Together: We are Jesus Followers

Together: We are Jesus Followers

The Greatest Prayer Ever Prayed – Part 5

John 17:24-26

I am going to offer some free marriage and parental advice with you this morning.  I must admit that the advice I will be sharing with you came from the internet.  When it comes to marriage, not only does the breakdown of communication, money, unmet expectations, a lack of trust, and an unexpected lifestyle change factor into the divorce rate in America, but the following five excuses have been used for divorcing one’s spouse:

  1. Your commute is too long. If your commute is 45 minutes or more each way, you are more likely to divorce according to a 2013 Swedish study.
  2. Everyone is doing it. According to a study published by Social Forces, couples are 75% more likely to divorce if a close friend or family-member divorced. 
  3. Your first child is a girl.  Having a firstborn daughter leads to divorce more than having a firstborn son based on 60 years of US census data.  An unmarried couple is more likely to marry if their first child is a boy based off of a University of Washington study.
  4. You share the household chores equally. According to a Norwegian study, when couples split the housework down the middle, divorce rates were higher.  It was suggested by the author of the study that by sharing the chores equally, you create a business-like partnership rather than a relationship filled with generosity, intimacy, and spontaneity.

Now for five parenting tips:

  1. Think cute thoughts.  In the 1910’s it was suggested that an expectant mother should only think cute thoughts because her baby could be ugly if she thought otherwise.
  2. No touching your baby. In the 1960’s it was suggested by some “experts” not to hug or cuddle their babies because it would only make them grow up to be a socialist.
  3. Rub your colicky baby with your saliva. An unscientific practice of some is to help soothe your baby’s belly ache by rubbing your baby’s belly with your own saliva.
  4. Do as I say, not as I do. Everyone agrees that this is a bad parenting tactic, but it is probably the most practiced.
  5. “Respect your teen’s privacy.” This is the dumbest advice in my opinion, especially in an age of social media, sexting, and dumb decisions. 

The greatest need of Cheyenne and the greatest need of our families is the same: We are made for and are in need of a relationship the God of the Bible.  There are three things that are obvious throughout Jesus’ prayer and those three things are summed up in John 17:24-26.

  1. We were made for a relationship with God.
  2. Only Jesus can reconcile us to God.
  3. Reconciliation with God will change your life.

We were made for a relationship with God

We were made for heaven.  Your spouse was made for heaven.  Your child is made for heaven.  Jesus’ desire is not for us to have the latest toys, a comfortable life, or what desires we think we should have.  Jesus’ desire is for you and me to be with him in heaven and to see his glory that was given to him by the Father.  What glory is that?  The glory of the Lamb who stands, though he had been slain, and the one of whom all of heaven ascribes: “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation…” (Rev. 5:6-10).

The glory we will see of Jesus in heaven includes the visible marks left from his crucifixion for our sins.  Every time Jesus is seen in heaven, his mere presence shouts: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29)!  Jesus is what our city, neighbors, and our families’ need, which is far greater than anything else we could ever give them.  The first place that anyone ought to see and experience the glory Jesus prayed about is in our homes.  So how can your children, your spouse, your father, your mother, grandfather, grandmother and every other member in your family see the glory Jesus prayed about?  The Apostle Paul’s ambition in life was for people to see the glory of Jesus reflected in his life and was able to live his life in such a way that it did just that. 

Before meeting Jesus on the Damascus Road, Paul’s greatest treasure was his religious achievements rather than a relationship with the living God. However, after Paul became a Christian, and follower of Christ, his previous religious achievements were all dung in light of knowing Jesus: “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish (dung) in order that I may gain Christ…” (Phil. 2:7-8).  So what did Paul do with his new found treasure?  He gave it away so that others could enjoy the same treasure, and he did so by first striving to experience three things that our families need to see in us so desperately; Paul wrote about it: “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead” (Phil. 2:10-11).

The operative word in Philippians 3 is the word, “know.”  It is the same knowledge Jesus referred to in his prayer: “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3).  The way people would see the glory of Jesus was if they desired the kind of knowledge that resulted in experiencing the power of Jesus’ resurrection, sharring in Jesus’ sufferings, and becoming like Jesus in his death.  This is the best way Paul could give people Jesus, and it is the way that validates the Christian faith before a watching world.  We were made for a relationship with God and the way to have that relationship is through Jesus!

Only Jesus can reconcile us to God

The world does not know God.  The world does not know that we were made for heaven for the purpose of being in the presence of God.  The world does not know that every person born into this world is born at odds with a God who loves them.  The world is ignorant of the fact that we are born alienated from God because we are all born sinners: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God” (Rom. 3:10-11).  The Bible declares the following indictment concerning the human race: “The hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead” (Eccl. 9:3).  And if that were not enough, we are warned in Romans 1:18, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” 

There is only one hope for this world and it can only be found in the Christ, who died for our sins, was buried, and was raised on the third day according to the scriptures!  The Bible states: “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts. 4:12).  After Jesus told his disciples about his death, just moments before his prayer, he claimed the following: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

I read a story some time ago that resonated with me and reminds me of the posture of our world towards a God people need:

“The phone rang at 1 A.M. in the home of Leo Winters, a highly acclaimed Chicago surgeon. The caller from the hospital said that a young boy had been tragically mangled in a late-night accident. Dr. Winters’ hands were probably the only ones in the city skilled enough to save the boy.

