Jesus continues his “High Priestly” prayer by turning his attention to those who will believe from the disciples’ witness: the church. Jesus prayed this prayer for us! The pattern of Jesus’ prayer shows the trinitarian foundations of the Church’s unity. Through participation with Christ we don’t just have nice promises for the future, but amazing—identity shaping—realities for today.
If you have ever wondered what Jesus' prayer life was like, our text this morning informs us. In John 17, we get to eavesdrop of Jesus' prayer just before his betrayal, arrest and crucifixion. Jesus prays for God to be glorified in him, for the needs of his disciples and for the church.
The disciple's great fear is that if Jesus goes away, they will know and experience Him less. Jesus explains to them that in fact, the opposite is true. The disciples will know more of Christ because He will send His Spirit and the Spirit of Christ will dwell with them and in them. And Christ assures them that despite the trials and tribulations they will experience, Christ will give them his joy and his peace to be in them.
Jesus is preparing his disciples for his departure. The world has largely rejected his revelation of the Father and his Word. As a result, the hatred of the world for Christ will lead them to crucify him. Before He is arrested, Jesus shares with his disciples that as they bear witness to him and bear his Name, the world will also hate them. Persecution is coming. The disciples will be hated for Christ's sake. Jesus shares this prophetic word with his disciples so that they will not fall away when the persecution comes. But rather remember Jesus has told them what is to come and have their faith in him strengthened, not weakened through persecution. And as we reflect over the course of church history, we realize this prophetic word from Jesus was true not just for the Apostles, but for the church at large.
As Jesus continues to instruct his disciples in the upper room, He uses the metaphor of a vine and its branches to illustrate the kind of close-knit, intimate relationship He is pursuing with his disciples and us. There is the clear implication by way of the metaphor that we would be drawing spiritual life from this True vine that is Jesus. Jesus instructs his disciples to abide in him. Abiding is the continuing of a daily, personal relationship with Jesus, characterized by trust, prayer, obedience and joy. And as we abide, our lives will be spiritually fruitful.
Just hours before Jesus is betrayed and crucified, He encourages his disciples with the promise of his continuing presence with them by and through his Spirit. Jesus makes the important point that after He goes away, the Holy Spirit will come and be with his followers. They will not be left without His presence. The Helper, the Holy Spirit will come and minister to them and lead them in truth. Over the course of the this conversation in the upper room, John records for us the most concentrated teaching in the New Testament regarding the Holy Spirit. This week we examine both the person and the ministry (works) of the Holy Spirit.
As summer winds down, we resume specific rhythms in our church's life, one of which is gathering together in Community Groups. This week, we remind ourselves of how God is calling us to live with and relate to one another. God's plan and design for every believer is be a part of the family of God, the church. His purposes and plans for his people are beautiful and for our good. God is calling us to warmth and affection for one another and for our relationships to be growing in devotion and love.
After Judas' departure from the upper room, Jesus’ concern turns to preparing his disciples for his departure. Jesus begins to lay out for them what He expects of them while He is away. He gives them a new command that is to be their distinguishing mark, 'love one another, just as I have loved you, you are to love one another'. Jesus desires for them to have a sincere, mutual affection for one another on account of Christ’s great love for them. It is not that disciples are to love the world less, but they are to love one another more. Jesus is creating a new thing in the world, a community held together by love, not affinities for the same thing or geographic similarities nor ethnicity, but by love.
As the disciples continued in ministry with Jesus, they were filled with so much pride and self-absorption, that an argument broke out among them about who of them was the greatest. Meanwhile, in an act of shocking condescension, Jesus washes his disciples' feet. Their Lord and Savior, takes on the role of a servant and does for them what the would not do for one another. Jesus' act of humble service powerfully points forward to the work He will do on the cross, which is mere hours away. And it becomes a pattern, an example for all his disciples to follow.