St Paul's UMC
January 15, 2023
- "Great is Thy Faithfulness"
- How Great Thou Art
- Lord I Lift Your Name On High
- There were two siblings, a brother and a sister, who desired to please their father.Every morning, the brother would wake up and immediately get to work. Cleaning his room, cutting the grass, repairing the roof to the shed, organizing the garage, running errands all around town. He served in community through various groups - whether it be at the soup kitchen, the habitat homes, or helping out at the animal shelter - he made sure to tell everyone who’s son he was. His days were filled with endless projects - all done to please his father.Every morning, the daughter would wake up and she would go and sit with her old man. She would tell him she loved him and ask him what his wishes for the day were. After spending time with him and knowing what he wanted, she would proceed to go and do the things that would please him.Which child actually pleased and fulfilled the will of their father? The daughter, because she spent time with her father and made sure her actions matched his desires for her. The son probably accomplished a whole lot more in his day, but he did not spend time with his father - so how could he know what would truly please his dad or what he father desired for him?If we desire to please our heavenly Father, and to discover his desire for us, doesn’t make sense to spend time with him?This is prayer. Yet for so many of us - prayer is hardest thing to do. It is often easier to go and serve in God’s name - to go and do some good, than to cultivate a deep prayer life. For some of us, it is hard to stop our minds from wandering, to quiet ourselves and listen, and to be open and honest with our Creator.How do we even know that God desires us to spend time with him in prayer?Well, he shows us through the example of His Son.According to the gospel of Luke, Jesus...Yet he often withdrew to deserted places and prayed.When we read the gospels, one thing we notice is that Jesus is often found praying.Before he chose his disciples, he prayed.In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.Before he fed the thousands through the miraculous multiplication of fish and loaves - he prayed.He prayed at his baptism.He prayed on the mountaintop when he was transfigured and was joined by Moses and Elijah.He prayed at the tomb of Lazarus before his dead friend came back to life.He prayed at the garden of Gethsemane on the night he was betrayed and arrested, and he prayed on the cross before he died:Luke 23:34 (ESV)And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”Jesus, the son of God, prayed throughout his earthly life. If Jesus found prayer to be integral to his life journey, what does that tell us? When we considered all that he faced, all that was on his shoulders, is it no wonder that he needed to have constant contact and closeness with the Father?His disciples, observing this way of life in their Lord, asked him to teach them how to pray. In Matthew 6 we find what we refer to as the Lord’s Prayer. This is the model of prayer that Christ set forth - a prayer that the disciples, including us, may use to properly approach the throne of God with right hearts and right intentions.Jesus teaches us to approach God as “our Father”; to lift up God’s name; to pray for God’s perfect will to be done on earth as in heaven; and to ask for His daily provision, the ability to forgive and be forgiven, and for spiritual protection.Yet there is another prayer of Jesus that I believe will be helpful for us to spend some time going over and contemplating. I’ve heard it referred to as the Jesus Prayer or, more commonly, the High Priestly Prayer. This prayer is found in John 17 and is given by Jesus in the Upper Room during the Last Supper.