“The quickest route to the hospital took the doctor through a dangerous neighborhood. But since time was critical, he decided to take the risk. Driving through the worst part of the neighborhood, he came to a stoplight. A man in a gray hat and dirty flannel shirt jerked open the door, pulled him out of his seat, and screamed, ‘Give me your car!’

“Winters tried to explain that he was a doctor on an emergency call, but the thief refused to listen. He jumped in the car and sped off. The doctor wandered for more than forty-five minutes, looking for a phone so he could call a taxi. When he finally got to the hospital, more than an hour had passed. Dr. Winters burst through the hospital doors and ran to the nurses’ station.

“The nurse on duty shook her head. ‘I’m sorry, doctor, but you’re too late. The boy died about thirty minutes ago. His father is in the chapel if you want to see him. He is awfully upset. He couldn’t understand why you never came to help.’

“Dr. Winters walked hurriedly down the hallway and entered the chapel. Weeping at the altar was man dressed in a dirty flannel shirt and gray hat. Through tear-blurred eyes the boy’s father looked up at the doctor and in horror realized his tragic mistake. He had foolishly pushed away the only one in the city who could have saved his son!”

The world responded to Jesus in a similar way when they crucified him.  The world continues to respond in a like manner by dismissing the Bible as myth. They view the gospel as too exclusive, and Jesus is only a good man.  The gospel is life, but people want to take their salvation into their own hands, only to find out that, after death, it is too late. 

The world does not know God, but we do, because we know Jesus.  What people need to see, so that our words are validated, is the resurrected life.  Our aim in life, if we truly know God, is to desire and strive to know Jesus as Paul longed to know him: “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead” (Phil. 2:10-11).

Reconciliation with God will Change Your Life

Finally, the greatest need people have is not only to know Jesus, but to follow him.  When Jesus finished his prayer, he finished by praying: “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”  Do you know what Jesus is praying for in this final sentence of his prayer?  Jesus is praying that we would not only grow in our relationship with him, which is the kind of discipleship he talked about many times, but that our faith would remain organic.  What I mean by “organic” is that our relationship would not only grow, but spread. 

Our hearts, as Tim Keller wrote in his book: Counterfeit Gods, are idol factories.  This is especially true of our kids. Our battle is not primarily with the devil when it comes to our soul and the souls of our children; our battle is with our own hearts and how they lead us astray so easily due to our sin-nature.  Think about the stuff our kids have to deal with every time they walk into school, surf the web, dive into social media, and interact with their peers whose parents are just as lost as their children.  We need to model for them that the only way to deal with the idols of their heart, is to replace them with Jesus. The only way to do this is by taking up your cross and following Jesus. 

On April 3, 2010, the 2-year-old daughter of David Anderson fell 20 feet off a historic boat into the cold East River. Witnesses heard a splash, then a terrifying scream.  A moment later, the father, David Anderson, was seen racing down the deck of the four-mast Peking ship, emptying his pockets along the way.  Eric Stringer, a witness to what happened, described that the young girl’s father, “Jumped in like a scene out of a movie, he was pulling things out of his pockets as he was running down the steps. He didn’t hesitate.”  Once Anderson reached the pier, the frantic father flicked off his shoes and bolted over a fence. Witnesses said he then gazed into the water. His daughter, identified by sources as Bridgette Sheriden, was below the surface. “He jumped in feet first like a pin,’ said Stringer, a freelance TV producer from Hicksville, L.I. “He went all the way under, and when he came up, he had her in his arms.” Bridgette was rushed to Bellevue Hospital in good condition and released a few hours later.”

There is something more horrific than a cold river, a raging gunman, and death itself when it comes to the safety of our children and the well-being of our families.  We were made for heaven, but apart from Jesus, looms a judgment that both we and our children deserve because of our sin.  I don’t doubt for a moment that any parent at Meadowbrooke Church would dive 20 feet into frigid water to save their drowning child, but what are you doing to rescue them from hell?  

If you are a Christian, what are you doing to give your spouse or your children what they need most from you?  Are you giving them Jesus?  Are you modeling the gospel before them and the world around you?  There was a code that Israel needed to live by if they were to have any hope of passing down their faith to the next generation; that code is found in Deuteronomy:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4–9, ESV)

The only hope we have of passing our faith onto our spouse, children, and family is to first live out our relationship with Jesus, and then make disciples of the members of our family.

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