Happily Ever After, After All

Sometimes life just doesn’t seem to go as you once thought it might. There’s no glass slippers, pumpkins don’t turn into elegant carriages, mice don’t sing and there are no fairy godmothers who fly around twirling their wands while wisps of fairy dust softly fall here and there.

Sometimes I’ve thought that fairy tales should be banned from a little girl’s childhood. Tales of deception that lead her into believing that life turns out happily ever after.

We who believe that we have a God that loves and cares for us—a God who fights for us—know that life is not so carefree or our God would not have need to fight. In other words, life is not so carefree.

Yet, I suppose one could argue that fairy tales are actually beneficial, in a sense, for they allow us to hope for something better, something purer, something more. Perhaps fairy tales inadvertently lead us on our road of faith, searching for that something better, something purer, something more. Perhaps they lead us to discover that elusive prince charming. And in our search, we find that the illusive becomes reality having eventually finding that something better, something purer, something more.

For years the Israelites roamed the desert, wanting out, wanting to be freed, wanting a prince to save them. For years they grumbled and complained.

For centuries, the descendants of David waited for a redeemer. For years they overlooked the One that had been given them.

I’m pretty sure that for a while Cinderella thought her life was destined for drudgery and doom, soot and suffering. Yet, when she least expected it, her prince showed up. She tried on the magic slipper, it fit and he took her home. And as the story goes, they lived happily ever after.

We tend to spend years looking for that elusive prince. The one who comes riding in on a white stallion – the one who will take us back to the castle to live happily ever after.

We neglect to realize… He’s already here.

There is a castle, where He is preparing a room, just for you. And there is a white stallion ready to ride to where you are. And there is a Prince. He doesn’t have glass slippers to prove you are His, but He does have a cross that He hung on and died—just for you.

Wait just a minute –

A castle.

A prince.

I suppose that makes me His princess.

I guess there really is a happily ever after, after all.

What Jesus Knew and Peter Forgot

The Son is Always There
Photo by Sherri Woodbridge

He tells them to get into the boat. He tells them to go on ahead. Go to the other side and He will would dismiss the crowd.
He knows what he was doing.

The crowd, little by little disperses. Some continue to hang around and chat. Ponder collectively over what they had just heard. The words that had just tickled their ears. Spoke to their heart. Changed their lives.

While some remain, pondering His words, He hikes up the side of the mountain. Alone. To pray.

The air begins to cool. The sun begins to set. And there He is. Sitting, kneeling on that mountainside, alone, praying to his Father.

In the meantime, the boat, now a good distance away from the shore, begins to rock back and forth. Those inside that vessel grow fearful.

Meanwhile, up on the mountainside, He continues to pray. The cool breezes began to blow past Him.

He knows. He is God and, He knows.

He knows who is in that boat which sways more fervently with each sharp gust of wind. It bites at their flesh. The cold water washes over them, drenching their hopes for a safe return. It threatens to fill the hull that holds them in what little refuge they have. It mocks them. Its intent is to sink them. Sink bury their hopes. Their faith. Their trust. Their belief for a better way. If it has its way, it will leave them for dead.

And He knows this.

It is the fourth watch of the night. It is almost sunrise. They have battled through the night with a ship destined for destruction. He has battled all night in prayer. Were His prayers for their faith to increase and their fears to subside?

There are boats by the shore. He could probably get a ride. But instead, He walks. Right onto the water and the waves lap around His ankles.

He. walks.

On. the. water.

How many times do we read stories from the Bible – hear stories from the Bible – that they’ve become commonplace seem to bring nothing into our humdrum lives?

“Oh yes. I’ve read that one – Jesus brought a little girl back to life. Pretty cool.”

Cool? COOL? It’s miraculous! It’s incredible. Incredibly miraculous. And if I think about it for any length of time, at any depth, I realize – it isn’t cool, it’s unfathomable.

And so He walks. And fear rocks each disciple as the waves rock the boat. Then they spot Him. When that fear has clawed its razor sharp talons into the depths of their beings – they see Him. But through fear-tinted glasses they don’t really see Him.

They see a man.

They see a figure.

They see…

“Peter! It’s. a. ghost.!!!”

But He is not a ghost. He is the One who will save them. Now, at this moment. And three years later. And every day after that.

Immediately He calls out. “Guys – it’s okay. Don’t be afraid. It’s me – Jesus.”

Peter gathers his thoughts.

