happens the world sees the unity of the church, then there is creditability to our witness. And without it there is none. When churches are at harmony with themselves, beautiful unity, a miracle occurs and the body of Jesus Christ is recreated. In that atmosphere and presence, people are drawn. But if it is not there, they are repulsed and they leave. So the unity of the congregation is absolutely priority. Five times in this passage alone He emphasizes that. How so?

When Jesus was in this world he was in one body, one place at one time. Where Jesus was, there was unbelievable magnetism. People were drawn to him. Women adored him. Men would die for him. Little children crawled all over him. He said, "Lifted up, exulted I'll draw all men unto myself." But then he went away and made a strange statement. Don't worry it's okay, because I send the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has to be the Holy Spirit of something or someone. Every spirit must have an essence. The Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit of Jesus. He is here, right beside us but also at the right hand of the Father.

So in His coming again, now indwelling a bigger body, a greater body, all of us together making the body of Christ. Jesus said an awesome thing. He said to his disciples, don't worry; its okay. These works that I do shall you do and greater! Greater in quality, there are more of us.

Every Sunday morning when the church gets together in that attitude, that spirit, preserving unity at all cost. In honor preferring one another. Let each esteem the other more important than himself. A miracle happens. The Holy Spirit gently joins the body together by drawing life from the head in heaven and in essence recreating the body of Jesus Christ. Every time you walk into a church in harmony with itself. When the power of Jesus is there. The Church is one, the body is recreating the body of Christ on earth. For the Holy Spirit is drawing from the lift of the Head from heaven. You walk into the presence of Jesus. It is awesome. People can't wait to get there. There is validity and life.

What is that?

It is the recreated presence of Jesus in a bigger body that attracts and draws people. It is the single most vital issue to the witness of a church. He says it twice. Father, may they be one. That the world may believe I came from you. It is the recreation of the living body of Jesus, an organism that recreates His presences and attracts. It gives validity to our witness.

If there is not unity the world would not believe in Jesus. When there is, they experience him. They don't read the bible down at the bar. Oh, they read us! When a church fights and splits and the world knows about it. And they always do. It will take twenty years to get back your witness. Until a new generation grows up that never heard about the fight.

Did you ever notice that half of the churches in the country are named new harvest? Someone is responsible for this and preserving this. One day we have a record of a problem going on in the church. The Greek widow believers and the Jewish believers who were widowed were at each other's throat over who was getting the most food when the bread was passed out. It was so serious in the church and the Lord led the disciples. God said to his disciples. You find seven men with a good reputation that have honor and esteem and appoint them to deal with this matter. You can interpret that also as; let them look after this matter. Get deacons, Godly men. Brethren, your number one priority is not to deal with church business matters and financial matters. Your led priority is to protect and defend the divisions that come to destruct the harmony of the church.

As we are committing ourselves to that kind of people, we are establishing a visible expression of   the vital reality of Jesus to the world. And that is what gives creditability to our witness. That is Jesus' prayer for the Church and only you can, individually; each of us answers his prayer. The bible uses so many wonderful analogies. It says; He is the King. We are the subjects. He's the head. We are the body. He is the shepherd. We are the sheep. He is their master. We are the servants. He is the vine. We are the branches. He is the foundation. We are the building. He is the groom. We are the bride. He is the head of the church and the head of the family. We are his children. As children love each other as his love comes through us. The church is strong. The witness goes out. People come, they love it, they sense God is there and that gives creditability to everything we do. It is our unity that gives creditability to the witness and claims and deity of Jesus Christ.