On the night Jesus was betrayed, Jesus prayed what is known as His “High Priestly Prayer.” John reproduces much of Jesus’ prayer and you can read it in chapter 17 of His gospel. It is the longest recorded prayer of Jesus in the Scriptures. But, not only is it Jesus’ longest recorded prayer, it is His prayer offered at a crucial time – just hours before going to the cross.
His earthly ministry is concluding, His purpose will soon be fulfilled, and His disciples are going to have to face the most difficult (and perhaps the most crucial) moments of their lives without Him and scattered from one another.
What does Jesus pray on this, His final evening?
He prays for Himself and the conclusion of His mission. He prays for His disciples, for their unity, safety, and preservation. And He prays for us, for the ones who will believe because of the disciples’ witness.
In that prayer, He prays that His people would be made holy, that they would be “sanctified.” He prayed that they would be kept from the corruption of the world, being renewed after the image of Christ. This is so that they might faithfully reflect God’s image, accurately proclaim His truth, and effectively share His gospel.
“Sanctify them,” He prays.
But how is that to happen? Jesus tells us.
“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17)
God’s chosen means for shaping His children is His Word. We cannot know God apart from the Bible. It is His Self-revelation to His people.
There are only two ways to know God. One, we guess and figure Him out – who He is, what He’s like, what He requires, etc. History is full of case studies indicating that this method has never worked. The “Religion & Spirituality” section of every bookstore is ripe with the bitter fruit of these attempts.
That leaves the other way: God tells us. This is the only way to know God. And thankfully, this is just what God has done. Not only has He acted in history, revealing Himself to His creation, but He has moved men by His Spirit to interpret His actions and to declare who He is, what He’s like, and what He requires. “No prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20–21, ESV)
Not only is the Bible the only means by which we can know God, it is God’s chosen way of relating to His children. It is by His Word that He directs our steps, feeds our souls, strengthens our hope, and refines our character. He teaches us, corrects us, and trains us by His Word. He reminds us of His promises, encourages us in His purposes, and guides us along His plans.
This is how, when being tempted in the wilderness, Jesus resisted the corruption of His mission by declaring that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” His Word nourishes us like milk feeds a baby (1 Peter 2:2).
This year have a plan for reading, understanding, and being shaped by God’s Word. Find encouragement to continue; find teaching to understand; and find accountability to obey.
Only in hearing, understanding, and obeying God’s Word can we know and walk with God.
It is my earnest desire and prayer for me and for you that we can stop imagining God for who we want Him to be. He is not okay with all the things we want Him to be okay with. He does not agree with all the positions we hold. His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways! For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways higher than our ways and His thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
But… when we surrender our ways and our thoughts, when we forsake our own kingdom building, and when we begin to value Him and trust Him and seek to honor Him… THEN we will be able to experience the reality of His promises, the goodness of His ways, and the joy of His presence.
Such is the purpose, the promise, and the power of God’s Word. Whatever else we commit to in 2021, let us prioritize, consume, embrace, memorize, and commit to His Word.
If there is anything else I do to help you along this journey, please reach out, leave a comment, or send an email. I look forward to hearing from you.
God bless & Happy New Year.