“Lord, if it’s really you then…”

Should he risk it? Should he sound and look foolish should it really be a ghost? Will his request make him look brave so that when he appears foolish in three years on that day of denial, his companions may overlook his shame?

He risks it.

“Lord, if it is you, then tell me to come out there to you on the water.”

Does Peter, at this point in time, have an inkling as to who Jesus really is?

There is no bravery here. There is no foolishness. There is relief. Relief that Help has come. But still the winds toss the boat about. And in the tossing and the rocking and the swaying, Jesus says, “Come.”

At this point, Peter may have wished it was a ghost he had seen for now he had to show by works what his faith meant to him. Could he walk over to Jesus, who had been coming to them but now waited for Peter to come to Him?

I don’t think Peter jumped. I think it was more like he wanted to jump ship as he slowly, cautiously, put one leg over the boat and then the next and then with both hands anchored tightly to the rim on the side the boat, with eyes closed, he lets loose. And… he. is .standing.

I can imagine his suprise. He. really. is. standing!

He probably smiles a sheepish grin to no one in particular and turns around and begins walking toward Jesus. You couldn’t wipe that grin off his face. You couldn’t squelch that pride that coursed through his very being.

His shoulders are broad and he could have moved a mountain. If only the waves at his feet would settle. If only the wind would calm. But, as he looks at the waves and feels their sting against his legs, and looks to the horizon and watches the clouds rush toward him, the faith flees and fear fills him once again and… he begins to sink.

Because that’s what fear does.

It pulls you down and makes you feel like you’re sinking. That the storms in life are pounding down so hard upon you that you will drown and no one can save you.

But Jesus knew. He knew what was going on in that boat while he was in prayer up on that mountain. He knew what they were thinking while he was intervening. He knew their battle with fear while he was battling for souls. And He knew what Peter would do.

“Lord, save me,” Peter cried out as he began to sink.

Jesus knew.

He knew the very second Peter quit looking at Him, is the very second Peter would begin to sink.

Peter didn’t sink immediately, but instead, “when he saw the wind”, we’re told he began sinking and cried out for Jesus to save him. And what did Jesus do?

Immediately He reached out and caught him. Not down, not under the water, but out. It shows Jesus was ready for that moment. Because He knew – before he even sent those boys across the lake, before he spent the entire night in prayer – He knew what was going to happen. Peter didn’t have time to sink because Jesus was in the process of saving him before Peter knew he needed saving. Before he cried out, “Lord, save me,” Jesus was in the process of reaching out before Peter had time to go under.

And Jesus meets Peters fears and faltering faith with tenderness.

With an arm around Peter’s shoulder and steadying his weak knees, Jesus asks, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

What do you say to that?

What could Peter say? What could he do? He said nothing.

The story goes on…

‘When they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.’

The wind died. In the mere presence of Jesus, the wind died. Not a word was spoken.

And, as the wind died, the disciples were saved. As the wind died, their faith grew. As the wind died, they began to live. Really live. And in their living, they worshipped Him. Why? Because they realized who they were hanging around with. They knew this Jesus – their Jesus – wasn’t some mystical, magical being that appeared as a ghost upon stormy seas. They knew this was the Son of God. The One that had the power to change hearts and minds. To change lives. To turn fear into faith and worry into worship.

There are a hundred and one things I could list that could cause me to worry. And fear. And many things on my list I have granted permission to cause fear and worry. Health issues. Financial issues. Family issues. Failures. On and on.

But God doesn’t want us to live there. We can’t live there for Jesus showed us that to live in fear is to sink in the storm. And His way is much safer: keep my eyes on Him, reach for His hand, and trust Him.

Above all, trust Him.

What Christmas Is All About

img_2746What is Christmas?
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…
You better watch out, you better not cry…
Jingle bells…
The Annual Family Christmas Tree Outing…
Silent night, holy night…
Santa Claus…
Rudolph and his clan…
Caroling…
The Christmas story told in various and assorted versions…
Watching “A Christmas Story” about Ralphie and his Red Rider BB Gun…
Giving, receiving, and opening gifts…

In high school I memorized Clement C. Moore’s “Twas the Night before Christmas” for part of a speech and debate class, which crazily enough took me to a Speech and Debate Meet where I won something for some category. Funny thing is, I didn’t even believe in Santa Claus. I did as a child and he came personally each year, making a surprise visit in a red velvet suit, trimmed with white ‘fur’ and topped with a matching hat, a pair of black boots and a wide, black belt. He was the real deal. Or so I thought. The year I was six, cousin Dave whispered otherwise.

