Trophies For Jesus
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Jesus had been trying to comfort the disciples all evening. He had assured them their situation would improve; the Holy Spirit was coming. Despite His comforting words, Jesus knew they were not ready for the next several hours.
Realizing Calvary would be a shock-wave to them, He prayed for them. Jesus tenderly committed His disciples to the care of the Father.
John 17:9a (Holman) “I pray for them . . .”
A precious thought: Jesus prayed for His followers. We show tenderness when we say “I will pray for you.” We ought to say and do this more often for one another.
Intercessory prayer expresses a loving attitude. It is the most powerful aid we have, our strongest recourse, the best thing we can do for each other.
John 17:9b “I am not praying for the world . . .”
Unbelievers are called “the world” because they are governed by the world’s spirit, and seek their everything in it. Do not misunderstand our Lord’s intent here.
We know Jesus loved the world. He died for it.
He desires the salvation of unbelievers and sends His Holy Spirit to woo them, but could not pray for the betterment of the world. “What must be asked for the world is that it may be converted, not that it may be sanctified or kept” (Luther). The world is opposed to God, and can be helped only if it ceases to be the world by being converted.
John 17:9c “. . . but for those You have given Me, because they are Yours.”
Though Jesus did not pray directly for the world, He did pray for those who could change the world. He prayed for the instruments He would use to reach the world.
Jesus’ gifts to the world are His own self, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, and His followers. If the world is to be won, it will be achieved through His people.
John 17:10a “All My things are yours, and Yours are Mine;”
Jesus claimed nothing as His own, yet claimed everything. “Yours are Mine” is obviously more significant than “My things are Yours.” The latter could be said by any person, but the former points to a very special relationship. Luther rightly said, “This no creature can say with reference to God.”
These words, in the mouth of any other, would be blasphemy. This is not the voice of someone who must beg before the throne, but rather the confidence of One who is its co-eternal occupant. The Son here claimed equal rights to the Father’s property. No language could more forcefully show Jesus is God.
John 17:10b “. . . and I have been glorified in them.”
The world does not think believers are special, but Jesus sees us as important. He shines to the world through us. For the world to see Jesus, they are to look at us, for God is glorified in us.
The world’s values were all wrong regarding the cross, and are still wrong regarding believers. By being the product of His redeeming work, we picture the success of His suffering.
We are trophies of Jesus’ power, having been rescued from the dominion of sin and brought into His kingdom. We prove the all-conquering might of His love.
A cured patient brings honor to a physician. A successful student brings honor to a teacher. An athlete that excels brings honor to a trainer. Jesus is honored by bad people who have been made good, by lost sinners who have been found, by wayward unbelievers who have been saved.
We are monuments of mercy, ex-slaves of Satan who have been rescued and transformed into children of God and joint-heirs with Christ by Jesus’ conquering might. We Christians are to live a better life than others. In us Christ’s honor is at stake. Faithful disciples are to be the best signposts by which Christ is glorified.
Christ gives us a new life. We must live in such a way that this life can be seen by all. In the nineteenth century a Munich orphanage gathered up children found begging in the streets. Before the children were cleaned and given new clothes, their portrait was painted. They were depicted in their ragged clothes, precisely as they were found. When their education at the orphanage was completed, their portrait was given to them. They promised to keep it all their life, to be reminded of the abject condition from which they were rescued.
As Christians, we need to remember our former condition, or what we would be without Christ. This would increase our love and gratitude for Him, and help us be more like Him. In this way, the world would see Jesus in us ever more clearly.
John 17:11a “I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, protect them by Your name that You have given Me, . . .”
Henry Varley told of a Christian in Dublin who was shot with a pistol. The bullet imbedded itself in the leaves of a small Bible the man always carried in his coat pocket. The bullet penetrated as far as the Gospel of John, and appropriately came to rest at these words from our text: “Holy Father, protect them.”
Jesus wanted the Father to protect His disciples. The word suggests care which comes through faithful, attentive watching. Jesus asked for incessant nurturing from the Father on our behalf. It is the sort of protection needed for possessions which are precious to the owner and in constant risk of injury or loss.
Protecting implies we’re in danger. Our risk rises from the world and its temptations. We can be made and kept holy only by One who Himself is holy.
This is the only time Jesus called His Father “Holy Father.” The God who is Himself holy, separated from evil, is called on to separate His children from sin.
We desperately need protection. Sheep never outgrow this necessity. If the original disciples always required protection, so do you and I.
Notice what Jesus prioritized. He did not pray for us to prosper materially or to be socially acceptable. Instead, He prayed we might be kept from sin, our deadly, damaging enemy. Spiritual prosperity is the best prosperity.