May 13, 2018
A Mother’s Day Perspective on
Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer
“Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled. I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.” (NIV1984)
Dear fellow worshipers of our living Lord and Savior,
Have you ever stopped to consider how our celebration of Mother’s Day tends to change as we progress through the various stages of life? What I mean is this: When we are a young child still living at home, Mother’s Day is an opportunity for us to joyously give our Mom a big hug and kiss and tell her how much we love her. When we are an adult living on our own, Mother’s Day is when we buy a card and maybe some candy and flowers, give them to our Mom and tell her how much we love her. But when our Mom is no longer here on this earth with us, when our Mom is walking on streets of gold joyously singing praises to our Savior-God, Mother’s Day takes on a more nostalgic perspective. Now don’t misunderstand me. Even if our Mom is no longer here on this earth, Mother’s Day is a wonderful opportunity for us to show our love and our thankfulness to the mother of our children and the mothers of our grandchildren. But it just isn’t quite the same as stopping over at Mom’s house or calling her on the phone and saying, “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! I love you!”
Since most of us here today are at the stage of life where we can’t stop at Mom’s house or call her on the phone, and since all of us will eventually reach that stage of life, I debated as to how to handle both our service as well as our sermon for today. Eventually I decided to stick with the Scripture readings that are scheduled for today, which is technically the Seventh Sunday of Easter. But, since it is Mother’s Day I did not want to give this important day just a passing mention. Hence, the special worship service we are using today. In that same light I’d like us to study our sermon text for today under the theme: A Mother’s Day Perspective on Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer. Since we don’t have time to cover everything contained in this prayer, let’s focus on three points that Jesus emphasizes here, three points that tie in very well with a Christian Mom’s prayers for her children and her grandchildren.
As you may have already guessed our text for today is just a portion of a very intimate personal prayer that Jesus offered up to His heavenly Father. It was a prayer that Jesus spoke in the presence of His disciples on Maundy Thursday. We can only image the impact which this prayer had on the disciples as they watched and listened to their Lord pour out His heart to His heavenly Father.
The first point we want to highlight from this text is found in the opening two verses. Our Lord prays, “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name— the name you gave me— so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me.”
These words are pretty simple and straightforward. While Jesus was here on this earth He “protected” His disciples. He “protected” them using “the name” that His heavenly Father had given to Him. Now as Jesus prepares to complete the Father’s Plan of Salvation for this world by suffering and dying on the cross, now as Jesus prepares to return Home to heaven as the Victor, He prays to His heavenly Father to “protect them by the power of your name— the name you gave me.” But what is the “name” that the heavenly Father had given to Jesus? What is the “name” that Jesus used to “protect” His disciples and “keep them safe”? And why does Jesus now ask His heavenly Father to “protect” the disciples “by the power of your name”? All of this makes perfect sense when we remember that God’s “name” is everything He has revealed to us about Himself right here in His holy Word! In other words, God’s “name” equals the Bible!
Think back to how Jesus used God’s holy revealed Word to “protect” His disciples and “keep them safe.” When the Pharisees criticized both Jesus and His disciples by asking them the question, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’” (Matthew 9:11), when the Pharisees criticized Jesus’ disciples for picking some grain and eating it on the Sabbath day (Matthew 12:1ff), when the Pharisees criticized Jesus’ disciples for not washing their hands before they ate (Matthew 15:1ff), when the chief priests and the teachers of the law criticized the children who were singing praises to Jesus on Palm Sunday— how did Jesus “protect” them and “keep them safe”? He used the powerful, revealed, written Word of God!
