Dear Church Family,
In our sermon series in the Gospel according to John, over the last three weeks we have been examining Jesus’ high-priestly prayer from John 17. Jesus’ prayer, as He intercedes on behalf of His own, is the conclusion of a larger section of John’s Gospel which is typically called the “farewell discourse” (John 14-17). This coming Sunday, we will be moving out of this section and into the final portion of John’s Gospel which describes Jesus’ trial, crucifixion, and resurrection (John 18-21).
The Bookends of Jesus’ Farewell Discourse
As we transition to this final section of John’s Gospel, this is a good time to take note how the farewell discourse begins and ends on the same theme: Jesus’ promise for His people to enjoy a future glory with Him in heaven.
Jesus begins His instruction and teaching of this farewell discourse with words of encouragement concerning His second coming and the promised future blessing that awaits all those who believe in God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ:
Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:1-3)
Jesus promises to prepare heavenly abodes for all who trust in Him. And, He promises to gather together the elect from the four winds (Matthew 24:30-31; Mark 13:26-27) to Himself – to be with Him in His Father’s house.
This promise at the beginning of Jesus’ farewell discourse is linked with the final petition of His high priestly prayer:
Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:24)
As Jesus prays in the hearing of His Disciples, He remembers that eternal love which God the Father had for Him from before the foundation of the world. And He petitions His loving Father to bring all those whom the Father has entrusted into the Son’s care to be with Him in glory.
Three Lessons Learned
From these verses from the beginning and end of Jesus’ farewell discourse, we learn at least three things. First, we learn that Jesus is simply praying and petitioning His heavenly Father for those things which have already been promised. Therefore, we can think of Jesus’ petitions in John 17 not simply as requests, but as sure promises that are guaranteed to come to fruition.
Second, we learn that the major emphasis of the farewell discourse of John 14-17 is to call us to consider and reflect upon our new life in Christ. Throughout this discourse, Jesus teaches about the one nature and varied roles of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – and the benefits which believers in Christ derive from their Trinitarian relationship. He teaches us about the Trinity in order that we may learn more about who we are in Christ.
Third, we learn the importance of meditating and reflecting upon the future glory that we will experience in Christ’s presence. The future glory of that heavenly city, the new Jerusalem, is described in Revelation as having no sun or moon to shine on it, “for the glory of god has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Revelation 21:23). Imagine a place where there is no need for a secondary source of light, where the glory of God and His Son is all that you will need or want!
This is why Jesus exhorts us to not let our hearts be troubled (John 14:1). He knows of the trials, tribulations, and worries that afflict us in this life. But, to find peace amidst the hardships of this life, Jesus commends us to fix our eyes upon Him (Hebrews 12:2) and upon our future abode where there will no longer be any death, mourning, crying, or pain (Revelation 21:3-4).
Too often, we are too caught up in worrying about those things that are temporary and passing away; however, when we look to the promise of our future glory in heaven in the presence of Christ, we may find peace. And, with the Apostle Paul, we are reminded by our own physical afflictions and decay that an eternal, future glory awaits us:
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
The Lord be with you!
- Pastor Peter M. Dietsch