These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
I. Perhaps the first thought which arrests the mind in this wide-circling verse is the connection of power and mercy—power all subordinate to mercy. Three gifts, you will observe—three gifts are separately mentioned, and these three gifts comprise everything. The whole truth, as it is in Jesus, is wrapt up in these three gifts. God gives Christ a people. Over that people, when He had died for them, God gives Christ authority,—for that is the meaning of the word "power:" authority, prerogative, rule. And Christ, using the power, gives to them eternal life.
II. It is just what we want—a force superior to the grossnesses of nature—an authority which asserts itself over the material—something that can elevate what we call the baser to something which seems to us to be, and which perhaps is, the higher part of our being. We want it daily in ourselves—we want it in those we love—we want it in the thickness and oppressiveness of a burdened life—we want it in all the great things of life—we want it in the Judgment Day—we want it in the new heavens and the new earth—we want it and we have it. "Thou hast given Him power over all flesh."
III. What is eternal life? (1) It is a thing present. Never think of eternal life as a thing beginning the other side of the grave. It begins now, or not at all. (2) To know God is eternal life. But remember it is no knowledge of God or of Christ to know them intellectually—to know them abstractly. You must know them personally. You must not know of them as you read in a book, as you know persons in history; but you must know them as you know one with whom you are intimate, whose mind you have read; in whose smile you have sunned yourself; in whose heart you are; with whom you have held sweet converse. That is life here—that is life for ever and ever.
J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 4th series, p. 314.
References: John 17:2.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. x., No. 566; Homiletic Magazine, vol. xvii., p. 122; J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 1874, p. 314. John 17:1-8.—W. Roberts, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xii., p. 277. John 17:1-7.—J. H. Evans, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. ii., p. 265. John 17:3.—Contemporary Pulpit, vol. iv., p. 310; S. Baring Gould, One Hundred Sermon Sketches, p. 43; G. Brooks, Five Hundred Outlines, p. 17; Homiletic Magazine, vol. x., p. 5; H. W. Beecher, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxviii., p. 33.
John 17:4I do not think that here in this text our Lord intended to refer to the final and completing act—the blood-shedding which was remission. I believe He reviewed His life—the subjection, the pain, the obedience learned by the things He suffered, the teaching and the trial, the subjection to indignities, to time and space, to cold and hunger, to devils and to men—in the light of all these visionary recollections, He said: "I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do." This saying of our Lord—it is a very arrow of light gleaming across the burdened valley of our being—"I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do." In this speciality, which was the Saviour's triumph, lies the ground also of the Christian's consolation—speciality, I say, for God sets the work, God hems the work around with difficulties. We succeed, it is because He has aided us; we fail, it is because He would teach us; and thus often failure becomes the footstool of the highest success. It is an illustrious thought, and it is the bright, red light along the horizon of life, that every one has his appointed field. "Thou shalt choose our inheritance for us."
I. Sorrow is work. Was not His sorrow work? Sorrow is the rain which descends down to the very roots of our being. Sorrow has an influence on the heart like that of the atmospheric action on the hard rocks and hills: it loosens, it softens, it disintegrates, it levels, and from the mould it makes the flowers and the fruits of the heart, as the flowers and fruits of earth spread their bloom.
II. Temptation is work. Man does not see the victory or the triumph; but God does.
III. Faith is work. But this is our work in relation to God, and sympathy is work—our work in relation to man.
Think how Divine is work—in its lowest as well as in its highest form—to make something. Not one is forgotten before God. The fisherman going forth to the rivers, the ploughboy to the fields, the dairyman to the farmyard, the artisan to the shop, much-enduring man to toil. How Divine, how godlike is work—to draw the silken thread of Spirit through the hard needle of difficulty.
E. Paxton Hood, Sermons, p. 306.
John 17:4Consider what were the purposes of God which by the death of our Lord were answered, and which without it, as far as we can see, could not have been answered so that God was thereby glorified.
I. And first, I think, we must feel that hereby a mark was set upon the devil's work, sin, which no other conceivable procedure could have set upon it. Its hatefulness to God; its exceeding atrocity; the fearfulness of being tempted to commit it; was hereby made intelligible to all—that nothing less than this agonising torture inflicted on the Son of God could expiate it.
