John chapter seventeen is a fascinating portion of scripture, that in twenty six verses paints a three dimensional picture God’s hope for each of us and what our position with Him is if we indulge Him in that hope. That place for us in the verses of this chapter, is found in the detailed prayer that Jesus makes to the Father, in a frank and conversational tone, wherein He asks for very specific things. That alone is interesting. As the Son of God who knew He was about to be betrayed and murdered at the hands of men, He demonstrates His own self-assurance in His relationship with the Father in this prayer and yet does not assume that God was so familiar with the intentions of His heart, that He didn’t ask for them specifically. Though He and the Father were One, Jesus laid out His desire in very specific words.
This is a great lesson in and of itself to the point I want to get across here, because I have had a tendency to do the very opposite. I assume that God knows, understands and therefore grants me the intentions of my heart, without specifically talking with Him about them. It’s a presumptuous and diminishing way to handle a relationship that can create confusion (in me, because God is never confused) and stall forward progress. Jesus had complete confidence. Not in a presumptuous way, but a fearless way, knowing that His Father was completely approachable. I know that I’ve been blessed and elevated in pursuing my relationship with God, but there’s still higher ground to be had in the blessings and it’s up to me to understand that, get to it and stay there. If you want to consider that point more completely right now, measure these words against the most important earthly relationships in your life. Whoever they’re with, for all of us they could probably be richer in different ways, bringing them more in line with ideals we know are better, but end up compromising by not giving them the proper attention or doing the required work.
In verse three of chapter seventeen, Jesus makes the statement, to His Father that the secret to eternal life is to know Him. Jesus knew the Father and the Father knew Jesus. He knows us, but do we know Him? We endeavor to pursue a form of relationship in part and parcel, but too few of us do this vigorously enough, or in a sacrificially enough, to take and hold the higher ground. A little further on, in verse six, Jesus makes another statement to God, acknowledging back to Him something that God already did. He said; “I have manifested Your name to those you have given me out of the world.” Recently, I read that verse again and it struck me differently.
As we get to know, and as I got to know, the disciples throughout Jesus’ ministry and well into their New Covenant writings, we can quickly understand that they are genuinely human and largely just “regular guys” in their culture. But before Jesus even knew who they were God had prepared each one of them, in all their human fault and frailty, to install His kingdom in the earth beyond the murder of His Son. Jesus didn’t choose His disciples, God did. Then at the appropriate time, He revealed them to Jesus, who simply extended to them an invitation.
Later Jesus declares something incredible, recorded in verse sixteen. That because of what He had deposited into these men during His time with them, by teaching about the very Father that He intimately knew had chosen them, that they were no longer of this world.
Think about that.
Imperceptibly these twelve disciples, without even knowing it, had emigrated in citizenship from earth to heaven and would retain that privilege, on that much higher ground so to speak, through their remaining life’s trials on earth, their physical deaths and thus to this very day.
If that isn’t fascinating enough, Jesus continued to pray saying; “not only these do I pray for (meaning the twelve), but for ALL those who would come to believe in me, based on their teaching and that they ALL would be one, just as You and I are one.” As Christianity has grown like a vine over the face of the earth to what it is today, it’s important to remember that God has “chosen” and prepared each of us to receive the same invitation Jesus extended to the twelve. We’ve been hand-picked.
None of them had to change who they were, they just had to say “Yes” to the invitation.
And so like them, we, regardless of our struggles and the way we sometimes feel detached or even dirty because of wrong things we’ve done, said, or had done and said to us. Regardless of the confusion or isolation we feel deep within, because of unanswered prayers, or receiving things we feel we didn’t deserve. Regardless of the realizations that we were ultimately powerless to keep the things we wanted more than anything, but lost them anyway. These kinds of things are endless, all them indigenous to the fallen human nature. But the only sure way to overcome them is to remember that we are never “un”-chosen, that is unless we choose to be. Say ‘Yes” and begin the journey.