“He looked toward heaven and prayed.” That is how our lesson starts. “Jesus looked toward heaven and prayed.”. And to me, Jesus’ prayer is so interesting because we get this access to God that we really don’t get anywhere else in the Bible. We get this level of transparency that we don’t find anywhere else. You see, when someone comes up to you and tells you something, they give you some information, that’s good and great and helpful, but, when you overhear that information, when you’re listening in and getting that information unfiltered and raw, that’s when you know you’re getting the real stuff, the real deal.
Today, you and I get to listen in. We get to hear our Savior speak at length to the Father, and we get to see what’s on his mind and heart, and it’s beautiful. And, the first thing, Jesus says is simply this. “Father, the hour has come.” Throughout the gospels, Jesus had said over and over again that now was not the hour, the hour was not at hand, but now here he is saying, “It’s time. The hour has come.” And it was time. Shortly after this prayer, Jesus would be arrested and then the next afternoon he would be on that cross and he would die. And with that backdrop of horrific death, incredible pain, and hell, Jesus prays.
Now, I would venture to guess that all of us in this room pray in some fashion. And I would also guess that many of you would agree that your prayer life, well, there is room for improvement. And, prayer, just to be clear, is you talking to God, just like Jesus is doing here. But, so often when we pray, it’s circumstantial, right? You got something coming up, something going on, and you pray about that. And the moment that thing is settled or past, you move on to the next thing.
There is nothing necessarily wrong with that. God tells us to pray continually and to come to him with everything. But think of it this way, Say you go to the dentist one day, you have this unbearably sore tooth, and you go to the dentist and the dentist takes a look and says, “Yeah, I can’t help you with that. But, you know, I’d love to go out for some coffee sometime, and get to know you better.” Thanks, but no thanks, right? Like, I got a toothache here, I don’t have time for you. Is your prayer life like that with God? You view him as this problem solver, this dispenser of relief and help, but you really have no time to sit down and truly form a relationship with him. Think about that and then look at Jesus’ prayer with me.
If you look at Jesus’ prayer…Jesus has a lot going on…a lot coming up, but he’s not asking for any help, or for anything to change, he’s focused on the glory of God and his relationship with his Father, and ultimately also his relationship with you. And so, I really want to keep it simple today, this prayer is in every way for you. Jesus wants to give you something, and, actually, if you jump back into chapter 16, you find out what he wants to give you. Remember the chapter and verses of the Bible are not inspired. So, this is what Jesus said right before he looked up to heaven and prayed. He said this, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
In that verse, Jesus is so clear. You will have troubles in this world, but you will find peace in Jesus. That’s what he wants to give you, peace. But how? How does he do that? Not by him fixing all your earthly problems and hardships, but by you finding peace in him, by you having a true relationship with him and understanding who he is and what he did for you. And, so often in our own prayers, we miss this. We’re looking for peace, but it sounds something like this, “God if you would just do this…God, I need you in this way…God help me with this problem.” And then we get mad or just stop talking to him when he doesn’t do what we ask him to do, right? Our prayers are so often focused on ourselves and what we need or want or think is best, and we try to drag God into our lives, and miss the fact that real peace, real joy, real glory, real answers to our problems it’s all right here in him.
And you see this in the other books of the New Testament, specifically, the letters of the Apostles, use our 2nd lesson as an example. There Peter talks about all the problems God’s people are facing, all the hardships, and persecutions. And, what does Peter say about all of that, what does he hope God will do – that they be protected, and that all their earthy needs be met? No. Look what Peter says. He says, “don’t be surprised at any of this (this hardship and persecution), in fact, rejoice.” How could Peter write that? Because he was writing to people who had a relationship with their Lord, and they found glory and comfort in him and would one day be restored into that final glory of heaven through their Savior, our Savior, Jesus.
So, go back now to Jesus’ prayer. And we’re going to focus mainly on those first five verses. The first five verses are a retelling of the creation story up to Jesus’ own time to what will happen after time is done, the last verse, verse five, that’s the key. I’ll read it. “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” Before the world began, God, the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) existed in perfect love and harmony; they glorified each other. And apparently, God thought the only thing that would make that relationship better was to add to it, and we were created. And that worked for a time, except what then did we do? We started living for our own glory, our own love. So, what did God do? He sent Jesus.
And look what Jesus did, verse 2. Jesus said, “You granted me authority over all people that I might give eternal life…jump to verse 4…I have brought you glory by finishing the work you gave me to do.” The Father and Son knew that the only way to live with us in glory was if they lost their glory. So, God, in the person of Jesus, stepped into our world and he leaned into our pain, and our hardship, and our sufferings, and our disappointments, and our sicknesses – all those things we so often pray that he fix! Finally, he leaned into and was nailed to, a cross, and there he lost his glory. On the cross – did you know this? – on the cross this was the one-time Jesus didn’t call God his Father. Fifty-five times in the gospel of John Jesus addresses God as his Father, but not there, not on the cross. There it was “My God, My God, why…?” On the cross, the glory of the relationship that Jesus had with his Father was broken, so that the glory we broke with our heavenly Father could be restored. And this is what Jesus was praying for, for you.
Here in this prayer, we see the Father and the Son conspiring together to voluntarily put themselves through hell because they valued you that much. They loved you that much. And they knew that you would bring them glory. Jesus said as much in verse 10. “All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them.” How? How do we bring glory to our Savior? We believe. We come to him to have a relationship with him. We don’t see him as just someone who can temporarily make our lives better, but as someone who set us free from all the trials and tribulations of this world, who set us free from our sin. And we love him, more importantly, he loves us. He restored the broken relationship. And now, now, we will join him, and the Father, and the Spirit, in glory. What a prayer. Learn from it. It’s all about you.
So, if you’re looking for help, strength, and peace, and for God to fix things in your life, he did. In Jesus, he gave you his glory, a relationship with him, and the promise of heaven. Pray then for that glory. Amen.