John 17:24-26 | This is Not Goodbye | Andrew Gutierrez
Topic: Worship Gatherings Passage: John 17:24–17:26
I’d invite you, sadly, for the final time to open to John 17. We’ve been in the upper room for quite a while. This is part of the upper room discourse. There’s questions about whether this was actually prayed in the upper room or not, but either way it’s known as the upper room discourse. And we’ve heard Jesus speak very intimately to his disciples and pray for them, and it’s kind of sad to be done today, if I can be honest with you. But we’ll look forward to the coming weeks where we look at the actual events that surround the death of our Lord.
And really the death of our Lord is the focal point of all human history and then his subsequent resurrection. And so, when we just get out of John 17, the good news is we’re going into John 18 next week. So that’s good.
John 17. The text for the morning is actually the final three verses, John 17:24-26. And please follow along as I read. Here’s our Lord’s final words in this prayer:
Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.
I’ve entitled this message “This is Not Goodbye.” We’ve been learning from our Lord about what he wants his disciples to understand before he goes to the cross and before he’s executed. From John 13 through 17, he has preached to us. He’s preached to his disciples. He’s taught them.
And he hasn’t sugarcoated anything. He’s told them things like, the world’s going to hate you. He’s been very real with his disciples. He’s given them much encouragement as well. He’s told them things like the fact that he’s going away. He’s told them to love one another, and he demonstrated that kind of servant-hearted love in washing the disciples’ filthy, stinky, muddy feet and told them to do likewise for one another. He told them to do that—this group that didn’t always get along, this group that constantly compared themselves to one another, this group that constantly was trying to get places of higher position to one another—he told that group to love and serve one another.
He told them, as I mentioned earlier, that they would be hated. He told them also that they would receive another one like him—the helper, the Holy Spirit. He told them that while he’s going away, he’s going to return for them. He’s told them, at perhaps a low point in the night, that one of them would betray him. He’s told them that they will be sorrowful, but he’s told them that his joy would be in them. He’s told them a lot.
He’s about to leave them, in a sense, physically. He’s going to physically leave them in the world, but he’s going to send his Holy Spirit to be with them.
He prays in John 17 specifically that his Father would answer some requests for these weary disciples, for these disciples who can often feel alone. He’s prayed that his Father would keep them secure. He’s prayed that his Father would set them apart for their mission, that he’d make them holy, set apart for their mission. He’s prayed that they would be united. You can see the last couple weeks that we studied the unity of the church based on the prayer in John 17.
And finally he comes to this, to this portion, which is ending in prayer, and we hear about what’s on his heart. The final things in this prayer. What are the final things in the heart of Jesus before he’s going to leave? What are the final things that he wants for us while he’s gone from us?
I’m reminded of sometimes when you say goodbye to a loved one, whether it’s for a trip or even as they may even be on their deathbed, and you hear them say things like—or you might say things like—this is not goodbye; it’s…what? See you later. I’ll see you later.
And we hear that this is reality to Jesus. This is not a final goodbye—I’ll never see you guys again. Father, I’ll never see them again. He expects that there will be a time where he is reunited with the ones that he loves. For the disciples, they would see him again. For us who have never seen him face to face, there will be a time where we actually for the first time see him face to face. And evidently, according to John 17:24-26, evidently he wants that to happen. Jesus desires to see you face to face.
We think about that idea a lot from Scripture in saying, we want to see him face to face, and that’s a certain reality. 1 John 3, Psalm 17—there’s a number of places where it speaks of us seeing him face to face; but evidently, according to this passage, he wants and even prays to the Father that he would see us, that he would be with us. It’s a staggering thought.
So, Jesus is about to leave his disciples physically, and in a sense, he’s left us physically. He has, but he’s left us with his Holy Spirit. But there’s a separation there that could cause the disciples sorrow and difficulty and trouble. But there are two final encouragements for the longing disciple in this text. Two final encouragements for the longing disciples.
1. Jesus desires that we would be with him in heaven.
Here’s the first one: Jesus desires that we would be with him in heaven (v. 24). Jesus desires that we would be with him in heaven. Jesus’ final request in this prayer is to the Father for us to be with him and to see him as glorious, without any limitations.
