Now We Know
Sermon 1863 John 17.1-11a May 21, 2023
Come, meet the risen Christ. We’ve thought of that in these Sundays after Easter. We’ve worked on that in these Sundays after Easter.
Now We Know
1. Our glorious Lord (1-5).
2. Our glorious life (6-11a).
“After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:
‘Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began (1-5).’”
It is the longest of Jesus’ prayers recorded for us in the Gospels. Jesus praises God because of what we know! Oh, he prayed this prayer the night he would be betrayed. He would suffer and die the next day. Three days later he would rise from the dead. All this was still in the future, but Jesus knew it would happen. He knew he would pay for the sins of the entire world. He knew the Father would accept that payment. He knew he would be victorious and gloriously rise from the dead on Easter Sunday.
Now we know. We have focused on Easter for seven weeks. We know Jesus rose from the dead. We know it guarantees us eternal life. We know it fills our daily lives with joy and guides us through troubled times. Now we know. We have a glorious Lord.
“What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” our psalm for today asks (8.4). The LORD is above everything. He needs no one and nothing. He is perfectly blessed and happy in his existence. Why should he care for us? Why should he go out of his way for us? If we are looking for mysteries and illogicalities in Christianity, forget Creation, forget Jonah swallowed by a great fish. This is the central mystery. This is illogical and beyond explanation. Why did God love us so?
The fact that he does love us so and gave his Son to die for us is glorious. God the Father glorified Jesus, God the Son, by making him the King of kings and Lord of lords. He has authority over all people. To give people eternal life Jesus had to carry out the mission the Father gave him. Jesus had. He had led the perfect life. Let’s not skip over that. How long can we go holding our tongue? How long can we go without seeking revenge? How long can we go without evil thoughts? We can protest, “But I never committed those outward sins!” But we thought about it. We toyed with the idea. We relished the fantasy of telling Old So-and-So off.
That never happened to Jesus. And it wasn’t because he was the Son of God. He was truly human. He was tempted in every way, just as we are, the Bible says (Hebrews 4.15). It hurt him when his family turned on him. It stung when the religious leaders of his own church said he was demon-possessed. It wounded him when hundreds of his followers stopped listening. “He came to that which was his own and his own did not receive him.” And we 7th grader boys were so afraid of rejection we didn’t even ask her to go to a movie with us! Jesus never turned away. He never hid. He was there, reaching out to all, no matter how they reacted.
Jesus so loved his Father that he carried out everything asked of him. And he would continue to do so the next day until he cried out at his death, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” Everybody who saw what Jesus did, everybody who heard what Jesus said, knew God was glorious. Jesus asked that the Father give him that glory, the glory he previously had in heaven before he came to earth and became man, our Savior.
Here’s where you and I come in. Eternal life is knowing the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom God sent as our Savior. Now we know. We have seen the full mission of Jesus play out. His birth. His youth. His preaching and teaching. His miracles. His deeds. His suffering and death. His resurrection and ascension into heaven. Now we know we have a glorious Lord who works so wonderfully on our behalf. Now we know and love him even more for winning heaven for us and promising to take us to be where he is.
Now we know our glorious life.
“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you give them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you (6-11a).”
We’ve just talked about a lot of this, but now look at our role in all this. Glory has come to Jesus through us! The Father and the Son share everything. So that means glory must come to the Father through us, too! As Jesus glorifies the Father, as the Father glorifies the Son, so God will glorify us as we glorify him.
But what does it mean to glorify? We humans have a funny way of putting a price tag on everything. What’s it worth? People who sell their homes think they are worth more and people who want to buy that home think it is worth less. A diamond is worth more than a lump of dirt. A Maserati is worth more than a Schwinn bicycle. But sometimes things come along that are priceless, just beyond the beyond. How could you even rate it on a scale? Some art masterpieces are like that. So are some landmarks. The Coliseum in Rome. The pyramids of Egypt. Niagara Falls. How could you put a price tag on those? They are glorious. Everybody agrees you can’t put a price tag on God. He is glorious. By definition he is beyond all assessment. By his deeds he is beyond a price tag. He is glorious.
He gives us our glorious life. Did you catch the paradox in Jesus’ prayer? The Father had taken you and me, the believers, out of this world. Yet, when Jesus leaves this world for his heavenly home, we will still be in the world. Jesus leaves. We stay. In a world of temptation. Jesus leaves for heaven. We stay. In a world of evil. Jesus leaves. We stay.
Jesus leaves because his job is done. No use hanging around. We stay because our job is not done. We have a glorious life to live.
It starts out with that word, the word Jesus has given us. By believing that word we are giving glory to God. We are keeping the very first commandment, fear, love and trust in him above all things. In this way the Father took us out of the world. We no longer belong to the unbelieving world.
By believing that word we have an unfailing guide in this life. We don’t give into our baser instincts to get even. We forgive. We keep our tongues from slander. We are content with what God has given us, all the while we use our resources and abilities to their utmost. A lot of times that means we will get promotions and more and better things. But we will never look at what we have like it’s a bunch of junk or a bag of bolts. That is the word of our salvation. By that word the Holy Spirit will keep our faith strong so we will live with God forever in heaven and praise him for his great goodness. Talk about a glorious life!
It ends with us serving others. Jesus left lots of people in Jerusalem and Judea for the apostles to heal. They performed many miracles in his name. Jesus preached and taught in but one small corner of creation, the Holy Land. There were millions, billions elsewhere who needed to hear about the saving life and words of Jesus.
The Father has shown our life here on earth is to be one of service to others. He gathers us into families so we can serve each other. We will never give such service as we do to husband, wife, mother, father, son or daughter. It is the foundation of all or other relations. We are still in the world so we can serve others. For our graduates from high school, my prayer is not that you try to find the job that will make you the most money, but discover in the next few years what you really love doing and seeing if that is so beneficial to others around you, it can also support you. If it isn’t, keep it as a hobby, but get another job!
I think that’s why we have gathered into Christian congregations. The greatest service we have is to teach and encourage each other in the word. For example, our Sunday School teachers have spent a hard year, trying to recover from the pandemic, as they teach our children about Jesus. God bless you for your efforts. May more of our members next year realize that Sunday morning worship is just what the doctor ordered to avoid isolation and depression.
In a Christian congregation we have a unique opportunity to spread the word to those who do not yet have it. We contribute to the efforts of our national church body, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Pastors and teachers are trained and sent out, some to start new churches, some to go to foreign countries. A number of years ago a new member triumphantly told me, “Now I have somewhere to invite people to come to church with me!” Yes, with a church home it is so much easier to invite someone to come along with you. The word wins hearts. It works no matter who shares it. The Lord entrusts this glorious work to us. When it is done, we will join Jesus in heaven.
Now We Know
1. Our glorious Lord (1-5).
2. Our glorious life (6-11a).
This Easter season we have met the risen Christ. We have met him at the empty tomb. We have met him in the Upper Room. We have met him in all our Galilees, in all the walks of our life. We have felt his conquering power, seen the glory of his hour. Now we know. That makes all the difference.