Hope Evangelical Lutheran Church | Portage, Indiana

February 26th, 2020

Midweek Lent 2020: Jesus our Great High Priest (John 17)

“The High Priest Prays for His Glory”

Ash Wednesday


Psalm 51 (ESV)

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is ever before me.

Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
    and blameless in your judgment.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
    and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
    and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones that you have broken rejoice.

Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.

11 Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    and sinners will return to you.

14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
    O God of my salvation,
    and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.

15 O Lord, open my lips,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.

16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
    you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
    build up the walls of Jerusalem;

19 then will you delight in right sacrifices,
    in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
    then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Passion History: Mark 14:1-21 (ESV)

It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him, for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.”

And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

10 Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. 11 And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him.

12 And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 13 And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, 14 and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15 And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” 16 And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.

17 And when it was evening, he came with the twelve. 18 And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” 19 They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?” 20 He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me. 21 For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

Homily: The High Priest Prays for His Glory         

Rev. David H. Locklair

Dear fellow redeemed,

          In our midweek Lenten Services this year, we are going to consider Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer. This prayer is recorded for us in John chapter 17. Jesus prayed this prayer on Maundy Thursday just prior to the height of His suffering which culminated with His death on Good Friday. There is much for us to learn from this prayer. Our Lord references numerous doctrines and offers us much comfort. He prays… for Himself… for the disciples… and for all believers. On this Ash Wednesday, we examine the first five verses of this prayer and learn that the High Priest prays for His glory.

John 17:1-5 (ESV)

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.

          This prayer of Jesus is referred to as “the High Priestly Prayer” because in it we find Jesus acting as the great High Priest. In the Old Testament, the High Priest offered sacrifices on behalf of the people and interceded for them before God. Here, Jesus intercedes before His Father as He is about to offer Himself as the sacrifice for us all.

          Jesus had been instructing His disciples about what was coming. Then, “he lifted up his eyes to heaven” and began to pray. His prayer opened with the words, “Father, the hour has come.” The “hour” is the time of His passion, the time of His great suffering.

          In connection with that, our High Priest prays for His glory. “Glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you.” This word “glorify” is used numerous times by Christ in this prayer. It means “to show the worth of something.” The Father would glorify the Son. This would be seen in Jesus’ exaltation: the Father would raise Him from the dead, put all things under His feet, and cause this Gospel to be heard in all the world. As true God, Jesus had glory from eternity; as true Man, Jesus would receive glory from the Father. The Son would also glorify the Father by carrying out the work the Father gave Him and by making the Father known.

          Jesus prays to be glorified. Yet, this glorification is for our benefit. Thus, even as Christ prays for Himself here, He is also praying for us. Christ’s glorification is for our salvation. These things that are accomplished in Him are so in order that He should “give eternal life to all whom [the Father] [has] given to [Him].”

          We desperately need eternal life because by nature we are possessors of eternal death. We desperately need to know the Savior for by nature we do not know Him. We are not brought into this world good or even neutral. No, as King David reminded us in our Psalm this evening, we are brought into this world corrupted by sin which then leads us to commit sin. By nature, we are, as St. Paul put it, “children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3). By nature, we do not know the truth; we do not know the way of salvation.

          That sinful nature still pulls at us, seeking to lead us away from the knowledge of the truth. How often have we failed to take advantage of the opportunities to grow in our knowledge of the Savior? The home devotions left unread, the Services unattended for no legitimate reason, the times of lack of interest in studying the doctrines of the Bible… these are our sins against the knowledge of the truth.

          But the Great High Priest has had mercy upon us. He has come for us. He has come to reveal the truth to us. He has come to reveal the way of salvation to us. He is the way. He would walk in the knowledge of the truth all the days of His life. He would zealously and perfectly study the Word, even as a child. He would make use of every opportunity to receive the Scriptures.

          He would make the great sacrifice to cleanse us of our sin. He would take upon Himself every sin we are guilty of. He would bear the sins that were not His own. He would sacrifice Himself taking the punishment away from us. He would intercede for us with His life and death. He would be raised from death in glory having won eternal life for us. Christ’s glory is for our salvation.

          This truth, this way of salvation, He reveals to us. He reveals it in His work. He reveals it in His Word.

Look at what Jesus said in verse 3, “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” This is what it means to have eternal life. To have eternal life is to know God. To know God is to trust in Jesus Christ. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we possess eternal life. Those who trust in Jesus are no more “children of wrath” but are instead “children of the Father.”

There is only one way to eternal life. All other ways are the ways of eternal death.  Jesus is the only way. Look to Him. Receive His Word. Study His Word. Treasure His Word. It is through this Word that you know the truth; it is through this Word that you know Jesus. Use this Lenten season as an opportunity to grow in the knowledge of the truth. Come to the special Services. Meditate upon our Lord’s passion.

Dear friends, on this Ash Wednesday we have marked our foreheads with ashes reminding ourselves that we are dust and we will return to dust in death. Yet, those ashes were marked in the form of a cross reminding us that in Christ Jesus we are delivered from death. In Christ Jesus we know God; we know the truth; we have resurrection unto everlasting life. Jesus prays for His glory because His glory is your salvation. Amen.

(link to audio: https://soundcloud.com/hopeportage/ashwednesday_2020)

(cover art by Rev. Jeff Hendrix, Lutheran Synod Digital Publishing, https://lutheransynodpublishing.com/historic-church-year-symbols/ )