II. The next important purpose answered by the sufferings of our blessed Master, and the manifest carrying out of God's will thereby, is their eminent adaptation to establish a spiritual kingdom as wholly distinct from a carnal one. His kingdom was manifestly not of this world. Pilate marvelled that it could be called a kingdom at all, not comprehending the power of holy example, of hearty doctrine, of humble patience. Yet herein was our Father glorified, and hereby were won such glorious triumphs as worldly policy, or force of arms, or outward wealth and influence could never have achieved. For these do but for a while affect the present interests of mankind; whereas the patient endurance, the cheerful alacrity of our blessed Lord unto every good work, His humility, His meekness, His constancy, His love, His gentleness, His unexampled self-denial on all occasions, have left behind them solid and everlasting memorials—have in all ages of the world been the stay of sufferers, the comfort of mourners, the strength of them that wrestled with temptation, the hope of downcast, afflicted souls; and not only so, but have sanctified all the instrumentalities wherewith the purposes of this world are carried out.
III. Consider how entirely Christ, by His life and death, has shut out all shams and pretences to religion,—has made it impossible for insincerity and worldliness to indulge in the flattering hope of entering in through the door whose posts and lintels are all sprinkled with blood. What is this blood, and what does it signify? It is the blood of the Lamb that was slain, of the only begotten Son of God, Who gave His life for our lives, due to God for sin.
Bishop Thorold, Penny Pulpit, No. 410, new series.
As regards the finished work of Christ, our duty is (1) to understand, value, believe and appropriate it; (2) to cultivate and carry to the highest degree possible an inner life of pious thoughts and feelings in communion with God, and an outer life of holiness, whereby we shall gradually grow meet for the eternal presence, and services and enjoyments of Almighty God; and (3) we have to do such good works here, as God hath before ordained that we should walk in them for the good of our fellow creatures and the extension of the kingdom of Christ. It is the third work which I now desire to consider.
I. The worst of all possible conditions is the state of those who live without the testimony of their own conscience that they have some work that they are doing for God. And yet, it is the position of thousands. They live, in this sense at least, a pointless and an aimless life, and they incur the retributive consequence—they pass a restless, because a Christless; and a joyless, because a useless existence. Life has never been traced up to its true bearing, and therefore, the character is weak, the energies are loose and the happiness vapid. And very solemn at last will be the evening, when the Lord of the vineyard meets these workless ones.
II. We lay it down first, that every one's natural position, his providential circumstances, his work or business, or profession, which he has chosen, determines his chief work in life which, taken from God, he is to execute for God. There is many a man and many a woman whose work through life is to glorify God in some quiet home scene, in the daily Christian performance of unnoticed duties, and the unworldly discharge of some worldly service,—only let each accept it as from heaven, and be careful to throw heaven into it. Then, it is a training and a discipline for the higher services of another world. But whether you find it in your place in the family, in your business in the world, or whether it lie in something that you have undertaken more expressly for the cause of religion and for God, only look well to this, that it be real work—that you distinctly feel you have a mission to it—that it is a work given to you, and that it be done piously for God, in God, to God. "I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do."
J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 5th series, p. 149.
References: John 17:4, Homilist, 2nd series, vol. iv., p. 933. John 17:4, John 17:5.—J. Keble, Sermons from Ascension Day to Trinity, p. 82. John 17:5.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. ii., p. 267. John 17:8-11.—W. Roberts, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xii., p. 357. John 17:11.—J. Vaughan, Sermons, 14th series, p. 76. John 17:11, John 17:12.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxii., No. 1883.
John 17:11I. The Author and maintainer of Unity. "Holy Father, keep." Unity wherever it exists flows from God. He is the cloud whence the drops of peace distil first upon crowning Hermon, and then flow down to all the lower heights. And as He is the exclusive author, so is He also the exclusive maintainer of unity. Peace and unity in families—unity, peace and concord among nations—harmony between contending parties, whether in the state or in the church—all these are the result of that maintenance and support which God as the Eternal Father is continually ministering to His creatures, and accordingly must be traced to Him as their origin.
