Monday, April 02, 2007

The High Priestly Prayer: John 17

Since we are in the midst of the Lenten Season, it seems appropriate for us to review some passages taken from the accounts of the Last Supper by John.

According to B. W. Johnson's "Introduction To The Gospel Of John":

John the son of Zebedee was a former Galilean fisherman. He was a follower of John the Baptist, before becoming a disciple of Jesus. John, together with his brother James and Simon Peter became the three disciples closest/most intimate with Jesus. (John sat beside Jesus at the Last Supper; he was the only disciple at the crucifixion; he was entrusted with the care of Jesus’ mother and was the first male disciple to reach Christ’s empty tomb.)

The Gospel According to John differs in some respects from the others. It alone follows the chronological order of events. It gives an account of the Judean ministry of Jesus. It tells us that his ministry lasted for over three years and gives it the account of the resurrection of Lazarus.

It omits much with which the church was already familiar through the other Gospels and presents much that they had not recorded. It recognizes certain false doctrines which had begun to circulate; and it gives us the most detailed account of Christ’s wonderful discourse to the disciples, the night that he was betrayed.

It is the gospel of the Incarnation, of Love, and is regarded as the most Spiritual of the four Gospels. It alone unfolds fully the great doctrine of the Comforter, The Holy Spirit. And in the Apostle’s own words, it was “written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31)

The Apostle John's account of the Last Supper goes from chapters 13 to 17. In this study, we will discuss Christ’s prayer at the Last Supper, in John 17.

The Last Supper was held during the Jewish Feast of Passover, commemorating the night when God rescued Israel from Egypt in Exodus 12:

On that night in Exodus 12, each Israelite household were to slaughter a year-old male lamb with no defects, at twilight. They were then to take some of the lamb’s blood and apply it on the sides and tops of their doorframes. On that same night, God passed through Egypt, striking down every firstborn—both men and animals—of every household that did not have the blood of the lamb on their doorframes. “The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.” (Exodus 12:13)

In some Bibles (NASB, ESV), John 17 is referred to as the “High Priestly Prayer.” The High Priest is the one sanctified/set apart to intercede for sinners before the Most Holy Righteous God. Here, we read of Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, the Chosen One, interceding in prayer for his flock (past, present and future).

(Short recap of previous chapters. Chap. 13: Jesus washed disciples’ feet; commands Judas to go; foretells Peter’s denials. Chap. 14: Jesus is the only way to the Father; Christ and the Father are one; Jesus is going away; Father is sending the Holy Spirit. Chap. 15: Abide in Christ like branches on a vine; “I chose you to bear much fruit to the Father’s glory;” the world’s hatred for Christ’s chosen ones. Chap. 16: Persecution; The Holy Spirit working in believers; Knowing how all things, good and bad, are going according to God’s plan, will turn the disciples’ grief into joy.)

Read John 17, then discuss the following:

(Note—Discuss does not necessarily mean Resolve. A few discussion points below are still being hotly debated by the most prominent theologians today. Remember, "Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good." 1Thessalonians 5:19-21 ESV. Are the comments being expressed Biblical? Unbiblical? Extra-biblical? In context with what the Bible consistently teaches? Allow Scripture to interpret Scripture--do not rely on mere opinions. Whenever we are stuck for answers, Elder Robert V reminds us that this should humble us, before our All-Knowing God. May it also drive us to search & study His Holy Word even further!)

“Father, the time has come… glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” –Jesus Christ

Human beings are affected by time. Time often dictates what we have to do (due to deadlines); and often determines what we are able to do (due to age). But what about Jesus? Do you believe that events and circumstances determine what God does? Or are events and circumstances determined by what God does?

(Jesus was no victim of circumstance. All the on-going events and conditions from before the world began, have been planned/scheduled and worked out to a climactic point by God—not by the Roman government nor the Sanhedrin nor by Judas, not even by Satan himself: see John 14:30.)

Glorify means to Lift Up/Exalt; Magnify; Honor; to Acknowledge with great approval. How important is it for us to glorify God? How relevant is the Glory of God in your everyday live?

John 17:2 says that the Father gave the Son authority over… what? The Father gave the Son authority to give… what? The Father gave the Son authority to give this to ALL of… whom?

What is so special about eternal life? Do we accept Jesus just so that we can have eternal life? Just so that we can get to heaven? Or do we accept Jesus because of Jesus himself?

(See John 17:3. Eternal life is all about knowing the gloriously Everlasting God Jesus, more and more. As Elder Robert commented: Eternal life is not enough time to fully know our limitless God.)

How did Jesus glorify/honor/acknowledge the Father? (John 17:4)

(Compare John 17:4 with John 19:30, where Christ proclaims: “It is FINISHED!”)

In v. 5, Jesus prays to be glorified in the presence of the Father. Is this selfishness or appropriate? What right does Jesus have to ask for this?

According to v. 6-8, how can we tell if a person belongs to God?

What distinction does Christ make in v.9-10? Who is Jesus praying for? Does this mean that we should only pray for fellow believers?

(Christians should pray for everyone. We do not know whom He will cause to become believers or not. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” Matt. 5:44)

Jesus prays for the protection of the believers by the Father, for what reason (v. 11)?

(Christ specifically prayed for believers because He knew that He would be leaving them in a world that hates them—where believers need to stand as one. Is unity in the church possible without God?)

Should Christians be surprised that the world hates them (John 17:14 and also John 15:8-John 16:4)? Does the thought that the world’s hatred and persecution of believers seem to be all part of God’s plan trouble you, or does it give you comfort and joy?

Christians are not of this world. To be Sanctified is to be set apart or separated from the rest. How are believers Sanctified (v. 17-19)?

Christ prayed for all his believers (past, present, future) to be one, just as the Father and the Son are one (v. 20-23). Is this level of intimacy humanly possible? How can this come about (v. 23)? What will it result in?

What does Jesus want his disciples to see, or to behold in John 17:24? Can you think of anything better to see or to behold than what Jesus wants us to see?

Is it possible to know God and yet not love Him?
The Way to know God is through…? (John 14:6-7)

Christ is our intercessor to the Father.
Christ and the Father are One.
Christ’s plea to the Father is that we be as one in Christ,
just as Christ is one with the Father.

May all of God’s children be one in giving
All the Praise, Honour and Glory to the Lord Jesus Christ!

Ignacio Lacsina jnr. (02/04/2007)

No comments: