February 11, 2024 . . .“Bible prayers: Jesus prays” John 17:1

February 11, 2024 . . .“Bible prayers: Jesus prays” John 17:1

February 11, 2024

“Bible prayers: Jesus prays”

John 17:1

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus.

Buckingham Palace in London, England, is not only a major tourist attraction and a focal point for national joy and mourning, it’s also the home of the king. It’s been that way for nearly two hundred years, since 1837.

And it’s big. Really big. While most of our homes have anywhere between five and ten rooms, Buckingham Palace has 775--that’s 19 State rooms, 52 royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices, and 78 bathrooms.

And let’s not forget to mention that the palace has its own post office, movie theater, swimming pool, doctor’s office, jewelers’ workshop, tennis court, forty acre garden, private lake, and, of course, a helicopter pad! But who’s counting?

And among all those hundreds of large and beautifully decorated guest rooms, bedrooms, and State rooms, there’s also a room called the throne room. It’s where the king, King Charles, hosts official court ceremonies and entertains important guests. It’s also where the royals pose for their official wedding photographs.

And at the center of what many call the most striking interior of the entire palace, beneath a dramatic arch and canopy, designed by none other than architect John Nash himself, are what’s called “The Chairs of Estate.” First designed and built for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip back in 1953, made from carved and gilded beechwood, and covered in crimson silk, King Charles and Queen Camilla used them for their coronation too.

It’s easy to say that the Throne Room in Buckingham Palace is one of the most stunning rooms on earth.

But England isn’t the only nation that has a throne room. China has one in its “Forbidden City,” and so does Sweden, Denmark, Portugal, and Spain. And for years, even the state of Hawaii had one too. It’s where King Kalakaua and Queen Kapiolani once entertained their most important guests.

So what’s the purpose of a throne room? It’s a royal place, an honored place, a place where only a few people are ever privileged to go.

And it’s here in the words of John chapter 17, that even we are privileged to go. I’ll start at verse 1: “When Jesus had spoken these words, He lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son that the Son may glorify You, since You have given Him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I glorified You on earth, having accomplished the work that You gave Me to do. And now, Father, glorify Me in Your own presence with the glory that I had with You before the world existed” (John 17:1-5).

It’s easy to say that prayer is absolutely essential to our Christian life. As one author wrote, “Prayer is, for the most part, an untapped resource, an unexplored continent where untold treasure remains to be unearthed. It is talked about more than anything, but practiced less than anything else. And yet, for the believer it remains one of the greatest gifts our Lord has given us outside of salvation.”

The apostle Paul understood the power of prayer. He wrote in his first letter to Timothy, “First of all, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (I Timothy 2:1-2). He wrote to the Thessalonians, “We give thanks to God for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father” (I Thessalonians 1:2-3). And he wrote, “Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith” (II Thessalonians 3:1-2).

And, of course, Jesus had quite a lot to say about prayer too. In the book of Matthew, He said, “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men…but when you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:5-6).

In his book Quiet Talks on Prayer, author Samuel Gordon wrote, “How much prayer meant to Jesus! It was not only His regular habit, His resort in every emergency, however slight or serious. When perplexed, He prayed. When hard pressed by work, He prayed. When hungry for fellowship, He found it in prayer. He chose His associates and received His messages upon His knees. If tempted, He prayed. If criticized, He prayed. If fatigued in body or wearied in spirit, He had recourse to His one unfailing habit of prayer. Prayer brought Him unmeasured power at the beginning, and kept the flow unbroken and undiminished. There was no emergency, no difficulty, no necessity, and no temptation that would not yield to prayer.”

And as prayer was essential to Jesus, so it is for us too! In the words of nineteenth century preacher Charles Spurgeon, “Prayer has become as central to me as the heaving of my lungs, and the beating of my pulse.” And he said, “More omnipotent than electricity, attraction, or gravitation, or any such secret forces, prayer is the grandest power in the universe.”

And here in the words of John chapter 17, we get a glimpse of one of the most important, powerful, and even intimate prayers there ever could be.

