Midweek Fellowship – March 23, 2016
Fr. Roberto M. Jorvina
I pray that we can continue to stand in faith that we can become submitted to the will of the Father – His will done in our lives to see what He desires for us accomplished. We are on our sixth night on the theme “Oremus” or “Let us pray”. It is a very important aspect of a Christian’s life because prayer is a relational communication with God. It is the means that God provided for us to communicate with Him so that His will, which is in the spiritual realm, will be seen in the physical realm. This is the partnership that He has called us. God can do all things, but in His love He chose you and me to partner with Him despite of our weakness, of our failures, He has chosen us to be a part of that glorious plan.
Let us come to a setting in the Garden of Gethsemane in the Mount of Olives. In the topic of prayer, we come to this time where Jesus Himself prayed. It is a very, very powerful prayer and I would not be mistaken to say that it is the most powerful prayer that Jesus prayed. Jesus was at a time when He was in a crucial point of decision, “Will I do what I will as a human being or will I submit to the will of My Father?”
I am sure that Jesus had that momentary point of decision where all of us come to. “Will I do this or not?” When we woke up this morning, we were brought to a multiple choice exam. We had choices. “What will I pick out? What will I do?” The prayer that we need to constantly say is, “Lord, show me Your way. Teach me Your path.” Every day, we are confronted with decisions that we have to make and we need the wisdom of the Lord to be able to make the right choices.
I would like to focus on the prayer of Jesus in John 17 from The Message translation which gives a more candid and a contemporary rendering of Jesus’ prayer.
John 17:1-26 - The Message (MSG):
17 1-5 Jesus said these things. Then, raising his eyes in prayer, he said:
Father, it’s time.
Display the bright splendor of your Son
So the Son in turn may show your bright splendor.
You put him in charge of everything human
So he might give real and eternal life to all in his charge.
And this is the real and eternal life:
That they know you,
The one and only true God,
And Jesus Christ, whom you sent.
I glorified you on earth
By completing down to the last detail
What you assigned me to do.
And now, Father, glorify me with your very own splendor,
The very splendor I had in your presence
Before there was a world.
6-12 I spelled out your character in detail
To the men and women you gave me.
They were yours in the first place;
Then you gave them to me,
And they have now done what you said.
They know now, beyond the shadow of a doubt,
That everything you gave me is firsthand from you,
For the message you gave me, I gave them;
And they took it, and were convinced
That I came from you.
They believed that you sent me.
I pray for them.
I’m not praying for the God-rejecting world
But for those you gave me,
For they are yours by right.
Everything mine is yours, and yours mine,
And my life is on display in them.
For I’m no longer going to be visible in the world;
They’ll continue in the world
While I return to you.
Holy Father, guard them as they pursue this life
That you conferred as a gift through me,
So they can be one heart and mind
As we are one heart and mind.
As long as I was with them, I guarded them
In the pursuit of the life you gave through me;
I even posted a night watch.
And not one of them got away,
Except for the rebel bent on destruction
(the exception that proved the rule of Scripture).
13-19 Now I’m returning to you.
I’m saying these things in the world’s hearing
So my people can experience
My joy completed in them.
I gave them your word;
The godless world hated them because of it,
Because they didn’t join the world’s ways,
Just as I didn’t join the world’s ways.
I’m not asking that you take them out of the world
But that you guard them from the Evil One.
They are no more defined by the world
Than I am defined by the world.
Make them holy—consecrated—with the truth;
Your word is consecrating truth.
In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world,
I give them a mission in the world.
I’m consecrating myself for their sakes
So they’ll be truth-consecrated in their mission.
20-23 I’m praying not only for them
But also for those who will believe in me
Because of them and their witness about me.
The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.
Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they’ll be as unified and together as we are—
I in them and you in me.
Then they’ll be mature in this oneness,
And give the godless world evidence
That you’ve sent me and loved them
In the same way you’ve loved me.
24-26 Father, I want those you gave me
To be with me, right where I am,
So they can see my glory, the splendor you gave me,
Having loved me
Long before there ever was a world.
Righteous Father, the world has never known you,
But I have known you, and these disciples know
That you sent me on this mission.
I have made your very being known to them—
Who you are and what you do—
And continue to make it known,
So that your love for me
Might be in them
Exactly as I am in them.
Jesus was a very prayerful man. When He was baptized, the Holy Spirit came upon Him and in Luke 3:21, it says that He was in prayer. In Mark 1:35, just as Jesus was starting His three-year public ministry, He prayed. In Matthew 14:23 and in Mark 6:46, after His great miracle of the loaves and the fish, Jesus was in prayer. In Luke 6:12, Jesus prayed all night prior to choosing His twelve disciples. As I meditated on this, Jesus praying all night is an intense prayer time that He had. In Luke, Matthew and Mark, it says that Jesus chose twelve people and the twelfth person He chose was Judas. He prayed all night; and would you think that Jesus made a mistake in choosing Judas? Judas was the will of God.
Many times, there are situations in our lives that seem to be contrary to our expectations, but we pray. We spend time praying for our son or daughter to enter college in a particular university and it did not happen. We pray for healing and our relative got even sicker and died. This may give us a greater understanding of prayer that it doesn’t necessarily mean that everything will be pleasant, nice, sweet and rosy. There will be times, after we pray, that things will become worst of the things that we expect.
In Luke 9:28, Jesus prayed at His transfiguration. In Luke 4:16, it was Jesus’ custom to join in the synagogue prayer, the Office of Prayer of the Jews. He was there every six o’clock in the morning and probably, He was there for the six o’clock evening Office of Prayer. How many people attend prayer time in the Parish? We say that we pray at home, but there is such a thing called as the Office of Prayer. It is an Office where all the royal priesthood of God is called to participate in and to stand with the whole Church to call forth the justice of God and to call forth His will on earth in an official capacity as the chosen Church of Jesus Christ.
In John 17, at the greatest moment of Jesus’ ministry when He was at the very threshold of accomplishing His mission, He prayed. Jesus raised His eyes to heaven and He said, “Father, it’s time.” In the NASB, it says, “Father, the hour has come.” How many times in the ministry of Jesus did the gospel writer say that when Mary called Him and said that they needed wine, He said, “Woman, it is not yet My hour.” When the Pharisees and the Sadducees came to Him and tried to push Him down the cliff, He was able to slip out because it was not yet His hour. In the gospels, there are times when Jesus was being confronted, and He was in a situation where they were ready to get Him, but He was able to move out because it was not yet His hour.
Many times, we are frustrated in our lives because what we have been praying for has not yet happened or has not been answered. It is not yet the hour. In God’s time, He makes things beautiful. There is a time for everything. There is a time to weep and to rejoice. There is a time to be praying, and there is a time to be acting, to be obeying, and to be living it out. There is a time to praise and there is a time to mourn. When is the hour of our lives? The word hour or time has two meanings: one, the chronos time – the past, present and future. There is even a more profound meaning of time when Paul said in Galatians 6:9 saying, “Do not be weary in doing good for in due season, in the right time, you will reap.” Time in this verse is kairos, which is the time of God. God doesn’t operate with a clock or with the calendar month or year. Time with God is another realm and we must realize in the time we have, there is a specific time for everything.
John 17 was the hour for Jesus to submit Himself to the will of the Father. The first part of this prayer shows us the foundation of prayer and the foundation of our lives. The first five verses show that prayer is based on God’s glory. How many times did Jesus talk about the glory of God? How many times did Jesus talk about being glorified? How many times did He talk about eternal life?
Realize that the whole foundation of our Christianity is God and God alone. Jesus Christ is the Chief Cornerstone. He has established His church with the apostles and the prophets as the foundation, the pillar, and the support of truth. This is the foundation of our lives. Jesus says, “The hour has come. Glorify Thy Son that the Son may glorify Thee.” Prior to this, in John chapters 13 to 16, Jesus was teaching and talking to His disciples about things that will be happening and taking place. John 16:33 ends with the verse, “All of these things (from chapters 13-16) I said to you so that you can have peace. In this world, you will have tribulation.” We will have a hard time in this world. Life is tough. Life is not going to be fair. Jesus says “But take courage; I have overcome the world.”
After all these, Jesus lifted up His eyes to heaven and prayed as in John 17. He was setting the example to us, showing to us, that we are in an environment that is hostile to us. It is not unusual that people will mock us. It is not unusual that people will make fun of our faith. Many people believe in God, but when it comes to being personal with Jesus, it is different. People say, “I prayed to Someone up there!” When we talk about Jesus, the Name of Jesus, that is another thing. We will encounter turmoil. We are in a very hostile environment and this is why the foundation is very important because it makes our prayer see our needs in the proper perspective. We need to see that the answer to our prayer is in God’s time.
John 17 is a prayer about God’s people who are in a hostile world. The prayer reveals the life of Christ’s disciple. When we started the series of Oremus, we said that discipleship is the activity of the Kingdom. Jesus was followed by a crowd, but many times, He will draw the line. From the multitude, He only chose who were willing to be disciples, who were willing to pay the price, who were willing to suffer, who were willing to be committed all the way despite of what they think, feel, and experience.
This is the call of God for all of us. This is what John 17 is all about. This is a prayer of a true disciple. Are we willing to go all the way with Jesus? For better or for worse? It is nice to be for better, but how about for the worst part? For richer or for poorer. It is so nice when there are the blessings and the riches, but how about the poor part when there is a need and it seems like the need is not being met? When a person sees a friend driving a nice car who goes home to a nice home and he goes home riding a jeepney to a rented home that he can’t even pay the rent every month, will there be the commitment for the poorer? In sickness and in health. The healthy part is great, but when we may go through a chronic illness, a lingering illness, are we still going to commit to Christ?
Jesus understands that the world is going to reject us. The world will hate us because of our faith. There will be opportunities where we will be persecuted. When I was working in the engineering field, I was taunted by my officemates saying, “Here is the Pastor. It is so embarrassing to commit a sin against the Pastor.” They put a very cynical, taunting name for Pastor because they knew what I stood for. Three weeks ago, my manager in my department thirty years ago, whom I witness to every time we visit a project site and share the faith with him, called me. He said, “Obet, do you know me? This is Jo Singson. Alam mo, lahat ng sinabi mo thirty years ago, tinamaan na rin ako. Pareho na tayo ngayon.”
The world will hate us. The world will not want anything to do with us. They want God, but only the God that they have envisioned – the God who blesses; the God who provides and heals. He is but He is also the God who disciplines. He is also the God who calls us to commitment, to a higher level of faith. This is what discipleship is all about.
When we go to a fastfood restaurant, we order by the meal number and normally, the service attendant would ask one question, “Do you want it upsized?” They are asking, “Do you want something more than what you are asking for?” This is what discipleship is. Do we want to supersize our life or are we content with our Christian life of just going to Church every Sunday, never mind if we are late? Of being content by just praying when we need to pray? The latter is the regular meal and everyone takes the regular meal; but do we want to supersize it? Do we want to upsize our life? Do we want to be a disciple?
Jesus’ prayer in John 17 is a prayer of a disciple. When we understand this prayer, we will begin to realize that God wants to supersize our lives. He doesn’t want the regular thing for us that everyone is taking. He wants to take us and to level up to a greater way. We need to be a disciple. Before, we were part of the multitude, just following Jesus and seeing His miracles. Jesus said, “Follow Me because you were fed and full.” God wants to work better in our lives. Do we want to upsize our order or are we content with our regular meal?
Christ is the center and prayer and the Word are very vital aspects of our communication with God. Prayer and Word should come with our fellowship with our brothers and sisters and our witnessing to those who do know Christ in a greater way yet. This completes the components of our Christian discipleship to level up with Him.
In John 17:17 says, “Sanctify them with Thy truth; Thy word is truth.” The Word is what sanctifies the people of God. If we don’t have the Word and we don’t know the Word, we will not be peculiar to the people around us. We join what is trending – if being sick is prevalent, we join and say, “I, too, am sick.” We worry; we need to be poor; we need to be confused. God doesn’t want us to stay in these situations. God want us to be set apart; to be sanctified. This is what the Word is for. Our memory verse to know the Word of God in Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me. And the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
We need to know the Word before we act. We need to know that Epistle is not the brother of apostle or Sodom and Gomorrah are not related to each other. Having a knowledge of the Word is the starting point which will sanctify us or set apart so that we can have an effective ministry to others.
In John 17:9, Jesus was praying specifically for His fellow disciples. We must pray for our fellow workers. We must always pray for our Bishop, for our priests. We may not agree with them or like them, but prayer is not the prayer for people we only like. 1Timothy 2:1 says, “I want that you pray for all men.” Jesus’ pattern was, “I pray for these people.” We say, “I pray for my fellow workers. I pray for my fellow workers in my Bible Study or in my area. I pray for my Area Deacon. I pray for the Deacons of the Church. I pray for those that are working with me to evangelize in the school.” Who are the people praying with you?
Have fellowship with others, which is the relational part with others. We see this in John 17:20-21 where Jesus prayed, “That they may be one.” Pray that we may be unified, that we may be together. Pray for witnessing that we can be a witness because the mission of every person is not to build a nice house or to have a nice career. Our mission in life is to do the will of God. The will of God is that all men be saved. He gave us the ministry of reconciliation. God reconciled the world to Himself, not counting our transgressions so that we, now, can also be sent out to be ministers of reconciliation to the world outside.
How many people, apart from this Church, have you ministered to, witnessed to, and shared Jesus Christ to others? To the people that you meet every day? The enemy has his schemes to try to make us withdraw and retreat rather than attack and let the kingdom of God affect other people’s lives. We should not believe in the lies because we have a Kingdom that is on the increase. We have a Kingdom that cannot be shaken; a Kingdom that is on the winning side. We must believe and realize this!
Jesus said that we are in this world but you are not of the world. This is His prayer. We may live in the darkened world, but we must not be affected by it. We do not follow what the world presents to us – may it be the lifestyle, the morals and attitudes.
Take the fish called lapu-lapu or grouper as an example. This fish lives in saltwater, but once it is a caught, before it is cooked, it is seasoned with salt. Why does one have to put salt in it when it lives in saltwater? Shouldn’t it be that the lapu-lapu in itself is salty? The lapu-lapu is not affected at all by the saltiness of the water or on where it lives.
The whole point of Jesus’ prayer is that we are in a world that is unfair and unjust; but remember, God is Sovereign. We live in world that is tough and hard; but remember, God is good. We must constantly remember that so that we will not be affected by the world.
Increase our prayer life. Increase our Word. Let our fellowship and our witnessing be seen in our lives.