The Prayer for Glory & Joy
Introduction: Loss of Meditators.
It is not hard to look at the current climate of our culture and see there is lots hostility. Jesus told us anyone associated with Him would experience extreme hostility. The irony is Jesus is an agent of peace and not war. But what we see in the life of Jesus is agents of peace will still experience war. What Jesus does in today’s passage is remind the true disciples of Jesus Christ that the peace we have been looking for is found in God because of Jesus. Even though this is our state before God there is still hostility toward God and His people in the rest of the world. Jesus serves as a mediator between God and humanity. This was the function of the priest in the OT. The priest would seek mediation between God and humanity. In the prayer we are looking at today we see Jesus’ heart for mediation between God and us, and us and the world. Jesus prays we will now serve as His mediators in the world—we will serve as kingdom of priests, and in the world of hostility in which we live this is now needed more than ever.
Theme: The Church will experience unifying joy as we pursue Jesus’ glory together.
1. Prayer for Jesus’ Glory—John 17.1-5.
Anyone who has true peace with God shares the same desires with Jesus, therefore, Jesus’ prayer for His own glory should excite us. Now there are 3 ways Jesus asks the Father to glorify Him:  in the Cross,  in Heaven, and  in the Church.
In John 17.1 Jesus says, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son…” All throughout the Gospel of John Jesus has been talking about the “HOUR,” and has always been a reference to the Cross. According to the OT, Jesus hanging on a Cross should be a source of shame, disgust, and ugliness, not glory, majesty, splendor, or beauty. Paul picks up on this theme in Galatians 3.13, when he says anyone who is killed on a tree should be seen as “CURSED by God. Paul learned this from the Deuteronomy 21.22-23. Therefore, Jesus is asking God the Father to take what should be a source of shame, disgust and ugliness and transform it into a source of beauty, majesty and splendor.
But Jesus does not want it to stop there, no, Jesus came to bring peace between heaven and earth. The Cross cannot just be a source of glory on earth, but should be in heaven as well. This is why Jesus prays—READ John 17.5. Jesus knows He is coming back to the Father; He will be in His presence, and wants His Father to have a real sense of joy by what He has done. Before our first parents sinned, heaven and earth intersected. God could walk among Creation and there would be no negative affects. With sin in the world, if God were come into our world with His full glory we would be wiped out. But Jesus wants the Cross to be the means by which God will restore the relationship between heaven and earth.
As Christians we believe God the Father was pleased with Jesus’ sacrifice and Jesus ascended back into the presence of God. So how does Jesus glory spread throughout the world moving forward? In order to see how Jesus’ glory will spread we should explore an OT image. In the OT the glory of God would dwell in one place, the Temple. The Temple is where people would go to learn about God and experience His presence. When you learn about God’s good, divine, unique attributes, and truly treasure them, you begin to experience the glory of God in your very being. Therefore, to know God, truly know Him is to become a living Temple. Therefore listen to what Jesus says—READ John 17.2-3. When we see the beauty and splendor, when we truly understand Jesus, we understand God. Jesus is saying glorify Me in the people you have given me, in the Church.
2. Prayer for Jesus’ Church—John 17.6-19.
As we move into the final section for today Jesus expounds on that last theme in His prayer. And there will be 2 ways the Church will glorify Jesus:  in our relationships with other Christians, and  in our relationships with non-Christians.
As we think about our relationship listen to what Jesus says—READ John 17.11-13. There are few key things to notice that Jesus says we should be experiencing as God’s people. First, the church should be a place of UNITY or ONENESS. Jesus said, “…that they may be one, even as we are one.” The world around us is constantly divided, therefore, if the church is that then they see no difference between us and them. In Paul’s Pastoral Epistles he is more concerned with the sin of “division” than another other sin. One puritan pastor put it this way:
“For wolves to worry the lambs is no wonder, but for one lamb to worry another, this is unnatural and monstrous.”—Thomas Brookes
The church should be a safe place where people experience peace, unity, and oneness. Second, how does that unity happen? Jesus tells us, “While I was with them, I kept them in your name…But now I am coming to you…that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves” (John 17.12a, 13b). Jesus kept in God’s name by revealing the beauty of God’s divine, good attributes. In the OT when you revealed someone’s name you revealed their character. When you think the name of someone you know, you think of their character, what you admire or despise about them. When we are sharing the character of God with each other we experience something together—JOY. The purpose of our relationship as a church is to help each other continue to experience the beauty of God’s attributes. Jesus prayed when continue His ministry of revealing God’s attributes we will experience His joy. This is not just any type of joy, but the joy of Jesus Christ. Think about that for a moment.
But within that pursuit there is a question we must ask, “what does it look like to fight for joy in a world that is hostile toward God?” There are two types of unhelpful tactics Jesus gives us here: ISOLATION and ASSIMILATION.
Some people have decided that the way they will fight for joy in God is to stay away from the world all together—READ John 17.15. If anyone has gone to a Christian camp or had some intimate moment with Jesus many times we want to stay in that moment. We want to recreate that mountain top experience everyday. The joy we think we are experiencing is solely for us. We forget the joy we are experiencing is meant to be shared. This is what Jesus would call ISOLATION.
There is another extreme Jesus gives us—READ John 17.16. There are some people who believe we shouldn’t look any different than the rest of the world, and if we look like them then will somehow just notice how awesome God is. This group likes to push boundaries of what is godly and ungodly. Many young Christians today are drifting this way because of they believe this is the right response to the isolation group.
The exciting news is Jesus offers us a THIRD way—READ John 17.17-19. Jesus’ third way is what I would call, “Truthful, Sanctified Evangelization.” All 3 of these are in these final statements in Jesus’ prayer for His Church. Sanctification simply means are beginning to share more of Jesus’ attributes over time. The only way this will happen is if we are honest with ourselves and honest with each other. As we help each other grow in the attributes of Jesus the final result should be we are sharing those attributes with the hostile world as Jesus did. We must never forget Jesus was SENT into the world to bring healing, peace, to help humanity truly flourish. This is why Jesus has prayed for us, and continues to pray for us. Jesus longs for us to continue His mission of bringing healing, peace, so that humanity can truly flourish the way God intended.
In the church we must keep in mind that we end up having these two previous groups constantly warring with each other. The Isolation crowd has no problem needlessly offending people, thus pushing people further away from Jesus. This group neglects sanctification. But the Assimilation crowd has no problem with never offending someone, and they also push people further away from Jesus. This group neglects truth. In order to be evangelist we must value sanctification and truth. We cannot have one without the other.
Let me give you a rising concern I have seen in our church, and the western church on a whole. Maybe some of you have seen those people who row boats in a race. Research tells the key is not everyone rowing hard, but when they row in unison. In order to do that they need to collectively listen to the person sitting at the front of boat calling out the instructions. They must row in a rhythm. My fear is we have many Christians out there rowing hard, but neglecting the basic rhythms of the chief Shepherds voice. The rhythms we have are pursuing here are regular Gatherings, Communities, and Discipleship. When we don’t pursue these rhythms it is extremely hard for us to help each other pursue a healthy balance truth, sanctification, and evangelism.