II. Note the method by which God maintains this unity through His own Name. It is an unfeigned acknowledgment of Divine love on one hand, and Divine justice on the other, in which our Saviour here prays that God would keep His chosen. Keep their hearts ever alive to all the attributes which constitute Thy Name or character. Proclaim Thou Thy name before them, and give them to walk conformably to it, yielding Thee an obedience, strict indeed, as with One who will not suffer sin upon them; but at the same time free and princely, and hearty and loving—the obedience not of slaves, but of dear children.
III. Note the persons between whom this unity may be expected to subsist: "Those whom Thou hast given Me." Union, real vital union, cannot exist among and with those who are ignorant of God.
IV. How close will be the bond of the fellowship; that "They may be one, as We are." What mortal shall tell, what mortal shall comprehend the exceeding closeness of that unity, perfect unity of counsels—perfect unity of will—perfect unity of ends—perfect unity of nature? And even such a bond shall clasp the elect together, nay is now clasping them, and being gradually drawn more closely around them.
E. M. Goulburn, Sermons at Holywell, p. 182.
References: John 17:11.—New Outlines on the New Testament, p. 72; G. W. McCree, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xiii., p. 46; J. Keble, Sermons from Ascension to Trinity, p. 21; Church of England Pulpit, vol. v., p. 241.
John 17:12Christ's Care for His Disciples
I. Observe, first, what a comforting thing it is to know that Christ would sooner work a miracle to restrain the enemies of His servants, than leave those servants to an encounter too great for their strength. The disciples, we may believe, would have been sure to fall away, had the band which seized Christ laid hands also on them; they had not yet received grace sufficient for the trial, therefore were they miraculously delivered. Apostasy would have been inevitable, and thus God never suffers it to be. But we dare not say that afterwards, when they had received grace sufficient for the trial, apostasy became impossible. It was no longer true that they must fall, through not having strength enough; it was still true that they might fall, through not using strength aright.
II. In place of procuring His followers an opportunity for escape, might not Christ have imparted an ability to endure? Though God could have given to the disciples grace adequate to martyrdom, he could not have given it consistently with the laws which prescribe His dealings with accountable creatures. It would have taken more grace than could be bestowed without destroying all freedom of will. Remember that grace is that in which you are bidden to grow; and in spiritual stature no more than in bodily is the infant made the giant with no stage between. The spiritual temple rises stone by stone, as beneath the hands of a builder; it does not soar at once, wall—dome—pinnacle—complete, as beneath the wand of an enchanter.
III. Christ's promises and purposes in regard of His people are large and comprehensive. In covenanting to give us eternal life, Christ hath also covenanted to put His shield round us, that we may be kept from all the power of the enemy. The saving of the disciples from bodily danger might be taken as an assurance that Christ would not fail to conduct them safely to His heavenly kingdom; and therefore was it a sort of primary accomplishment of the gracious purpose that none of them should be lost. What a brightness would it shed over present deliverances, what a sweetness would it give to present mercies, were all in the habit of regarding them as so many earnests of a rich inheritance above!
H. Melvill, Penny Pulpit, No. 1875 (see also Voices of the Year, vol. ii., p. 195).
References: John 17:12.—S. Cox, Expositions, 1st series, pp. 331, 348. John 17:12-19.—T. Birkett Dover, The Ministry of Mercy, p. 141.
John 17:15There are two reasons why God does not take His people out of the world, but rather keeps them in it and preserves them from the evil. One reason respects themselves—the other, the world.
I. And first, it is for a good and salutary work on themselves that they are thus brought into contact with temptation, and face to face with evil. None really stands firm but he who has assured his footing. A man may seem to stand, may think he stands, but it may be only because he has never been assailed. His position may be erect, his attitude apparently safe; but the first shock shall dislodge him, because he has never learned how to withstand it; on which side, and how with best effect, resistance may be offered. We are made perfect by trials and conflicts; they are to us as the winds of heaven are to the tree, trying its root—exercising its weak parts one after another, that they may be excited to growth and strength. Our heavenly Father does not take us out of the world, but keeps us in it, within reach of all its allurements and vanities and ungodliness, that we may grow up, by combating and resisting these, into a perfect man in Christ, armed at all points against enemies whom we well know, and with whom we have contested every foot of the ground and painfully won it for Him.
