Glory and Joy – John 17:9-13

Glory and Joy

Nick Esch, 8/5/2018 Cornerstone Baptist Church

John 17:9-13

Remember the context of our passage: Jesus has just finished encouraging and equipping His disciples, and now the cross is at hand; in just a few hours He will die for the sins of His people… But before He goes to the cross He goes to the Father in prayer… As we have seen, He begins His prayer by praying for Himself and His glory, and then He shifts to praying for His disciples: those with Him first, and then for all believers throughout all time… He prays for all those the Father has given Him; which is what the start of our passage tells us…

In verse 9 Jesus says, “I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.” Jesus here draws a clear line between His people and the world… Now, if you look down to verse 13, Jesus says that He speaks these things in the world, and that’s because His disciples, though not of the world, are in the world; but also because—as He said earlier in verse 6—His people were given to Him out of the world… In other words, every Christian is saved out of the world…

By nature we are all a part of the world; and the world, according to John, is sinful broken people, who are by nature hostile to God… So when you read this, I don’t want to read it as Jesus not caring for the world… As we read earlier, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8)… Christ came and died for sinful people of the world like you and me… But by grace, through faith, in Christ, we are saved out of the world and made other worldly, all while still being in the world…

So, Jesus is here expressing a particular love for a particular people… He’s praying for those who have been, or those who would be saved out of the world… And He says that these people are those who belong to the Father: they are His… The way Jesus words it here, it’s clear that these people don’t belong to the Father because Jesus saves them out of the world, but rather, Jesus saves them out of the world because they belong to the Father… God loves and chooses His people first, and then Christ redeems them… Jesus goes to the cross and (as Revelation 5:9 says) by His blood He ransoms people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation (the world)… But the people He ransoms are the people whom the Father loved, chose, and laid special claim to before the foundation of the world…

As we sang earlier, we were orphans lost at the fall; running away when we’d hear God call… But, in and through Jesus, the Father worked His will… In love before God laid the world’s foundation He predestined to adopt us as His own… And in Christ He has… And that’s why Jesus tells the Father in verse 10, “All mine are yours, and yours are mine…” In and through His life, death, and resurrection, He redeems God’s people, and God gives them to Him… And it is these people, a particular people, a definite people that Christ prays for…

And this idea is nothing new… Throughout the New Testament we’re told that Christ came to save a people—His people… In Matthew 1:21 an angel of the Lord appears to Joseph, and tells him that Mary will bear a son, and that he is to call His name Jesus, for He will (not might, not maybe, but He will) save His people from their sins… Or as we’re told in Ephesians 5:25, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” And who is this church? Well again, Revelation 5:9 says, Jesus was, “slain, and by [His] blood [He] ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation…” The church, God’s chosen people, the people for whom Christ died, is a definite people from every nation and generation… It’s the people whom Jesus saves out of the world… This is the doctrine known as definite atonement: that God saves a definite people, that He knows for whom He died, and in dying He purchases their salvation, not just the possibility of salvation… As Jesus said in John 17:4, He has accomplished the work that the Father gave Him to do; it is finished… He has purchased people for God out of the world… And that’s whom He’s praying for here…

Well, now that we know who He’s praying for, notice why He’s praying… As we’ve seen in previous weeks, Jesus has been praying for the Father to lead Him and guide Him as He goes to the cross to die for His people, as He rises from the dead in victory, and ascends to the right hand of the Father and enters back into glory… He asks the Father in verse 5 to glorify Him in His presence with the glory that He had with Him before the world existed. But also, here in the last part of verse 10, He’s praying that He would be glorified, this time in and through His people… Again, in verse 10 He says, “All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.” This is a statement and a request… God’s people will glorify Jesus… It’s simply what we do… But we will only do it by God’s grace; so Jesus asks that it be so…

So the driving force behind Jesus’ prayer here is His glory; that’s what He prays for Himself, and here that’s what He prays for us: that we would glorify Him… To glorify is to give praise, to honor, to magnify or display the worth and value of something… That so, how amazing is it that people who were once a part of the world, broken sinners like you and me, are enabled to glorify—to make much of Jesus?… We were once lost and blind, stuck in the muck and the mire of our sin wanting nothing to do with Jesus… But God in His amazing grace opened our eyes; we once were lost but now we’re found; we we’re blind but now we see… And as John Newton put it: “Our pleasure and our duty, though opposite before; since we have seen His beauty, are joined to part no more…” We were all created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever; but we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… We lived for our own glory, and enjoyed sin instead of God… Until God openede our eyes to the beauty of King Jesus… Once we could see Jesus for who He is, what we once were supposed to do, but had no desire to do, became our greatest desire… We became alive to the glory of God in Christ Jesus… And now, what was once a mere duty is our pleasure; we live to glorify God and enjoy Him by making much of Jesus…

But how do we glorify God? How do we make much of Jesus? Well that brings us to the next part of Jesus’ prayer. We’ve seen the who of His prayer, and the why, so now let’s look at the what of His prayer. In verses 11 and 12 Jesus says, “And 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. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.”

