Christ’s Prayer for His People

November 14, 2021 ()

Bible Text: John 17:6-16 |

Series:

Christ's Prayer for His People | John 17:6-16
Brian Hedges | November 14, 2021

We’re going to be in John 17 this morning. We’re continuing our study through the upper room discourse and the prayer that follows, John 13-17. We’re almost at the end of this series, and in John 17 we have the prayer of our Lord for his disciples and for his people on the night before his crucifixion. It is a rich, rich passage of Scripture that teaches us both how to pray, encourages us with the truths that Jesus includes in his prayers, and then shows us how Jesus prays for us as his people.

Philip Melanchthon, the reformer who was Martin Luther’s partner in ministry, said that “there is no voice that has ever been heard, either in heaven or earth, more exalted, more holy, more fruitful, more sublime than this prayer.” So this is a rich passage of Scripture that I believe can be of great encouragement to us.

I want to begin by reading John 17:1-16. Two weeks ago we looked at the first five verses, but I’m going to read those verses again, and we’re going to read down through verse 16, and then next week we conclude the prayer as well as the series, as we look at the last third or so of this chapter. You can follow along on the screen or in your own copy of God’s word, page 903 if you’re using one of the Bibles there in the chairs in front of you. John 17, beginning in verse 1.

“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. 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. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.’”

This is God’s word.

I want us to notice three things in this prayer: the example of Jesus's prayer (vv. 1-5), the people for whom Jesus prays (vv. 6-10), and the content of his intercession (vv. 11-16)

1. The Example of Jesus’s Prayer

I won’t read the first five verses again; we’ve looked at those in depth in light of what they teach us about salvation. But I just don’t want us to miss this, the fact of Jesus praying. Jesus here prays for his people, he prays for his disciples, and this prayer is the longest prayer of Jesus recorded anywhere in the New Testament. It’s actually the longest prayer recorded in the New Testament. So you have more content of prayer right here than in any other single passage in the Bible, and we need to see both that he prays and also how he prays. Jesus begins his prayer with the ultimate priority—it should be the ultimate priority in all prayer—which is the glory of God. He prays that God will be glorified.

Indeed, when Jesus teaches his disciples to pray in the Lord’s Prayer, recorded in Matthew 6, he begins by saying, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” That should be the priority in prayer. Jesus here prays with the glory of God in view; that’s also how we should pray.

Of course, Jesus prayed frequently and continually throughout his life. The Gospel of Luke records this many times, where Jesus would spend seasons in prayer. He would retreat to a mountain and spend all night in prayer. For special times in his life as well as regular seasons in his daily life, Jesus prayed. But here we see how he prayed, and we see how he prayed at a point of real crisis in his life, because this is the night before his crucifixion. Just a few hours from now Judas will betray him, Peter will deny him, the disciples will forsake him. He will then be tried by both Herod and by Pilot, by the high priest. He will be charged unjustly and sentenced to die, then nailed to a cross and crucified. And in this hour of his greatest need, watch how Jesus prays.

What’s he praying for? Not mainly for himself; he’s praying mainly that God will be glorified, and he is praying for his disciples. Surely that shows us what the focus of our own prayer life should be. We should pray supremely for the glory of God, and we should commit ourselves to interceding for others, praying for others.

Now, of course it’s appropriate to pray for our basic needs. Jesus teaches us to pray for forgiveness of our sins (“Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”) as well as to pray for our daily needs (“Give us this day our daily bread”). It’s right for us to pray that way. But here the focus of Jesus’ prayer is not for himself, it is for his disciples.

Listen, if Jesus, the sinless Son of God, the one who is God himself manifest in the flesh—if Jesus in his humanity found it necessary to pray, how much more essential is it for you and I to cultivate lives of prayer! If Jesus needed prayer, surely we need prayer as well.

