Hope Evangelical Lutheran Church | Portage, Indiana

March 4th, 2020

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

“The High Priest Prays for those who Receive His Word”

Midweek Lent 2

READINGS

Psalm 91 (ESV)

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

You will not fear the terror of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
    nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
    and see the recompense of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
    the Most High, who is my refuge—
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
    no plague come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.

13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
    the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
    I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble;
    I will rescue him and honor him.

16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

Passion History: Mark 14:22-52 (ESV)

22 And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

26 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 27 And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 29 Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” 30 And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” 31 But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same.

32 And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. 34 And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” 35 And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” 37 And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? 38 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. 40 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. 41 And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”

43 And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. 44 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” 45 And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 46 And they laid hands on him and seized him. 47 But one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant[c] of the high priest and cut off his ear. 48 And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.” 50 And they all left him and fled.

51 And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, 52 but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.

Homily: The High Priest Prays for those who Receive His Word

Rev. David H. Locklair

John 17:6-10

“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.”

Dear fellow redeemed,

          Christ Jesus is our great High Priest. He is the one who has offered the perfect sacrifice to atone for our sins. He is the one who intercedes for His people before the Father. In John chapter 17, we have Jesus’ High Priestly prayer in which He prays to His Father. Last week, we saw Him praying concerning His own glory, which is for our benefit. This week, we see Him praying on behalf of the eleven disciples. By extension, these words also apply to all who believe His Word. The High Priest prays for those who receive His Word.

          Jesus said to His Father, “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.” See the great comfort that is ours in this verse! In eternity, God chose us. In time then, He sent His Son to win our salvation, and uses His Means of Grace to bring us to faith in His Son and to keep us in such faith.

          Can we be certain that we are one of those predestinated, one of those chosen from eternity for salvation? Yes! Here’s how Martin Luther once explained it, “If you cling to our Lord Jesus Christ, you certainly are one of those whom God from the beginning elected to be His own; else you would not be here, nor would you listen to and accept such a revelation.”[1]

          Cling to Christ’s Word. Jesus prays for those who receive His Word. Look at how He described them in verse 7. “Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you.” What Jesus has comes from the Father. The Word of Jesus came from the Father. Jesus Himself had come from the Father. The Word produced faith in the hearts of the disciples – faith in this Jesus – and it continued to maintain their faith in Him.

          The Word of Christ is the Word of truth. The world does not receive this truth. We are bombarded with attacks upon the truth of God’s Word. Creation is attacked with the teaching of evolution. The 10 Commandments are attacked with the teaching of personal choice. Christ as the way of salvation is attacked with the teaching of many roads to salvation. Scripture itself is attacked with the teaching that it’s merely a book like any other. These attacks will lead people to hell itself.

          We must be on our guard. We are tempted by these attacks. We must be aware of our own sin and the temptations of our flesh. Do we ever find ourselves thinking the Bible is outdated? Scripture directly contradicts many of the beliefs of the world around us. We may find ourselves pressured by loud and powerful voices in society. We may find ourselves pressured by loved ones who are living contrary to Scripture. We may find ourselves pressured by our own sinful nature which desires the sin Scripture forbids. Going against Scripture is going against the truth; it is going against God; it is the path to hell.

          Jesus is the truth that saves you from that hell. In the face of mockery, abandonment, and suffering and death, Jesus held to the truth. He never backed down. He never gave way. He boldly declared the truth of the Father’s Word no matter the opposition.

          His insistence on the truth led to His arrest, His suffering, and His death. But, even then, He was still in control. This was how He would make the sacrifice to atone for your sin. Not an altar in the Temple, but a cross on a hill… not man offering a sheep, but the Son of God offering His own holy life… this was the needed sacrifice… the one that would make things right between you and God by satisfying God’s anger at you on account of your sin.

          The Word that tells you the truth of this atonement has been given to you. You received it in your baptism… in the Lord’s Supper… every time you come to church or read the Bible in your home. You have the truth.

          As your great High Priest, Jesus intercedes for you; He prays for those who trust in Him. “I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.” In the coming sections of this prayer, we will see specifics concerning the content of Jesus’ prayer for us. The emphasis here is upon the fact that Christ is concerned for those who receive His Word and so He prays for them.

          Though Jesus is specifically talking about the eleven, His words do apply to all believers. Later in this prayer, He will specifically mention all who believe. Note the incredible statement Jesus makes about believers, about you, in the final verse of this section. “All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.” Jesus is glorified by the objects of His redemption. We show forth the glory of God by His work in our lives.

          Live as one who shows forth the glory of God. Receive His Word and hold firm to all of it. Treasure it as it is – the truth of God. Live your life as someone who represents the High Priest who has died to save you by holding to the truth of Scripture no matter the opposition.

          Dear friends, be comforted. Christ prays for you. He gave His own life to save you. He gives you His Word to show the truth, bring you to faith in the truth, and preserve you in the truth. He intercedes before His Father that you should remain in His truth. Amen.

 (link to audio: https://soundcloud.com/hopeportage/midweeklent2_2020)

(cover art by Rev. Jeff Hendrix, Lutheran Synod Digital Publishing, https://lutheransynodpublishing.com/ )

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[1] Cited from C.F.W. Walther, All Glory to God (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2016), 291-292.