Verse 24: “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” You see that word desire? When Jesus utters that word, we hear the heart of Jesus. Jesus literally prays about the deep want of his heart. What is the deep want of the heart of Jesus? That you and I would be with him.
Jesus wants something. This—today, this time in human history—is not right in that sense to Jesus. Yes, he gives us his Spirit. Yes, we’re doing the things he’s called us to do. But there’s a final right that’s coming—a final right relationship, right situation that’s coming—and that’s when Jesus’ own are with him to enjoy him forever.
You know, those of you who are married, you understand what engagement is like. Exciting, but not everything. Who ever said, I love this! Let’s just stay engaged for years. This kind of works for me. No! Engagement is not enough. Because in engagement, when we go on dates, we go home at the end of the night, separately. We’re not together all the time in that sense.
This is kind of the sense here. Yes, we belong to Christ. His Spirit indwells us. We’ve been saved by him. But we’re not with him physically yet. And while we want that, he evidently wants that as well. Jesus wants something here.
He says, “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am.” Notice this is not the first time Jesus has talked about the ones whom the Father has given him. In John, one of the ways that Jesus talks about his own is those whom the Father has given to me.
What are some synonyms for Christians? Followers of Christ. Saints. Well, one of the major synonyms to Jesus is, those whom the Father has given to me. Father, the ones you’ve given to me—I pray that they would be with me. The Father has given a group of people to the Son, and the Son died for that group of people, and the Son loves that group of people, the Son saved that group of people, and the Son wants to be with that group of people.
John 6:37, 39: “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.” This is a theme to Jesus. This is something that dominated his mind.
John 10:28-29: “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.” Evidently, the fact that the Father had given the Son a group of people made that people very secure, and Jesus here in John 17 wants to be with that people.
John 17:6: “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world.” John 17:9: “I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.” And then here in our text: “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me.”
So the Father has given the Son a group of people, and the Son wants to be with the people. Picture an arranged marriage. The father giving the son a bride. And the son loves the bride; the son will die for the bride. And the son is saying to the father, I want to be with the bride. That’s what Jesus is saying here.
I don’t know if you were ever separated from one of your loved ones. Maybe there was a time where you went on a trip or they went on a trip and you were separated for quite a while. I know some of you grew up in a time where it wasn’t uncommon for you to be newly married and then separated because one was in the military and one was at home. That even happens today in our own body. There’s this long separation. Far away, many miles. Many years, maybe. Many months separated.
And what you often hear is things like, I love you. I love you too. I miss you. I miss you too. Now, I think sometimes we don’t think of Christ as longing to see us. I think we think, okay, at the end of my life I’ll kind of die and then go to heaven, and I’ll just kind of show up, and he’ll be like, okay, you’re done with that job and here you go; now worship me forever. We think of that in kind of a cold way.
Jesus Christ wants to be with his people, wants to be with you, wants to be with me in heaven. This desire, this word that he uses, is a heartfelt word. I want to be with them. This is not one person in the relationship saying, I can’t wait to be with you; I have to be with you, and the other one going, okay. It’s not that. It’s, Jesus, I want to be with you, and him saying, I want to be with you. That’s the heart of Jesus in this text. Jesus tells the Father that he wants us to be with him.
Now, Jesus is with us in spirit here. But Jesus wants us to be with him in his home. It’s been said that you’re never so close to someone as when you are in their home with them. You think of someone you may admire. A writer, a successful person in business, a politician—I don’t know who admires politicians, but anyway—you think of someone that you admire. A star athlete, some celebrity. You just admire their work, what they do.
And imagine if you heard that they were coming to your hometown to meet with the group that you’re a part of. Maybe it’s your company. Maybe it’s your reading group. Whatever it may be—they’re coming to be with you for a certain time. And you enjoy that. You get to kind of know them a little bit, and then they get in their car and they go away. This is the person that we admire most saying, you come be with me in my home. We’re going to be together. That’s an intimacy that’s different from them coming to where you are; it’s you being invited to come to where they are.
That’s why in John 14 Jesus says, I’m coming back for you, and I’m going to prepare a place for you, and when I return I will take you to be with me. He’s preparing a place for us to live physically with him, and he’s going to come back to bring us there.