II. If all God's people were to seclude themselves and fly from temptation, where would be the work of the Church on earth? where our Lord's last command, Go ye into all the world and evangelise every creature? The kingdom of heaven is as leaven. Where does leaven work? From without? No—but from within. And if the leaven is kept out of the lump, how shall the lump become leavened? We must not take ourselves out of the world; for the world's sake, if not for our own. Christ's work is often done, and done most effectually by those who range apparently at a distance from the direct subject itself; who by the influence of ordinary conversation, in which Christian principles are asserted and upheld, impress and attract others, without the use of words to them unusual and repulsive. It is to multitudinous droppings of such unseen and gracious influences, rather than to any great flood of power, in books or in ministers, that we must look for the Christianising of society here and through the civilised world.
H. Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. v., p. 109.
Much of our modern religious teaching favours withdrawal from the world, and even encourages the wish for an early death. In many of our popular hymns the ruling thought is safety in the arms of Jesus, rest in Paradise. Nothing is said of labour, which they must undergo who claim rest; nothing of that conflict with the world, which alone makes it a place of probation. It needs little argument to prove which is the more correct—to pray to live, or to pray to die. When Moses, Elijah and Jonah requested for themselves to die, they erred; and if it still be a doubtful point, Christ's prayer that the apostles should be kept in the world for its good and His glory, that they should mix in its society, and yet be free from its contamination through the sanctification of His Spirit, is conclusive, as it agrees with the feelings of nature and the dictates of reason. It being then a necessity, as well as part of our religion, to be in the world, a right adjustment of claims has to be made between the extremes of overmuch fondness for it, and entire neglect of it.
I. The first principle of safety I would lay down is the recognition that the world—for which I might read polite society—is still full of danger for those who devote themselves to it in earnest. Though we soften the Bible sentences, and allow for a gradual leavening of modern society by the Gospel, yet its tone is distinctly irreligious, and quite removed from the New Testament ideal. God is not in all its thoughts. Christ is not the object of its faith or its love. The Holy Spirit does not dictate its conversation or moderate its fashions. And yet this is the world, though so manifestly in opposition to God, that we court.
II. You are not doing enough for Christ, if merely you shun the world; rather you must go into it, pass as one of it—for the Lord knoweth them that are His—possibly be much occupied with it, yet without imbibing its spirit. It will come to be attractive to you in a sense that you would not expect until you approached it with the deeper insight into Christ's purposes concerning it; for it is His creation. He is the light of it, and you a light-bearer. He has loved it and redeemed it, to reconsecrate it to Himself; and you, who know it, are to proclaim that love is the ministry of reconciliation. As Christ came not to condemn the world, but to save the world; so you must not scold it or judge it, but do what you can to improve it.
C. E. Searle, Oxford and Cambridge Journal, May 13th, 1880.
I. What Our Lord asks for His followers. To be kept from evil in the world means (1) to be engaged in the world's business and have it rightly directed; (2) to suffer under its trials and be preserved from impatience; (3) to be exposed to its temptations and preserved from falling into sin.
II. Why our Lord asks for His friends that they should not be taken out of the world. He asks it (1) for the benefit of the world; (2) for the good of Christians themselves; (3) for the honour of His own name.
References: John 17:14-15; Good Words, vol. iii., p. 317. John 17:15.—J. Vaughan, Church of England Pulpit, vol. x., p, 401; Ibid., vol. xiii., p. 73; E. D. Solomon, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxvi., p. 164; J. G. Rogers, Ibid., vol. xxvii., p. 104; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. i., No. 47; Ibid., Morning by Morning, p. 123; J. N. Norton, Every Sunday, p. 274; Preacher's Monthly, vol. iii., p. 216; H. Batchelor, The Incarnation of God, p. 155; J. M. Neale, Sermons to Children, p. 21. John 17:16.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. ii., No. 78; J. Miller, Pulpit Analyst, vol. ii., p. 481; T. H. Thom, Laws of Life after the Mind of Christ, p. 295; Good News, vol. iii., p. 379; Homilist, 3rd series, vol. iii., p. 90.
