Loved by Jesus

For the last few weeks in this column, I’ve been pondering John 17, which records Jesus’ final prayer before His death. He asks the Father to do two things for His disciples: keep them (v11) and sanctify them (v17). But before He asks for these things, He offers extensive rationale for why God should answer His prayers.

Last week we noted His first argument: the Father gave the disciples to the Son. Pastor Scotty Smith makes some excellent comments on this in the Gospel Transformation Bible: “Jesus counts us a love gift to him from the Father. He treasures and cherishes us as a bridegroom treasures his bride, for that is what we are. Should anyone ask, ‘Who gives these sinners to this Savior?’ the Father responds enthusiastically, ‘I do!’ Election is the most wonderful prearranged marriage imaginable.” (p1439)

If you find that argument amazing, Jesus’ second line of reasoning might catch you even more off guard. Basically, it sounds like this: “Father, look at these men! Look how great they are! They have kept your word (v6). Now they know for sure (vv7,8). They received what I gave them (v8). They have believed (v8). What great guys! You really should answer my prayer for them!”

Isn’t it incredible to overhear Jesus talking to His Father about the disciples this way? He’s praising them to the Father for their faith, when literally just minutes earlier He was chiding them for their unbelief (16:30-32).

I’m amazed by how favorably Jesus views the disciples! “They have kept your word.” They have?! “They know for sure.” They do? “They have believed?” Since when? And yet, if you contrast the disciples with Judas’s actions or with the world’s attitude toward Jesus, there is definitely evidence of faith in these men. They have stayed with Him, listening, trying to understand, believing. And so Jesus really does mean this about these men. This truly is how God sees them.

Even more amazing, this is how He sees you, if you are a Christian! Old things have passed away; all things have become new. Progress in the Christian life is always growing up into who you already are. So often we are defeated because we don’t think of ourselves as God sees us. But wait—listen to the Son of God describe you to His Father! Yes, you could spend hours confessing your failures and repenting of what a miserable sinner you are. But that is not the perspective God has on His children! Jesus says He’s praying this way for our joy (v13). Of course He is! How do you feel, hearing Him say this about you?