The Prayer Of Christ

May 28, 2006
日本キリスト教団 頌栄教会牧師 清弘剛生 Pastor Takao Kiyohiro, Shoei Church, Church of Christ, Japan
Translator M.A.F., Indiana, USA
John 17:1-5

1. Today we read chapter seventeen of The Gospel According To John. In this text is recorded the prayer of Christ at [his] last supper with [his] disciples. The Lord prayed first for himself, then his disciples, then also for the Christians across the generations who would come to believe in Christ through the disciples. Today I would like for us to remember in particular the last section, the words where Christ prayed about himself.

Father, The Time Has Come

2. "After Jesus had spoken on these things, he spoke facing towards heaven," (verse one). Jesus was totally finished saying what he was supposed to say to his disciples. After that, all that was left [was] for him to proceed on the path that continued on to the cross. At that point Jesus prayed as follows. "O father, the time has come. Please give glory to your son so that your son will reveal your glory."

3. "The time has come." Jesus said that. It was [time for] "the cross" and nothing but that. As seen from a worldly point of view, it was an extremely wretched conclusion which he was waiting for at the end of his life. Jesus himself knew quite well how he would ultimately come to his death and how he would suffer so. But, at this [moment] Jesus was not looking only at his suffering and death on the cross. On the contrary, he was looking way past the cross, to the other side of death. Beyond death, he was seeing the glory of God. He was looking at the glory of God that was being prepared, in which he was supposed to have a share.

4. Please imagine the figure of Jesus as he prayed facing towards heaven. The confidence of victory that Jesus had is certainly visible there. It is a confidence that [his] death on the cross was not the end. The cross wouldn't end with the cross.The figure of a most miserable death would continue into the glory of God. The reason Jesus had such a confidence and a conviction is that he was one with God the Father. That's right and living on the same earth as us Jesus showed us how to be one with the father. All the while calling the name of God the Father so steadfastly, even to his death, Jesus was loved by God the Father, and he lived and loved God the Father.

5. We're struck by the call out of "oh father!" which is repeated a number of times in this prayer. It is a call out to the father that has been repeated countlessly so far. It is repeated in this prayer made right before the cross. "Oh father!" -- It is a word of unshakable reliance, filled with such intimate emotions. It is a relationship of love between father and son, which is seen in this prayer. Surely, [he] has life eternal unrobbable by death right there in [him]. In a sort of way, Jesus shows us what eternal life is through his own body.

6. And it is repeatedly stated that Jesus not only showed us eternal life with his body, but he came to give us that life. Many different phrases in this gospel are reminders of that. The Lord said, "Whoever drinks the water that I give will never thirst. The water that I give is a spring within the person, and the water that leads to eternal life springs forth," (4:14). "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst," (6:35). Also, he said this too, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but has the light of life," (8:12). "I came so that the sheep will receive life, what's more, that they receive it abundantly," (John 10:10). And the Lord clearly stated in this prayer what "the eternal life" is that Christ gives. "Eternal life is to know you as the one and only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent," (verse three).

7. To know -- this is not mere intellectual knowledge. Often in The Old Testament the word "to know" means a personal relationship as it is used in expressing the relationship between husband and wife. Eternal life means that we too are included in the relationship of eternal love which God the Father and God the Son have had. We are loved by God the Father and we are to love God the Father. We are loved by Jesus and we are to love Jesus. It means that we know God the Father and we know Jesus Christ. So, we have true life when we are loved by God, and we're living and loving God. We have a life that cannot be robbed by any method or by any thing whatsoever, we have a life that can't even be robbed by death. The Lord came to give us that life.

8. We also are reminded of not only the words of Jesus but the acts that Jesus performed. Jesus touched the people suffering with sickness. He healed the suffering people. Also, Jesus miraculously gave food to the hungry people. Of course, they did not live for ever on this earth. The healed one day would die. Those miraculously given food must have soon gotten hungry all over again; because they did not [get] full stomachs for ever. But, when Jesus touched the people, when he healed them, both the actual person who was sick and those around them had touched something more than just a healing. When Jesus gave the bread, those who ate it and the disciples who distributed it were touching something more than the miracle of bread. It was God's love, it was his mercy. God had mercifully reached his hand out to them, they were touching God's hand. God invited them into a relationship with Him, they were being touched by the invitation called out to them. Which was eternal life. Yes, indeed, at that time the people were being touched by eternal life, they were being invited into eternal life.

