“JESUS PRAYS FOR ALL BELIEVERS” John 17:20-26
INTRO – We all need to have others praying for us. Aren’t you thankful to have people praying for you? Means so much in the Church to have people standing in the gap for us in prayer. Reminds me of the African-American spiritual song from days gone by that says, “It’s me, it’s me, it’s me, O Lord; standing in the need of prayer!” That’s true of all of us! Also reminds me of the little boy who was cutting up in church. Kept ignoring his father’s attempts to calm him down, until finally the father snatched him up & headed out the back door of the church to take care of business outside. Last thing the congregation heard was the little boy shouting out, “Y’all pray for me!” He was definitely standing in the need of prayer!
- Also reminds me of another little boy saying his prayers one night: “Dear God, please take care of Mommy & Daddy & brother & sister & my dog. And God, please take care of yourself, too, b/c if anything happens to you, we’re all in a mess!”
It’s even more special when you actually hear people praying for you. That’s one aspect of REFRESH that is so special. We regularly pray for one another, calling out in prayer for those who are in need.
And one of the most beautiful aspects of John 17 is that we get to actually hear Jesus Christ Himself praying for us to the Father. We get to listen in on His intercession for us & know exactly what He is concerned about for us. And one thing we can KNOW for sure is that there is nothing – absolutely nothing – that will hinder the prayers of the Son to the Father.
- Unconfessed sin will hinder our prayer. 66:18 – “If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.”
- Unrepentant attitudes. 59:2 – “It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.”
- Unreconciled broken relationships. 5:23-24 – “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.”
- Unwillingness to submit to God’s will. 1 John 5:14 – “This is the confidence that we have in approaching God: That if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”
- Uneagerness to obey God’s Word. 28:9 – “If you refuse to obey what you have been taught, your prayers will not be heard.”
While any & all of these hindrances can be true of you & me at different times in our lives, they were never true of Jesus when He prayed.
- He never had any sin to confess.
- He never had any reason to repent.
- He never had any relationships that went unreconciled.
- He never was unwilling to submit to His Father’s will.
- He never was disobedient to the Word of God.
So we need to understand this major Biblical truth: When Jesus prays for us, the Father hears His prayers & answers them! And when He prayed for you & me in these final verses of John 17, there were 3 important facets of His prayer that we need to know:
UNITY – v. 20-23 – First & foremost, He prayed for our unity. This is the heart of His prayer for us. I said it last week & it bears repeating here again today: I truly believe that unity is THE most important facet of the strength of a church’s overall ministry. It was the main request that Jesus made of the Father for us.
Why is unity so important? B/c it is a direct reflection on the character & glory of God. The basis of our unity is not agreement on the interpretation of every verse of Scripture, or agreement on every line of doctrine, but on the glory of God & the common bond of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
- There are some Christians who believe that God chooses certain people to be saved & others to be condemned.
- There are some Christians who believe that you can lose your salvation.
- There are some Christians who speak in tongues.
- There are some Christians who believe in infant baptism; some who believe in women deacons & pastors; some who believe that the KJV is the only accurate Bible translation.
And while some folks may make these points reasons for disunity, that’s not at all what Jesus wants for us. We can discuss, even vigorously debate some these issues. But they are NOT reasons to destroy the unity in the Body of Christ.
Jesus’ desire for us is that we be one, just as He & the Father are one. That is what brings glory to God, what reflects the glory of God, & expands the glory of God in the world. And when we aren’t in unity, the world sees that & disregards everything we say about who we are, who God is, what the Gospel is all about, & how our lives have been changed by Jesus. Disunity causes our testimonies to unravel, our truth to be questioned, & our touch to be diminished. Puritan preacher Thomas Brooks: “Discord and division become no Christian. For wolves to worry the lambs is no wonder, but for one lamb to worry another, this is unnatural and monstrous.”
To protect, guard, & build the unity in the Body of Christ, we need STAYING power:
- Stay IN the Word
- Stay ON guard
- Stay TRUE to your calling
- Stay THROUGH the hard times
- Stay CLOSE to Jesus & to His Bride, the Church
ETERNITY – v. 24 – In Valladolid, Spain, where Christopher Columbus died in 1506, stands a monument commemorating the great discoverer. Perhaps the most interesting feature of the memorial is a statue of a lion destroying one of the Latin words that had been part of Spain’s motto for centuries. Before Columbus made his voyages, the Spaniards thought they had reached the outer limits of earth. Thus their motto was “Ne Plus Ultra,” which means “No More Beyond.” The word being torn away by the lion is “ne” or “no,” making it read “Plus Ultra.” Columbus had proven that there was indeed “more beyond.”
Jesus has made it abundantly clear here in v. 24 & in many other places that there is definitely “more beyond” this life, both for the Christ-follower & the Christ-rejecter.
- For those who are born again believers, we will be where Jesus is – in the presence of God for all eternity. We will see His glory & experience the fullness of His love. We can’t get our brains around this truth in this life, but, rest assured, it is going to be awesome, amazing, astounding, & absolutely glorious!
- For those who are lost w/out Christ, they will be outside the presence of God for all eternity, experiencing the fullness of His wrath. Again, we can’t get our finite minds around this dreadfulness of this truth, but, rest assured, it is going to be awful, amazingly sad, astoundingly painful, & absolutely nightmarish!
Why think about eternity? Is it just so we can dwell on the fact that “when we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be”? That is true! But thinking about eternity affects how we live our lives NOW, & affects our motivation for serving the Lord. C.S. Lewis: “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”
If we really, truly believe that heaven IS so wonderful & that hell IS so awful – If we really, truly believe that only those who know Christ go to heaven & those who reject Christ go to hell – If we really, truly believe that there is nothing more precious than being in the presence of God for all eternity, & that there is nothing more horrifying than to be banished from His presence for all eternity – then we ought to be doing something about that!
- We ought to be sharing the Gospel.
- We ought to be supporting our church & its mission w/ our tithes & offerings.
- We ought to be volunteering to serve in the ministries of our church.
- We ought to be getting trained through FAITH.
- We ought to be praying for missionaries & for unreached people groups around the world.
- We ought to be seeking the Lord for his direction for the next place our church needs to establish a mission, the next country we need to go to on a mission trip.
- We ought to make sure our passports are up-to-date – or get a passport – so we can be ready to go when God says “Go!”
IDENTITY – v. 25-26 – Listen to these final words from the Lord Jesus (read verses). Did you hear that? He is going to continue making the Father’s love known to us. He is in us & we are in Him. That is our identity!
 Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 371). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.