When Philip Melanchthon, friend of Martin Luther, gifted theologian of the Reformation, was about to give his final lecture, the very last one of his life, he lectured on this prayer. He said, “There is no voice which has ever been heard, neither in heaven or on earth more exalted, more holy, more fruitful, more sublime, than the prayer offered up by the Son of God Himself.”

When Scottish theologian John Knox was about to die, he said, “Please read John 17, because that is the place where I first cast my anchor.”

And Luther wrote, “Though it sounds so honest and so simple, it is so deep, so rich, and so wide, that no one can fathom it.”

And it all begins with this: “When Jesus had spoken these words, He lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said…” (John 17:1).

You know, when Jesus prayed this prayer, He could very well have gone away by Himself, (He had done just that countless times before), and He could have prayed silently, without speaking a word out loud. Even more, when God revealed His Word to us, He could have chosen to not even mention it at all.

But Jesus wasn’t silent that night. He prayed openly and His disciples got to listen.

“When Jesus had spoken these words,” it said. What words?

The book of John chapter 17 takes us to the Upper Room, to that place where Jesus sat with His disciples on Maundy Thursday night for one last Passover meal. And the mood that night was heavy and poignant. He had just said goodbye to His disciples, and every word and deed and gesture was weighed down with grief. He’s washed their feet, He’s promised them the Holy Spirit, He’s fed them His body and blood in, with, and under simple bread and wine, and He’s commanded them to love one another. He’s spoken to them with tenderness and urgency, as if time was running out.

Because it was.

Now in these last moments before He would pray in the Garden, and before His arrest and trial and crucifixion, the disciples were afraid, worried, and full of doubt and anxiety. They couldn’t even begin to imagine a world without Jesus, the One with whom they had spent three, long, incredible years.

And while He could have awed them with a grand finale of miracles or humbled them with a show of divine authority and power, instead He looked up to heaven and, with a trembling heart, surrendered His cherished friends to God.

In that moment, He suddenly stopped talking to His disciples, and started talking to His Father instead. “I am asking,” He said. “I am asking.”

It’s as if to say, “Father, I don’t know what You will do with My request. I don’t know exactly how or when You will answer My prayer. But I’m staking My life and the lives of My loved ones on Your goodness, because there is literally nothing more I can do. I have come to the end of what this aching love of Mine can hold and guard and save.”

“I am asking.”

And what is He asking for? Verse 1: ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son that the Son may glorify You.” Verse 15: “I do not ask that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one.” Verse 17: “Sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is truth.” Verse 20: “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word, that they may all be one, just as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.” And verse 24: “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, may be with Me where I am, to see My glory that You have given Me because You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”

This chapter has been called the Holy of Holies of Scripture and the burning bush of the New Testament. It’s the most elevated and the most glory-filled chapter in all of the Bible.

And not only is it the chapter above all chapters, it’s the prayer above all prayers, the greatest prayer ever prayed, for it’s here that we see the fellowship, the communion between God the Son and God the Father.

Here we are ushered into the throne room of God. Here we eavesdrop on the eternal communion between the Son and the Father. For just a moment, the veil is drawn back for us to see what’s on the other side. The secret place of the Most High God is opened. Here we must take off our shoes and listen, because we’re standing on holy ground.

“Father,” He said, “the hour has come; glorify Your Son that the Son may glorify You” (John 17:1).

And what else does He pray for? He prays for what lies closest to His heart. He prays for His most prized possession. He prays for His disciples. And He prays for you.

Can you think about that for a moment, for me? No matter what you’re going through in life, no matter how hard the trials, the temptations, or the struggles, no matter how difficult they may be, Jesus is praying for you.

And do you know what He prays? He prays, “Keep them”...”Guard them”...”Sanctify them,” and “Make them perfectly one.”

What are you praying for right now? A family member to come to Christ? A loved one with cancer? Victory over a stubborn habit? Wisdom to make a big decision? Guidance for the future? A prodigal son or daughter? Grace to forgive those who have hurt you? Physical healing? Strength to make it through another day?

Keep believing and keep praying, for you never know what God will do.

We thank You, Father, for the wonder of this prayer that Jesus prayed. Teach us to pray as we should, as we seek to faithfully follow You, for Jesus’ sake. Amen