It’s the first century picture of the son preparing a place at his father’s home and then to go and at the right time, when the place is prepared, to go and receive the bride and saying, come here; this is where we’re going to live. This is where we’re going to be together. This is the picture. And so Jesus is praying to the Father, I want to be with them. I want to be with them.
What are we going to do when we’re with him? Why does he want us to be with him? What does he want us to see when we’re with him? He wants us to see his glory. That is the most beautiful thing that you and I will every lay our eyes on—the glory of Jesus Christ without any filter. We’ll be able to see who he is, and I’ll promise you based on the testimony of Scripture, we’re not going to ever be bored with that. We’re going to be fascinated and captivated by that.
Think of the most loving person you know, you’ve ever known. You want to be around that person. You admire them. You admire them for their love. Think of the most loyal person you know. Maybe it’s an aunt, uncle, a mom. The most loyal person you know. You love that about them, that they are loyal to you. You can trust that. You want to be around that. You trust in their loyalty to you. The most hardworking person you know. The most patient person you know. The most righteous person you know. The most whatever person you know. You’re attracted to great attributes.
Well, now think of all those people, some of the people that maybe popped in your mind. Those people are all imperfect people. Christ is the most loving, the most loyal, the most hardworking, the most patient, the most righteous. He’s the best of every single attribute. He is holy. There is no one like him.
And when you’re around someone special, you want to keep being around them. He is the perfect one. And so when we see him as he is—without any sin in the way, without anything distracting us or competing for our affection—when we see him without any sin and see him as he is, we’ll be speechless. We’ll never want to leave. We’ll never be bored.
That’s what he wants us to see. That’s what he wants us to understand. He wants us to see his glory—the full manifestation of his greatness. And evidently, the Father is pleased to show the Son to us in this way. This is not just what the Son wants; this is what the Father wants. The Father wants us to be enamored with his Son.
Turn to Matthew 17, if you will. Matthew 17. If you would have been around in the first century and come across Jesus—maybe you were at the Sea of Galilee. Maybe you were in the temple. Maybe you were near Bethany around the party that Mary, Martha, and Lazarus threw for him. Maybe you came across Jesus at some point. You wouldn’t see him and immediately have your jaw drop and fall to your knees. You remember the Christmas song, “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,” so he’s veiled in flesh. There’s something about him being in human flesh where we don’t see him as he is yet.
He took on the form of man. He came and received part of the curse on him. He suffered because of the curse. He experienced pain because of the curse. He experienced the pain of this world. And so when we see him, we don’t see him in his glorious majesty. You wouldn’t have seen him in his glorious majesty then. You would see him as just any other guy.
That’s why when people knew him to be the Son of God or said that he was the Son of God, other people were like, are you kidding me? Him? He’s from Nazareth. Do you know, by the way, about his family situation? Do you know how he was born? Do you know that there’s doubts about his mom and dad’s reputation? You wouldn’t have seen him as glorious. It was scandalous to see Jesus as God, as glorious.
So Matthew 17—shortly before he’s going to die and go back to heaven, he shows a few select disciples a little taste of what we’ll all see in heaven, a little taste of his glory, his glorious person. Matthew 17, verse 1: “And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother [so three disciples get to go with Jesus], and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light” (Matthew 17:1-2).
So here’s the picture. Transfigured means he shows them what he’s like in his glory, for just a moment. They’re used to seeing just some guy that looks like them from Nazareth; he shows himself as the glorious King of kings ruling over all the nations. He shows them that for a moment.
“And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. [So he’s talking with Moses and Elijah.] And Peter said to Jesus, [one of the great understatements of the whole Bible] ‘Lord, it is good that we are here’” (Matthew 17:3-4). Lord, this works for us. This is good. I don’t know how Peter said it. Maybe it was that simple; maybe it was, Lord, it is good that we are here. I don’t know how he said it. But he’s right—Lord, it is good that we are here.
“If you wish, I will make three tents here”—what do you do in a tent? You stay. You camp. That’s the place you’re going to live for a while. So based on what he sees, Lord, I want to stay here. Hey, I got an idea. How about I build some tents? That’s his idea.
