Jesus prays for our glory and sanctification
10 And all Mine are Yours and Yours are Mine; and I am glorified in them.John 17:10, 17-19, 22
22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one:
17 “Sanctify them through Your truth: Your word is truth.
18 As You have sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
Today we have come to the end of our study of Jesus’ intercessory prayer for us. Two things I have saved for the end, not because Jesus did, but because they are so hard for me to comprehend: that He would share His glory with the likes of us, and that we can be holy, as He is holy.
Jesus Prays for Our Glory
We can understand Jesus asking for His own glory, for He is worthy. But later on in His intercessory prayer, Jesus says to the Father, “The glory which You gave Me, I have given them.” Remember for whom Jesus is praying here. He prays for His disciples, yes, but also for all those who will believe on Him. That includes you and me, if you indeed are a child of God as I am. Just go back and read verses 9 and 20 of this same prayer, and you will see that we are mentioned here. Wow! Jesus shares His glory with us—you and me! This should not give us the big head, but should rather cause us to fall on our knees, with head bowed low, and say, “Who am I, Lord?”
And if that is not enough, jump back up to verse 10 and read it again: “I am glorified in them.” When? in eternity? in heaven? when we have been made perfect? No, ma’am! No, sir! This is present tense. “I am—right here, right now—glorified in them… while they are still imperfect, while they are still unholy, while they still do not understand the truth.” What love, that Jesus—that God—would accept us, claim us as His own, and cherish us, before we knew Him, before we allowed Him to change us, before we loved Him. It’s incomprehensible, yet true. It is the glory of God to stoop down and reclaim a wretched man [or woman], lifting my feet from the miry clay, and setting them upon a rock. It is His glory to put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God, that many should fear and trust in the Lord. It is His glory to get His hands dirty so that my heart may be made clean.
“Thy Word Is Truth”
We will surely approach Him with an attitude of humility when we have had a good look at ourselves through the mirror of God’s truth, for we will see ourselves as we are: wretched sinners saved by grace alone.
I doubt any of us would dare say that we could measure up in boldness and spiritual maturity to the apostle Paul, and he called himself “less than the least of all saints” (Eph. 3:8). If he thought so little of himself, who am I to think I am anything at all? I have not left all to serve my Savior, I have not suffered for His sake, I have not sacrificed my own pleasures for the delights of heaven. Sure, I love God and His children. Yes, I share the gospel with those who need to hear it, and I worship Him regularly as He has commanded. But do I ever miss an opportunity to speak of my Lord? Of course. Do I ever fail Him with sinful actions, attitudes, or thoughts? All the time.
We who are Christ’s are engaged with Him in a spiritual warfare, and we have three enemies: the world, the flesh, and the devil. Of these three, the flesh can be the hardest foe to conquer. Paul faced these same temptations. He too was merely a man, a sinner saved by grace. What was his secret? He fed the spirit every day, so that it would be strong in the battle against the flesh.
But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.1 Corinthians 9:27
Our Lord Jesus wanted this level of victory, not just for “spiritual giants” like Paul, but for each and every one of us. This is why He asked the Father to sanctify us through the Word of truth.
What Does Sanctify Mean?
In my bathroom I keep a container to store my contacts when I’m not wearing them. Each night I remove my contacts, rinse them with solution, then soak them in more of the same in that container. This solution is specially designed to decalcify and sterilize my contacts so they’ll be safe for me to wear again the next day. In this nightly ritual, I sanctify—or cleanse—my contacts.
In my house there is a medium-sized metal bowl with paw prints stamped around the edges, about an inch under the rim. I fill it every morning, and several times throughout the day, with fresh water so the cat and dog may drink from it. You will not find me using this bowl to scramble eggs, mix cookie dough, or soak my feet. This bowl is sanctified—set apart—for use for our pets. It’s for their drinking water, and nothing else.
So, you see, there are two parts to the meaning of the word sanctify: “to cleanse,” and “to set apart.”
Look at what the apostle Paul says about how Jesus cares for the church:
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word.Ephesians 5:25-26
And the psalmist David so beautifully stated:
But know that the LORD has set apart him that is godly for Himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto Him.Psalm 4:3
But there’s more to this word sanctify. It also means “to make holy.” Let’s break this word down. Holy literally means “whole, entire, perfect.” God is perfectly pure, spotless, sinless. You and I are also called to be holy.
Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God. And you shall be holy unto Me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that you should be Mine.Leviticus 20:7, 26
Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.1 Peter 1:16
You and I will not be sinlessly perfect while on this earth, but God, through the process of sanctification, is ever transforming us into the image of His dear Son. He is making us more holy day by day, moment by moment. That’s His desire, anyway. He will not work against our will, although He will make us willing to be transformed. In other words, He will make us miserable in our sin if we insist upon wallowing in it. Christians sin, this is true. But a person who has been redeemed from the bondage of sin will not live in that sin from day to day. A pig wallows in the mud because it’s his nature to do so. A swan may fall in the mud, but he’ll get right back out and clean himself off. That is the mark of one who has been truly born again: not sinless perfection, but a sensibility to sin and a desire for cleansing.
Will God remove all your sinful habits at once the moment you are saved? No. That would be overwhelming to you. Instead, He leads you to face your giants one at a time, building your faith as He conquers them for you, one at a time. I’ve been reading through the Old Testament in my quiet time, and I came across something interesting in the book of Exodus. The Lord promised to drive out the inhabitants of the Promised Land, but gradually. For if He had conquered all of them at once, before the Israelites were ready to possess the entire land, then the vegetation would quickly have become overgrown and the wild animals would have overtaken the land. So God paced His promise for their good and His glory. You may read it here:
I will send My fear before you, and will destroy all the people to whom you shall come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs unto you. And I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before you. I will not drive them out from before you in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beasts of the field multiply against you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you be increased, and inherit the land.Exodus 23:27-30
Aren’t you glad God knows exactly what we need exactly when we need it? There is no lack nor waste in all His blessings. And did you catch one other thing? Although we must show up for the conflict, He fights our battles for us. “Be ye holy, for I am holy” is coupled with “Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy Word is truth.” There is a partnership here. Do you see it? God tells us to be holy, but He is the one who makes it possible. And He will not put down His tools until His perfect work is finished, because…
He who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.Philippians 1:6
This concludes our study of the Lord’s Prayer in John 17. Next week I’ll share two short poems with you to help transition into a new study of the “I AM” statements of Jesus. May the Lord bless you and make you holy!