John 17:16-17Christian Separation from the World
I. Its nature. The unworldliness of Christ is our model. The separating line which marked His life from the world's life is the line which is to mark our own. Christ's separation was not an outward separation from the world, but an inward separation from its spirit.
II. This spiritual atmosphere of separation, amid His close contact with men, arose (1) from His life of holy consecration; (2) from His life of abiding prayer.
III. Its purposes. "As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world." Our mission of witnessing to the truth, love, will of God, can only be fulfilled by this spiritual separation from the world. Apart from this, everything else fails; it alone gives power to direct our Christian activity.
E. L. Hull, Sermons, 2nd series, p. 191.
John 17:17I. Revelation, or, as our Lord terms it solemnly, the truth, sanctifies us first of all by putting before us an ideal of sanctity. The man of action, like the artist, needs an ideal. It is, in fact, his first necessity, and outside the sphere of revelation there have been such ideals; but they have been vague, indistinct, varying,—above all, they have been conspicuous by their failure, again and again, to satisfy the higher demands even of the natural conscience. By giving the world, before the eyes of men, the record of one life spotless and consecrated, the truth does sanctify those who will submit themselves to its power. It affects thousands for good in degrees which fall far short of sanctification. It sanctifies those who desire to be made holy, and who, with their eyes fixed on this, the one typical form of excellence, ask earnestly for the Holy Spirit of God, whose work it is in the sacraments, and in other ways, to take of the things of Jesus and to show or to give them to His own.
II. The truth sanctifies, secondly, by stimulating hope. It gives every man who wills it not only an ideal, but a future. Be he what he may, or may not be, he may look forward. There is, he knows, another world, another life; and between this and that there are opportunities. Where there is no such hope, nothing visible to the eye of the soul beyond the horizon of time; where there is no future intimately related to this present life, or growing out of it—there sanctity, in its proper sense, is impossible. "Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure." To live hereafter, to any purpose at all, is to live at the feet of One whose very name is an incentive to sanctification.
III. But Christian truth sanctifies also as being a revelation of the love of God. Love has a power of making men holy. There are moral conditions which defy fear, but which cannot defy love. "Sanctify" is the response which the heart makes to unmerited mercy. It is the generous response not to be at least untouched by love. If you would find the fructifying power which, in the successive generations of Christendom, has raised up men and women to lead supernatural lives—to live, as it were, in view of the other world, with marks of the character and teaching of St. Paul and of the Lord Jesus clearly stamped upon them—you will find it in the eternal truth, that the Son of God took flesh, and died out of love for fallen man, being so deeply graven on their hearts.
H. P. Liddon, Penny Pulpit, No. 528.
We see here—
I. One cause of the hopeless degradation of the heathen world, even in its most refined and advanced state of mental culture. Truth was discussed in their schools of philosophy, but it was to them only a philosophy; it was not a life. It was to them a startling revelation to say, as the Gospel said, that truth was only truth to those who loved it, that the law of restored humanity was that each advance in illumination should be an advance in spiritual purity.
II. Again, this same principle shows the fallacy of referring to Jewish customs and the standard of Jewish morality to justify lax lives in Christians. Jewish spirituality is no standard for Christian life, unless we can reduce the compass of Christian truth within the limits of Jewish truth.
III. Again, we here see the true nature and course of Christian revivals. As a general law, a revival of doctrine precedes a revival of life. Revivals which arise from truths which fasten themselves in the soul expand and grow with the truths themselves, and become, like them, abiding principles.
