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“Jesus Prays for Those Given Him,” John 17:1-11

 

Audio

 

1When 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, 2since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3And this is JesusPrayingeternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

      6“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. (ESV)

 

In the risen and ascended Lord Christ. Amen.

Between celebrating the Passover with His disciples, washing the disciples’ feet, Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, His betrayal, trial, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension, Jesus prays the words of today’s Gospel text to His Father.

Jesus prays to His father concerning Himself and the Father, and Jesus prays for His disciples.

These two themes of prayer serve as the outline for today’s message.

Jesus prays to His Father concerning Himself and the Father.

The words used by our Lord seem easy enough to understand, on their surface.

It is this way, much of the time, with John’s Gospel.

The English seems easy to grasp.

Theologically, however, the depth is deeper than originally thought.

Glorification of the Son by the Father has to do with the very words and works that the Father gave Jesus to do, the very things that only Jesus Himself alone could do.

Not only in healing the sick, casting out demons, and raising the dead to life did Jesus glorify the Father.

Also, by fulfilling the holy Law, speaking what the Father gave Him to speak, doing what the Heavenly Father gave Him to do.

Condemning sin. Calling out hypocrisy. Saving sinners. Giving eternal life.

In all of these, Jesus glorified the Father.

Also, in His suffering, crucifixion, and death.

Also, in His Resurrection and Ascension.

Jesus revealed Himself as He was—as He is—God’s only-begotten Son, the Messiah promised of Old, the Savior of the world.

Not as “high and mighty” did Jesus obtain the victory over sin and death.

It was through suffering, cross, and death that Jesus won our eternal inheritance.

The “Glory of God” is “to conceal a matter,” writes Solomon in Proverbs (Proverbs 25:2).

And concealed Jesus was, His divinity hidden to all but those who believed; concealed Jesus is, His divinity hidden to all but those who believe—according to His Word.

Then, as now, Jesus’ disciples were challenged to reconcile what they thought they knew to be true according to their fallen nature with what Jesus said.

What Jesus said didn’t, and doesn’t, always make sense.

The things of God are at odds with the things of men.

“’My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isa. 55:8-9 NKJ).

The issue here, of course, is not with God.

The issue is with us.

The God who we can know of ourselves and by ourselves, unrevealed by God’s revelation in Jesus Christ is not the true God, but a false God, a false God who does not lead to eternal life, but to eternal death.

This truth, Jesus reveals.

Jesus states clearly, “This is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom you You have sent” (John 17:3).

This Jesus, Whom the Father has sent, also has authority over all flesh.

Such authority is not always recognized, even as Jesus submitted Himself under human authority to the cross, but a time will come when all will acknowledge Jesu for Who He is.

Jesus also reveals that that Father-given authority over all flesh is that Jesus give eternal life –eternal life to all whom the Father has given the Son.

Jesus is revealing right here in this prayer that eternal life is not the choice of the sinner.

Eternal life is given by the Father to those whom He, the Father, gives to the Son.

Eternal life is therefore from the Father through the son and not by the work or intention of sinners.

This is quite contrary to what the world and our sinful heart tell us.

As much as choice is attributed to everything, here God says, “No.”

Eternal life is gift. Faith is gift. The Word of God is gift. Jesus is gift.

Out of God’s kindness and mercy, only by these, does life continue.

The Father in heaven, “Makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45 NKJ).

Out of God’s kindness and mercy, only by these—through the Son—do you or does anyone have eternal life.

In another place, also to the Father does Jesus pray and say, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Matt. 11:25-27 NKJ).

Choice, clearly aside, salvation is of God, not of men.

With men, salvation is impossible.

With God alone is salvation sure (Matthew 19:26).

Jesus, in praying as He had to the Father, also draws clear distinction between Himself and the Father concerning all others—all others that are false Gods—which all overs have who do not know the truth God whom makes Himself know in the Holy Scripture and apart from which no one can know the true God as He reveals Himself.

All religions outside of Christianity teach another god and a way to that god without Christ as sole Savior by means of His death.

The Pope of the Roman Catholic church and others get it wrong and blaspheme God’s Name when and where they validate the prayers of nonChristian religions, even stating that they pray to the true God.

They don’t.

In a recent call of the Pope, urging “people of every religion to fast and pray for an end to the coronavirus pandemic,” He in part said, “We are all united as human beings, as brothers, praying to God, according to our culture, according to our own tradition, according to our beliefs, but brothers and praying to God.”[1]

We may be united as human beings, but beliefs, if not of the God of the Bible, are not at all of the faithful.

All religions outside of Christianity teach a ‘do-it-yourself’ kind of religion, by which, at least partially, if not fully, you contribute to your own well-being before God.

This applies also to the teaching of many within Christendom, indicating that not all within Christianity teach the things of God rightly.

Such teaching of self-contribution before God fits well with our “American-branded” type of religion and others, which focus on self-actualization and self-obtained enlightenment, but such is not at all congruent with the revealed religion of the true God.

