Sermon for Easter 7 May 13, 2018
Text: John 17:1-5(-11) ILCW – A 18:2068
Theme: Father, The Time Has Come!
Moms, do your children or husbands ever try to avoid doing a job that you have asked them to do? When the time comes to do it, do they make excuses, get busy with something else, or even hide? Moms, you should realize, men and children have an avoidance complex. So, instead of getting upset at us, just hunt us down. That’s what my mom did when I was a child. Actually, it was more like she waited us out. When the time was right, and we came out of hiding, she gently assigned the task that was to be done.
You see, I grew up in a big old house – tall, built back in the early 1900s. It had 3 floors to it, plus a basement. The third floor was a huge walk-in attic, with plenty of storage space. The basement had 3 rooms with nooks and crannies where a boy could squeeze in and hide. Where do you think I went to avoid things?
I’d go into the basement and crawl behind the stairs where a spot had been hollowed out and was used to store canned goods long ago. Sometimes I’d get into the attic and crawl behind or even into one of the big storage boxes. There I thought I was safe from discovery, and I usually was – for a time – uncomfortable yet hidden. But sooner or later I had to come out, and Mom would find me. I never avoided the job that needed to be done.
Avoidance, it’s a reaction that seems to be built into us. What can we do to get out of doing the things that need to be done? Where can we go to evade unpleasant things that confront us?
It’s a good thing that our Savior didn’t have an avoidance complex. When confronted with the most unpleasant of tasks, He didn’t run away, hide, or refuse to do it; He jumped right into the task as He considered the benefits for us and the glory it would bring to God. The time came and instead of hiding He prayed, “Father, finish the work in me that You gave me to do.”
I. Father, The Time Has Come. Finish Your work in me.
He said it this way, “Father, the time has come. Glorify Your Son, so that Your Son may glorify You. For You gave Him authority over all flesh so that He may give eternal life to all those You have given Him….I have glorified You on earth by finishing the work You gave me to do.”
This is a prayer that the Lord Jesus lifted to the heavens when the most unpleasant task that ever confronted anyone loomed right before Him. It was Maundy Thursday evening. The next day was Good Friday and His appointment with crucifixion. Standing on death’s threshold, the Lord Jesus knew that the time had come for Him to finish the work of dying for the sins of all flesh. And Christ would not avoid it; He did not make an excuse; He did not try to evade it; He didn’t run away and hide. Instead, He prayed to the Father to help Him finish the great work given Him.
What a Savior we’ve got – determined to finish whatever needed to be done for us! Moms, you may strive to do the best you can for your children. But the Savior was more determined to win for us eternal life, even if it cost Him greatly.
Eternal life – it’s the greatest of all possible things that God could give anyone, because eternal life with Him starts now and goes on forever. Nothing else does that. All other things end – they rot, fall apart, are taken from us, or are destroyed (Mt.6:19f). So, to occupy our whole being and time on earth chasing things that perish, in the end proves foolish. But eternal life goes on – forever.
And what is eternal life? How would you describe it? Listen to Jesus’ definition again. It’s not the way that you and I would usually define it. Jesus said, “This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent.”
Now, that is a bit different from what I might say. I might say eternal life is living happily ever after in heaven, seeing my believing friends and family again, living in a place of no sorrows or pain, never dying, and so on. Jesus doesn’t mention any of that here. He simply says, “eternal life is knowing God and knowing Christ the Savior, whom He sent.” I don’t deny the other things, because the Bible promises us those things too. But this is the way Jesus defines eternal life – knowing God and the Savior.
Do you know God; do you know Christ as your Savior from sin, death, and the devil? Yes, you do! This is the knowing of repentance, faith, and trust. In Jesus’ definition, you are already living eternal life. By faith it is your possession now – granted not in its complete glorified fullness above, but this is what makes life eternal – knowing God and our Savior Christ Jesus in truth. And the understanding of that truth gives the believer comfort, confidence, peace, and hope in an oft-times world of turmoil. Know God, know Christ as the Savior and you are already living
eternal life. That affects the way you approach things in the present.
