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Jesus Unfiltered - Testify
Testify is the 4th and final volume of Chip Ingram’s series, Jesus Unfiltered, an exposition of the entire Gospel of John. Testify reveals Jesus’ last days on earth and His final words to His followers, from then to today. It’s a bold, gritty assignment – far from the ease and prosperity of content religion. Jesus tasked His followers with a mission to testify; He promised a future of tribulation; He provided the limitless power of the Holy Spirit; and He guaranteed the hope of victory. Testify will encourage and challenge you to take your faith to the next level – to be strong and courageous – for the sake of His Kingdom to come.More from this series
I would like you to open to John chapter 17. Because as we jump right in, Jesus talks about time. He opens a prayer and He says, “Father, the time has come.” It’s interesting because, at one point earlier, His mother asked Him to do something and He said to her, “No, My time hasn’t come.” At yet another time, they try to kill Him and they take Him to a cliff and it says He passes through them because His time had not yet come.
I want to ask you a really important question. What time is it? What time is it in our world? What time is it in the Church’s life? What time is it in your life? And I don’t mean looking at your watch kind of time. In Greek, there are two or three different words for “time.” One is chronos that means, like, what time is it? The hour. The other is kairos and it means a pregnant opportunity, a season. It’s a time where you need to move, you need to respond, you need to be aware of what is going on.
In the Old Testament, in a really critical time in Israel’s history, it says, “The men of Issachar understood the time and knew what Israel should do.” And, by the way, God expects us, as His followers, to understand what time it is.
He was speaking to a group of religious leaders in John, earlier. And they couldn’t get what He was saying, and they couldn’t get the season and they couldn’t get who He really was. And He said to them, “If you can read the sky, how can you not know the time?”
So, if you were just pausing, what do you think the time is? Where is our world? Galatians says that in the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son. Literally, it’s when the world was pregnant, there were Roman roads, there was a known language. The world was ready for Him to come.
In the last days, it says we will know a little bit about the times, “Men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boasting, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips without self-control. They will brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness but denying its truth.” Does that sound at all like that might be the time we are living in? That’s 2 Timothy chapter 3.
And then let me ask you. In terms of, when you look back over the last five, six, seven, eight years – what God has done, how things have changed, where we are at, this time in history – when you look at what is happening politically, when you look at technology.
And more importantly, probably, what is your season? Is it going to be just to keep on living the way you’re living? Watching the news, hear about that, hear about this, hope nothing really bad happens. Or are we going to seize the day? Are we going to realize the time is now? And maybe God put us on the earth at this time to do something really, really significant but it starts one person at a time.
Have you ever wondered at this point of crisis: what would Jesus do? How would Jesus respond? The front of your notes, let’s pick up the story. The context, He is preparing His disciples for His departure. At the end of chapter 15, He says, “Your mission is to testify.” He told them their future: “It’s going to be hard, difficult, tribulation, trouble.” Your resource: the Holy Spirit is going to come and He is going to guide and He is going to direct, He is going to empower.
And then, finally, there is hope. “In the world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world!” In Me, no matter what happens, internally or externally, you can have peace. So what does Jesus do in the midst of His time is now here?
What does He do? Because there is a model for you and for me. What does He do, knowing what He is going to face later that night, being arrested? Knowing what He is going to face being beaten? Knowing what He is going to face being crucified? Knowing that His followers that He has invested the last years in, they are going to falter and they are going to be afraid and they are going to deny Him? And then, are you ready for this? What does He do in light of knowing, because He is fully God and fully man – that we would be, in this time in history, and that we would be hearing what He was going to pray?
And if you’ll notice, here’s what I am amazed by and encouraged by, is what Jesus does, His final preparation is not words, it’s not instruction. He prays. He prays for Himself, then He prays for His disciples, and then He prays – are you ready for this? – for future believers. That’s us!
Follow along in John 17. He prays for Himself the first five verses. “After this, Jesus looked toward heaven and He 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 that 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 that I had before the world began.’”
In your notes, I have got a question: Why does He pray this? Why does He pray for Himself? And what I would suggest is: because His time has come. He prays for Himself because He realized He is going to face some things that He can’t make it without God the Father. He can’t make it without the ministry of the Holy Spirit. His time has come.
This will be His final act of service to the Father. From the other gospels, we know that He is going to go out by Himself and He is going to ask three of His closest followers to, “Will you pray with Me?” And He will go through that horrendous time of being fully human and saying, “I am going to be separated from the Father. I am going to take on the sin of mankind. God, if there is any other way. Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done.”
So, when He prays, “Glorify Me,” what He is saying is: I need the strength to go through the crucifixion and the beating and I need to go through it so I will then rise from the dead and then I will turn and glorify You, because My resurrection will prove that all that I said was true. And My resurrection is going to demonstrate how wise and how powerful and how loving You are.
And then He makes this huge statement of deity. He goes, “Then I want You to glorify…” That word means to be seen for who He really is, to be revealed. I want the world and I want the disciples – I want them to see Me, not veiled with this flesh, but I want them to see Me like We were before the world was created: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Underneath, in the notes, what does He pray? He prays two key things. Number one, He is praying for His resurrection. It will vindicate His claims. And it will allow Him to offer eternal life, which He describes. Second, He is praying for His glorification. It’s interesting, this is one of my big prayers, by the way. I long to be able to say that I accomplished the work that was assigned for me.
Jesus said, “I got an assignment from God. I have completed it.” And then, finally, He wants to be seen in His former glory.
Well, He prays for Himself. And, by the way, did you catch His definition of eternal life? It’s in the present tense. “And this is eternal life, that they may know You.” It’s “know You,” and, “continue to know You.”
This isn’t about quantity of life. Yes, you will know Him and live forever and ever. This word is used in the Old Testament for the intimate relationship, sexually, between a man and a woman. He said, “This is eternal life,” not punching some buttons, not some formula, not just praying a prayer. Eternal life is having an intimate, deep, heart to heart relationship with God and with His Son, Jesus Christ. It is a quality of life.
And you receive eternal life the moment you turn from your sin and receive Christ as your Savior and you grow in your eternal life and it goes on forever and ever and ever. But it’s all about personal, intimate relationship.
Big question: are you absolutely certain that you have eternal life? It’s not about being religious, it’s not about going to church, and it’s not about just “the good life” and your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds. This is about having a personal, deep union with the God who has created all that there is and the entire book of John has taught, “No man comes to the Father except through Jesus.” That He is the way, the truth, and the life. And that each person, not based on our merit or our good works, can have eternal life by receiving what Christ has done in our place.
The second group that He prays for is for His disciples. And we pick it up in verse 6. He says, “I have revealed You,” remember, that was His job, chapter 1, this is the work of God. He explains Him. He came to explain what God is like.
“I have revealed You to those that You gave Me out of the world. They were Yours; You gave 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 that You gave Me and they accepted them. They, with certainty, know that I have come from You and they believe that You sent Me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those given Me, for they are Yours. All that I have is Yours and all that You have is Mine.” Boy, what a claim to deity. This is outrageous. Jesus is saying, “All that I have is Yours,” but He is saying to the Father, “All that You have is Mine.”
“And the glory that has come to Me then I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world. And I am coming to You, Holy Father,” here is His request, “protect them by the power of Your name.” His name represents His character, all that He is, “the name You have given Me, Holy Father, protect them by Your power so they may be one, even as We are one. While I was with them, I protected them and I kept them safe by the name that You gave Me. None have been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that the Scriptures would be fulfilled. I am coming to You now, but I say these things that while I am still in the world, so that they may know the full measure of My joy within them. I have given them Your Word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that You take them out of the world, but that You protect them from the evil one.”
God never intended to make us some little community over here, by ourselves, but that in the midst of a very fallen world, and even the devil himself, He is praying for their protection and keep them.
Second prayer, He goes on to say: “Sanctify them by Your truth; Your Word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify Myself that they too may be sanctified.” So, you ask the question, So, why does He pray for His disciples? He prays for His disciples because their time has come. They are getting the mission passed on to them. They are going to face things, but He is leaving. They have believed; they have trusted.