What a beautiful example for Christian Moms and for Christian Grandmas today! There are so many things in this world that can harm our children and our grandchildren in both body and soul. As I was writing this portion of our sermon I started to think about how things have changed— and not always for the better. My grandparents had to warn my parents about the dangers of alcohol. My parents had to warn us about both the dangers of alcohol and the dangers of drugs. Parents now need to warn their children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol and the opioid epidemic and the school shootings that are plaguing our country. Add to that the spiritual dangers our children and our grandchildren face because of the false teachers and the false teachings that are so prevalent in our society today. What can you Moms and Grandmas do to “protect” your children and your grandchildren? Like Jesus, you can pray to your “Holy Father.” Pray that He will use His almighty power to keep them safe! At the same time, you strive to instill the protective power of God’s holy Word in their hearts and minds. Openly talk to them about what God says in His holy Word. Consciously strive to help them learn and remember not only what their Savior has done for them, but also what their Savior expects from them.
The second point we want to highlight from this prayer is found in verses 13-16. We hear our Savior pray, “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.”
The point we want to focus on here is found in the word— joy! Jesus wants all of His disciples to have “the full measure of my joy within them”! With these words Jesus makes it abundantly clear that the source of joy for His disciples can only be found in Him— and not in the world. As we, Jesus’ disciples, strive to be a light shining in the darkness of this world we will encounter a backlash of hate from the world. That’s why we always need to remember that as Christians our ultimate source of joy can only be found in Him— what He has done for us and what He has promised to us! (Pointing to the cross)
What joys do we find only in Jesus? The answer to that question is found by going back to the context in which Jesus spoke these words. Jesus had just given to His disciples the Sacrament of Holy Communion. In this holy Supper we receive the joy of knowing that all of our sins are completely forgiven! In just a matter of hours Jesus would willingly suffer and die on the cross of Calvary’s hill. In the cross we find the joy of knowing that everything that was necessary for our eternal salvation has been finished! There is nothing we need to do in order to be saved because Jesus has done it all for us! In just a matter of days Jesus would physically rise from the dead. In His resurrection we not only find the joy of our own resurrection, but we also find the joy of knowing that when our physical body dies our soul is automatically welcomed into the joy of living in our heavenly Father’s Home!
Moms, Grandmas, keep that joy in front of your children and your grandchildren. Teach them that even the greatest joys they experience in this life— and there are many! — are only temporary. Assure them that no matter how much hatred they encounter from the unbelieving world for standing up for Jesus and His Word, they have the unquenchable joy that comes from knowing that they are a baptized, saved and forgiven child of God. As you are praying to the “Holy Father” ask Him to protect that gift of joy in the hearts of your children and your grandchildren so that the “evil one” will never be able to rob them of that joy!
The final point that we want to glean from this text is found in verse seventeen. Our Lord prays, “Sanctify them by the truth, your word is truth.” With these words Jesus asks His heavenly Father to give His disciples the ability to live a “sanctified” life, that is, a life that is holy and pleasing to God. And how can we know if we are indeed living our life in a way that is pleasing to the God of heaven? We hold our life up to the light of “the truth”— “the truth” of God’s holy inspired Word. If the actions of our life, if the thoughts of our mind, if the attitudes and priorities of our heart line up with “the truth” as it’s revealed to us in the Bible, then we are indeed living a “sanctified” life. If they don’t, well, then we know what we need to work on— with God’s help and with God’s guidance!
The Mother’s Day application here is quite clear. As Christian Moms and as Christian Grandmas you do your very best to teach your children and grandchildren — by both word and example— how to live their life in a way that is pleasing to Him. (Pointing to the cross) No matter how young or how old they might be, as their Mom and as their Grandma you have the right— a unique right— to guide them and to direct them and when necessary to correct them so that their life lines up with “the truth” found in God’s Word. And if they begin to veer off course, if they begin to get lost along the way your love for them will not only lead you to talk to them, but your love for them will also lead you to approach your “Holy Father” in prayer on their behalf.
While our celebration of Mother’s Day may indeed change as we progress through the various stages of our life, two things remains the same. They are the love and respect that we owe to our Mom. May the good Lord grant that we will make sure that we will give our Moms the love and respect they deserve, whether it’s giving her a hug and a kiss, giving her a card and some flowers, or lovingly pondering in our hearts all the wonderful memories we have of our Mom.
Happy Mother’s Day!
To God be the glory!