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Jesus prayed for you

By REV. DANNY GODDARD - For The Courier-Times

The seventh chapter of John’s Gospel records what has become known as the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus. Prior to His arrest in the garden, Jesus prays this powerful prayer, one that easily lends itself to three divisions.

First, Jesus gives a report to the Father (v. 4-12): He had finished His work (v. 4), He had told His disciples about the Father (v. 6), He had given God’s Word to His followers (v. 8,14), and He had always been protective of His disciples (v. 12).

Just like our Lord Jesus, we all must give account to God as to how we have lived our lives. Paul told the Romans, “each of us shall give account of himself to God.“ (Romans 14:12) He also told the Corinthians, “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10) Even Jesus made this clear: “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment ...” (Matthew 12:36)

In the second place, Jesus makes a twofold request of the Father. It is first a request for Himself. (v. 1,4-5) To become Man, Jesus had laid aside His glory, so He now wants to be glorified by the Father. The word “glory” is used eight times in this chapter.

His next request is for His disciples: “I am asking on their behalf.” (v. 9) He prays for their protection (v. 11,15) and for their sanctification. (v. 17) The Greek word for “sanctification” is “hagiazo,” which means “to make holy,” taking us back to the Old Testament. “For I am the LORD your God; sanctify yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy.” (Leviticus 11:44)

Without a doubt, the disciples were saved. They had been obedient to God (v. 6), they had listened to and received His Word (v. 8), Jesus had been glorified in them (v. 10), none of them was lost (v. 12), they were not of the world (v. 14), and they were protected from Satan. (v. 15) At the same time however, they were found on occasion to be unstable and disloyal (Mark 14:50), carnally selfish and ambitious (Matthew 19:27), carnally sectarian (Matthew 15:22-23), and vindictive in spirit. (Luke 9:54-55) For sure, they were saved, but still carnal.

Paul saw this carnal nature in the Christians at Corinth. In the first two chapters of 1 Corinthians, he establishes the fact that the Corinthians were believers, yet he informs them in chapter three, “I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal.” As evidence, Paul mentions envy, strife, and divisions. (1 Corinthians 3:1-3) The prayer of Jesus was answered on the Day of Pentecost when His disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:1-4)

Finally, Jesus voices a reminder to the Father. “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me.” (v. 20) That’s us! Isn’t it great to know that Jesus prayed for you and me?

Jesus prayed for our sanctification! The Apostle Paul told the believers at Thessalonica, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

Unfortunately, many people get saved but they go no farther. It’s like the little boy who fell out of bed. When his Mom asked him what had happened, he replied. “I guess I was just too close to where I got in!” We are so grateful for that day when we “got in” and were saved from our sins, but we don’t want remain at that moment. We need to grow spiritually, mature in the faith, and get farther down the road, something for which the Lord Jesus prayed.

The Rev. Danny Goddard is senior pastor at New Castle First Church of the Nazarene. He is a regular contributor to Faith Perspective.