John 17:24

[ 4 minutes to read ]

“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me,
be with me where I am;
that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me:
for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.”

~ John 17:24

Our devotional verse is found in the high priestly prayer of Jesus Christ. He exercised His intercessory office praying to the Father for His people. He declared, “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine” (John 17:9). Now Job said of God, “For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment” (Job 9:32). Job realized there was a difference between himself and God, “for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth.” He also realized that he could not stand in the breach. Eli saw the same predicament when he said, “If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall intreat for him?” (1 Samuel 2:25). Job further observed that not only could he not stand in the breach but also no other man could stand there for him. “Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both” (Job 9:33). Who could lay his hand upon God?

In John chapter 17 we see Christ standing in the breach, laying His hand upon man and laying His hand upon God. He is the fulfillment of the type we have in Moses with Israel. “Therefore he said that he would destroy them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath, lest he should destroy them” (Psalm 106:23). Jesus “thought it not robbery to be equal with God” and He “lifted up his eyes to heaven” and prayed to the Father as the Son. He had power to lay hold on God and man, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). He stood in the breach and turned away the wrath that His people deserved by giving Himself as a ransom. What a blessing to know there is an advocate, a days-man! What a blessing for His people to know “he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”

Let us turn now to the particular request made in our text. Firstly we notice that Jesus said, “Father, I will.” Now during His earthly ministry, Christ declared, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38). He also said, “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (John 5:30). Jesus is the perfect servant. He was totally submerged in the will of the Father. It must then be of great significance when He expresses His will as in our text: “Father, I will.” Read John 6:39-40 and you will find this expression of Christ’s will to be in harmony with that of the Father, revealing the unity of the purpose of the trinity in the salvation of men.

It is noteworthy to observe that Jesus expressed His will. It is also worthwhile to note the substance of His petition. Secondly we see His request was “that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me.” Christ here reveals His desire for His purchased people to be with Him and behold His glory. He longs for the consummation of His work when He presents His people spotless before the throne saying, “Behold I and the children which God hath given me” (Hebrews 2:13). He will stand victorious; having accomplished the purpose where unto He was sent.

Christ does not only joy in His accomplishment. He also has joy in His people. “For the LORD’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance” (Deuteronomy 32:9). He manifested His great love by laying down His life. He “loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Revelation 1:5). And He desires us to be with Him. It is no wonder that we love Him, “Who gave himself for us.” But it is a great mystery that He should love us. Surely the love of Christ “passeth knowledge.” We are constrained to sing the old song,

I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me, A sinner, condemned, unclean.
How marvelous! How wonderful! And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! How wonderful is my Savior’s love for me!

It is a great comfort to know these truths when our saved loved ones have departed. We see that Jesus is fetching them home to be with Him. The shepherd says in Solomon’s Song, “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away” (Song of Solomon 2:13). We have a picture of the Good Shepherd beckoning His beloved sheep home. We cannot weep for the departed righteous. They are in the presence of the loving Shepherd beholding His great glory.

John 11:35

[ 3 minutes to read ]

“Jesus wept.”
~ John 11:35

We have before us the shortest verse in the entire Bible. It may be empty of words but it is full of matter. In the eleventh chapter is the account of the raising of Lazarus. His sisters, Mary and Martha, had sent word to Jesus saying, “Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.” After He received this message he tarried where He was for two days before setting out for Bethany.

By the time Jesus arrives, Lazarus “had lain in the grave four days already.” As He approached Bethany, Martha met him first and later Mary met him. They were weeping and grieving over the loss of their brother. The Jews that followed Mary were also weeping audibly. Jesus saw all this mourning, the Bible says “He groaned in the spirit and was troubled,” and He asked, “Where have ye laid him?” When He was about to come to the grave of Lazarus, “Jesus wept.” As we stand in awe and behold the God-Man weeping, I shall endeavor to answer some questions, at least to provide us with comfort and encouragement.

First, Why did Jesus weep? He had testified, “This sickness is not unto death.” Could He have felt sorrow for Lazarus? He knew Lazarus’ state. Lazarus had escaped the sin and sorrow of the world. If Christ did weep at all for Lazarus, it would have been in sorrow that he was going to return to this sin-cursed world and leave a perfect rest.

Jesus was brought into sympathy with Mary, Martha, and the other Jews that were mourning. We see here His humanity manifested. He took up the robe of flesh and traversed the whole human experience. The scriptures declare He “was in all points tempted like as we are” (Hebrews 4:15). He knew exhaustion, hunger, thirst, pain, sorrow, grief, and the like. The prophet of old said He would be “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). He is not a cold stony god of men’s imaginations. He is the living God and He is “touched with the feeling of our infirmities” (Hebrews 4:15). We find here a great compassion. It is a cold heart indeed that is not moved at the sight of a grieving family bidding farewell to their departed loved one. Jesus Christ was moved with compassion and wept with those that wept.

