Today is the day that the Christian world calls Good Friday. I wonder how it got that name? It seems to me that there was little about it that was good, if you look at the torturous things that were done to our Lord on that day. I know that it is good in the sense that good was accomplished through the bad, but I cynically wonder if anyone outside the church has even a cursory understanding of the good that was accomplished through the horror of that day. Maybe none outside the church have ever understood. That’s possible. I worry for America sometimes. I wonder what awaits us as hedonistic idolaters enjoy celebrity status and in many cases have infiltrated the holiest of congregations? That, thankfully, is a topic for another day.
Prayer is the topic for today, and more specifically, the prayer Jesus spoke just prior to being taken captive by the Jews and beginning the horrors that defined the first Good Friday.
Christians often make prayer the focus of our study and practice. Because the Holy Spirit lives within us, we are constantly reminded that prayer is the designated mode of communication we have with our Spiritual Father. If we want to talk with Papa, we must do it through prayer. We pray to communicate our love, our concerns, our anger, our joy, our suspicions, our victories and a number of other emotions and events that we want to share. We pray to be protected and we pray to know God better, but on this Good Friday I want to focus not on our prayers, but on Jesus’ prayer for us.
John 17 lays out the foundation for Jesus’ prayer for his church. It was a prayer not just for his closest friends and family, or disciples who had been called and drawn into holy service, but for you, for me, for all who would ever believe in him through the church’s message (vs. 20). Today, I thought it would be appropriate to extrapolate from this text information Jesus found important enough to discuss with the Father, before his final day on earth would unfold. This is good stuff, so please, read on.
There are a few things that Jesus mentioned to his Father that I think are ultimately important for us to remember today.
**That the Name of Jesus would protect and assist us when spoken in prayer. vs 11
**That when Jesus left, we would need protection. vs 13
**That the world would hate us, because we love Jesus vs 14
**That safety would always be an issue for us, because we would always be the target of the evil one, who is prince over this world. vs 15
Keeping these principles in mind, Jesus offers a prayer for those God had given to him. That prayer, spoken on the first Good Friday, included these provisions:
Divine protection that was not for the world, but for the church and true believers vs 9
A theology that would unite us and guard us during our time here vs 11 & 12
Holiness and wisdom offered through the truth that is God; not earth’s version vs 17
A unity that is for everyone who believes, the disciples and future believers vs 20. This unity would be such that the church would become one with each other vs21. It is a unity that goes beyond earthly means, a unity that somehow spiritually binds us in such dramatic fashion and mysterious ways that our actions as a unit would be completely in synch one with another, completely complimentary, working at the same speed and the same goal as we come together as the body of Christ vs21
This unity of spirit would be God-breathed, as I understand it, because Jesus says when it is accomplished it will produce results that are similar to the bond he has with his Father, a bond that actually makes Jesus and God one. This bond would be so intimate, so compelling and unprecedented as to convince those who previously had no faith to find faith in Christ. As vs 21 puts it:
“I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you…may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.”
Jesus’ final request of the Father before beginning his Good Friday was this:
“Father, I want these who you have given me to be with me where I am…” vs 24
It is the perfect final request for someone about to die, don’t you think? It proves that Jesus didn’t want to be separated from us, any more than we choose to be separated from him. True love carries with it an imperative to be with the object of that love. Jesus’ love for us was and always will be that brand of true love we yearn to have in our lives. How amazing that our Savior would take the time in his last hours to write a love letter to God on our behalf. Oh, how he loves you and me!
The first verse of John 18 says, “After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley withhis disciples and entered a grove of olives.” The drama of Good Friday was about to begin.
I want to close out this Good Friday message on prayer with another amazing statement I found in this text. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, the love of Christ and the power of His Spirit make it possible that together, we can do what we could never do alone. I think this verse testifies to that principle, so I want to close with it today. Remember everyone, it’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming.
“May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.” John 17: 23 [emphasis mine] All verses taken from NLT ljh]
PS: Years ago, Anthony Campolo immortalized the sense of expectancy that is present in the hearts of Christians as we ponder Good Friday and await Easter morning. It is embodied in his now famous sermon, borrowed from another pastor, aptly titled: It’s Friday, but Sundays Comin’! It’s a great message that you can find on the internet today via YouTube.