I’ll make three tents, “‘one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud [this is obviously the Father] said, ‘This is my beloved Son, [this is the Son whom I love; this is my loved Son] with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.’ When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Rise, and have no fear.’ And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only” (Matthew 17:4-8).
This is what happens when people in the Bible get a small glimpse of Jesus’ glory.
Luke 5. Jesus is with Peter and some other fishermen who were in other boats, and they’ve been up all night, these fishermen, and Jesus tells them where to cast their net. They haven’t caught any fish the whole night. He tells them where to cast their net. They cast their net on the other side of the boat, and they bring in this large amount of fish, and for a moment Peter gets a glimpse of the glory of Jesus, and what does he do? Hey, what’s up? No. Falls down and says, get away from me; I’m a sinful man. And what does Jesus tell him? “Do not be afraid.”
Revelation 1. John—our writer here—gets a glimpse of the glory of the resurrected Christ, the exalted Christ in heaven (Revelation 1), and he falls down as if dead. And the Lord, we understand, puts his right hand on him and says, do not be afraid; I’m the first and the last. Do not be afraid; I’m the one who gives life. Do not be afraid.
You see Isaiah in Isaiah 6. See this vision of the glory of God, see this vision of the glory of Christ. We learn that it’s actually Christ’s train of the robe that he sees, according to John 12. He sees this vision in Isaiah 6, and he hears the seraphim say, holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory! Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts! He’s enamored by the glory of God, and he’s undone. Woe is me; damned is me; cursed is me. I’m a man of unclean lips. And the Lord comes and sends angels, and they singe his tongue with the coals from the altar, and he says that your sin is atoned for.
When we see the glory of Christ and we are humbled by it and realize that we are sinners in his presence, we fall down, and he is quick to communicate to us, no fear. Have no fear. This is what happens.
So one day we’re going to come in contact and we’re going to see—our eyes are going to see—the glory of Christ. Without interruption, without sin clouding anything, without any fog, without anything, we’re going to see the greatness of Christ and be awed, and that’s what Christ wants us to see. And he prays to the Father that we would see that.
And the Father wants us to see that. The Father is proud of his Son. The Father wants his son to be worshiped, wants his Son to be adored, wants his Son to be praised.
You know, this fall I’m the assistant coach of my son Weston’s soccer team. And that’s a special little thing. We were at practice last week, and we were doing this drill. And Weston almost scored the game-winning goal of the drill. Now Weston was on a team with one other guy. Now, I’m the assistant coach of my son’s team. I’m supposed to be impartial. If Johnny scores, great. If Billy scores, great. If Weston scores, great. I’m not impartial. I want my son to score the game-winning goal. And it just missed off the edge, and my heart went, oh! Just a little bit. I love my son. I’m proud of my son. I want my son to be the one that scores the goal. That’s just a tiny microcosm.
Jesus Christ has never done anything wrong. He is holy. He’s obeyed his parents in every way, as a teenager. He grew up and submitted to the government the right way he was supposed to submit to the government. He’s obeyed his heavenly Father the right way. And he takes all of that righteousness, gives it to sinners who hate his Father, and takes on their sin. And that’s why the Father says, in my Son I am well-pleased. The Father wants the Son to be glorified, to be enamored, to be worshiped throughout all eternity.
Think about Genesis 3. Adam and Eve sinned—naked, ashamed, embarrassed. God kills an animal, clothes Adam and Eve, and covers their shame. We now, as New Testament Christians, can look on that and go, I know what that was pointing to, because I was ashamed of my own sin. I was ashamed of my own guilt, the way I had denied Christ, disobeyed the Lord. And Jesus Christ’s blood covered my guilt. I’m no longer guilty. The Father knew back in Genesis 3 that one day we would connect the dots and go, oh my goodness. Jesus Christ is the Lamb slain.
God knew in Genesis 22 when Isaac was brought up by Abraham his father to die, just before Abraham took that knife, the Lord stopped his hand and showed him there was a ram in the bush that would be the sacrifice, the substitution for Isaac. That’s like us. We deserve to die because of our sin. But Christ has not just chosen any old lamb to save us; no lamb could. We needed one like us, a man like us. And so he sent not just any other man; he sent his own Son. He sent his own Son to die for us.