As Santa rounded the hall corner, cousin Dave, who had also anxiously been awaiting Santa’s grand entrance said, with great disappointment , “That’s not Santa. That’s grandpa.” How he could see past the curly white beard is beyond me, but he was right. I’m not sure if anyone else stopped believing that year or not because I’m not sure if anyone else heard him, but I sure did.

Yes, that was the moment I quit believing in Santa. It had been a deception that I didn’t want to accept: Santa wasn’t real. Santa was my grandpa. Santa was still the man in red, but he didn’t live up at the North Pole. He didn’t have elves such as I had believed. His elves had the same names as my mom and dad and aunts and uncles. He didn’t have a sleigh but instead drove a Buick and he didn’t have a reindeer, but a toy poodle named Prince. I was devastated.

That year Christmas meant that not all people tell the truth.

A few years later, my mom bought the most beautiful doll I had ever seen. The first time I saw it, it was sitting on the top shelf in her closet. I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to see it. I had been sitting on her bed, waiting for her to finish her shower and the closet door happened to be open and there it sat, sitting up there in its unopened box, all by itself, staring at me. I wasn’t snooping. It was just there – beckoning to come down and play. When my mom came out, I asked her why it was there and she said it was for my cousin—for Christmas. I didn’t understand that. I had never had a beautiful doll like that one. Well, okay I had beautiful dolls. Just not that one. And so I begged my mother for it and finally, after my persistence and annoying whining and pleas coated with how I didn’t have a doll like that, she gave it to me. Every time I held that doll, I felt selfishly guilty. I don’t think my mother realized that she gave me the gift of learning to be unselfish that year, because that year I learned it’s much better to give than to receive.

A few years later, I learned more about what Christmas meant. I learned what the meaning of Christmas was really all about.
Since the beginning of time, most of us have heard that ‘God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son.’ In other words, God loved us so much, that He had to do something to give us hope in this crazy place and save us from ourselves. Hope for situations in which we had been deceived and forgiveness for our own selfish ways. And so, he gave us His son.

He put him on this earth as a little baby who grew up, much the same as you and I. However, the difference between us and Him? He didn’t deceive others. He always told the truth. He taught that the Truth would set us free. He didn’t try to manipulate people into giving him what he wanted but came to give what they needed.

He never pushed to get his way. He showed the world that it was better to give than to receive. He didn’t stand in crazy lines that wrapped around store aisles but stood on the stones of a temple courtyard where He was sentenced to die a sinner’s death.

The day had come for Him to go. If he stayed, hope would become a word without meaning. He showed the world once—and for all—the value of a gift when He held out his arms on the cross, similarly as his mother did some years earlier. She held out her arms to embrace the Son of God on that first Christmas night, only to watch Him embrace the world as He held open His arms on the cross.

That is what Christmas means to me – to open my arms to the world. To offer all that I have to those who have nothing – physically, emotionally, and/or spiritually. To embrace those who are alone and need someone to comfort them, listen to them, be a friend. To forsake what I think I need and give to another, learning that I have all I need.

The holidays can be so crazy—focusing on wants and desires. The desire for this or that. The desire to give the best gift. The desire for the best deals.

My desire is to focus on that little boy. To please him in my offering of gifts that I bring. And I want to bring to him everything. I no longer want to be the little girl, vying for a plastic doll or to tell Santa my secrets, but I want to scan the faces of humanity and see who needs a gift more than I do.

What is Christmas? Christmas isn’t about me. It’s all about Him.

The Chosen One

image
Murray stood as tall as he could, which was difficult considering he was the shortest angel. The meeting was about to get underway. He found a spot in front where he wouldn’t miss anything.

A great announcement was made by the King and Murray wasn’t sure if he would be able to contain his excitement. As soon as the meeting was over, Murray rushed to find Gabriel, his mentor.

“Who do you think He’ll choose?” Murray asked Gabriel. “Do you think He’ll choose an angel-in-training? Do you think He might consider me? Do you think I have a chance?” he kept on, trying to catch his breath.