The Son does not glorify the Father by you saving yourself.

The Father does not glorify the Son because of what sinners do.

It’s all about Jesus—Jesus for you.

In Him alone is eternal life.

In Jesus alone is the Father glorified.

By Jesus’ Word and work, does the Father glorify the Son.

Nothing else will do.

It is critical and necessary that Jesus be the center, for only He manifests, reveals, the Father’s Name—His goodness—His mercy—His kindness—His salvation—through His Son—for sinners.

No other religion teaches this.

No other God works this way.

Only the true God does—revealing forgiveness, life, and salvation through the death and resurrection of the incarnate Son of God.

The first “theme” of Jesus’ high priestly prayer, as it is sometimes called, concerns that of Jesus and the Father.

The second “theme” of Jesus’ prayer concerns His disciples.

As we had heard before, so also now, note Jesus’ active work and the disciples’ passively receiving what Christ said and did.

Jesus manifested, revealed, the Father’s Name—to those whom the Father had given.

The Father gave them to Jesus.

They didn’t come of themselves.

They know that Jesus is from the Father because Jesus revealed this to them.

“Flesh and blood” had not revealed such godly truths.

Jesus did.

Thus, they knew.

Thus, do we know the Father and the Son, not because we see, but because of Jesus has made Him known.

For the disciples Jesus prays. Later, also for us and all others who believe according to His Word.

Jesus prays that they be kept in the Father’s Name; that they be one.

Jesus prays that they remain in the faith and not depart from the truth.

Jesus prays that they be united in the faith of Him, to the salvation of their souls, the reception of His kingdom—His kingdom that is not theirs by choice and merit, but by His grace and mercy.

For us, too, does Jesus pray.

Through the word of the apostles, the writings of the New Testament, the Lord reveals Jesus to be our Savior from sin and death—the fulfillment of the Old Covenant—the Giver of life eternal.

Jesus prays that you remain in the faith.

He intercedes to the Father for you.

Remaining in His Word, you certainly do; remaining in the faith that is not yours, but the faith given by the Father through the Son. Amen.

 

PrayingHands&Cross1O King of glory, Lord of hosts, uplifted in triumph far above all heavens, leave us not without consolation but send us the Spirit of truth whom You promised from the Father; for You live and reign with Him and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen. (Collect of the Day for The 7th Sunday of Easter)

 

Audio

 

 

[1] Courtney Mares (May 14, 2020), “Pope Francis calls people of all religions to pray for end of pandemic.”

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-francis-calls-people-of-all-religions-to-pray-for-end-of-pandemic-74883

Smalcald Articles, Part II, Article I–Christ and Faith

 Tappert1 The first and chief article is this, that Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, “was put to death for our trespasses and raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). 2 He alone is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). “God has laid upon him the iniquities of us all” (Isa. 53:6). 3 Moreover, “all have sinned,” and “they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, by his blood” (Rom. 3:23-25).

4 Inasmuch as this must be believed and cannot be obtained or apprehended by any work, law, or merit, it is clear and certain that such faith alone justifies us, as St. Paul says in Romans 3, “For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law” (Rom. 3:28), and again, “that he [God] himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26).

5 Nothing in this article can be given up or compromised,6 even if heaven and earth and things temporal should be destroyed. For as St. Peter says, “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). “And with his stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53:5).

On this article rests all that we teach and practice against the pope, the devil, and the world. Therefore we must be quite certain and have no doubts about it. Otherwise all is lost, and the pope, the devil, and all our adversaries will gain the victory. (Tappert edition, The Book of Concord)

Claims about the doctrine of Sola Scriptura originating with Martin Luther

Sola Scriptura

It is held by some that “The doctrine of Sola Scriptura originated with Martin Luther, the 16th-century German monk who broke away from the Roman Catholic Church and started the Protestant ‘Reformation.’[1]  Part of this is true.  Dr. Luther was a 16th-century German monk (of the Augustinian order).  However, the Roman Catholic Church excommunicated Luther for his teachings.

 

Claims about the doctrine of Sola Scriptura originating with Martin Luther

 

A brief examination of the New Testament will demonstrate that the teaching of Sola Scriptura did not originate with Martin Luther.  Though I’m not aware that the phrase Sola Scriptura was used before Luther’s time, the doctrine was in practice before Luther.

Jesus says, for example, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think that you eternal life, and these are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39).  Here, Jesus was speaking with Jews, the people of His day.  Note that He references the Scriptures, which are the Old Testament writings.  He says that these writings testify of Him.  He says the same elsewhere, too (i.e. Luke 24).

The angel Gabriel, who visited both Zechariah in the temple, concerning the birth of John the baptizer (the forerunner of Christ), through the womb of his wife Elizabeth, and who also visited the virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus the Lord, testified to them of what was to come using the Old Testament.

The preaching of the apostles after Christ’s ascension was the preaching of Christ’s death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins.  Significantly, they claimed that this proclamation, and their teaching, did not derive from tradition, but was founded on the Old Testament.  They were claiming, therefore, that Christ was not only the one prophesied in the Old Testament, but that He had fulfilled those prophecies (i.e. Acts 2ff).