By the way, if you get tired of hearing the little phrase: “the world.” It is used eighteen times in this chapter alone. The world – definition – the world is society and culture organized apart from God. In other words, what does life look like? Let’s cut God out of it. John would call it, “The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” But greed, murder, power, significance, wealth, overwhelming other people with who you are. This world system that is anti-God; not grace, not humility, not kindness, not thinking of other people – God’s kingdom – this is the world’s kingdom.
And He says, “I am leaving them in the world,” and He is praying – notice – two very important things. Notice what He prays for them. He prays for, number one, their protection. And, number two, for their sanctification. He prays for their protection within and their protection without.
Notice He says, “I’m praying that they might experience My joy to the fullest within them.” For those of you that have been followers of Jesus for any time, you know that probably the most difficult issue in your life, internally, is discouragement.
The story is told, maybe it was C.S. Lewis, I’m not sure, but made up a story about – Satan was having a garage sale and he had all these, kind of, different things out on a table that demons could buy to tempt Christians.
And he had all, there’s greed, there was lust, there was adultery, there was power, there was fame. All kinds of different things that could seduce people’s hearts away. But there was one in a very small box that the price was just astronomical. And the story goes that the demons were paying different money to get these tools to get Christians to fall away from God. And they said, “Well, why in this little box, why does it cost so much? What is it?” And you open it and inside was discouragement.
You lose perspective. It can happen in an instant, can’t it? I don’t know about you, Monday and Tuesday were two of the best days I have had. I think I shared it in a little email. They were just great days. Wednesday was terrible! How can you just, like, God is so good! And He answered this big prayer and this is fantastic and I got to be involved in this and I was so encouraged and I had this really deep time in prayer. And Wednesday it was like, Where is God? And then this went wrong, that went wrong, that went wrong, that went wrong. And I just started losing perspective and I felt myself getting discouraged. Does that happen to anyone else? Thank you for your honesty on this side of the room.
But do you see what He is praying? Nehemiah would say, “The joy of the Lord is our strength.” Paul would say, “Rejoice always. Let me repeat it again, rejoice!” It’s a choice. You choose joy. But that comes out of being deeply connected and having God’s perspective. So He prays for their protection from internal attack, discouragement. And then external attack, He says, “From the evil one.” We are in a battle.
And the more that you step out, the more in your eternal life relationship you draw near to God, and you start caring about other people, I will just tell you, the opposition intensifies. And so Jesus prays. He is praying for these disciples that He loves.
And He said, “Lord, I want You to fill them with My joy.” Jesus was tempted to be discouraged. Jesus knew what it was like to be alone. Jesus knew what it was like to be falsely accused. Jesus knew what it was like to be tempted in every way but not sin. He knew what was in the heart of men. He knew what they would experience and what you would experience. And so He says, “Oh, Father, fill them with My joy. Keep them in union with Me.”
Because I will tell you what, there have been other times, circumstances that have been terrible and I can just tell you, personal testimony, is just, you know what? The lens God gave me, I can’t change that, but God is in control. There is peace in my heart; I have great joy. I don’t have to control the outcomes; I can’t anyway. God loves me. I know my eternity is set. Right?
The third group that He prays for is future believers. We pick it up in verse 20. “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through his message.” Who would that be? That’s every generation since those early disciples.
“…that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us,” purpose clause, “so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. I have given the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are one – I in them and You in Me – may they be brought to complete unity, to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me. Father, I want those that You have given Me,” notice this passion, notice what Jesus wants more than anything else, “I want those You have given Me to be with Me where I am, and to see My glory, the glory You have given Me because You loved Me before the creation of the world.
Righteous Father, though the world doesn’t know You, I know You, and they know that You have sent Me. I have made You known to them,” and I love this, “and I will continue to make You known,” – how? By the Holy Spirit after the resurrection that will live in every follower. “…in order that the love You have for Me may be in them and that I Myself may be in them.” Do you hear what He is saying? This is the New Covenant.
He is praying for these future believers that are us. And He knows there is going to be a resurrection. And He knows that the sins of all people of all time are going to be paid for and that whosoever would choose to receive the free gift can have it. And His heart and His passion is, He said, “I want all of them to be with Us.” Jesus came to give His life to pay for your sin and mine and for everyone, whosoever. Even people that reject Him, He still loves them. He has made the offer.