Sunday, September 30, 2007

Jesus' High Priestly Prayer -- Part 7

God has given Christ authority over all flesh. Nebuchadnezzar learned that “the Most High rules in the kingdom of men and gives it to whomever He chooses.” (Dan 4:32) He also learned that, “All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, ‘What have you done?’” (Dan 4:35) In Paul’s speech to the Athenians he says, “He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.” (Acts 17:26)

The authority that God has given Christ is much more extensive than we usually think. In the verses just mentioned, He clearly is in charge of the affairs of men. He does as He wills among men putting those in charge He chooses and removing from power others. He has predetermined the extent of the various nations both in geography and time. There is no limit to His power among the inhabitants of the earth.

In Amos 3:6 we see a further example of the extent of His power. Amos says, “If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid? If there is calamity in a city will not the Lord have done it? Isaiah 45:6,7 says, “I am the Lord, and there is no other; I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I , the Lord do all these things.”

The so-called calamities and disasters that befall us are from the Lord’s hand. We certainly do not understand all His ways or why He brings these things upon us, but with God on the throne, there is no such thing as bad luck or chance events. God is in charge and has passed on all authority to Christ. As we learned earlier, the reason for Christ to have that authority is so that he might give eternal life to all those whom God has given Him.

There is purpose in all that happens. That purpose is rooted in the salvation of God’s people. Everything revolves around this purpose with the ultimate aim of bringing glory to God.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Jesus' High Priestly Prayer -- Part 6

We’re still studying and meditating on the Lord’s High Priestly Prayer in John 17. The last time we observed in verse 2 that Jesus acknowledged the fact that God had given Him authority over all flesh so that He should give eternal life to all those whom God had given Him.

As we continue to think about this, we notice that Jesus has been given all authority over all flesh. It was God the Father’s to give and He has given it to Christ. Paul told the men of Athens in Acts 17:30,31, “Truly these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained.”

This man, Jesus Christ, who has been given authority over all flesh is the ultimate judge. All will be judged by this one man and therefore God commands all men to repent. People seem content with the thought that one day they will die and face judgment. There seems to be very little fear of that day. But John 5:22 tells us that “the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son.” This means it isn’t God the father but God the Son that people will be confronted with on that day. How will that feel to be confronted by the very man that has been rejected, mocked and scorned as a fraud; the one who has been disbelieved and ignored?

Being confronted with that fact in this life is the God-given reason why all men should repent and are commanded to do so.

May God help those of us who know Him to be faithful in being a strong witness and testimony of this One who has been given such authority because He was faithful to suffer and die in our place.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Jesus' High Priestly Prayer -- Part 5

It’s been a couple of weeks since we last looked at John 17 together, but it’s important to keep moving forward and thinking through what we have before us. This is a most amazing passage because it gives us a listening ear into the conversation between two of the persons of the trinity. It is God the Son talking to God the Father.

In verse 2 we read, “as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.”

To me, the key word in this verse is “that”. Jesus is saying that God has given Him authority over all flesh for a reason. In our conversations we say things like, “I’m going to drive to town so that…” As soon as you hear that you know you are going to hear the reason why I’m going to town. It might be to buy groceries or to put gas in the car or to mail a letter.

Jesus is doing the same thing here. He says that He has been given authority over all flesh so …what? So that He should give eternal life to all of those the Father has given Him. The purpose of His authority is so that eternal life might be given. Without the authority the eternal life could not have been given.

In order for eternal life to be given, the gospel must be preached because the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Jesus says in Matthew 28:18, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” There it is again. He has been given authority. In this passage He goes on to say that His disciples should therefore go and make other disciples.

Notice the focus in John 17:2. All of the focus is on the authority God gave the Son to give eternal life to all of those who the Father had given Him. This is the essence of what Jesus said in John 6:39, “This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.” He goes on to say in the next verse that it is God’s will that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.

Everything God is doing is centered on glorifying Himself by giving eternal life to those whom God has given to Christ. God is in the saving business.

When we think of the words of Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good…” we should not think of it in trite terms like people so often do during hard circumstances, i.e. “Don’t worry, it will all turn out for the best.” It is a statement of Almighty God telling us that He is at work in all things for the eternal good of His children.