“Slow down there, young one. There is no need to be anxious. The Lord God will choose wisely the one needed for each task. He knows best.”
“I wish I could have been the one to tell Mary the good news – that she was chosen to be the Baby’s mother or even the one who was chosen to talk to Joseph about not getting all worked up over how things were going in his relationship with Mary.” They took a few steps and Murray continued. “I just hope He picks me to be the angel that sits on top of the stable where He told us He’s going to have the baby be born.” And as an after thought, he added, “I only wish it wasn’t a stable but something a little tiny bit more spectacular.”
Gabriel stopped and turned to Murray. “Son, if your heart is in the right place and you desire to serve for the right reasons, it doesn’t matter where He calls you – to a stable or a stage.”

Murray bent his head low. “Yes, sir.” His head was back up in an instant. “Mr. Gabriel, sir, can you tell me again what it was like to tell Mary the good news?”

Gabriel was amused at the littlest angel’s enthusiasm. He was sure to become a great addition to the army of angels. So much energy and such a willingness to serve anywhere, but still in need of maturity.

“It was humbling to be chosen.”

Murray only heard Gabriel’s story once. Gabriel never talked about it. If I was chosen, I’d tell everybody! Over and over again!, Murray thought to himself. But that was not Gabriel’s way.

“Come,” Gabriel motioned to Murray. “We have been summoned.”

Gabriel did not elaborate and flew with great intensity toward the throne. As he approached, his head was down and his wings fluttered slightly as he sang, “Glory and honor and praise to you, oh King of Kings. Holy are You Lord, my God.”

Murray didn’t need to be told to approach the Lord in worship and awe. No one needed to be told. God’s presence commanded nothing less.

Gabriel kept His head bowed as God spoke.

“Gabriel, it’s time for the multitude of angels to be assembled. Are they ready?”

“Yes, Lord.”

Murray glanced over at Gabriel. Why does he never look at the Lord? , Murray thought as he kept his head down as well, wanting badly to look up into the face of God.

“Have you appointed the stable angel?”

“Yes, Lord.”

“And the kings are taken care of?”

“Yes, Lord.”

“Well done, Gabriel. Thank you.”

“Yes, Lord.”

Gabriel stood and before taking flight sang, “Holy are You Lord God. Glory and honor belong to You alone.”

Murray and Gabriel flew to where thousands of angels gathered while waiting for orders. Gabriel immediately set about giving instructions.

“Michael, gather 40 to take with you to the stable. Put 10 at each post surrounding the manger and you stand center guard. Daniel, you take 5,000 and announce the good news to the shepherds. After leading them to the stable, join the other warriors who are already there.”

I have not even been chosen, Murray thought. What’s wrong with me?

Gabriel and Murray watched as the heavenly armies took flight. The force of air that moved at their departure blew Murray back and he caught his breath. How he wished he had been in their company. Just as he was about to question Gabriel, Gabriel was off once again.

“Come,” Gabriel shouted. Murray followed obediently. “We must tell the kings to warn Mary and Joseph about going home.”

“What kings?” Murray asked, somewhat annoyed.

“That’s what holds you back,” Gabriel interjected.

“What do you mean?” Murray asked, softening his attitude.

“Some of your self remains within your spirit.”

Murray flew silently. Gabriel slowed and then stopped in flight, looking at Murray.

“Do you understand what I’m trying to show you?”

Murray looked at Gabriel. Gabriel could see Murray’s eyes open wider.

Wanting to be the one atop the stable. Wanting to be the one to lead the multitudes in song before the shepherds. Wanting to be the one to give Mary the good news and tell Joseph not to fret. Wanting to be the one. Wanting badly to look upon the face of God instead of being content with basking in His glory. All these thoughts filled Murray’s mind.

“It’s been about me, hasn’t it?”

Gabriel nodded. “Self cannot serve for God’s glory.”

Murray took a deep breath. “Sir, I’m ready.”

Gabriel gave Murray an accepting nod and smile. “I know you are. Come on,” he said, “we’ve got work to do.”
Murray and Gabriel came to the Orient where the three kings were sleeping. Having gathered for political purposes, they were now all fast asleep after participating in the day’s gatherings.

Gabriel instructed Murray on what to do and Murray went inside the castle walls while Gabriel stood guard upon the highest peak of the castle.

Murray entered the rooms where each king slept. He stood beside each bed and as the men lay sleeping, Murray told them they must follow the bright star shining in the night sky to where the holy, baby King lay. They would hear of King Herod’s wicked plan and warn the holy Baby’s parents.

When Murray finished his task, he joined Gabriel.

“Did you speak to them in their dreams?”

“Yes, sir.”

