This week I’m participating in a Week of Prayer and Fasting at Suburban Church. Suburban joins other area churches that select a week in the month of January to pray and fast before the Lord. This year Suburban’s theme is “Looking to Jesus”. For this week I will share devotional thoughts gleaned from the scripture passages and prayer times our Elders and other prayer leaders will share.
READ: John 17
This morning Jamey Mills, our Discipleship Pastor, led us in prayer through John 17. There is so much in this passage that calls out to me. God’s glory is prominent in this prayer, glory before time began, glory demonstrated in the world and glory to come when we are with Jesus in eternity. I see a deep sense of mission, the mission Jesus fulfilled as he lived out being the way, the truth and the life – the only way to the Father. And unity speaks powerfully; the unity of Jesus and his Father is awesome to behold as is Jesus’ intercession for his followers then, and his followers throughout time, that we might experience their unity. And then a full circle back to glory and mission – in some way our unity gives the world the visual it needs to know that the Father sent Jesus and loves the world.
There is a puzzle in this scripture. At verse 11 Jesus asks the Father to protect his followers by the power of your name, the name that the Father gave Jesus. Then in verse 12 he reminds the Father that during his time on earth, he protected these followers by the power of the name the Father gave him. And finally in verse 15 he clarifies the request for protection, saying I’m not asking you to take them out of the world (the perfect protection, but a protection that leaves the world lost), but to keep them safe from the evil one. The puzzle arises in that even Jesus wasn’t able to protect every follower. He acknowledges that one was lost, the ‘… one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold.’
As I processed this, it came powerfully to me that my cooperation is needed for Jesus’ prayer to be answered. I find myself thinking about Judas, the ‘one that was lost’. John 12:4-6 may be one of the most telling stories about his character. When Mary poured the pint of pure nard over Jesus’ feet Judas objected asking why the very expensive perfume wasn’t sold and the money given to the poor. John’s commentary on this is telling, “He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.” Clearly the ‘mission’ of Judas was not in keeping with the mission of Jesus. Jesus taught many times about money, how to handle this gift of God with integrity and honesty. Over and over again he revealed his mission to the apostles. He loved all of them and encouraged them to love. And given his recorded prayer for his followers in John 17, I believe he prayed for them, all of them, over the course of his ministry. Judas had ample opportunity to enter in, to follow Jesus, but to the bitter end Judas kept following his own way, even to the point of betraying Jesus.
I keep thinking back to yesterday and the sweet repentance brought about by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit living in me. Sin is the one thing that can completely destroy unity. It breaks my unity with God; it breaks my unity with others; it isolates me in my own little world. Praise God for Holy Spirit’s work in all believers. Jesus asked the Father to “Make them holy by your truth, teach them your word, which is truth.” John 17:17. As we each live out lives of following Jesus, cooperating with his work in us, attached to the vine, unafraid of God’s perfecting and perfect love, the unity Jesus prayed for becomes a reality!
Lord, I claim the truth of 1 John 4:18 that there is no fear in love. Your perfect love drives out my fear. As I live in your love I do not fear punishment, instead I look to you, the one who makes me perfect in love. Lord Jesus together with you I intercede asking Father for unity in the church that the world will know that Father sent you and that we are deeply, sacrificially loved. Thank you!!