In John 17 Jesus looks up to heaven and utters a high priestly prayer for His disciples. Right after Jesus speaks this prayer, the disciples and He go to the Garden of Gethsemane and Judas betrays Jesus, leading to His arrest and crucifixion. This prayer makes up some of the last moments on earth Jesus has with His friends. These words openly show Jesus’ missional heart for His disciples after His death and displays His role as our intercessor.
In verse 3 Jesus clearly defines eternal life for us, “And this is eternal life, that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom have have sent.” Not only does Jesus wish eternal life for His disciples, but He desires that the disciples introduce the world to eternal life as well. He prays in verse 15, “I do not ask that You take them out of the world, but, that you keep them from the evil one.” Jesus could have prayed, “Father, bring them to heaven with me.” or “Father, keep them on a safe island until they die naturally.” or “Father, give them hiding spots so they can live long lives waiting for heaven.” But, no, Jesus prays protection over them because they will need protection. In hiding, on an island, or in heaven no protection is needed, however, that was never the plan for the disciples, nor for us. Verse 20 articulates this, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word.” Jesus extends this prayer to all Christians throughout the ages since all of us have spiritually descended from the disciples.
A few chapters later in John Jesus commissions the disciples, (John 20:21), “Jesus said to them, ‘Peace be with you, as the Father has sent me, even so, I am sending you.’” This great commission can also be found in John 17:18, Jesus’ prayer, “As You have sent Me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” Moments before this prayer begins, in John 16:32, Jesus tells the disciples they will be scattered throughout the earth. Evidently, this scattering was the plan since the beginning of the world.
Jesus often states that the Father has sent Him and so He sends the disciples. The Father’s plan to send Jesus is profoundly woven throughout the scriptures. Obviously, the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit never planned to stay separate from us, and never planned for us to separate ourselves from the world. However, we have to remember this isn’t about us. This is about the Father enterally loving the Son and that love spilling over on to us in the form of an invitation to a eternal, unconditional relationship. This love should inspire us to scatter throughout the world not in search of glory, but in search of ways to glorify our beautiful God.
A dear friend of mine plays the trumpet. She loves using the illustration of a trumpet player at a concert to demonstrate how we can bring glory to God. The trumpet represents us, and the musician represents God. After a talented trumpet performance no one from the audience says, “That trumpet has so much talent.” Instead, they complement the player, the musician using the trumpet. Jesus has an example similar to this in Matthew 5:13, He calls us the salt and light of the earth. Tim Keller uses the analogy of corn. Most people salt their corn, however, after eating the corn, they don’t exclaim, “Wow! I love your table salt!” They talk about the corn. In the Metropolitan Museum of Art no one stands in front of the painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware River, looks up to the ceiling and says, “These light bulbs are incredible.” No, they stare at a marvelous painting, taking up the entire wall, and think about the talent of the artist.
We are the trumpet, the salt, and the light. Just as musical notes disperse throughout the audience, salt covers the food it is sprinkled on, and light fills a room so we are to disperse, cover, fill, and scatter across the earth. Inspired by the cascade of love flowing from the Father to Jesus and Jesus to us, His bride, through the power of the Holy Spirit we are to extend this love throughout the nations. If we are not inherently scattering, what are we doing with the love that fills us? God’s love should flow out of us in the form of bodies entering unreached people groups and powerful prayers lifting up our brothers and sisters and those throughout the world whom have not yet heard of the wonderful news of peace and love that can heal and calm our souls. Jesus ends his prayer in verses 25-26 with this, “ Righteous Father, though the world does not know You, I know You, and they know that You have sent me. I have made You known to them, and will continue to make You known in order that the love You have for Me may be in them and that I Myself may be in them.”