I think we see also in Jesus’ prayer an answer to one of the most common objections that people have to prayer. The objection goes something like this: “Well, if God is omniscient, that is, if he knows all things, and if God has exhaustive foreknowledge of what’s going to happen, he already knows what’s going to happen before we act, and if God knows what we need before we ask, why do we need to pray? Aren’t we just telling God what he already knows?” Have you ever thought that? Do you ever wonder what the purpose of prayer is, if God really is this God of such great knowledge and power? I’ve had people ask me about that in email before, struggling with this question of the purpose of prayer.

Here’s a simple answer to that question: First of all, God commands us to pray. The same Bible that teaches us that God has exhaustive foreknowledge and is omniscient and all-knowing and all-powerful and all these other things, that same Bible teaches us very clearly to pray. We are commanded to pray and prayer is modeled for us again and again. Jesus models prayer, and Jesus understood what I think the Bible clearly teaches, that prayer is one of the means through which God works. That is, God works out his purposes through prayer.

Let me give you a little analogy. We believe that God will provide for our needs, and yet we get up and we go to work and we earn a living. We know that it would be presumptuous to sit at home and watch TV all day and say, “Well, I don’t have to work, because God has promised to provide for my names.” That would be presumptuous. We don’t do that, because we know that God provides through our hard work, but we’re still depending on him. In the same way, we believe that God answers prayer and he works through prayer, and it is presumptuous for us not to pray.

Not only that, but prayer is a great blessing and privilege that is given for our comfort and for our joy. One of the things Jesus here is praying for his disciples is their joy. In John 15 he tells them to pray, to ask in his name, that their joy might be full. So we hurt ourselves when we don’t pray. That’s one reason we need to pray.

Prayer, mostly importantly, is about our relationship with God our Father. It’s about communion with God, friendship with God, knowing God, fellowship with God. We need to pray for our relationship with God, and he delights for us to pray.

You might think of it along the same lines as you think about your relationship with your spouse, if you’re married, if you have a husband or a wife. Let’s say someone could put you in a time machine where you could go to the end of your life and you could see that you were faithful to your marriage to the very end, you make it to the end, you love each other at the very end, and you know that this is how it’s going to end. Then you come back in time.

Does that mean that you would no longer cultivate your marriage? Does that mean that you would never say, “I love you,” to your spouse? Does that mean that you would not show affection, that you wouldn’t hug her or kiss her or be kind to her? Of course not, because that’s the whole point of the relationship, right? It’s to express that love that has drawn you together and that binds you together.

Some guy said to me, “My wife knows I love her. I don’t need to tell her.” I said, “Dude, you’re missing the whole point!” You do need to tell her. That’s what the relationship is about.

If you were to say, “God knows everything; I don’t need to talk to him about it,” I would say, “You’re missing the whole point of prayer.” He wants you to pray because he wants this relationship with you, and therefore prayer is a vital part of the Christian life.

Well, Jesus models that in this prayer, and as we’re going to see in a few minutes, the very way in which he prays is instructive for us. In fact, here’s one more point I want to make under the example of Jesus’ prayer life. Note this as you read through this passage, that Jesus’ prayers are actually very theological. They’re very theological. Believe it or not, whatever you may think about theology, your prayers are theological too, because when you pray you are implicitly expressing the things that you believe about God. The way in which you address him, the names by which you call him, the way in which you frame your prayers, the arguments you use in prayer—all of that is expressing your theology, what you believe about God. Prayer actually needs to be based on clear teaching from Scripture; it needs this theological foundation. As he prays, Jesus is actually bringing arguments to bear in this relationship, in his requests to the Father, praying for his people in light of God’s great purposes in history, appealing to God’s purposes from before the foundation of the world. He’s appealing to these things—deep theology all through his prayer.

I think one reason we need exposition of Scripture, working through books of the Bible like we do; one reason we need theology from the text, drawn out of the text, is because this is what feeds and sustains a prayer life in our relationship with God. The example of Jesus’s prayer.