Gabriel took a deep breath. “Good.”

“Do you realize what part you have played in God’s plan of redemption?”

“No, sir.”

“You’ve instructed the three kings to find the Holy Baby, and on their way they will learn of King Herod’s evil plan to destroy all baby boys. Murray, you have played a part of saving the Chosen One.”

Murray looked at Gabrielle and smiled. “And that way, He can save the world.”

“Exactly, Murray. Exactly.”

A Child Shall Lead Them

Asher ran quickly through Bethlehem , not even stopping when the sharp stone pierced through the tender flesh on the bottom of his foot. Nothing would distract him, not even the pain that seared up his leg whenever his heel hit the ground.
He turned off the main road into an alley and soon threw open the wooden door to his family’s home.

“Mother!”

“Slow down, my son. You will hurt yourself.”

She was awkwardly pouring water from the wooden bucket, into the pot above the fire. Asher swiftly moved to help her before the water spilled onto the flames below.

“Mother! You’ve got to come back with me. Let’s hurry! It’s incredible!”

He handed the bucket back to her as she thanked him.

“Asher, sit in that chair and calm down.”

Her tone was firm and he obeyed, feeling like a five year old again, instead of the stout, rugged fourteen year old he had become.

“Tell me what you are talking about.”

“The king we’ve waited for! I know it’s him!”

“What king?”

“Mother, quit kidding around and come with me!” He started for the door.

“Asher, where is your brother Aaron?”

“He stayed with the flock.”

“Why are you not in the fields with your brothers and here instead, speaking of nonsense?”

“Mother, you’ve got to come and see for yourself!”

Asher stood in the frame of the doorway holding the door open as he waited for his mother to follow.

“Asher, I don’t know what you are talking about, but you need to be tending your father’s flock with your brothers.”

“But mother – it’s him. I know it! You’ve got to come with me!”

“Asher, get back to the fields with Joshua and Aaron and stop this now.”

Asher’s heart beat so quickly, he thought it was going to burst. Just then, he remembered his father’s stories, the very thing that caused him to find the child in the stable.

“Mother”, he said, certain she would not dismiss him now. “There were men – sent from God – they were all in white and beautiful. They told us about the child just born, so we went. Aaron thought they were a hoax, but Joshua and I are sure they were angels. Mother, please – come with me!”

Asher’s mother stood still, processing what her son had said while he waited.

“Go get Joshua and get back to helping Aaron with your father’s sheep. Now.”

Asher wanted to ask why she didn’t believe him. Instead, he turned and stepped back outside and proceeded back to where he came from.

As he approached the small lean-to behind the town’s inn, he heard the soft murmur of voices. A small fire was burning inside and Asher knew, by the way the logs were stacked upon the bare earth, that his brother had built it for the little family. Cold inside, the heat of the fire warmed up the small space where the family quietly looked down upon the new life before them.

“You can come closer.” The mother didn’t appear any older than Asher himself, and he accepted the invitation, hunkering down right beside the trough.

“Asher!” Standing back in the corner, his brother Joshua whispered at him loudly, as if stopping him short of making a mistake.

Asher looked over at the woman, her kind eyes and smile softening the moment. Then her husband spoke.

“It’s okay. We named him Jesus.”

Asher smiled shyly. Looking back at the baby, he seemed drawn even closer. He sat on his knees and he put his arms on the side of the trough.
What was this new fascination about a baby?, he thought, never before mesmerized.

The child’s eyes opened. There was something different about those tiny eyes that kept Asher staring back.

“Hi.” Asher’s voice was soft as he slid the palm of his hand under the baby’s.

The tiny hand grasped Asher’s finger.

“He’s so beautiful.”

Asher smiled at the mother and she turned to look up at her husband who stood beside her.

“Yes, he is beautiful. He likes you.”

Asher felt emboldened. “Can I come back later?”

“Of course. We’ll be here a few days, I’m certain.”

Asher smiled and looked back at the baby. Lifting himself up, he bent over, compelled to kiss the child’s head. As he did, Asher softly whispered,

“Welcome little king. Welcome.”

I tell you with certainty, “Unless you become like a little child, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 18:3 NIV

Catching the Attention of Heaven

 He closes the car door and she  waves one last goodbye and he slowly pulls away from the curb. He is in no hurry to leave her. She is no hurry to wave goodbye. His car inches down the road and with her back, now to him, she walks toward the front door. And I can see her wipe a tear that involuntarily runs toward her cheek. As his car gets  further down the road, I imagine a tear finding its way down his cheek.