The Father, from the Old Testament into the New, is constantly pointing us forward to his Son, pointing us forward to his Son so that one day in heaven we would see him, and all the dots would be connected. And we would glory in the Son.
One day you and I will see all the reasons why God did everything. We’ll see all the Old Testament prophecies and the New Testament promises, and we’ll see that they’re realized in Jesus Christ. We will see how through trials and longings in our life, joys and celebrations, Christ was faithful to us. We will understand the true depths of our sin and the true love of Jesus. We will understand his patience. We will understand his humiliation. We’ll understand his power. We’ll understand his authority. We’ll understand his mercy. We’ll perfectly understand his wrath. We’ll perfectly understand his joy.
One day we will see the crucified Lamb standing. Executed lambs don’t stand. This one does. One day we’ll see the crucified Lamb standing, in his glory, and we will never again be the same. This is what he desires all of us to see. I want you to hear heaven this morning. Hear heaven say to you, I can’t wait to show you the culmination of all of this. I can’t wait to show you my Son.
Jesus Christ wants us to see him as he is. How does this change us today? Great. John 17. I gotta go to work tomorrow. Big deal. No. All of human history, all of human history points to the fact that God is a saving God, and he wants those whom he saves to relish in the means of their salvation, Jesus Christ his Son. Everything points to that.
Some of our loved ones have gone to heaven. You’ve experienced that; I’ve experienced that. We think of those times as times of great loss, and if those people are in Christ, I want you just for a moment to hear heaven’s perspective on that. We think of—I think of my grandma who went to be with the Lord—and we think of it as loss for us. Listen to Psalm 116:15 and hear the echo of John 17, that Jesus wants his own to be with him. “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” That’s heaven’s perspective on our homegoing.
Hear our Lord. John 17:24 again: “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory.” Hear heaven say, I want to be with my people. Whether it’s our loved ones that die or whether it’s us, heaven wants us to be there. It’s not just some cold indifferent thing. Okay, you went through your life; you went through your trials; you graduated; here you go; you’re in heaven. There’s emotion to this. There’s relation to this. Jesus wants to be with you and with me.
2. Jesus continues to make the Father known to us on earth.
So Jesus wants us to behold his glory. Secondly, there’s one final encouragement that I think we can take from John 17 as weary disciples in the world. Jesus continues to make the Father known to us on earth. So Jesus wants us to be in heaven—take great encouragement in that—and Jesus continues to make the Father known to us on earth.
Verse 25: “O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. “ Now, Jesus calls him righteous Father. Perfect, holy Father. Righteous one. The one who never does anything wrong. The all-wise one. Righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you.
And isn’t that true? Just watch the news after a national tragedy. Watch the news and hear all sorts of people questioning God. How could God do this or that? The world doesn’t know God. They don’t know that he’s righteous, perfectly righteous. They don’t know that he never does anything wrong. You can’t question him. He’s perfectly righteous. He’s perfectly just. He’s perfectly patient. He’s perfectly patient. He’s perfect in every way.
The world doesn’t know him to be perfect in every way. They know him to be flawed in every way. God evidently has a bad position on sexuality. God evidently has the wrong position on marriage. God is clearly not just, that he allows certain things to go on and doesn’t solve other things. They don’t know him to be righteous, and Jesus understands that.
“O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you.” I know that you’re righteous. I know that you’re just. I know that you’ve never done anything wrong. I know that you’re good. I know you, and “these know that you have sent me.” I know you, and they know me; therefore they know you. They know that you’ve sent me to represent you; you’ve sent me to make you known.
So we not only know Christ; we know the Father. We know that God is not unjust. We know that he doesn’t have the wrong position. We know that he’s not on the wrong side of history. We know that he’s the righteous one. Whether the world knows that or not, we know that.
Jesus knows the true character of the Father, and Jesus has made the true character of the Father known. I know some of your testimonies are you had low views about God, and then he changed your heart and opened your eyes, and now you worship and adore him. Jesus has made known the Father to you.
