Read John chapter 17.
In our last post from the book of John we saw how Jesus connected his relationships with his guys, the one’s in his circle, to God. He talked to his guys about God–and–he talked to God about his guys. (If you’re interested you can read more here: The Most Amazing Prayer Ever Prayed (and the 1 thing we can take from it)
Reporting To God
Today, we’ll look at Jesus’ prayer from John 17 in a different way. Today we’ll look at how Jesus’ prayer in John chapter 17 is a report to God about what Jesus accomplished during his lifetime. It’s interesting to see how Jesus’ disciples reported to Jesus all they had done after they returned from preaching the gospel and healing everywhere in Luke 9:10. In similar fashion we see Jesus reporting to God here in John 17. Because we’re looking at his prayer from this perspective, we’ll use the King James version. In that version we see Jesus make nine “I have . . .” statements.
I love looking at Jesus’ prayer this way because it helps me to see what was important to him in life. He’s sharing with our Father his life long to-do list. His purpose is revealed in this report to God. And by looking at what Jesus said were his specific accomplishments in life, I can emulate him, and strive to accomplish the same in my own life.
The 9 “I Have” Statements of Jesus
1) “I have glorified thee on earth.” (v. 4a) We covered this in-depth in a previous post (How Jesus asked God to Glorify Jesus (and what that meant for Jesus . . .) so you can go there if you’re interested. To summarize, Jesus communicated love in a way that caused people to respond by praising God.
When Jesus raised the widow’s son from the dead, the people “were all filled with awe and praised God.” (Luke 7:11-18)
When Jesus cured the paralytic in Matthew 9:1-8 the people there “were filled with awe; and they praised God . . .”
Contrast this with what I can do when I help someone. I often feel slighted if I don’t get any credit or at least receive some kind of acknowledgment. Too often I’m concerned with my own glory, and not God’s. But for Jesus, he helped people with such humility that people glorified God in response.
For you and for me Jesus said these words:
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
It might feel counter-intuitive but if we can let go of our need for credit and acknowledgment, we can experience a newfound freedom. Our anxiety will be reduced. And as Jesus said, we can find rest for our souls.
But even more important than receiving personal benefits, we can live a life glorifying God as Jesus did.
2) “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” (v. 4b) Jesus was a finisher. He finished the work God gave him to do. When I die, and I’m reporting in to my Maker, what will I say to God about what I’ve accomplished over my lifetime? Will I be able to say I finished the work He gave me to do? Or will I have to say I did what I wanted to do? Or will I have to say, I mostly did what other people expected me to do?
When I think about the work God gives me to do I especially think about how God gives each of us people. He gives us people out of the world. Our family members and neighbors. Our co-workers. Our friends. And the work He gives each of us is to love those people God puts before us. (And not just the ones we like.)
And speaking of giving people out of the world . . .
3) “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world.” (v. 6) The word manifested in the Greek means to appear or to show. So it doesn’t mean to make known with words, but to make known through demonstration, with actions and behavior. So Jesus here is saying he’s shown us God’s name. He’s shown us God’s nature. Paul said Jesus was the exact representation of God. And Jesus himself said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” (Hebrews 1:3, John 14:9) I’m always asking myself, “Who do people see when they see me?” Do people see Jesus’ nature when they look at what’s in my heart? When they’re close enough to see my attitude? When they observe my behavior? When people are around me, do they experience Jesus’ grace and compassion and love?
It seems like we’re often so worried about sharing our opinions that we lose our God given purpose which is to demonstrate grace and love to the people God has given us out of the world, the way Jesus did.
Bob Goff says it this way:
We’ll know we’re growing when our love for people dwarfs our opinions about them.
4) “I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me.” And, verse 8 continues, “they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.”
The word “words” in the original is rehma which means specific words from God. It literally means utterance. Later we’ll talk about the logos word, which refers to the total inspired word of God, and can also refer to Jesus himself. But in verse 8 rehma means the specific words God gave Jesus to share with the people God surrounded him with.
It’s interesting to me that Jesus reports to God about how he modeled God’s love and grace (in verse 6) before he talked about communicating the specific words God gave him to share. Every word Jesus shared was shared in the context of overwhelming love.
Every word Jesus shared was shared from a place of genuine love so that, as verse 8 explains, the people close to Jesus were attracted to him and came to believe he was sent from God.
5) I have “kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me . . .” (v. 12) Jesus kept the people God gave him. We need to do the same by engaging with the people God gives us, in our circle. As Jesus did, in the context of unmistakable love we need to let them into our lives the way Jesus allowed the twelve into his life. We need to let them see what it looks like to follow Jesus closely. To love people the way he did. To show outrageous grace to others the way he did. To demonstrate compassion the way he did. And to share truth in the context of love the way he did.
In my own personal experience, and from observing how Jesus related to his disciples in the gospels, this is what will keep the people close to us in His name.
6) “I have given them thy word.” (v. 14) Unlike verse 8, the word “word” here in the original is logos. And logos refers to the total inspired Word of God. So even as Jesus did, we are to share God’s word, the Bible, with those close to us. But always in the context of love.
7) I have “sent them into the world.” (v. 18) They’re not of the world but Jesus sent his disciples in to the world to continue to do what Jesus did. (John 17:16-18, Romans 12:2) We should do the same. Our goal should be for those close to us to go out into the world and continue to love God and to love people the way Jesus did. When Kobe Bryant died unexpectedly, I was reminded how fragile life is. Tomorrow’s not guaranteed. I don’t know when my time will be over. It could be much sooner than I expect. Before I’m gone, I desire to see those close to me drawing close to Jesus, loving God well, and loving people well.
Few things are more important to me than that.
8) “. . . the glory which thou gavest me I have given them . . .” (v. 22) I’m told Jesus is speaking here about the glory we receive after we die. Every believer moves on to glory after they die. One of the great blessings from living with these nine goals in mind is that many of the ones around us will be influenced for Christ in a way that opens the door for them to experience a glorious future, an eternal glorious future.
9) “I have declared unto them thy name.” (v. 26) In the first instance of communicating God’s name back in verse six, Jesus was demonstrating God’s name. Here, the idea is that he’s teaching them God’s name or declaring God’s name. Again we see the order of operation: First comes the demonstration of God’s name. God’s nature is demonstrated first. The foundation of grace and compassion and love comes first. Then comes the teaching.
God help me to be like Jesus in this way! When I teach without that foundation of love, I’m nothing more than a noisy gong! (1 Corinthians 13:1)
A noisy gong. That’s what I sound like when I leave out some of the nine “I haves.” I need all nine. I need to do the best I can to accomplish them all.
I used to think I was living a pretty good Christian life. But after studying Jesus, I realize I’m deficient.
I’m lacking in grace.
I’m lacking in genuine love for the people God has surrounded me with.
When it comes to love and grace, I need to change.
When it comes to love and grace I need to turn the dial up.