Each week during Lent we are reflecting on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in preparation for celebrating Easter together.
A LENTEN DEVOTIONAL BY SCOTTY SMITH
The Wonders of His Love: Jesus Prays for Us
SCRIPTURE: JOHN 17:1-26
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.
“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. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For 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. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.
“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.
“But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
“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. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
“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. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
The Bible teaches us that Jesus never stops praying for us—which is good news, indeed. But have you ever wondered exactly what he prays? We don’t have to guess, because John 17 is filled with heart-encouraging, hope-fueling examples of what Jesus is praying for each of his beloved people. This is the prayer he prayed on the night of his arrest and betrayal—just hours before his crucifixion. Let us remember: everything Jesus prays will come to pass, so we should take this passage to heart. Read through John 17 very slowly a couple of times, daring your heart to believe you are included in this prayer.
Notice how Jesus defines “eternal life” in verse 3. He defines eternal life, not primarily as living forever (which it is), but as knowing God as Father, and knowing Jesus as he delights to be know. How does this encourage you—to know that God wants you to know him and Jesus intimately, lovingly, and deeply? Take a moment, and thank God for his commitment to reveal more of himself to you.
In verse 13, Jesus asks our Father to fill us with his (Jesus’) joy. When you think about it, that’s pretty astonishing. In what ways do we resist this prayer? If we’re not expecting to find our deepest joy in Jesus, where are we tempted (foolishly) to look for it? Take a moment, and thank Jesus for his desire to fill you with his joy. Don’t rush this prayer.
Lastly, look at the last phrase in verse 23. Jesus asks our Father to help us realize that He loves you and me just as much as He loves Jesus. This is truly staggering. Because of Jesus’ finished work on our behalf, it is true: God loves each of his daughters and sons just as much as He loves His only begotten Son, Jesus. Take a few moments to thank God for such extravagant love, and ask Him to help you believe the gospel really is this good and true.
Because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. —Hebrews 7:24-26
Lord Jesus, this Scripture is like a 72-degree, no-humidity, cloudless, deep blue-sky day. It's perfect. What joy, peace, and gratitude we have knowing of your commitment to completely save us!
Because of your finished work, all of our sins have already been forgiven and we've been declared righteous in God's sight. Your banner over us is love, your desire for us is passionate, and your delight in us is constant. We're God's inheritance, his beloved treasure, and secure children. We’re co-heirs with you of the new heaven and new earth—destined for a life beyond all we could ask or imagine. Who can measure such a spectacular standing in grace?
Because of your constant intercession, we have perpetual advocacy before the Father. All your prayers for us are perfect, and all will be answered. Though Satan's attacks are constant, your love and care for us are even more unremitting, trumping everything he throws at us.
Because of your imminent return for us, we live with hope and certainty. One Day we will be as lovely as you, and as loving (1 John 3:1-3)—as hard as that is to imagine. Nothing can separate us from your love. Nothing can sabotage this grand work of grace. Nothing can derail or deter our Father's joyful resolve to make all things new through you. May this über-good news free us to live and love to your glory, now and forever.
Should we draw our last breath today, we’ll draw our first breath in heaven. Every salty and painful tear we’ve wept will one Day be a redeemed tear. So very Amen we pray, in your righteous and reigning name.