Verse 26: “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” So Jesus doesn’t just say, Father, I’ve told them who you are. I’ve saved them; I’ve shown them your character; my job’s done; I’m outta here; they’re on their own. No, he says, I’ve made known your name to them and will continue to make it known.
So Jesus is continuing somehow to communicate to us what God is like, and by knowing that we know more of how much he loves us, and that gives us strength when your boss is the way he is to you. That gives us strength when the loved one you had leaves you. That gives us strength when those people say those things about you. That gives us strength. We know God, and we know how much he loves us. That’s what Jesus promises to communicate to us in an ongoing fashion.
So pick the trial you’re going through. Pick the trial. Jesus’ Holy Spirit has been given to you so that you would know the faithfulness of God to you and know how much he loves you. And evidently Jesus expected that that would be enough for his disciples, through any trial or hardship. This is the work of Jesus’ Holy Spirit, that he will continue to teach us about the Father, his character and his love for us.
That’s why if you go through the New Testament epistles and you look at the prayers of the apostles for the church, you’re going to see a few things dominate. They want you to know, to increase in knowledge. Evidently that’s a good thing. Knowing your Bible more. Knowing the revelation of God about who he is and what he desires and what promises he makes. Knowing God more is something that’s meant to strengthen a weary disciple. You can see that in Colossians 1. Paul prays that we would increase in our knowledge and understanding of his will. Knowledge is important to the apostles.
But that’s not the only thing important to them. They also want us to know how much we’re loved by God. Paul in Ephesians 1 communicates that. We learn that in Ephesians 3. He even prays that we would understand the height and depth and length and width, that we’d understand all of the love of Christ for us. He wants us to know God and know the love of God in Christ Jesus.
So if you are the weary disciple, if you’re ever the weary disciple, if you’re the sorrowful disciple, if you’re the one who’s going through a trial, what do you take from John 17, specifically 25-26? Know God. Jesus left his Spirit for you to keep knowing God. Stay in your Bible.
If you’re in a trial and you’re tempted to close your Bible and think, I just gotta get through this somehow, don’t do that. Open your Bible, put your nose in it, and learn about your God. Learn about your God. Learn about the faithfulness to his own and watch your countenance start to change, if the Holy Spirit indwells you.
Many of you know that. You’ve gone through trials, and you read your Bible, and you could read something random from Genesis or something random from Proverbs or something random from Jude. You can read seemingly something random, and that communicates to you something about your God that changes your outlook, doesn’t it? You’ve experienced that.
Why have you experienced that? Because Jesus said you would. He tells the Father, that’s what I want to keep doing for them. I’m going to keep making you known to them. What a gift the Holy Spirit is to us. What a gift.
Jesus, while he was on earth, received strength by his understanding that the Father loved him, and he knew the character of his Father. This is what gave him strength, and the same thing is intended for us.
Listen, I want to warn you, especially if you’re young in Christ. We can often feel like God doesn’t love us as much because of the trial that he allows us to go through. The Lord is communicating in this prayer that he would keep making the Father known so that we would know increasingly the love of God and that would accompany us on this weary journey. So if you think, he’s put me in a trial; I don’t feel like he loves me as much, be careful about that. His desire is that you would understand his love in the trial all the more.
Ralph Venning, one commentator, said this, and I think this is such a great quote: “Some young believers are apt to measure God’s heart by his hands.” See what he’s saying? Some young believers measure the love of God by the trials he puts us into, the trials that he orchestrates with his hands. I’m going to put them in this trial, so they think, he has little love for me. No, he has great love for you, because even in the valley of the shadow of death, you can fear no evil because he is with you. His rod and staff comfort you. Sometimes trials are the way that God communicates his love to us. The best way possible. These trials.
Jesus knows his disciples are going to go through martyrdom, prison, loss of family because of their faith in Christ, and he expects that his ministry of the Holy Spirit, making God’s love known to us, will be an encouragement to us. Friend, that’s where you’re at. God communicates his character to you; he communicates his love for you, and he does so through his Son’s Holy Spirit to you. Be encouraged by that.