A mother of almost 65 years. A son for 55. 

Good-byes are always hard. Made harder by age and ill health. And I sit here, I watch real life drama as I rock a precious  baby boy who is just starting his journey.  Will tears form when, one day, he will find himself having to say good-bye to someone he dearly loves? 

** ** **

Two women approach a tomb, making ready to say their last good-byes to someone they dearly loved. They have brought their finest for the finest man they have ever known. The closer they get to the grave, the more anxious they become, for they fear something is amiss. The stone that sealed the grave is no longer in place, but has been rolled away and the body they came to prepare  is gone.

Gone!

Gone and no last goodbyes. By now a few of the disciples have also come and left but Mary, one of the two women who had arrived first, stays behind, standing outside of the tomb crying.

Tears are powerful. They say much when nothing else can be said. They communicate both sorrow and joy.

Mary stands, weeping and her tears of grief, sorrow, disappointment, emptiness, sadness catch the attention of the Almighty. He sends two angels to the tomb. They ask her, “Woman, why are you crying?” She answers. “They have taken my Lord away and I don’t know where they have taken Him.” She hears a noise behind her and turns around to see a man standing behing her and again she is asked the question by him, “Woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?”

Mary thinks she is speaking to the gardener and asks, “Sir, if you have taken him, tell me where and I’ll go get him.”

Goodbyes – last goodbyes – are important. They put a finality to life that is often difficult to do without them. We can often continue expecting to see that familiar face that is no more without an ‘official’ goodbye.

Mary is beside herself. She is empty. Grief-stricken. She is weeping. Not just crying – weeping. And her face is bent toward the ground and she is wiping tears as fast as they are falling.  Her tears get the attention of the man standing before her. The man who she seeks. The man she longs to say her final goodbyes to. The man she loved and who is now gone. And then something amazing happens. He says her name. 

“Mary.”

She knew that voice. She knew exactly who  it was that now  stood before her.
She lifted her head and cried out to him and obviously in her excitement, in her joy, she clings to him, for (an I can imagine a chuckle here from the Lord Almighty himself at her reaction) for he says to her, “Don’t hold onto me, for I have not returned to the Father yet…” 

Wait.

Did you catch that? Jesus hadn’t even returned heavenward yet and takes the time to meet with Mary in her grief. To show her there would not be a need for anymore tears. He was alive. She may have sought for him in her tears of sorrow, but he met her there in her pain and, speaking her name, turned her tears into tears of joy.
Are  you crying because of sorrow in you life? Weeping because of grief over  a lost loved one?  Listen. LIft your head. Your tears catch the attention of the Lord Almighty. And He is saying your name.

For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. -Revelation 17:7

Until We Know We Are Loved

sunset.JPGWhen I read my Bible, I like to write out what I’m reading as a paraphrase, or if something significant for that day – I will expound on why, or I will record my  thoughts for other reasons.  Today when I finished with John 17 (I’ve been re-reading the book of John), I was so encouraged that I wanted to share. Here are my notes… I have tried to ‘clean’ them up a bit so they make more sense. Hopefully, you will be encouraged, too.

 

John 17

verse 1:
Jesus looks up toward heaven and prays…

He begins as He taught us to pray, with ‘Father’…

Jesus asks to be glorified by His Father so that HE might glorify the FATHER.

What does that look like? I can only immediately picture a father who is extremely proud of his son and he’s telling the world about his son’s talent. After, his son then demonstrates this wonderful talent,gift to the world. When the son is finished, he tells the world that the credit – the glory – goes to his father, not taking any of the accolades for himself.

Even that analogy seems so paltry.

Jesus is ready to give His life – give the ultimate sacrifice – and doesn’t ask that he get the attention or due applause He deserves, but before He is even called to ‘perform’ – give His gift/His life to the world – he asks that the glory He may receive goes directly back to his Father.

Jesus ask the Father to glorify Him so that the Father may be glorified. You can’t glorify one without giving the other glory.

verse 2-3:
Jesus was granted authority over all people in the hopes that HE might give them all eternal life.

Eternal life is knowing the true God and Jesus Christ who he has sent. You can’t know God without believing in Him. To really know him, you would believe in Him and to believe in Him, you would really know Him.

verse 4-5:
Jesus completed all that was required of him by God and asks to be glorified in His Father’s presence with the glory he had before the world began.