Jesus is praying for His glory, for His people, asking the Father to keep them… He says He’s going to the Father; He’s leaving His disciples and going to glory by way of the cross… He’s been with His disciples for the last three years, and while He was with them He kept them… The idea behind the word kept is to guard, to watch, to protect and holdfast… And now that He’s going into glory He’s asking the Father to keep His disciples… And Jesus has already said that this is the reality for all who trust in Him. In John 10:28-29 He said, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand…” Jesus and the Father both work to guard and to keep their people… That’s why Paul said in Romans 8:38-39, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God will hold us fast…

Judas, who Jesus calls the son of destruction here—referring to eternal condemnation—is the only one who has been lost; but he was never truly a believer anyway… Now, he went through the motions; in many ways he acted like a believer, but he never sought to live for the glory of Christ, but only his own… Which is why he sold Jesus out for thirty pieces of silver, and will soon show up and betray Him with a kiss… Let that be a lesson to all of us who would call ourselves Christians; merely going through the motions does not make us a Christian; calling ourselves a disciple of Christ doesn’t make us a Christian; our desires have to so change that we no longer live for our own glory but for God’s… Again, for the true Christian, our duty has become our pleasure, because we have been transformed by grace… But, that wasn’t the case for Judas; yet, notice that none of this was outside of the sovereign control of King Jesus; as He says, it was all so that the Scripture might be fulfilled… God is sovereign over all, even over those who hate Him; and if God is that sovereign, and we have truly been saved by His sovereign grace, then we can trust that He will keep us…

But notice how Jesus words this; He prays to the Holy Father, and asks Him to keep us in His name, the name which He has given Jesus… The idea behind the name of Jesus, or the name of God here is His nature and character… And this is what Jesus reveals… “He is the image of the invisible God . . . . For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Colossians 1:15, 19)… “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3)… Jesus is God; He is Yahweh; He is Lord… He displays to us the nature and character of God in every way, because He is God… But not only that, but through His work in His perfect life, sacrificial wrath-absorbing death, and death-defeating resurrection He displays all of God’s attributes… And—as we saw last week—because of Jesus’ obedience, “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11)…

So this name—the name of Jesus who is the Lord that displays the nature and character of God—linked to the name that Jesus gives God the Father: the Holy Father (the only time this name is given to the Father) tells us a bit more about what it means for God to keep us… We are to be kept in this name: a mighty name, a glorious name, a holy name, the name of Jesus… We are to keep in step with God’s mercy and grace, and righteousness and holiness as displayed in the gospel: in the person and work of Jesus… Jesus isn’t just praying for us to be kept in the faith, but to be kept living by faith… He’s praying that God would enable us, by His grace, to live faithful lives in step with the gospel—lives that magnify His glory… Jesus prays to the Holy Father, which draws attention to both His awesome transcendence, as well as His familial intimacy… He is the Father of all for whom Christ died… By grace, through faith, in Christ we are adopted out of the world into the family of God… And here Jesus is praying not only that God would keep us in His family as His children, and protect us like a good Father always does, but that He would enable us to live as His children in step with the family name…

That’s why Jesus prays that we may be one, even as He and the Father are one; He prays for our unity as the children of God, as the church… He doesn’t pray for uniformity, but unity… Again, this is in line with the name that Jesus speaks of here; the name that’s revealed in the gospel… In Ephesians 4:1-3, Paul urges the church to, “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which [they] have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” In other words, we are called to maintain unity, not create it… The unity that we have was purchased on the cross and applied by the Spirit… Black, white, brown, rich, poor, high class, low class, people from every nation and every generation are brought together in and through the cross of Christ… We are to unite around the gospel, in humility, recognizing that we are sinners saved by grace; and we are to love each other and help each other live for Jesus’ name’s sake… It’s unity among great diversity, not uniformity… It’s a beautiful picture that only makes sense in view of the gospel… That’s why Jesus said earlier in John, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (13:35)…