IV. It is needful that those who hold the truth should be warned of the dangers and deceits which, adhering to the fullest and most correct apprehension of doctrine, may yet make shipwreck of their faith. (1) It is clear that, as we receive any fresh truth, our first thought should be, "What does this involve? To what change, what progress in my life, does this naturally lead?" (2) Again, we here learn a rule for our devotions. If our devotions tend to earnest practical aspirations as their aim, they will act upon our lives; and the reverse is equally true. (3) A warning needs to be given to those who, by the grace of God, are drawn to an earnest self-devotion, after a sinful and careless life. The graces of a saintly character grow less quickly than the convictions of truth. It is not that sanctity is uncertain, or the results of the grace of God and His truth less real than our natural corruption, but that the noblest plants are of slowest growth, and the consequences of our fall remain to trouble us in the course of our repentance, as a penance ordained to be borne for a while. (4) Be diligent and watchful concerning the lesser facts of daily life, and not merely its greater trials. As "he that despiseth small things shall fall by little and little," so he alone that labours to conform himself to the will of God in the constant claims of everyday life shall rise by little and little to his consummation of bliss, in his predestined union with God.
T. T. Carter, Sermons, p. 136.
References: John 17:17.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxii., No. 1890; Ibid., Morning by Morning, p. 186; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iii., p. 80; E. Cooper, Practical Sermons, vol. i., p. 194; H. P. Liddon, Three Hundred Outlines on the New Testament, p. 97; E. Bersier, Sermons, 2nd series, p. 228. John 17:17-19.—H. Mackennal, Christian World Pulpit, vol. viii., p. 216. John 17:18, John 17:19.—S. Hebditch, Ibid., vol. xxvii., p. 317.
I. The sanctification of which our Lord speaks in this place, is the consecration of the whole creature, of the whole being, to the spiritual purpose of the service of our heavenly Father. To give up everything in order that His will may be accomplished, to do that will to the very full—this is the perfect sanctification of all things. And, of course, this sanctification, in itself, does not necessarily imply any change in the thing which is sanctified. If we think of things which stand at the lowest end, and of things which stand at the highest end of being, there is no change at all in the consecration of either to the fulfilment of the will of God. But when we think of all that stands between these, when we think of the consecration of a finite creature—or, still more, of a finite creature, intelligent and possessed of will, and yet the evil in that will—it is plain that the consecration, of necessity, must imply a real change in the thing that is consecrated. If there is evil, that evil cannot be dedicated to God; if there is anything which hinders the service of our Father, that hindrance must be taken away.
II. In all work that has to be done for the sake of God here among men, the same unchanging rule ever prevails; and the man who would undertake to do it, must himself begin in his own person that regeneration which he is desirous to produce in others, and must begin to sanctify himself. If he is to help others to sanctify themselves, if he is to be the source of any moral and spiritual growth, it must be because there is in him the same moral and spiritual growth, and he must derive it from the source of all moral and spiritual growth—the sanctification of the Lord Jesus Himself. It is only by beginning within, and by seeking to be what He was, that it is possible for us to do His holy work; and those who desire to be a blessing to their fellowmen must copy the words of the Lord, and since it is their sanctification that is really needed, they must begin by sanctifying themselves.
Bishop Temple, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxix., p. 82.
References: John 17:19.—F. W. Robertson, Sermons, 2nd series, p. 204; E. Bersier, Sermons, 1st series, p. 120; John 17:20; J. H. Thom, Laws of Life after the Mind of Christ, p. 18. John 17:20, John 17:21.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xii., No. 668; H. W. Beecher, Christian World Pulpit, vol. ix., p. 376; R. Thomas, Ibid., vol. x., p. 112.
John 17:21The Unity of the Race
What a vision Jesus must have had of the essential oneness of the race. Man is one continuity of the race throughout all the ages. Bird and beast are always beginning; they are what bird and beast were thousands of years ago. Man is the exception. In his life today, he shows a whole past of human knowledge. It is the whole race of man which is the image of God; for ever in the making, never made. We are members of Christ; we are members of the whole body of humanity, past, present, and to come. The whole family in heaven and earth centres in Him; derives its life and spirit from Him.
