Live Today, Not Tomorrow
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 17:11b “. . . so that they may be one as We are one.”
Jesus desired unity for His followers. The question is, what kind of unity did He mean? I think He intended a unity not of organization, but of heart, mind, and will. Even if we had only one denominational label, we would still be divided.
Baptists fight Baptists, Methodists fight Methodists – what would it be like if we tried to mix Baptists with Methodists or any other group? It would be war. Denominationalism at least provides us some semblance of a truce.
Jesus did not want us to be a mechanical unit, welding our personalities into one entity, but rather a spiritual unity, an organic harmony where distinct parts relate well. Each is its unique self, resulting in the whole being made better.
The unity Jesus desired rests on a common basic attitude, a unity of love and mutual need. We need to highlight our similarities and downplay differences.
If we are going to gain the respect of our society, it’s going to take a solid proactive effort from all evangelical groups to make a difference. We are weak when fighting each other, strong when acting together.
If a denomination serves Jesus as Lord, and believes the Bible to be God’s Word, we need to work together with them as much as possible. Always remember, none of us is absolutely correct in everything.
To advance the cause of Christ, we need to express our oneness whenever and wherever we can without compromise. In battle, discord and disunion bring disaster and failure.
Soldiers may argue among themselves around the campfire in private, but when the enemy is near, they become brothers. On the day before the battle of Trafalgar, Nelson took Collingswood and Rotherham, who were at odds, to a spot where they could see the opposing fleet. The Admiral said, “Yonder are your enemies; shake hands and be good friends, like good Englishmen.”
In our society, I see the devil wreaking havoc in people’s lives. Families and individuals are crumbling while Christians nitpick each other. I wish we could find a spot where we could see Satan the enemy and say, “There’s the enemy; shake hands and be good friends, like good Christians.”
John 17:12a (Holman) “While I was with them, I was protecting them by Your name that You have given Me, . . .”
Believers cannot adequately protect themselves spiritually. We are weak; our strength is insufficient, but believers are precious in God’s sight, valuable to Him, and deemed worthy of His protection.
In our text we sense the tenderness Christ feels toward His followers. He is out of our sight, but we are never out of His. He carries our names on His High Priest breastplate, yea, on His heart, and has graven them with the nails of His cross upon the palms of His hands (Henry).
Jesus protects His own. We are His treasure. He never lets anything overwhelm His children completely, though we often fear something might happen someday which would be more than we could bear.
Such a fear may be accurate when the strength we now possess is compared to the danger we then suppose. But the fear is uncalled for, for God will not expose us to a trial for which He does not in advance communicate adequate strength to bear.
We are not always able to die victoriously for Christ; but we are not always called on to become martyrs for Him. Trust in Him, and if we are called on to die, we will in that moment have strength to die well.
We feel we could not live without our spouse. Do not worry or grieve over the possibility. Wait until we are actually called on to resign our beloved, and then trust God, who will give us grace to bear the heartache.
Don’t carry unnecessary burdens. Die once; not a thousand times. Lose a spouse once; not daily. Don’t speculate on possible tragedies. Instead, place our trust in Christ. This is the best preparation we can make for any possible tragedy.
Trials are unexpected by us, but never unprovided for by God. God holds the balances in His hand. In one scale He puts our trials, in the other He puts His strength. The trial is never allowed on the scales until His adequate strength is provided to counterbalance it.
John 17:12b “. . . not one of them is lost, except the son of destruction, so that the Scripture may be fulfilled.”
Jesus did not lose Judas; He never had him. Judas never let himself be given to Christ for safe-keeping. Judas destroyed himself, and in his destruction the Scriptures were fulfilled.
This does not mean Judas died for the sake of fulfilling Scripture. The quote instead shows all things are foreknown to omniscient God.
It is solemn to think an Apostle proved to be a son of destruction. No rank in a church can secure a person from ruin. The only hope is a heart right with God.
John 17:13 “Now I am coming to You, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have My joy completed in them.”
The joy we are to have is His joy. We learn the true meaning of joy by studying Christ’s joy. His is a joy marked by at least three traits.
One, His joy was independent of circumstances. He was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, yet had joy. However difficult the path looked, His trust in the Father was unshakable. The road looked slippery, but His standing was firm.
God’s joy is not necessarily happiness. It is an underlying assurance that no matter what happens, all is well.
Two, His joy was based on close communication with the Father. Jesus always had a sense of His Father’s nearness. Their fellowship remained deep and uninterrupted.
Three, His joy was based on realized and returned love. He knew the Father loved Him, and He loved the Father. Never waver one second from believing the Father loves us, and whatever happens to us will work for our good (Romans 8:28).
Christ wants us to be filled with His joy, full to the overflow – filled to the utmost capacity. This is crucial.
Shake a half full bottle, and the water will rush from end to end in a violent swirl. There is turmoil at the slightest motion. Why? Because it is half full.
But fill the bottle until it can hold no more. Shake it – all is still within. Turn it upside down – all is quiet. Why? Because it is full.
When we are full of the joy of Christ we will be steadfast, unshakable. How can we be filled with His joy? According to our text, a crucial key to success is feeding on God’s Word.
Jesus spoke in order that our joy might increase. “I speak these things in the world so that they may have My joy completed in them.” As we saturate ourselves in, and feed on, the Word, we become more and more saturated with Him and His joy.