2. The People for Whom He Prays

Secondly, I want you to notice the people for whom he prays. You see this in verses 6-10. I will read this again, and as I read it I just want you to notice the ways in which he describes his people. There are three descriptions here of his people that I want us to notice, because I think these descriptions have a lot to teach us.

Verse 6: “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. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.”

There are three distinct ways that Jesus describes his people, his disciples, as he prays for them here.

(1) The first is, “those whom you have given me out of the world.” You see that in verse 6. “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.”

He says much the same thing in verse 9, and we already saw in the first five verses of this chapter that he uses that language as well.

I think this is teaching us very clearly, in the language of Jesus used in the Gospel of John, it is teaching us that the people of God were considered by Jesus as the Father’s love-gift to the Son. It’s similar to what Paul teaches when he uses the language of election or predestination in his epistles. It’s the idea that before the foundation of the world, God in his sovereign wisdom, in his divine purpose, he planned the redemption of a certain people, and he gave those people to his Son; he entrusted them into the care and the keeping of his Son in covenant love, mercy, and grace. That’s one of the descriptions.

(2) But there’s a balancing description, and it’s important that we not miss this, because these people are also described in verse 8 as “those who have received Jesus’s words and have believed in him.” Let me read verses 7-8 again, and notice this. “Now they know that everything 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.”

Lest anybody get nervous about hyper-Calvinism and a fatalistic view of salvation that negates the importance of personal, individual faith in Christ, you have to keep these two things together. The people of God are described both as those whom God the Father gave to the Son and as those who have received Jesus’ words and have believed in him. Those two things always come together in Scripture.

To be sure, there’s some mystery here. It’s hard for us to understand how these things connect, but they’re both there in Scripture: the sovereignty of God in salvation—he gave these people to his Son, he did it before they were born, before they had done good or evil. Read Romans 9, read John 6. This is crystal clear in the text of Scripture. But at one and the same time, there is a responsibility for every single individual, that they must believe in the gospel, they must trust Jesus personally.

I think Scripture keeps that tension, keeps that balance together; sovereignty on one hand, human responsibility on the other.

I love Charles Haddon Spurgeon, as you know, the great Baptist preacher of the 19th century, and Spurgeon I think kept this balance in his preaching. I want to read a statement to you from his autobiography. I’ve read this several times over the years here at Redeemer, and this has been helpful to people who have struggled with the harmonization of these truths. Listen to what Spurgeon said.

“The system of truth revealed in the Scriptures is not simply one straight line, but two, and no man will ever get a right view of the gospel until he knows how to look at the two lines at once. For instance, I read in one book of the Bible, ‘The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let him that heareth say, “Come.” And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.’ Yet I am taught in another part of the same inspired word that “it is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.’ I see in one place God and providence presiding over all, and yet I cannot help seeing that man acts as he pleases. That God predestines and yet that man is responsible are two facts that few can clearly see. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory, but they are not. The fault is in our weak judgment. Two truths cannot be contradictory to each other. If then I find taught in one part of the Bible that everything is foreordained, that is true; and if I find in another Scripture that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true, and it is only my folly that leads me to imagine that these two truths can ever contradict one another.”

There’s the balance. Spurgeon was one time asked, “How do you reconcile God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility?” He said, “I never try to reconcile friends.” These things are friends; they belong together. I think Jesus’ prayer shows us that very clearly.

(3) But there’s a third way in which Jesus describes his people that I think is also important, and actually really encouraging. You see this in verse 6. He says, “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 then notice this, “and they have kept your word.”

That is an amazing statement when you think about the context. Jesus here is praying very specifically for his disciples, but do you remember these disciples? The week leading up to Jesus’s crucifixion, they’re journeying to Jerusalem prior to that, and what are they doing? They are arguing with one another about who is the greatest in the kingdom. They misunderstand Jesus at every turn. When he tells them that he’s going to be crucified, they rebuke him! They don’t understand the gospel.

