Two weeks ago, we left Jesus praying the Lord’s Lord’s Prayer, from John chapter 17. And we were thinking about how the prayer Jesus is using here follows the same general pattern as the prayer that he taught us in Matthew.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Part of God’s will for his kingdom is that the citizens of the kingdom will be united.
Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.
So the disciples’ unity with each other and with Jesus is a sign to the world that Jesus was indeed sent by the Father and that they are loved by the Father.
We are just like those disciples and our unity as a Church in itself brings glory to God.
Now let’s have a look at the rest of this magnificent Lord’s Lord’s prayer, it’s not quite following the same order mind you…
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from Evil
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Listen to Jesus here:
While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them… I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.
John 17:12, 14-15
Jesus knows there are two problems we will face, but notice he’s praying for us here!
Jesus himself has already prayed for the Church’s protection. It’s a guarantee of our victory, whenever you feel worried remember this:
We’ve been prayed for already — and by Jesus, no less!
Although there will be temptations and problems we face because we are in the world, the biggest problem is Satan, that father of lies! It’s obvious that behind the world’s opposition to Christians is the Prince of this world.
As Paul tells us in the letter to the Ephesians:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
And while we live in this world we’ll continue to fight against the forces of evil in the world that are opposed to the gospel.
That’s life today isn’t it? And it’s getting worse all the time, we live in a culture, in a world, that’s opposed to God and therefore will be opposed to us whenever we stand up for the principles that God has given us. That’s what we see in the marriage debate, we see it in the hatred and increasingly angry atheists.
I had dinner in Melbourne with a vet friend, who’s over from SA for the AVA conference, he’s coming back early next year for the 2018 Global Atheist’s convention.
Well, I don’t know about you but that sounds to me like Reason to despair!
￼And we can’t escape it. This is the only world we have to live in. So what are we going to do?
So Jesus prays that God will protect us from the evil one, but then he prays that God will sanctify them (and us) by the truth.
I do not ask that you take them out of the world… They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. click Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.
What does that mean? To sanctify means to set apart, to separate. How are we going to keep ourselves safe from the world? Not by being taken out of it physically, Jesus says I sent them into the world! In today’s Matthew reading we see:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
No, we need to be separated from it spiritually. By being sanctified, in the Lord’s prayer Jesus teaches us to ask for our daily bread.
Give us this day our daily bread
Give us this day our daily bread
And that’s what it means, actual physical bread in Matthew and Luke but here Jesus is praying that we may have deeper spiritual bread — the truth — the truth of God’s word!
Do you remember when Jesus was being tempted by the Satan? Satan says to him that he should turn stones into bread:
But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
This fits with what he said back in the chapter. It’s by God’s word that we’re fed, that we’re sanctified. It’s as we believe God’s word and let it take control of our lives, that we find ourselves set apart from the attitudes and values of the world around us.
Let me ask you, do you daily ask for your bread both the physical and spiritual kind? How do you get your daily bread? Does it just show up spontaneously? No, of course it doesn’t, we need to do something (go to the shops or make it or whatever).
Same with the spiritual bread, we need to regularly allow God’s word into our minds and hearts so it can sanctify us! Christians who fail to read God’s word regularly are in great danger from the world, from the evil one, because the truth of God’s word isn’t being allowed to do its work in their lives.
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.
and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
In the first part of the prayer Jesus prayed for himself so that he might glorify the father, in the second part he prayed for the apostles and now, Jesus prays with a longer term focus — he prays for all those who will come to believe in him through the preaching of the gospel.
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word
Once again the focus of his prayer is on the unity of the Church and the glory that that brings to Jesus and to the Father.
that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us,
that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one,
Look how important it is that we’re seen to be completely one!
As the world sees our unity, as unbelievers observe the way we interact, the way we care for each other, the way we support one another, that they begin to realise that there must be some truth to the claims of the gospel. That’s why it’s so important when we have some problem with another Christian that we seek to resolve it, rather than letting it simmer and fester until it becomes a source of division in the church.
And it ties right back to the Lord’s prayer from the sermon on the mount doesn’t it? How does Jesus end the Lord’s prayer back then he explains one of the most important things:
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
If you have a grudge or a resentment against anyone, how does that show unity and if we can’t show unity how are we glorifying God?
The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,
You see, when we demonstrate our love, our patience and tolerance, we are demonstrating the unity of the church which reflects the glory of God.
As we come to the parish meeting next week, let’s hold this prayer in our hearts, that we may be one as the Trinity is one!
We thank you that you are a loving God.
We pray that the love with which you loved Jesus, may be in us,
and we pray that Jesus himself might be in us.
We pray that this church may be one and both it
and each of us individually may be temples of your Holy Spirit.
We pray that you would bring glory to our work
as we bring glory to you by the way we live,
the way we proclaim your name,
the way we seek to live together in unity and godly love.
We ask all this in Jesus’ name,