The story is told of a man battling a terminal disease. Day after day his daughter assured him that he would get better, that God was going to heal him. She determined that this was the thing her father needed to hear, though not true. One day she repeated her empty assurances in front of his pastor. He simply smiled at the pastor and made the sign of the cross over his heart. He was at peace.
You see, he understood better than most that to know God and His Christ is the goal and the end of one’s existence here: “This is eternal life; that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” Without that, one lives in death.
So, dear friend, are you living in death or in life? Ah, we so often forget or overlook what Christ has already given us. If we’re down in the dumps, have difficulties at work or at home, have spats with friends or loved ones, the present and the future seem anything but secure. It’s at such times that Jesus comes and says: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (Jn.16:33). I finished my work, and you already have the greatest gift – eternal life. Have God; have life.”
In faith that cannot be taken from you. God promised it. But you can ignore it and lose it. The time to have it and enjoy it is now. Then you can face each day with a quiet, unshakable trust that will pray like Jesus did: “Father, The Time Has Come. Finish Your work in me….
II. ….finish it that I may glorify You.”
In our text Jesus said it this way, “Father, the time has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify you….I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. Now, Father, glorify me at Your own side with the glory I had with You before the world existed….All that is mine is Yours, and what is Yours is mine. And I am glorified in them.”
Numerous times throughout this text Jesus speaks of “glory” and “glorifying” as the result of His work. It’s what He wanted to accomplish – for His Father and for Himself. What about you? Are you a glory seeker like Jesus was? Do you wish to draw attention. There are different ways that one can be a glory seeker – some God-pleasing; some not.
For example, when there’s a camera around, it seems like some people will go out of their way to draw attention – like at a sporting event. Yelling, posing, sign-waving, and now kneeling, they’ll do anything to draw attention to themselves and their cause.
Others do things that by their very nature put them in the limelight and catch attention. It happens just because of who they are and what they do. For example, policemen, firefighters, service men and women and so on – recognition finds them.
Whether one seeks attention or attention seeks us, we feel pretty good when we’re noticed. We laugh and enjoy the spotlight for a time. But in the end, honor does not end with us. It is to be given to God for, like Jesus implied, nothing is ours or nothing could be accomplished by us if it were not for Him giving it to us. For that reason, Peter reminds us (1:5:6): “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, so that at the proper time He may exalt you.”
Peter was talking about this in relation to the trials and persecution that the Christians of his day were going through for their faith in the Savior. Perhaps, some were asking why; others may have been complaining about it and trying to avoid it; still others might have been seeking it like a badge of honor that they could flaunt before others. Peter reminds us all – only one deserves such honor – God. Humble yourselves before Him.
Jesus reminds us of the same. We were created to glorify God. But we couldn’t do that, for we had fallen from Him in sin. What could sinful creatures ever give a holy God that would add glory to His name? Nothing. Why would He want us, much less use us? But that’s part of His glory and the reason Jesus came here. When we were useless to Him in our sin, He made us useful for Him in the righteousness He won for us. Just the fact that God could do this brings Him glory. And the expressions of our faith in what we say and what we do, also serve to honor Him. Jesus looked for every opportunity to do that. And so He prayed: Father, The Time Has Come to finish my work so that I may glorify you.”
In the joy of eternal life, we do the same, saying, “Lord, where do you want me to go today; what do you want me to do today? Use me. Let me not hide from the task, make excuse, or avoid, but use me as an instrument in Your hand for Your glory, my good, and the eternal welfare of those around me. The time has come.
Now there’s a thought for a Mother’s Day celebration that we may not hear, except from Jesus: Lord, help me finish my work so that I may glorify You. Mothers, God grant you a similar spirit in the work you do for Him within your families; for Jesus’ sake.