Jesus in chapter 16 tells them they’re all going to be scattered and they’re going to leave him alone in his time of deepest trial. In chapter 13 he told Peter that Peter will deny him, and in the other Gospels we learn that Jesus told them that they would all forsake him.

And yet here Jesus, when he brings them before his Father, how does he describe them? He doesn’t mention their faults, he doesn’t mention their sins, he doesn’t mention all of the things that they do wrong, he says, “These are the ones who have kept your word.” It shows us the great grace and love with which Jesus views his people.

Bishop J.C. Ryle, in his Expository Thoughts on John, points out the lesson. “The lesson before us is full of comfort and instruction. It is evident that Jesus sees far more in this believing people than they see in themselves or than other see in them. The least degree of faith is very precious in his sight. Though it be no bigger than a grain of mustard seed, it is a plant of heavenly growth and makes a boundless difference between the possessor of it and the man of the world. Wherever the gracious Savior of sinners sees true faith in himself, however feeble, he looks with compassion on many infirmities and passes by many defects.”

“They have kept your word,” Jesus says, even when in just a few hours they’re going to forsake him temporarily. It’s an amazing statement, amazing how Jesus describes the people for whom he prays.

3. The Content of His Intercession

But most important of all is how he prays for them, and that leads us to the content of his intercession. We could say that the intercession of Jesus for his people actually embraces four things. We’re only going to look at the first one this morning; next week we’ll come to the other three. Jesus prays for his people that they will be kept, sanctified, unified, and glorified. Those are the four concerns of Jesus in this prayer for his people. He wants them to be kept, sanctified, unified, and glorified. I just want us to focus on the first of those concerns.

You see it in verses 11-16. As I read it, noticed every use of the word “keep” or “kept” or “guard.” Jesus says, “‘And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.’”

What we see very clearly here is that Jesus, praying for his disciples who are to be left in the world after his crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension—Jesus is praying for them that they will be kept, that they will be preserved, that God will guard them, that he will keep them.

The only exception is for Judas, and I think that’s the meaning of verse 12: “While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.”

As you know, Judas Iscariot was one of the 12 disciples, and he would shortly betray Jesus, selling him to the chief priests for 30 pieces of silver. This doesn’t mean that Judas was elect or that he was even saved and then lost; it simply means that Judas had been numbered with the 12, he was externally one of the disciples of Jesus, even one of the apostles of Jesus, but Judas of his own choice chose to betray Jesus. As we saw in John 13, when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, that included Judas. We have every reason to believe that he also washed Judas’s feet. And when Jesus handed Judas that morsel of bread, it was a gesture of friendship, an appeal to him one last time to turn from his way.

F.F. Bruce says, “Despite the predestinarian flavor of the language, Judas was not lost against his will, but with his consent.” And therefore you should not be troubled by this, to think that it’s possible for someone to be saved and then to lose their salvation. I don’t think this passage teaches that at all. Rather, when you look at the focus of Jesus’ prayer, it teaches exactly the opposite. It teaches us that God preserves and keeps his people.

The way Jesus prays shows us our need to be kept. We need to be kept, because there are many “dangers, toils, and snares,” right, in the Christian life. We need to be kept because of the environment in which we are. We are in the world; over and again Jesus says, “They are in the world but they are not of the world. Keep them from the evil that is in the world.”

Isaac Watts said, “Is this vile world a friend to grace / To help me on to God?” The implied answer is no. The world, in its rebellion against God, is hostile to us, it’s hostile to our faith, and there are constantly temptations and trials and pressures that would lead us away from the Lord. Jesus knows this, and therefore he prays, “Keep them.”

Not only that, Jesus knows that we have an enemy. He prays that we would be kept from the evil. That could be evil, generally speaking, or it could be the evil one, and probably both are implied. We have this enemy who prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour—the devil and the hosts of demonic evil forces, spiritual powers that are arrayed against us. Therefore we need to be kept, we need to be armed in the whole complete armor of God, so that we are able to stand in the evil day.