In the “Lord’s Prayer” (Matt. 6) Christ sets forth what His disciples should desire for themselves. In this prayer He indicates what He desires for them.We are going to spend the next couple of weeks working our way through this prayer. In this prayer, Jesus prayed for himself, he prayed for his apostles and for all future believers - including you. And he prayed it out loud - he wanted us to know what He said.The King of the Universe prayed for you. He still prays for you.Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.Jesus, right now, is interceding for you in prayer. So let go back and look at this prayer that John recalled and recorded for us to contemplate. Let’s see what we can gain from it.First, some context. As I already mentioned, the setting is the Upper Room. Jesus would soon leave there, go to the Mount of Olives, where he would be arrested. This is last gathering, his last meal and his last teaching with his disciples before his death and resurrection.The whole discourse begins in the 13th chapter of John after Jesus washes the disciples feet. If a student is not above his master, and the master takes on the role of a servant and washes feet - what does that tells us about the expectation of the students? We are to humbly serve others. The way of Jesus is through humility and obedience - he gave up his position in heaven to come and serve the very creatures he Created in the lowliest of manner - that important lesson must direct our response.Jesus then begins to prepare his disciples for what is to come. He tells them that he will be betrayed - not just by one of them, but all will turn their back on him. He gives them a new commandment.A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”He tells them not to let their hearts be troubled and that He is the way to God. John 14:6-7Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”He promises them the Holy Spirit who will guide, teach and protect them when he is gone. He reminds them to stay connected to him - that they can do nothing apart from him.He warns them that the world is going to hate them because they belong to Him. Life will be difficult.He alludes to his death, and tells them that they will not see him for a little while and the world will rejoice while they lament and weep. Yet, their sorrow will turn to joy (alluding to his resurrection).He then wraps up his teaching with these words:I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”And then he lifted his eyes up to heaven and prayed to His Father.When Jesus finished saying these things, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, so that the Son can glorify you.Jesus’ death would be his humiliation. The God-man will be stripped down, stricken, nailed to the cross, and hung up to die like an animal.Jesus is looking beyond that. He says “glorify your son” - he has already accepted what will happen - he is looking at what will be. His resurrection and ascension to the right hand of the Father would bring him glory. The whole world will know that He is who He said he was.You gave him authority over everyone so that he could give eternal life to everyone you gave him.While Jesus walked on earth, he demonstrated his authority over everyone and everything. He healed the sick, he gave sight to the blind, cast out demons, calmed the stormy sea, raised the dead.In the words of Nicodemus, one of the Pharisees that came to Jesus desiring to know if he was the Messiah,John 3:2 (ESV)“Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”What Nicodemus had not yet figured out was that Jesus was way more than a teacher. He is God and in him is found salvation leading to eternal life.This is eternal life: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you sent.I want to point us back to my opening illustration. Which child knew the father? the one who spent time with him. Eternal life is the gift for those who know God, who become acquainted with him, who recognize him. This is close relationship - not just head knowledge. And in Christ, we see who God is.All the fullness of deity lives in Christ’s body.Now Jesus returns to his purpose on earth, which is our purpose as well.I have glorified you on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.Jesus sole purpose for coming to live among us was to glorify God by accomplishing the work God had sent him to do.That is your purpose in life as well - to Glorify God.This is found throughout Christian teachings. The Westminster Catechism, a a summary of the principles of Christian religion in the form of questions and answers written in 1646-1647 list as Question #1,What is the chief and highest end of man?Man’ s chief and highest end is to glorify God, (Rom. 11:36, Cor. 10:31) and fully to enjoy him forever. (Ps. 73:24–28, John 17:21–23)People often ask at some point, “what is my purpose? Why am I here?”The answer is “to glorify God”How you glorify God is by drawing close to him, reading his Word, spending time in prayer, and doing what he puts on your heart to do.Last verse for us today:Now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I shared with you before the world was created.The Bible Knowledge Commentary (17:1)Jesus then prayed, Glorify Your Son (cf. 17:5). This request for glorification included sustaining Jesus in suffering, accepting His sacrifice, resurrecting Him, and restoring Him to His pristine glory. The purpose of the request was that the Father would be glorified by the Son, that God’s wisdom, power, and love might be known through Jesus.This opening to the Jesus Prayer shows us that we can trust in a God who has so arranged human history that at just the right time, he himself would enter in and do what we could not - bring salvation. Jesus starts off with “Father, the hour has come...” The divine plan of redemption was set by God for a specific time - and the time had finally come. Jesus was ready to pay the price for our sin, and God would raise him from the dead and glorify him by returning him to his rightful place. Jesus had come to bring eternal life to all who the Father would give him - those who in faith would respond to that call of grace upon their lives, those who would turn and seek God with all their heart, mind and soul. Are you among that number?Jesus prayed and Jesus glorified His Father through His obedience. May the same be said of each of us. Amen.
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