If you’re here and you’re not a follower of Christ, you’re not a Christian, and you think, you know, bad things about Christians; you don’t think you’ve had any great Christian examples, whatever it may be. I want to tell you that this chapter, John 17—this prayer of Jesus—has led many people to understand who God really is and who Christ really is, and it’s led many people to Christ. This chapter. You see the heart of heaven in this chapter.
Being a Christian is about realizing that the God of heaven wants a relationship with people who have rejected him. The God of heaven sent his Son to earn the relationship, the right standing, for those people who have rejected him. That’s the message of Christianity.
The message of Christianity is not, we’re better than you. And you may think that that’s what we think. The message of Christianity is not, hey, just go to church enough; be good enough, and you’ll go to heaven. That is not what we think. I can see why you would think that’s what we think. But that’s not what we think.
The message of Christianity is that we are in awe that the God of heaven, whom we’ve offended, has sent his Son to bring us back to a relationship with the Father and enjoy a relationship with the Son. We can’t get over this! That’s what we hold to. The Son died for us; he rose again. And he calls us to admit our sin and to put our trust in him. That’s the message of Christianity—not that we’re better than you, but that we’re just like you, and he came to show us grace.
I hope that in some small way, if you’re not a Christian, you see the heart of God in this passage this morning. This is what our God is like. He loves us, wants us to be cared for, and wants us to bask in his Son’s glory throughout all eternity.
So, Jesus is going to leave physically and leave us to do the work of his mission. It is not going to be easy, but he’s going to give us his Spirit, and he’s going to remind us that he wants to be with us someday. This is not the end. This is not goodbye. This is, I’ll see you later, and in the meantime I’m building a home for you, and we’re going to be together.
Not only does he want us to see that; while we’re here on earth, his Spirit is going to keep teaching us about the Father and keep communicating the Father’s love, whether we go through relational trials, trials in business, trials because of our own sin. Whatever it may be, he’s going to keep communicating through the Spirit the love of the Father to us.
I have a human sort of respect for Winston Churchill. There’s a lot of things I don’t respect about him. But certain things about his leadership skills are admirable, but he’s not a spiritual hero of mine. In fact, Churchill said at the end of his life, “I have learned that there is no hope.” That’s tragic. That’s sad.
You contrast that with a man like John Knox, who actually came to faith in Jesus by reading John 17. And on his deathbed, Knox asked his wife to read a number of passages to him. She read 1 Corinthians 15 to him—a number of passages. The last passage evidently that she read to him was John 17. He requested it on the day that he died. And he said, “Read to me John 17, the passage where I first cast my anchor.” The passage where I first, in a sense he’s saying, trusted Christ, cast my anchor on Christ. Read that passage to me.
My prayer this morning is that someone here would cast their anchor on Christ for the first time because they see his love for his own and they see the Father’s love for his own.
And if you’re a believer, my prayer is while you may be weary, fainthearted, sorrowful, that you would hear the Father, hear the Son communicate their desire to be with you in glory. This isn’t just some life that we live where they don’t care. The Son is eager for you to be with him, and he is going to make sure that you are cared for while on this journey. Let’s pray.
Lord Jesus Christ, I’m just struck by the fact that we’re talking to you now—the one who prayed to the Father this prayer. I’m asking you who can hear us so clearly, that you would communicate this encouragement to our hearts, that you would communicate this encouragement as to strengthen us, fortify us, make us strong.
Lord, I know that there are people all over this room that feel very weak, physically, emotionally, even spiritually this morning. Communicate the love of the Father, communicate your love to their hearts this morning. Strengthen them. Give them a focus on heaven. Give them a focus on your glory.
Father, put our noses in our Bibles this week. Put our noses in the text. Let us meditate on who you are, what you want. Let us know you more. Lord, please let this church know you more, not know things about you more, but actually know you more so that it changes our hearts, changes who we are, gives us new longings, greater longings for you. Lord, make this world so unattractive to us because we know you and want to be with you. Let us be known for wanting heaven. We ask this in your Son’s name. Amen.
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October 1, 2017John 17:20-23 | The Deal Breaker: Part 2 | Andrew Gutierrez
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September 10, 2017John 17:13-18 | Equipped and Sent | Andrew Gutierrez