And then He prays for his disciples…

verse 6-12:
He tells God of their faith, their belief. He says that because the disciples belong to the Father, this is why He is praying for them. Because if they belong to the Father, they belong to Him (and so therefore, He prays for them).

Glory already has come to God merely through the faith and belief of the disciples.

Jesus tells his Father that He is coming home but the disciples are remaining on earth and asks his holy Father to protect these men by the power of his name – JESUS – so that the men may be one as Jesus and the Father are one. While Jesus was with his disciples, he kept them safe by his name (except Judas who was doomed to fulfill Scripture).

There is power in the name of Jesus. It isn’t just a word to a pretty song or an insert to a well-meaning poem. It is truth. THERE IS POWER in the name of Jesus. Jesus himself proclaimed it. First.

So Jesus asks to protect the disciples so that they may be one as he and the Father are one.

What would this look like? To be in constant communion with each other – having the same mind, the same faith, the same love, the same forgiveness, the same struggles? A Jesus community of believers.

verse 13-16:
Jesus is on His way home… But he prays while he is still in the world so that his disciples have the full measure of joy within them.

How does praying for them here, complete their joy?

They hear Him pray for THEM. They hear Him pray directly to His father FOR THEM. They hear Him pray for their PROTECTION. They hear Him tell the Father how powerful His (Jesus’)  name is. They hear Him ask God,(because He does not ask them to be rescued from what is to come), to PROTECT them from the evil one. 

 

Because the disciples are not of the world any more than Jesus was/is of the world, they will be targeted by destruction, as every believer is.

Wouldn’t it complete my joy to hear my Jesus pray for me like that? Ahh… but HE has!

verse 17-19:
Jesus asks for the sanctification of the disciples by God’s truth – His word. Cleansing comes by His word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God. Jesus is the Word. From the beginning. (John 1) Sanctification comes through the Word. Through Jesus. We are made holy through Him.

“For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.” (John 17:19)

Sanctification, or holiness, means being separated. Before sanctification, we are separated FROM God. After being sanctified, we have become separated from the world. We have been sanctified and we continue to be sanctified on a daily basis

Jesus was sanctified by His sacrifice on the cross so that we “too could be truly sanctified.” He gave the sacrifice required by the old law so that we could live by the ‘new law’. Belief. One sacrifice eliminated the need for all others. One sacrifice eliminated the requirement for regular offerings of your best. Jesus said it right there in His prayer to the Father – I sanctify myself so that they too may be truly sanctified. There is no other way to be one with God. It is only through believing Him.

verse 20-23:
Then He moves His prayer to include ALL believers, not just His disciples. He prays for those who will believe in Him because of the  message the disciples  will bring. Again, asking that the believers, as He asked for the disciples, be made one as He and His Father are one. He in the Father and the Father in Him. What power! Jesus asks this so that the world may believe that His Father sent Him. He gives us the glory that God gave to  Him so that we may be one as, again, He and the Father are one. Jesus in us and the Father in Him.

He then asks that believers will be brought to COMPLETE UNITY to let the world know that the Father sent Him and has loved them even as the Father has loved Jesus.

***It is in the complete unity of believers that the world will know the love of the Father.***

verse 24:
“Father”, Jesus says, “I want those you have given me [believers] to be with me where I am, to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”

HIS GLORY. He wants us to see His glory. The excitement for us to see what He has done for us is like a child who has just made her best drawing as a gift. She can’t wait for the one she has given it to. Waiting in anticipation of the look on their face when they finally open it. He wants us to see His gift. The gift of His glory. Glory given to Him because He has been loved before the creation of the world. Whew.  Again,  a platry illustration, but leaves me  speechless to think upon…

AND IF THAT WEREN’T POWERFUL ENOUGH…

verse 25-26:
“Righteous Father,” he prays, “though the world doesn’t know you, I do and they know you’ve sent me. I have made it known to them and will continue making it known to them in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

Jesus knows the Father and the world knows He was sent by the Father, though they choose not to believe that and deny His existence.

Jesus made it known that the Father sent Him and will continue to make it known, IN ORDER THAT THE LOVE GOD HAS FOR HIS SON MAY BE IN THEM ALSO AND THAT JESUS HIMSELF MAY BE IN THEM AS WELL.

Wow.

He will keep making the truth known.

Until we know we are loved and know it’s all because of Jesus – He will keep making it known.