I. In speaking the words of the text, Jesus was leaving the world and returning to the heavens; for party interests in the world were too strong to allow Him to live. But of one thing He was sure—that men would believe in Him; that after His death, the affections of men in the world would go out of the world, and would seek to centre themselves in Him. Our poor animal senses may be shut up in the world, but our hearts never. The hearts of the most sceptical men refuse to be dictated to by their unbelieving brains. The world cannot hold back its heart from Christ—that is the supreme fact in the world; and when other facts and attractions have had their day, human hearts are found struggling away towards the Christ of God and the Christ of humanity. He was sure, therefore, that although His last day in the world was come, He was only at the beginning of His reign.
II. "The Father Himself loveth you," says Jesus; "that you all may be one love and one glory." There is but one revealed glory—living glory—and that is the glory of God, the eternal love. He says, "I will give to the children that glory; I will centre it in their souls as the very fountain of their power." What an inseparable, unutterable union, this indwelling of the Divine glory will make. First of all, our union with God Himself; not by anything that is from ourselves, but first of all, by the glory of God Himself being put into our souls, and so uniting us with Himself, by Himself, and the very bond which unites us with heaven unites for ever one with another.
J. Pulsford, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxviii., p. 177.
References: John 17:22.—Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 182. G. Brooks, Five Hundred Outlines, p. 114; Bishop Simpson, Sermons, p. 81. John 17:22, John 17:23.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxv., No. 1472; Ibid., Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxix., p. 222. John 17:22, John 17:23.—H. W. Beecher, Ibid., vol. xxx., p. 17. John 17:23.—Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 213. John 17:24.—W. B. Pope, Sermons, p. 140; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxii., No. 1892; Ibid., Evening by Evening, p. 82; Preacher's Monthly, vol. vii., p. 82; J. M. Neale, Sermons in a Religious House, 2nd series, vol. i., p. 123; A. Murray, With Christ in the School of Prayer, p. 208; G. E. L. Cotton, Sermons and Addresses in Marlborough College, p. 148; Homiletic Magazine, vol. x., p. 31; vol. xvi., p. 234; New Outlines on the New Testament, p. 76; J. Duncan, The Pulpit and Communion Table, p. 198; G. Matheson, Moments on the Mount, p. 77; W. Wilkinson, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. viii., p. 67.
John 17:24Christ's Wish for Man
This must always be the first joy of any really good life, its first joy and its first anxiety at once, the desire that others should enter into it. Indeed, here is a test of a man's life. Can you say: "I wish you were like me?" Can you take your purposes and standards of living, and quietly, deliberately, wish for all those who are nearest to you that they should be their standards and purposes too? Do not consent to be anything which you would not wish to ask the soul that is dearest to you to be. Be nothing which you would not wish all the world to be.
I. Thus, then, we understand Christ's longing for the companionship of His disciples. He wanted them to be with Him. That wish of His must have run through all the scale of companionship which we have traced, but it must have completed itself in the desire that they should be like Him, that they should have His character, that in the obedience of God, where He abode, they should abide with Him.
II. He wants His disciples to be with Him, "that they may behold My glory." Before these words can be cut entirely free from low associations and soar into the high pure meaning which belongs to them, we must remember what Christ's glory is which He desires us to see. Its essence, the heart and soul of it, must be His goodness. It is Christ's goodness then that He would have His people see. Think for a moment what prospects that wish of our Lord opens. Only by growth in goodness can His goodness open itself to us. What is He praying for then? Is it not that which we traced before in the first part of His prayer, the same exactly, that we might be like Him? So only can we see Him. It is His glory that He wants us to see; but back of that, He wants us to be such men and women that we can see His glory. The only true danger is sin, and so the only true safety is holiness. What a sublime ambition. How it takes our vague, half-felt wishes and fills them with reality and strength, when the moral growth, which makes a man complete, is put before us, not abstractly, but in this picture of the dearest and noblest being that our souls can dream of, standing before us and saying to us: "Come unto Me," standing over us and praying for us, "Father, bring them where I am."
Phillips Brooks, Sermons, p. 299.