This tells us that is isn’t enough to merely go to a church service every once and a while, or even every week; we must be a part of a local church… We need to be joined together, in covenant membership, with our brothers and sisters in Christ for the glory of Christ and the good of His people… The church is actually one of the means God uses to keep us in the faith… We link arms together and care for one another and hold each other accountable… Church membership is an instrument of God’s grace to keep us in His name… So friends, are you a member of a local church, be it here or elsewhere? If you aren’t, I strongly urge you to pursue membership… If you are, are you actually living in community with your brothers in sisters in Christ? A community built on the gospel? Are you opening your lives to other believers, inviting them to hold you accountable and help you fight sin and follow Christ? Do you know others well enough to do the same for them? We give countless hours of our lives to so many things, so much so that we barely have any time for the church… But that simply should not be the case… The late pastor John Stott said it well when he said, “If the church is central to God’s purpose, as seen in both history and the gospel (and it is), [then] it must surely also be central to our lives. How can we take lightly what God takes so seriously? How dare we push to the perimeter what God has placed at the center?” The church should be at the center of our lives because the gospel should be at the center of our lives… That’s what Jesus is getting at when He speaks of unity here…

So the first part of what Jesus is praying for His people is for faith, obedience, holiness, unity, and perseverance—that God would preserve our faith until the end, by any means necessary, including the church, and that our faith would be fruitful… In the first part of our passage we saw the doctrine of definite atonement, which is a part of a collection of doctrines known as the doctrines of grace; and here we see another one of those doctrines known as the perseverance of the saints: that all those who truly belong to God will be preserved by God; that all genuine believers—by God’s grace—will have faith that endures to the end… And we know this will happen because our God is a God who answers prayer… He delights to answer the prayers of all of His children; so how more so does He delight to answer the prayer of His perfect Son, Jesus Christ? We can take this to the bank… This is a prayer that is guaranteed to be answered… And this faith that Jesus prays for here is a faith that magnifies His glory…

So, saving faith, a unified faith, persevering faith, and obedient faith that leads to a holy life glorifies Christ, but that’s not all… Look with me at verse 13; there Jesus says, “But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” As we have seen, Jesus is going to glory, He’s going to the Father by way of the cross, and He’s leaving His disciples, Christians, the church, us, here to live for His name’s sake… And here Jesus says that He speaks these things in the world; that is where His disciples can hear Him, and where He’s leaving them (and us) to live for Him… He speaks these things, which seem to be in part a reference to the teaching that He just shared with His disciples, along with this prayer that He’s praying to the Father out loud for His disciples to hear… It’s because He spoke these things where the apostles could hear that we have this rich chapter in our Bibles… In this prayer we see the beauty and majesty of the glory of Christ, along with many amazing gospel promises… And here Jesus says He speaks these things that His people may have His joy fulfilled in themselves…

Friends, let’s think about this for a second… Jesus has been teaching and praying in such a way that His joy might be fulfilled in all who know Him, or will come to know Him—in every Christian… Well, what is this joy?… We know from elsewhere in the Scripture that joy is a fruit of the Spirit—it’s something God works in us by His grace… But, nevertheless, we are commanded in God’s Word to have joy… As Philippians 4:4 says, we are to rejoice in the Lord… 1 Thessalonians 5:16 says we are to rejoice always… 2 Corinthians 6:10 says the posture of every Christian in this broken world is to be sorrowful, yet always rejoicing… We’re commanded in Romans 12:15 to rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep… And that’s just the general feel of the New Testament… Throughout the Old Testament we are commanded to, “Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice…” We are to so delight in the Lord that we, “shout for joy” (Psalm 32:11)… As the Psalmist says in Psalm 16:11, we are to believe and live in such a way that we show that He makes known to us the path of life; that we know and believe that in His presence there is fullness of joy; that at His right hand are pleasures forevermore… Anything less than this is sin… As the late author Jerry Bridges once said, “Christian joy is both a privilege and a duty. To be joyless is to dishonor God and to deny His love and His control over our lives. It is practical atheism…” We are to glorify God, and we only do so properly when our hearts rejoice in Him…

Well, Jesus is perfect in every way… He fulfilled every righteousness… He was like us in every way, yet without sin… That so, we know then that His heart was glad in God… The author of Hebrews reminds us of this when he says, “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2)… He is the founder and perfecter of our faith because He is the author of our faith, and the perfect one we place our faith in… And as the One who lived the perfect life in our place, He perfectly glorified God and enjoyed Him, and He is still perfectly glorifying God and enjoying Him forever… If the very reason we exist is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, and anything less is sin, then it makes sense that the sinless one would live for the same purpose… And He did: He was perfectly obedient, to the point of death, even death on a cross… So the joy set before Him was 1) the joy that comes from obedience, 2) the joy that only He gets from bringing many sons and daughters into the family of God, and 3) and primarily, the joy that comes from being with God, in His presence where there is fullness of joy, in perfect glory… The greatest joy that Jesus has comes from God in His glory… And here in our text, Jesus prays for this joy to be fulfilled in us…

