Can you find comfort in the words of Jesus? Do his actions prove that what he says is true? The last view weeks we have seen that Jesus wants his disciples to find comfort and peace within him, and to be able to trust in what they have been taught after he is gone. This week continues that trend.
After all that he has said in the previous few chapters, Jesus turns his attention away from the disciples and towards God in prayer. On the night he is to be betrayed he held Passover, washed the disciples feet, and offered them words of comfort. Now, he prays before them almost as if to give an exclamation point to all that he has been doing this evening. He prays, “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me” (John 17:6-8, NASB). He could have chosen to do this pray in private but chose to in front of the disciples in order to remind them that everything he taught and did in front of them, really came from God.
“In almost everything that touches our everyday life on earth, God is pleased when we’re pleased. He wills that we be as free as birds to soar and sing our maker’s praise without anxiety.”
— AW Tozer
Knowing that the disciples were going to be tried, Jesus offers up prayers for their strength in the struggle. If there is anything the disciples should know at this point, it is that they will soon be within a world that is against them and hates them. Jesus prays, “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15, NASB). Jesus did not want his disciples to fall to the temptation of doubting all that they had witnessed simply because Jesus was no longer with them. He did not want them to suffer in the grips of the Enemy because of the struggles they were going to have. Jesus offered this part of his prayer to remind them to be with each other, with him, and with God in order that they can be saved.
“Church attendance is as vital to a disciple as a transfusion of rich, healthy blood to a sick man.”
— DL Moody
I have long understood that when something is repeated in Scripture, it is likely a very important thing. For John to take three chapters of his Gospel to share Jesus’ parting words, providing peace and comfort, I would image that peace and comfort in Jesus is very important. As a matter of fact, this prayer is just as applicable to us today as it was to the disciples that night almost 2000 years ago. American Christians are not accustomed to this, but people are persecuted for their faith in Christ. Christians, all over the world, have to meet and worship together in secret, because if they are found out, they could be carted off to who knows where to suffer who knows what punishment. People even die for their faith! Jesus knew this was the reality coming when he was crucified. He knew that the disciples were going to be threatened and persecuted to the point of death, so his parting words to them are to remember the truth they have witnessed for the past three years. Many Christians still need that reminder. Even American Christians, though not being persecuted, still need this reminder. No matter what struggles come our way, we can find the peace and comfort we need in the truth of Jesus Christ.
So what are you going to do with the truth? I remember when I got my first Bible (I was not a Christian yet), I threw it down on my desk and it gathered dust for a few years. It just sat there. I had some hard times, and I had some struggles, but it was made worse because I had no where to find comfort. I sought it out through sinful behavior, and thought it was enough. Then the truth of Christ hit me off my chair! I still have struggles. I still have difficulties. As I write this, my bank account is so negative I have no idea how to make sure my bills get paid, but I have comfort in knowing that God will take care of me and my family. He has done it before and continues to do it. Before Christ, this would have been unbearable, with Christ I know I can overcome whatever struggles the world chooses to throw my way.