But not only that, Jesus knows that we have an enemy within. We have the enemy of indwelling sin, this principle still in our hearts, the flesh, our weakness. “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it; prone to leave the God I love.”

The reality is that if it was left up to you and let up to me to keep ourselves saved, we’d be lost tomorrow. Therefore we need to be kept. We need to be kept by God’s grace, by God’s mercy, and that’s exactly what Jesus prays for.

Notice how he does it. He appeals to his Father. “Holy Father, keep them,” he says.

James Montgomery Boice in his sermon on this passage pointed out the Old Testament background to God as the keeper of Israel. He said that there are three images that you find in the Old Testament for God who kept Israel. There’s the image of the watchman who would watch over the city at night, while all the other people slept, but the watchman would stay awake, watching for danger. There’s the image of the shepherd. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,” right? In Ezekiel 34 there is the shepherd who watches and cares for the sheep.Then there’s the image of the vinedresser.

In Psalm 121 we have a picture of God as the watchman over the city. I want to read this, the whole psalm. It’s just eight verses, but as I read it, just notice again how many times the word “keep” is found.

“I lift up my eyes to the hills, from where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper, the Lord is your shade on your right hand; the sun shall not strike you by day nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in, from this time forth and forevermore.”

Listen, brother or sister in Christ: Whatever you’re going through, whatever pressures you’re facing in your life, whatever temptations you’re facing in your life, however you feel like the walls may be closing in on you because of pressures in work or in family, or even in your spiritual life, in your walk with God; do not think that it is left up to you to keep yourself! Ultimately, God is the one who keeps us. He does not leave us alone.

Then there’s the picture of the vinedresser in Isaiah 27:2-3. “In that day, sing about a fruitful vineyard. I the Lord watch over it. I water it continually, I guard it day and night, so that no one may harm it.”

You remember how just prior to this in John 15 Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches, my Father is the vinedresser.” The Father is the vinedresser, and he’s keeping the vine, he’s watching over the branches, he’s pruning them, he’s purging them so that they will bear more fruit.

These are the images that teach us that God is our keeper, and Jesus appeals to this as he prays for his disciples.

One of my heroes of the faith is Robert Murray M’Cheyne—I’ve mentioned him many times here—the great Scottish pastor of the 19th century. He died when he was only 29 years old, and he left behind these journals and diaries, written only for his own eyes, not for publication, but they were found and edited by his friend, Andrew Bonar. In those journals one time he said this: “I ought to study Christ as an intercessor. He prayed most for Peter, who was most to be tempted. I am on his breastplate. If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million of enemies; yet the distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.”

Brothers and sisters, he is praying for you.

I want you to see one more thing about how he prays, and it shows us how we are kept. Jesus is praying for the keeping, the preservation of his people, and notice what he says in verse 11. He says, “Keep them in your name.” What does he mean by that?

To do something in someone’s name is a Semitic way of referring to all of the character or the attributes or the reputation of that person. Even today when we talk about someone’s good name we’re talking about their reputation, we’re talking about everything that’s true about them. The Scriptures often talk this way, right? “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe.” Jesus here says, “Keep them in your name.” When he prays that, he’s praying that God would keep them according to his character, according to the perfections of his character, his attributes, who he is.

Just think for a minute about what that implies. It means that God’s power is pledged to keep us. We are kept “by the power of God through faith for salvation,” 1 Peter 1:5. It means that God’s love is pledged to keep us. “Nothing shall separate you from the love of Christ,” Romans 8. It means that God’s faithfulness is pledged for our keeping. “He who has called you is faithful; he will do it,” Paul says. It means that God’s grace, the grace that chose you before the foundation of the world, is the same grace that keeps you all the way to glory. It means that God’s holiness is for your keeping. Jesus prays to his holy Father that his Father would keep them.

