God willing we have a full year ahead of us; a year of opportunities, new endeavors, responsibility, work etc. Through it all my prayer is that we would make Christ the center of our lives, the primary priority of our lives, the focus of our heart’s affection and the captivating thought that consumes our mind because Jesus is good and He alone is what satisfies. There is nothing better than Jesus.
As Christmas draws near, many of us desire to be with the ones we love. As we mature, it is not the gifts that we look forward to most but the opportunity to be with loved ones. And so we make plans, book tickets, pay outrages prices, we navigate insane traffic and travel great distances to be with the ones we love. Christmas is about God coming near to us. He leaves his heavenly abode and draws near to his loved ones, his beloved. At Christmas, God, who loves us, came to us.
This morning, we finish the Gospel According to John. Without a doubt the resurrection of Jesus is the climax of the gospel. But John keeps writing and tells us about Jesus’ interactions with the disciples after his resurrection. And so in a way, the Gospel of John can feel anti-climatic. But John ends with something very meaningful. He ends with Peter’s redemption. Indeed, these finals verses are very beautiful and precious to those who love Jesus but are oh so painfully aware of our shortcomings and many failures. The gospel of John ends with hope for every single imperfect disciple of Jesus.
John provides us with a succinct yet powerful purpose statement for his gospel as he continued to urge his readers to believe in Jesus. Jesus continued to graciously reveal himself to his disciples and welcome them into fellowship.
Some of the strongest evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is the transformation in the disciples themselves. As John records, not all the disciples believed Jesus had resurrected even after they saw and heard the tomb was empty. But this doubt was crucified when Jesus unexpectedly joined them as they fearfully huddled locked in a room. Jesus showed the disciples his hands and side and they believed. Then Jesus commissioned them and sent them to declare the reality and truth of his resurrection, making disciples in His Name and He equipped them to do this by giving them the Holy Spirit.
The Old Testament plays a vital role in our understanding of the crucifixion of Jesus, the Lamb of God. John uses the OT as a interpretative tool, a lens through which to understand what is taking place at Calvary. John demonstrates Jesus is our Passover Lamb. There is no other way to be reconciled to God except through the death of Jesus Christ as our substitute. Only by Christ bearing the penalty of sin in the place of believing sinners, is there any hope for any of us. Jesus has satisfied the demands of justice in our place.
The Apostle John wants us to see is that Jesus is subjected to the world's rejection. This is what John has been telling us from the very beginning, from the opening prologue of the gospel, that Jesus came to His own and His own did not receive him. Nevertheless, John wants us to understand that even now, even in the midst of Jesus’ betrayal and trial, all things are going according to God’s plan. John wants us to understand that everything that happens to Jesus and everything Jesus does before Pilate, He does in fulfillment of Scripture.
In these verses John presents us with two very portraits: One of Jesus moving resolutely towards the cross to give his life a sacrifice for sinners and another of Peter, a faithful follower of Christ at an all time spiritual low. These verses stand to serve as a source of great hope and encouragement for imperfect followers of Christ as we are reminded not only of the magnitude of what Christ did for each of but also the kind of people he did it for.
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.