These few examples draw attention to where Gabriel, Jesus, and the early church recognized the origination of true doctrine to come, not from tradition or a human figure (i.e. the pope), but from God alone, through Holy Scripture (the Bible).  This is especially noteworthy, because such a claim equates the Bible with God’s Word.  This means that the denial of the Bible as the only authority is also the denial of God’s Word, from which God makes Himself known to us through Jesus Christ.  And the denial of the Bible, God’s Word, as the only authority for faith and life, leads to the denial of salvation by God’s grace alone, through Christ alone, through faith alone, all three, for these teachings the Holy Scriptures clearly teach.


[1] Peters, 2.

Confession & Absolution

Large Catechism (Tappert Edition)

A Brief Exhortation to Confession (20-27)

20 Further, no one dare oppress you with requirements. Rather, whoever is a Christian, or would like to be one, has here the faithful advice to go and obtain this precious treasure. If you are no Christian, and desire no such comfort, we shall leave you to another’s power. 21 Hereby we abolish the pope’s tyranny, commandments, and coercion since we have no need of them. For our teaching, as I have said, is this: If anybody does not go to confession willingly and for the sake of absolution, let him just forget about it. Yes, and if anybody goes about relying on the purity of his confession, let him just stay away from it. 22 We urge you, however, to confess and express your needs, not for the purpose of performing a work but to hear what God wishes to say to you. The Word or absolution, I say, is what you should concentrate on, magnifying and cherishing it as a great and wonderful treasure to be accepted with all praise and gratitude.

23 If all this were clearly explained, and meanwhile if the needs which ought to move and induce us to confession were clearly indicated, there would be no need of coercion and force. A man’s own conscience would impel him and make him so anxious that he would rejoice and act like a poor miserable beggar who hears that a rich gift, of money or clothes, is to be given out at a certain place; he would need no bailiff to drive and beat him but would run there as fast as he could so as not to miss the gift. 24 Suppose, now, that the invitation were changed into a command that all beggars should run to the place, no reason being given and no mention of what they were to look for or receive. How else would the beggar go but with repugnance, not expecting to receive anything but just letting everyone see how poor and miserable he is? Not much joy or comfort would come from this, but only a greater hostility to the command.

25 In the same way the pope’s preachers have in the past kept silence about this wonderful, rich alms and this indescribable treasure; they have simply driven men together in hordes just to show what impure and filthy people they were. Who could thus go to confession willingly? 26 We, on the contrary, do not say that men should look to see how full of filthiness you are, making of you a mirror for contemplating themselves. Rather we advise: If you are poor and miserable, then go and make use of the healing medicine. 27 He who feels his misery and need will develop such a desire for confession that he will run toward it with joy. But those who ignore it and do not come of their own accord, we let go their way. However, they ought to know that we do not regard them as Christians.

Large Catechism on Confession, 1-7

Large Catechism

A Brief Exhortation to Confession (1-7)

1 Concerning confession, we have always taught that it should be voluntary and purged of the pope’s tyranny. We have been set free from his coercion and from the intolerable burden he imposed upon the Christian church. Up to now, as we all know from experience, there has been no law quite so oppressive as that which forced everyone to make confession on pain of the gravest mortal sin. 2 Moreover, it so greatly burdened and tortured consciences with the enumeration of all kinds of sin that no one was able to confess purely enough. 3 Worst of all, no one taught or understood what confession is and how useful and comforting it is. Instead, it was made sheer anguish and a hellish torture since people had to make confession even though nothing was more hateful to them. 4 These three things have now been removed and made voluntary so that we may confess without coercion or fear, and we are released from the torture of enumerating all sins in detail. Moreover, we have the advantage of knowing how to use confession beneficially for the comforting and strengthening of our conscience.

5 Everyone knows this now. Unfortunately, men have learned in only too well; they do whatever they please and take advantage of their freedom, acting as if they will never need or desire to go to confession any more. We quickly understand whatever benefits us, and we grasp with uncommon ease whatever in the Gospel is mild and gentle. But such pigs, as I have said, are unworthy to appear in the presence of the Gospel or to have any part of it. They ought to remain under the pope and submit to being driven and tormented to confess, fast, etc., more than ever before. For he who will not believe the Gospel, live according to it, and do what a Christian ought to do, should enjoy none of its benefits. 6 What would happen if you wished to enjoy the Gospel’s benefits but did nothing about it and paid nothing for it? For such people we shall provide no preaching, nor will they have our permission to share and enjoy any part of our liberty, but we shall let the pope or his like bring them back into subjection and coerce them like the tyrant he is. The rabble who will not obey the Gospel deserve just such a jailer as God’s devil and hangman. 7 To others who hear it gladly, however, we must preach, exhorting, encouraging, and persuading them not to lose this precious and comforting treasure which the Gospel offers. Therefore we must say something about confession to instruct and admonish the simple folk.

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