A Reflection of His Heart
What does Christ desire of us as His people? How is it that we can know what He has called us to do and who He has called us to be in this world? One of the most important passages answering these questions is the high priestly prayer of Christ recorded in John 17. Before the Lord Jesus was raised to die on the cross, He bowed in prayer to the Father. After speaking to His disciples foretelling how they would scatter (John 16:31), how He has overcome (John 16:25-28), and how He desires for them to know the fullness of joy (John 16:16-24), He begins to petition the Father as to what He wants for those who are His own. He is not praying for the world, He is praying for those who will believe in His name (John 16:9)
Oftentimes, what we pray for someone reveals the desires of our heart for them. Whenever I pray for the souls I love, my petitions demonstrate my priorities. If I pray for their sanctification, then I am seeking their holiness. As I come before God on behalf of their physical health I evidence a desire for their wellbeing. When I pray for their future, I am perhaps even looking past my own span of life to the God who shall wrap them in love for eternity. Likewise, by coming to the prayer of Christ, we are enabled to see the heart He has for those He loves. Which in turn gives clarity to us as to how we can live for His pleasure and bring glory to His holy name!
A Reflection of Glory
“When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.’” -John 17:1-5
We see in this text the eternal glory of Christ, both in the past and the future. He has been given authority over all humanity and as the Lord He graciously gives salvation on those who the Father gives to Him. He has come, He died, that we might know the true and living God being redeemed to fellowship with Him. Our calling as His people is to reflect the glory of the One who has purchased us:
“The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” -John 17:22-23
Christ makes us glorious as His people. He has brought us near to Himself that we might image the glory of the Holy Trinity. Not that we are a divinized humanity, but that we are restored to rightly reflect the glory of the One who has been so gracious to us. This is our calling as the church, this is our purpose and why we exist. As Christians, we do not primarily exist for ourselves or even for others. No, my friends, we are redeemed for the glory of Almighty God!
Unity In Truth
There is a beautiful harmony which exists between the Father, Son, and Spirit. Everything the Triune God does is according to the truth and the perfect righteousness of His character. Every deed is not only true, it is beautiful. Just like a poetic stanza perfectly in harmony, likewise no member of the Trinity is ever out of alignment with any of the others. This is a critical way that we testify to the God who has saved us which is why Christ desires it for us as His church:
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” -John 17:20-21
Christ is not only praying for those who shall believe through His own preaching, but for all believers of all time who come to faith by the preaching of the church through the power of Christ in the Gospel. This is not merely unity for unity’s sake, it is unity for the sake of a testimony to the power of the Gospel before those wo are lost so that they “may believe that you have sent me.” It is also a unity grounded in the truth of the Word for Christ asks the Father to sanctify His people in the truth (John 17:17). We are to be united in biblical doctrine and exercise faithful love to reflect the majesty of our great God.
The Fulfillment of Joy
With God’s glory as our purpose, His truth our foundation, His love our action, and now we see His joy as our countenance. Christ says to the Father:
“But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” -John 17:13
Christ desires for us to have the fulfillment of joy. He wants His church to be fully satisfied knowing the greatness of what He has done resting in the grandeur of His holiness. This is the heart of Christ for His people. He wants us to be those who know powerfully transforming truth while also exercising the fullness of love. It is all to be done to the praise of His holy name. It is a grand calling that we have been given. He has called us to us a life of purpose, joy, and meaning. There will be suffering, Christ promises the hatred of the world (John 17:14). However, there is an eternal triumph by His power.
We need a return to the desires of Christ for the church. It is all too easy for pastors, deacons, Sunday school teachers, and members to seek their own will for the people of God. What we must do is submit our will to His and strive after that which He has called us to. May His desires become the burning passion of our hearts. Let us be a strong and healthy church for the praise of the One who has purchased us. He is worthy of all of our worship and the magnification of His name is the purpose of every second of our lives. Let us live for His glory as we delight in the One who has been so good to us!