May 16-18, 2015
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: John 17:11b-17
“SEE HOW JESUS LOVES YOU!”
1. He prays for your safety.
2. He prays for your joy.
John 17:11-17 (NIV 1984) “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name--the name you gave me--so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled. 13 "I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”
Eavesdropping generally is frowned upon. Yet we all know how easy it is if a word or phrase catches your attention to start listening in on someone else’s conversation. Today in God’s Word we find ourselves eavesdropping on a conversation. It’s between Jesus, God the Son, and God the Father. It’s actually OK. He wants us to listen in to get comfort and strength. Jesus spoke these words when He was with His disciples in the Upper Room on Maundy Thursday. With all that was happening and all that Jesus knew would happen what will He talk to the Father about? What is He concerned about? You! Jesus was with disciples who would need to stay faithful to Him once He was visibly gone, just like you need to stay faithful to Him though you cannot see Him. He loves you. Let’s eavesdrop and see what Jesus talks to His Father about.
“Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name--the name you gave me--so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.” As we listen to Jesus talk we can’t help but notice how much He loves those who follow Him. He shows that He loves by praying. What does He pray for? Not for Himself but for the safety of his followers. This is the night before Jesus has to suffer the agony of the cross and the punishment for the sins of the world. Yet His concern is for the safety of those who follow Him. Jesus points out that He did the protecting of His disciples while with them. The only one lost was the one who doomed himself to destruction. He’s talking about Judas who coddled his love for money instead of repenting of it, whose greed led him to betray Jesus and then despair of forgiveness. Why would followers of Jesus need protection once Jesus visibly left? He tells us. “I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.”
Here is the reason those who follow Jesus need protection. They’re different. As Jesus puts it “not of the world.” You know when we are here in our safe place we may not feel like we are different but when you are away from it you can most certainly tell. What happened is Jesus gave us God’s word. By the blessing of the Holy Spirit we know and believe this word of God to be true. That puts us at odds with the unbelieving world and the unbelieving world at odds with us. The world has hated them it says. History shows us how those who have stuck to the Bible have been hated but we’ll skip the history lesson. Let’s talk about now. Talk to some of our recent grads who have gone on to secular colleges and universities. They will tell you that someone who believes that God created the world like the Bible says isn’t exactly praised for being smart. As our country continues to embrace sexual immorality those who hold to what God says, that sex is to be reserved for man and woman only when they are husband and wife are going to start feeling the heat, yes they already do. You’ve felt it at work where co-workers talk and you realize I am not like them. You watch people interviewed on the news and realize I don’t think like they do. We’re different and those who are different because of faith in Jesus the Devil, the evil one seeks to destroy.
How many grandpas and grandmas, moms and dads here wonder what kind of world will our children and grandchildren live in. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! No. No worries. God is in control and Jesus has already prayed to Him on our behalf. He doesn’t want us out of this world. He doesn’t want us hunkered down in our bunkers. As He sent the disciples out with His words to be His witnesses, He sends you and me. He has prayed for our protection from the evil one and as our ascended High Priest keeps praying for us.
He also has prayed for our joy. "I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.” Jesus wants us to have joy while we live in this world. Think of the many Scriptures that tell us that. Happy the people the Lord has chosen to be his own. Be joyful always. I will say it again, rejoice. This is the day the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it. It’s fair to say that Christians have the right and the reasons to be the happiest people on the planet.
But we are not always, why not? Do any of you remember the country song by Johnny Lee? “Looking for love in all the wrong places” was the title and refrain. It’s easy for people to do that with joy too. People want to be happy and to have joy but they look in the wrong places. They look to things and we all know that buying things might give you a little happiness, especially if you get a good deal, but how many of last year’s must have things do you really even care about any more? They look to a big bank account and I think we would think we would be happier with more money but is that reality? Google what happens to most big lottery jackpot winners. Watch the lives of the rich and famous in Hollywood and sports. Happy? Doesn’t look like it. Looking for joy in all the wrong places.
Jesus prays for your joy, He wants you to have joy and He’s made it possible. He prays, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” The key word here is “sanctify.” Not a word we commonly use. The general meaning is to “set apart as holy.” Confirmation class students know we use that word in two different ways. Sometimes it refers to how the Holy Spirit brings us to faith through word and Sacrament. Sometimes it’s used to describe how the Holy Spirit helps us live our faith. That’s the way it’s used here. Jesus prays that His followers be set apart for service. Brothers and sisters, this is where joy is found on earth. It’s serving others, not serving self. If you could keep a journal of your happy days and your sad days you will find that on those days that you were most concerned about yourself and how things affected you were the days you had the least happiness. But on those days when you served the needs of another you felt good. Find a brother or sister who appears to be happy and you will find a servant. I can’t tell you how many times it has happened that I have thanked a brother or sister for what they have done and the happily replied, “It’s my privilege. Happy to do so. It gives me joy.” Jesus prays for you to have joy.
But He doesn’t just pray. He does. Did you notice anything in what Jesus said that tied things together? It’s God’s word. “Sanctify them by your truth. Your word is truth. I say these things so their joy may be complete. I have given them your word.” It just keeps coming back to God’s Word. He puts His power in the Word. Jesus is called the Word. He creates the universe with His word. Having the word and holding to the word sets us apart. On this Confirmation weekend I call on here all who have been confirmed to honestly analyze your attitude toward God’s Word. Is it really God’s words for you? I call on you to honestly analyze your use of God’s Words. How many days out of the week do you let Him speak to you? See how Jesus loves you? Love describes an emotion. Actions prove the love to be true. Jesus loves you. He prays for you. After this prayer, the next day, Jesus suffered Hell for you. See how He loves you! Then cling to His words and you will stay faithful to Him. Amen.