It means even the righteousness and the justice of God is pledged for your good. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” That means that when you confess your sins in Jesus’ name, when you come in Jesus’ name pleading the blood of Christ over your sins, the justice of God demands that you be forgiven, because the sins have already been paid for. It would be unjust for God to punish those sins twice.

Here’s what it means, brothers and sisters. It means that wherever you are, whatever you’re struggling with, and whatever sins you committed in the last 24 hours or in the last week, whatever pressures you’re facing, whatever potential you may feel is in your heart that would draw you away from Christ rather than towards Christ; the reality is that if you are in Christ, if you are a believer in Christ, all of the infinite perfections of God, all of the attributes of our great God, are pledged and are leveraged on your behalf to keep you in Christ, so that you cannot be lost. You cannot be lost if you are in Christ, because Jesus prays for you.

Do you remember Peter in Luke 22? Peter has promised Jesus, “Though all the other disciples will forsake you, I’m not going to. I’m going to stand. I’m going to last all the way to the end.” Jesus knows better. Jesus says, “Simon, Simon, Satan has desired to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you, and when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Jesus, who prayed for Peter, prays for you. Does it mean you’ll never sin? No. Peter will deny Christ three times after this prayer is prayed. Does it mean you’ll never fall or never fail? No, but it does mean this; it means that God in his grace will renew you to repentance, it means that God in his grace will not allow you to drift so far away that you fully and finally forsake the Lord. It means that he will keep you.

I want to end by reading a hymn to you by Augustus Toplady. Augustus Toplady was the famous author of “Rock of Ages”; most of us probably know that hymn. This hymn I like even better and would love to see this in circulation again. This one isn’t sung very often, but it’s a very rich hymn and beautiful poetry that describes the security of the believer because of God’s covenant mercies and grace. It’s exactly what Jesus is praying about in this prayer.

Let me read these words. You can read them on the screen.

“A debtor to mercy alone,
Of covenant mercy I sing;
Nor fear, with your righteousness on
My person and offering to bring.
The terrors of your law and of God
With me can have nothing to do;
My Savior’s obedience and blood
Hide all my transgressions from view.

“The work which his goodness began,
The arm of his strength will complete;
His promise is yea and amen,
And never was forfeited yet.
Things future nor things that are now,
Nor all things below or above,
Can make him his purpose forgo,
Or sever my soul from his love.”

Now listen to this third verse, and let this comfort you.

“My name from the palms of his hands
Eternity will not erase;
Impressed on his heart it remains,
In marks of indelible grace.
Yes, I to the end shall endure,
As sure as the earnest is given;
More happy, but not more secure,
The glorified spirits in heaven.”

Brother in Christ, sister in Christ, Christian, your name is on his hands. Your name is inscribed on his heart in marks of indelible grace, and you are secure in Christ. You will be kept. Trust him for it, look to him for his grace, and love him, praise him, and follow him in response. Let’s pray together.

Our most gracious Father in heaven, we bow and we thank you for this undeserved grace, grace that chose us, grace that redeemed us, grace that sent your Spirit to indwell and transform our hearts, and grace that keeps us all the way to the end. Lord, we confess our great need for this grace. Our sins are such that we would easily stray from you if you did not keep us. The world around us is not a friend to grace, and we are surrounded by many foes, but Father, you are faithful—faithful to your promises and faithful to the intercession of your Son, Jesus. We thank you for these foundations to our faith, to our comfort, to our assurance.

Lord, my prayer this morning is that you would take these truths and that you would apply them in deep ways to our hearts and to our lives, to give us comfort in the midst of our current trials, our current struggles, our current temptations, whatever they are. Some this morning who are tempted to despair, some who are tempted to quit, some who are struggling with sin, some who are struggling with despair. Whatever our trials, our temptations, our struggles are, Lord, gives us comfort by looking away from ourselves to what Christ has done and what Christ continues to do as he intercedes for us, even at this moment, at your right hand.

May this strengthen us, may it give us hope, may it embolden us to come to the throne of grace for help in our time of need, and may you be glorified. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.