John 17 is Jesus’ “High Priestly Prayer!” and It is an amazing prayer of Christ as He is praying to His Father in Heaven. It is broken up into 3 different parts:
Verses 1-8 – Jesus Prays for Himself
Verses 9-19 – Jesus Prays for Disciples
Verses 20-26 – Jesus Prays for All Believers (present and future)
…this is Jesus’ prayer for us as believers…He is interceding for us even now. In vs. 9-19, Jesus prays personally for the disciples. Which if we are all called to be His disciples (that is the point) then He is praying for us.
You see a lot of the same prayers going up to His Father on behalf of disciples that He prays for ALL believers – Being “ONE” (vs 11) is still a main theme. However, Jesus prays something here that I believe should challenge us to a discipline that a lot of America does not practice. In verse 17, Jesus prays…
“SANCTIFY THEM IN THE TRUTH; YOUR WORD IS TRUTH”
This is so powerful and challenging for us to hear. Jesus knows that Sanctification – which is the process of becoming Holy/Set-apart or more like Jesus Himself – will be made possible by the Word of God… a.k.a the Holy Bible.
Charles Ryrie, distinguished former professor at Dallas Theological Seminary and Author put it this way in His helpful book Basic Theology:
“It was to the Father that our Lord prayed that He would sanctify us through the truth (John 17:17). Thus the BIBLE becomes anindispensable foundation for our sanctification. How else could we know for sure what pleases a Holy God except through His Word.”
He poses a great questions which was in line with what Christ Himself was praying. How are we made Holy or How can we live more like Christ and less like our old self if we don’t have any scope of what that means? How can we do the things Christ did without reading what He did? How can we know what pleases and displeases God unless we read it in His Scriptures?
I know you could say – “well, by the Spirit of course”…and I don’t doubt that – but how often do you listen to the Spirit of God inside of you? What if it was Satan Himself “leading” you to do something? We must be grounded in truth.
Another way Jesus puts this is in John 8:31-32:
“If you continue in My Word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and if you will know the truth,
the truth will set you free.”
You don’t have to guess if you know truth. There is power in the blood and freedom in knowing the Word of God.
A “Truth-less” Generation
We live in a culture where Biblical Illiteracy is running rampant. Whether it be the fact that there are so many other things that are competing for our attention, or churches stopped doing “Bible Drills” because they were “uncool”; the bottom line is – we have a HUGE PROBLEM on our hands as a generation if we fail to pass on the importance and the foundation of Scripture.
However, we as church leaders and shepherds can not force feed it down their throats. We have to allow them to mature in their desire and discipline of God’s Word. To give them a little taste, to remind them of the importance, to share stories about what God’s Word does for us and their peers. THEN they will start to “like newborn babies, LONG for the pure milk of the word, SO THAT by it [they] may grow in respect of righteousness.” 1 Peter 2:2.
To long for the Word of God, then to follow it… that is the aim. But we are not there.
The writer of Hebrews might as well have been writing to us when He says:
“Since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you should all be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the Words of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil…therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity.”
Our culture has stifled the growth and maturity of our students. We need to bring back to the forefront the magnificent wonder of the Word of God.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Prof. Howard Hendrick’s (who every year, goes through the entire Bible and makes a new set of notes and reads it with fresh eyes, an open heart, and a teachable Spirit):
“What is the Aim of the Bible? The text tells us: in order that you may grow. Please note – it is not only that you may know. Certainly you can’t grow without knowing. But you can know and not grow. The Bible was written not to satisfy your curiosity but to help you conform to Christ’s image. Not to make you a smarter sinner but to make you like the Savior. Not to fill your head with a collection of biblical facts but to transform your life.”
-Dr. Howard Hendricks in Living by the Book