In Order To Give Eternal Life

9. Thus, Jesus came to give eternal life. And he says that he can give eternal life for sure. He said that [his] father gave him that authority. "You have given to your son the authority to rule over every person. For that purpose, the son can give eternal life to every person who has been entrusted over to [the son] by you," (verse two).

10. Here [we] have the word "rule over," yet in the original text it is not there. This is a free translation. What is being said here means that Christ has been given an authority, a power that extends over every person. It means that he has been given the power to give eternal life [to any and all]. Why is that? Why was Christ able to speak confidently in regard to [his] "authority to give eternal life?"

11. A major thing at this point is that what has been given to Jesus is not just the authority to give eternal life. Just as the Lord said, "By accomplishing the work that you have given me to perform, I have shown forth your glory," (verse four), he has been given a work that he was supposed to accomplish on this earth.

12. So now, what is this work that he had to accomplish? Right after this, without any time between, Christ was arrested, condemned, and crucified. There is a statement that Christ gave on that cross. There are several [statements] but, there is a statement that only The Gospel According To John has recorded. It is the statement of "It is accomplished." "When Jesus took the wine, he said, 'It is accomplished' then hung his head and stopped breathing," (19:30). That's [his] last statement. What was accomplished? Redemption for sin was accomplished.

13. Once John [at] the baptism testified concerning Christ and said, "Look, it is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world," (1:29). As per the words of that testimony, Christ was the expected sinless lamb to bear on his back and die for the sins of the world as a substitute, and he had walked the way to the cross. "The work that you have given me to perform," which he said in this passage here, means Christ's own life when he would head for the cross. [It means] the life he had lived in perfect obedience towards God the Father for the atonement of our sin. [It means] the life for the atonement of sin to be completed upon the cross.

14. For us to obtain the eternal life that Jesus had, the completion of this work of Jesus was by all means necessary. Why is [that]? The reason is simple. [It's] because there is a decisive difference between Jesus and us. He had no sin. We have sin. By true definition, he was pure in the sight of God. He could always lift up his face straight to God the Father. We are not like that at our very core natures. But, God has willed that we live by loving God, as persons loved by God, still lifting our faces towards the heavens though we're like the way we are. For that purpose, God has entrusted that work unto Christ, which he was supposed to accomplish. As the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, he was to fulfill the atonement for sin.

15. And Jesus did accomplish that work for us. I repeat. The Lord cried out upon the cross, "It is accomplished." Every one of you [now hear this], the atonement for sin has been accomplished; [it is finished]. Since Christ has accomplished it for us, it is all done. There is nothing we will ever add to it. Thus, we will never need to be afraid. We should just live by placing ourselves steadfastly in the love of God and in the mercy of God, which Jesus revealed for us with his own body. We should live with God, lifting our faces towards God and believing in God's love. -- Because there is no longer anything that separates God and us since the atonement for sin has been accomplished.

16. On May 24, the anniversary of John Wesley's conversion, a memorial service is held annually. In the sermon at this year's service, the following words were presented, which Wesley at age eighty-eight, when he was about to complete his life upon this earth, had spoken on his death bed. "The best of all is, God is with us."

17. A person is alive but all the while loses different things [as his or her life goes on]. One by one a person must let things go. [You] might also put it like this, one by one things are stolen away. Finally, on [one's] death bed, you might say in a certain sense that a person must let it all go. Yet, that's not true. Even still then, a person can speak about the most wonderful thing, the best of all. The most wonderful thing, the best of all -- it is that God is with us. And this best of all things cannot be stolen away. Furthermore, since it cannot be stolen, in truth, one does not really lose anything.

18. To use Wesley's way of putting it, Jesus came to give us the most wonderful thing, the best of all. The Lord prayed to his father with confidence: "You have given to your son the authority to rule over every person. For that purpose, the son can give eternal life to every person who has been entrusted over to [the son] by you. Eternal life is to know you as the one and only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent"