Jesus Prays for Our Greatest Needs
Last time we were together we talked about why Jesus prays for his disciples. We saw that we are radically different from the unbelieving world around us. Jesus wanted to impress this difference upon us and help us see how blessed we are.
- We noted that we unique status: we belong to God -
- We have a unique knowledge: God has given us an understanding of divine things (God’s nature, attributes, plan of salvation, etc)
- We also have a unique reputation: The Lord speaks well of us and thinks highly of us. That’s not the case with the rest of the world. He speaks of them in terms of their sin and wickedness.
My hope that you walk away from that understanding how blessed you are and encouraged that the Lord has done these things for you. You are definitely special.
In today’s passage we actually get into the specifics of what Jesus actually prayed. And it is my belief that there are three basic petitions that he lifts on our behalf. In verses 11-19, Jesus bows his head, he prays for our security, satisfaction, and sanctification.
Now, before we jump in, I want you to understand that Jesus prays for the things we most need. When you pray for someone, you pray for the things that are most needful. For instance, you probably wouldn’t pray that Bill Gates gets his electric bill paid. That’s probably not a huge concern for a guy who has almost infinite resources at this disposal. That’s not a great need. You’d probably spend time praying for other things in his life; like that he’s make a wise use of that money and not fall into the traps that are associated with riches.
So, as Jesus prays here, I want you to keep that in mind. He is praying for our greatest needs. And we should ask, what is it that we need most?
I would suggest to you that one of our greatest needs is our spiritual security.
I. Prays for our security [11-13]
And we might even call it our eternal security. Look at verses 11-13. Jesus says,
“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. 12 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.”
The key words here are those verbs: Keep them in your name. I kept them. I have guarded them. And he says that only one was lost and he was not ever supposed to be kept. He acknowledges in some fashion the reprobation of Judas, calling him the son of destruction.
And Jesus says, “My job is done. I’m coming to you. I’m leaving this world. So its now up to the Father. The only way they are going to be able to persevere in the faith is through the divine aid that the Father extends to them.
Jesus of course is assuming two things here (the power of the world and the powerlessness of our feeble faith).
On the one hand, there’s the presupposition that the world is like a black hole that will suck us in. He’s leaving the world, we’re still in the world. And the idea is that the world is like quicksand for Christians. If we are not given the support of God, we will soon sink into it and become worldlings. We will end up falling away from the faith, pitching all orthodoxy and embracing the mindset that characterizes the world around us.
This is a good opportunity to think about what exactly the world is. John uses the word “world” quite frequently in his gospel. And while sometimes he simply means this planet (i.e. the earth is our world), it most frequently refers to the system of thought that is opposed to God.
We will often talk about having a Christian “worldview.” That is to say, we believe that God’s word teaches us how to think. How to think about creation (God created it in the span of 6 days by the power of his word). It teaches us how to think about God (He is the self existing and triune). It teaches us how to think about ourselves, salvation, the future, viruses, etc.
The world thinks about all these topics quite differently. In Jesus’ day, the world may be a Greek or Roman philosophy. Or it was a Jewish worldview that they had to be aware of. Today, it’s different. We live in a mainly secular society. So the predominant thought is one that denies the supernatural. Or, if God does exist, he should be kept out of the main line of thought. I have a whole series of classes I do on secularism, existentialism, postmodernism, and the like. I’m not going to go into all that now. I’m simply pointing out that that you need to be aware that there is an alternate viewpoint out there. The world is opposed to Christ and you can easily be sucked into its belief system.
But there’s another assumption that Jesus makes. It’s not just that the world this black hole ready to suck us in. But it’s that our faith is so weak that we can be sucked in. The only thing that kept the disciples from succumbing to the world’s beliefs was Jesus’ support. He kept them in God’s name. That is to say, he kept them in the faith. And now that he’s going, he knows that that support system is going to be removed and they need the Father’s intervention.
And our testimony should be that our faith is perhaps the most fragile thing in the universe. A spider’s web has more ability to stand up against apostasy than our faith. If it was not for the hand of God, every one of the disciples (and every one of us) would end up just like Judas.
And so Jesus prays for God’s providential protection. He prays that the Father would uphold us and ensure our faith is preserved from falling back into the world. In this prayer he makes secure the faith of his people.
The second thing he prays for is found in verse 13. After praying for our security, he then prays for our satisfaction
II. Prays for our satisfaction 
Verse 13 says, “But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.”
You should understand that Jesus not only secures our eternal life, but by his prayer he secures for us an overwhelming, ever flowing sense of joy. Jesus speaks these things to the Father that by being secure in faith they will be satisfied in soul with abounding joy.
Now I want to help you understand this joy a little bit. You need to understand that this joy has a twofold origin and a specific nature. So we can identify where it comes from and what it is like.
From whence does it come? On the one hand it comes from Christ. It is his joy. Jesus says that they may have “my joy fulfilled in themselves.” And we’ve seen this over and over again in our studies. Every time we come across the idea of joy we understand that it is a product of our having come to know Christ and the salvation he bestows. Adam and Eve were perfectly holy and happy in the garden. When they sinned, they became sinful and miserable. But Christ came into the world to restore all things. And one thing he sets within us is this pre-fall, original model of joy.
And as I’ve mentioned before, if you are having problems with joy—if you lack joy, then you need to become more acquainted with Jesus Christ.
The stock market has taken a tumble over the last two weeks. The virus hubbub has spooked people to no end. And we see that there are a lot of people freaking out in this world. Their life has been wrapped up in their portfolio and their supply of toilet paper. How fleeting is their joy!
We can say without a doubt that Christ is a much greater source of joy.
There’s another place from whence our joy comes though. We may say that our joy is in Christ, but we can also say that our joy is in our future. Notice that Jesus says, “These things I say that my joy may be fulfilled in them.”
What things is he talking about? I would say that it is that for which he has just prayed: our eternal security. When you know your life is kept with God in heaven and you do not have to worry about whether or not you will remain faithful to God to the end, that is a huge burden off your shoulders. It's something that will afford you a great deal of joy. I rejoice that my salvation is in God’s hands. I am able to be joyful because God is constantly upholding me and supporting me. I have many sins. I have faults and failings that plague my life. But I rejoice that no one can pluck me out of his hand.
I believe when you grasp the doctrines of grace and understand the Bible’s teaching about the perseverance of the saints, you will have a great deal of satisfaction in life.
But I want you also to notice the kind of joy that you will have. It’s one thing to know whence it comes. That’s important. But I want you to understand that this is no ordinary joy that we are talking about.
Look at verse 13 again. Jesus says that the goal is that his joy will be fulfilled in us.
What kind of joy does the Christian have? It is not a cheap knock off. It is the very joy of Christ. It comes from him and mimics him because it is centered upon him.
Just think about this: in heaven you will no doubt have a fresh sense of this joy. All the things that hinder joy and are problematic in this world will be removed and your joy will not be encumbered. Right now we can certainly have joy in trials. We can mourn and still have a deep sense of joy. But when Christ returns, those things that give us sorrow will be removed and our joy will be bright because it is the only thing remaining.
But what I want you to understand is that the joy you now have through Christ, that is the same joy that you will have in heaven. We talk about having eternal life. It is not something we will one day get at Christ’s second coming. We have it now. Eternal life was bestowed upon us at the moment we first believed.
The same can be said of our joy. We have it now. It is the same joy that we will have in the world to come. That joy is being fulfilled in us now. We do not need to look forward to joy. We don’t need to look forward to its fulfillment. Christ’s joy is alive and well, being fulfilled in us.
That is why I say that Jesus prays for our satisfaction. When you get to heaven, you will notice a change, no doubt. As sorrow and sadness fall away, you’ll notice the greatness of your joy in a new way. But you will also notice that it is the same joy that you’ve had all along. You’ll say, “It is wonderful, but it is at the same time no different than what I had just a few moments ago before the trumpet sounded.”
All our satisfaction is in Christ; and eternity will be a continuation of that great joy that we now have in him.
So let yourselves enjoy the joy you have in Him.
There is one last thing for which Jesus prays though. It is found in the last few verses of our passage. Last, but not least, He prays for our sanctification.
III. Prays for our sanctification [14-19]
That is to say, he prays for our ongoing growth in obedience. Jesus prays that you would become more godly in the way we live.
I know that’s not what some people mean by the term sanctification. I know when I was younger I was involved in charismatic and Pentecostal churches. And they taught me that sanctification meant having more of the Spirit and utilizing more gifts of the Spirit, such as speaking in tongues and prophesying and such.
But when the Bible talks about sanctification, it’s talking about being less sinful and more righteous. It’s the transformation of character and life; your thoughts, words, and deeds becoming more and more pure; conformed to the pattern of Christ.
And you see that here in this passage. Just look at verse 14. Jesus says, “I have given them your word and the world has hated them because they are not of the world.”
Why does the world hate us? It’s because Jesus gave us his word. That’s made us different from the world. That word has transformed your life. And the world doesn’t like that. They hate it that you don’t talk the way they do and laugh at the same jokes that they laugh at. They don’t like it that you tell the truth and are not willing to bend the truth. It’s because you have been given God’s word and grown in holiness. You are in conflict because your lifestyle doesn’t match up.
In verse 15 your see the reformation of life even more: Jesus prays that we be kept from the “evil one.” That’s talking about being kept from temptation. The devil (the evil one) tries to get us to sin. He does his best to make sin sound so enticing to us. And he wants nothing more than for us to disobey God. So Jesus prays that Satan’s power would be restrained.
Then you have verse 17. The prayer is explicit here. “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” The prayer is very explicit here: Sanctify them. Make them holy. Set them apart from sin. That’s what that word sanctify means.
But you also find how God is to make us more holy. We become more obedient through God’s Word. If we want to grow, we need the truth of the Bible. That is the tool God uses to make us more obedient.
I know I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: you cannot grow if you are not in God’s word. The more you neglect the truth of Scripture, the more sinful you will be. And Jesus is basically praying that you would be diligent in looking to the word of God.
Why does he pray for our sanctification though? It is because of our mission in this world.
Look at verse 18. Jesus says, “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” Do you understand what he is saying here? This is the great commission. Our job is to be a witness to the world of the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
And the most detrimental thing to the extension of Christ’s kingdom is our sin. The lost will not be evangelized if we are not bold enough to proclaim Christ. People will not be saved if we are sinning against them and giving them a reason to avoid us.
Our sin is detrimental to the advancement of the gospel. Christ’s Lordship will only be known if we are being sanctified. As we are being saved from our sins, the world has the opportunity to see that God is a savior; the world has a chance to put their faith in Christ too.
So don’t ever think that your sin is something that you can take lightly. Christ prays that it would be eradicated. He prayed that you would conquer it and gain victory over it. And his goal is to reach the world through it. Every victory in your life holds the possibility of a greater victory of the gospel in the world in which we live.
Now, I want you to step back again. We’ve looked at these three petitions in depth. We’ve seen how he prays for our security, our satisfaction, and our sanctification. And I want you to remember that these are the three most important things to Jesus.
And I want you to understand that these are the most important issues in our life. That may mean that there needs to be some re-prioritizing in your mind. Some of you may be thinking that this house getting remodeled is my main priority. Or you may be thinking about your job and the instability surrounding the COVID problems. Those may be important things. I’m not downplaying them. But are they the most important things?
I want you to see that Jesus cares for you, and he has spoken directly to the most fundamental issues of your life. He has prayed and secured those things that are of the greatest weight.
And for that reason, we can praise God.