John 17:25The Religion of Daily Life
I. These are the words of the greatest man that ever lived; of the founder of our religion, even of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. They were spoken the night before His death, concerning His followers on earth; and, I presume, He knew what He was saying. But those words are not what many persons would have expected. They would fancy that our Lord's prayer would have been rather after this fashion: "I pray that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, that they may be kept from the evil." But so prayed not Christ. Such persons would fancy that our Lord would rather have bid His followers retire into a desert, and there, amid the solitude of nature, to meditate on spiritual things; to prepare their souls for heaven. But so commanded not Christ. We cannot be thankful enough that Christ came, not to call men out of the world, but to teach them how to live in the world; not to proscribe work and business as irreligious, but to sanctify and ennoble it.
II. And that is what Christ did, by His example and by His words, during His whole life on earth. He never, by any act of His, gave encouragement to those who would separate religion from the common acts of daily life. We know how Christ spent His time before He began His ministry; that He spent it, not away from His fellowmen, in some desolate retirement, in some lonely wilderness; but that He worked, as other men work, with His own hands, as a carpenter in the village of Nazareth. By His example He taught us that, if we would live Christian lives, we must live useful ones; if we would follow Him and His religion, we must not take ourselves out of the world, but do our duty in the world.
III. Never think that your work, whatever it is, need be a hindrance to religious life. It ought to be a help to you, not a hindrance. And it will be a help to you, if only you bear in mind that by doing your duty faithfully you are serving Him who said of old, "Whatever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might."
J. Vaughan, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xviii., p. 4.
References: John 17:25-26.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. i., p. 75. John 18:26.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. vii., p. 148; W. M. Taylor, Three Hundred Outlines on the New Testament, p. 100. John 17:25, John 17:26.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiii., No. 1378.
John 17:26The Eloquence of the Cross
Christ was standing, when He spoke these words, on the very margin of His death, with little or nothing beyond except His crucifixion; and then He says, evidently pointing to His suffering, "I will declare Thy name." The declaration could be taken in no other sense than the eloquence of the Cross. For after that, He did not talk much with His disciples, but He left the Cross to stand out and speak alone. And had we but the eye of faith to penetrate that deep mystery, I believe that we might stand beneath the Cross on which the Saviour hung, and in that contemplation we might read more of God, and the reality of God's being, than books can ever contain or words can ever express.
I. The first view of the Father which the Cross presents to the mind is His holiness, His unutterable holiness. Sin was impossible to God. He determines to put sin away from Him; absolutely, irrevocably, eternally, to banish all and every sin, and every phase of sin, and every shade of sin, and every degree of sin, out of His own sight for ever. On His Son He laid the gathered sin of the whole fallen creation.
II. His justice. The original sentence of God against sin was fulfilled to the letter. Not a line was erased, not a syllable weakened. All do die—die as it were, eternally; there is no exception. Every man is a sinner, and every sinner dies. Some in themselves; some in Christ. Some in their own undying torments; some in their covenanted Head.
III. His wisdom. He did an act which gives the free pardon of the King of kings to every offender; while, by the same act, He made the law honourable and sin detestable. Who shall dare to trifle with that which went on its unbending way, till it executed the Lord of Life and Glory?
IV. His love. Faithful is it—for it came from all eternity, and it stretches on, unchanging, to eternity again. Large it is—for it reaches from hell to heaven, and girdles the universe. But still, love is a retiring grace; and the heart that would read love, must make around itself a little sanctuary of deep, still, holy, personal thought; and then, in calm, quiet meditation, you will, by the still teachings of the Holy Ghost, find, in a way that no sermon can preach it, how the Father's love shines in the Cross, and how true it is about it, "I will declare it."
J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 2nd series, p. 120.
References: John 17:26.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxviii., No. 1667.—Homilist, vol. vii., p. 343. John 18—J. H. Evans, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. xiii., p. 5, etc. John 18:1.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. i., p. 69; vol. xvi., p. 225; G. T. Coster, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xii., p. 168. John 18:1-8.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. i., p. 280. John 18:1, John 18:2.—A. Raleigh, The Way to the City, p. 60. John 18:2-9.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. i., p. 70; R. C. Trench, Shipwrecks of Faith, p. 59. John 18:4-8.—Homilist, vol. iv., p. 326.
As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.
Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.
For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.
I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.
And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.
And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.