Second, What can we learn from this instance? We certainly know that we should have compassion, mourning with those that mourn and seeking to comfort them and be a blessing to them. Paul instructed the Romans to “condescend to men of low estate” (Romans 12:16). He also wrote, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). We are our brother’s keeper and we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. From example as well as precept, Jesus teaches us to have compassion. We also have a golden key to prayer supplied in this verse.

Jesus said, “Follow me.” He also said, “Come ye after me,” and “learn of me.” The child of God is to be a student of the life of Christ. We ought always to be tracing out His steps, seeking to walk there ourselves. If Christ has suffered and been tempted like we, then we find matter for our petitions. Are you sorrowing? Have you been visited by death and lost that one who was close? You should find encouragement here to pray. Go to Christ, plead His own experience and apply for sufficient grace. If you are weeping, go to Him that wept. If you are in pain, go to Him that suffered pain. Whatever your plight, He knows your experience and He will take care of you. It is precisely these instances that appeal to us making Jesus so approachable and accessible.

We find here a compassionate Savior. We find here a friend and a loving God. How much did Christ love His people? How much did He identify with them? “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4). The love of Christ “passeth knowledge.” But finding one so in touch with your weakness urges you to be “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

“Hallelujah, what a Savior!”

John 10:11

[ 3 minutes to read ]

I am the good shepherd:
the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

~ John 10:11

The sheep have known no better time than when the Good Shepherd was revealed. For years God’s people had been led astray. Their religious leaders were nothing more than hirelings. They cared not for the sheep. They did not do the things they did out of a motive of love and compassion. They loved the applause of men and sought it at every turn. “Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts” (Lu 20:46). They held to the traditions of men and “made the commandment of God of none effect.” Their teaching was not for the glory of God and the edification of the people. They rather hoped to bring men into compliance with their own whims and narrow standards.

They were also hypocrites. Jesus spoke of them plainly saying, “They say and do not.” They claimed to be the interpreters of the Law of God, but were themselves not subject to the Law. The sheep were not in real safety under the leadership of the hirelings. They would flee at the first sign of trouble. They certainly were not willing to “spend and be spent” in service. But, all hope is not lost. The Good Shepherd has come. Jesus declares, “I am the good shepherd.” The Good Shepherd tends, leads, feeds, and cares for the sheep. He is moved with love and compassion and is tender toward them. He will not flee. He will never forsake. In fact, He gave His life for the sheep.

More than once in John chapter 10, Christ states that He lays His life down. In verses 17 and 18 He says, “I lay down my life…. no man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself.” He was certainly no hired shepherd. He did it all willingly and lovingly. He was not coerced. He obligated Himself. So, He willingly laid His life down. Let us consider how that Jesus laid down His life in two ways.

Firstly, He laid down His life in a selfless act of service. Paul states of Christ, “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Ph 2:7). He laid down His life in self-denial. He did not have His own agenda. He was not seeking the praise of men. He did not go about trying to make Himself more comfortable, rich, powerful, honored, or famous. We read in Matthew 4:23, “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.” And again in Acts 10:38, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” He made it clear that He did not come to earth to do His own will. He came “to seek and to save that which was lost.” He humbled Himself and became a servant. He laid down His life. He laid it aside and did not serve Himself.

Secondly, He laid down His life as a sacrifice. His obedience had no bounds. He was “obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” He gave it all. He kept nothing back. The hymn writer wrote,

I gave my life for thee, My precious blood I shed,
That thou might’st ransomed be, And quickened from the dead;
I suffered much for thee, More than thy tongue can tell,
Of bitterest agony, To rescue thee from hell;

He was slain, but it was from the foundation of the world. He was not overtaken and forced. He willingly laid down His life. He made no objection while He was lifted up from the earth. Praise God, what a Shepherd! This story is amazing and it makes us wonder,

Love sent my Savior to die in my stead,
Meekly to Calvary’s cross He was led,
Nails pierced His hands and His feet for my sin,
He suffered sore my salvation to win,
O how He agonized there in my place,
Nothing withholding my sin to efface,
Why should He love me so? (Adapted JFS)

He died in order to pay for the sins of the sheep and gain for them eternal life. What wondrous love is this? Praise God for the Good Shepherd that loves the sheep and was willing to suffer for them.