The joy of Jesus is a joy that delights in God: in knowing Him and being in His presence with Him… As Alexander MacLaren once said, “The only cheerful Christianity is a Christianity that draws its gladness from deep personal experience of communion with Jesus Christ…” In other words, Christian joy comes from knowing God, and we know God in and through Jesus… Christian joy is not circumstantial; it comes from Jesus who never changes… He is risen from the grave, never to die again, and He is at the right hand of God ever interceding for us… Through the Spirit He is with us always; He will never leave us nor forsake us. And as He prays here, He and the Father will keep us till the end… Nothing can separate us from the love God in Christ Jesus, not even death… In fact, after this life comes eternal joy, because we will be with God forever… In light of these truths, and so many more that we haven’t mentioned, how can we not be joyful?…

John Piper has said that, “Sin is first and foremost a resistance to finding joy in God…” Essentially it’s not trusting God’s Word and not believing God is who He says He is… It’s following in the footsteps of Adam and Eve… But, grace on the other hand leads to just the opposite… As Augustine once put it, grace gives us, “an experience of joy that so far exceeds the pleasures of sin that we gladly give them up…” It’s like the story that Jesus once told; He said, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Matthew 13:44)… He joyfully gives up everything he has because he knows the treasure is better than everything he has… Likewise, it is truly grace when God opens our eyes to the truth that Jesus is better than anything we could gain or lose in this life; He’s better than every sinful pleasure…. There is more joy to be had in Christ than pleasure in the world… And this is the type of joy that Jesus is praying that we have.

This joy that Jesus prays the Father will give us is a joy that magnifies His glory, because it proclaims to the world that He is better than everything… Essentially He’s praying for His people to taste and see that He is good, and to never settle for less… Really, this joy is at the heart of an obedient faith… And again, all of this goes back to why Jesus prays: for His glory… Our lives display to the world around us that Jesus is glorious when our hearts are glad in Him… Again, this is not circumstantial… It’s like we sang earlier in How Firm A Foundation; we sang, “When through the deep waters [God] calls us to go, the rivers of sorrow shall not overflow…” Why? What’s the next line say? Because He will be with us… And if we have Him we have all we need to be eternally joyful, come what may… This is a joy that cannot be shaken…

Again, this is Jesus’ joy we’re talking about here, fulfilled in His people… Well, Jesus is God… He is the sovereign King of the universe… As Psalm 115:3 says, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases…” In other words, He never has an off day, and everything always goes His way… There is no One more joyful in all of existence… The joy of the Lord is an eternally perfect joy… And Jesus prays for this joy to be fulfilled in His people… And like His prayer for the faith of His people, we can take it to the bank… This is a prayer that is guaranteed to be answered…

Now, the trouble is we often don’t feel like we have perfect joy… It doesn’t feel like this prayer has been answered… But, friends, could it be that we are not looking to the Lord for joy? Could it be that our eyes are far too focused on our circumstances? This is one of the biggest problems I see in the church today: joyless Christianity… We look at our circumstances and we feel burdened, and lose sight of Christ… Or, we look at ourselves, and we see how sinful we are, how weak our faith is, and we find ourselves full of despair, not joy… Friends, we must not look there… We don’t look within for assurance or joy, we look to Jesus… It isn’t about how perfect we are, but how perfect He is… It isn’t our weak grip upon Him that keeps us in the faith, but His perfect grip upon us that keeps us and protects us until the end… And it isn’t emotional happiness from within, or circumstantial happiness from without that leads us to joy, but the person and work of Jesus… That He loves us perfectly and sacrificially… That He works for us, and keeps us eternally; and that we will be with Him forever… That’s where our joy comes from… We so often live as though we have no joy because we forget to look to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith… Well beloved, look to Him; look to Him again and again… And if you’re here today and you’re not a Christian, look to Him for the very first time… He is infinitely better than anything we could gain or lose in this life… Turn from your sin, trust in Him, and enjoy Him forever…

Conclusion

Beloved, the infinitely glorious Son of God has prayed for you; and He has prayed that we would glorify Him by having a joyful, obedient, unified, holy, and steadfast faith; a faith that bears fruit, and perseveres to the end… He prays this for those who belong to the Father: those whom He loves, chooses, creates, redeems, and recreates… If we will give ourselves to this we will find pleasures forevermore… This is why we exist: to glorify Him and to enjoy Him forever… And when we truly enjoy Him we will truly glorify Him… So has this grace been bestowed upon you? Do you believe that Jesus is better? If so, understand that you are safe in the Father’s embrace, being kept and enabled to live for Him… If not, run to Him… Surrender to Him… Give yourself over to Him, for He will hold you fast…