The Finished Work that Fuels Our Work

As the work of Jesus comes to a close, he tries to prepare his disciples.

George Wright
Aug 4, 2019    40m
In this sermon by Pastor George Wright looks at the time that the work of Jesus here on earth is almost over. He shares scripture from The Book of John Chapter seventeen, where we find Jesus saying a prayer to help prepare his disciples for when he is no longer with them on earth. Video recorded at Columbia, South Carolina.

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This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

George Wright: 00:00 We're going to be in John chapter 17 this morning, and So we'd encourage you to grab a Bible if you don't have one with you. We've got Bibles all over the room ,and we put the page number on the screen so you can turn to one of those Bibles in the Pew and find it quickly where we're going to be. John chapter 17 in the New Testament, this beautiful, beautiful chapter of scripture. We're going to be in a series here called The Heart of Jesus. Where we're just unpacking statement by statement, verse by verse, this beautiful prayer of Jesus that Jesus prays over his disciples before he goes to the cross. This is an opportunity for us to see the heart of Jesus, to recognize what matters most to Jesus as he knows his time on earth in the flesh was coming to an end.

George Wright: 00:51 John chapter 17, we'll look at verses 1 through 5 this morning. I'd like to invite you if you're willing and able to stand with me as I read this scripture. If you're new to Shandon, or if you're joining us online, and you're wondering why do we stand for the opening reading of scripture in our message each week. We do that so that we can all be reminded that the word of God is our authority, and as a people of God, when we gather in the name of Jesus, we are gathering, standing upon a solid rock foundation of what God says is right and good and true through his words. So this is the word of the Lord, the prayer of Jesus from the mouth of Jesus, through the disciple John, inspired by the spirit of God. It says this, verse 1, "When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven and he said, Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that the Son may glorify you. Since you have given him authority over all flesh to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, they know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth. (Verse four.) Having accomplished the work that you gave me to do, and now Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed." The prayer of Jesus, the heart of Jesus. Let's ask God to speak into our lives, to show us what we need to see here this morning is we turn our attention to him.

George Wright: 02:40 Would you pray with me? Father God, I'm so grateful for what you are doing among your body here at Shandon, among your people here at Shandon. I'm so grateful for those who are joining us for the first time. For those who are new to Shandon, who are experiencing what's you're doing, Lord, this is a privilege. A privilege to be a part of your family, a privilege to be a part of what you are doing to reveal your love and grace to us. We need to see it. We need to hear it. We need to be reminded of who you are, and what you have done. And so Father, I pray now in this sacred moment, in this sacred space. As your spirit guides us through the study of your word that you would lay before us, what we need to see. Open our hearts, open our minds to listen, to receive, to think deeply on that which you say. And Lord, change us in your power, with your grace. We love you. We need you. We commit this time to you. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen. You may be seated. Thank you for standing.

George Wright: 04:05 If you were here with us last Sunday, or if you've had the chance to go online and listen to last Sunday's message, we had a guest preacher, Dr. Danny Akin, the president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. And he brought a great message to us on great commission families, and what it means to live out The Great Commission as a family. And I realize you may be new to Bible study or new to church, you may be wondering what is The Great Commission? The Great Commission is in Matthew 28, it's the final words of Jesus to his followers after Jesus has gone to the cross, after Jesus has been resurrected from the grave, as he is preparing to ascend into Heaven he lays out this great commission. The mission for his followers to live sent to into the world, to take the good news of the gospel, to make disciples, to teach and to baptize those who trust and follow Jesus. What we've been able to experience already here today lived out. Dr. Akin said a statement last week that I've been thinking about all week in preparation for this series. John 17, this prayer of Jesus. Dr. Akin said this about The Great Commission. He said, "These are the last words of Jesus, and last words are to be lasting word." Last words are of the utmost importance. What is your final statement? What are your final words? What would be your final prayer if you knew your time on earth we're coming to an end. As you think about those who are most dear to you, as you think about your loved ones, those you care the most about? What would you want your final words to be?

George Wright: 06:00 In many ways, that's what we're seeing here in John chapter 17, this is the final prayer of Jesus over his disciples, for his followers. Knowing that his time on earth is coming to an end, he pours out his heart in these last words, Commentators call this the the final, or farewell, discourse. It begins in John chapter 13, and it tracks all the way to the end of John chapter 17. The apostle John devotes a lot of his gospel, his book, to this farewell discourse of Jesus. All that happens in John 13 through 17 happens in what is called the upper room. As Jesus gathers with his disciples one final time before he knows he's going to be taken away to the cross. It's in this farewell discourse beginning in John 13, that we see Jesus Institute what we now call the Lord's supper. That final Passover meal where Jesus gathered with the disciples and said, this Passover meal that you have been observing, is now going to have a brand new meaning. This Passover meal is going to point to me and what I am doing. This bread represents my body. This cup where represents the blood that I will shed at the cross for the forgiveness of sins. It's in this farewell discourse that Jesus washes the disciples feet, this beautiful act of of a servant King washing the feet of his disciples and then saying, I have not come to be served but to serve, you go and do likewise.

George Wright: 07:49 But then it's also in this farewell discourse, in this sacred moment with Jesus and his disciples knowing the end is coming for him, his time on earth is coming to an end. It's in this moment that he looks at Judas and says, there's one who's going to betray me. He looks at Peter and he says, there's one who's going to deny me. And you can imagine the confusion. You can imagine even the fear of his disciples as as Jesus is having this conversation with them, they don't understand it all.

George Wright: 08:22 And then in John chapter 16, after Jesus has taught about some of the most important teachings he has about what it means to follow him. John 14 and 15, in John 16, he begins to explain to his disciples more fully, my time is coming to an end. But don't worry, it's actually good for you, I'm gonna send the helper, I'm going to send the spirit to guide you. They don't understand all this, this is all confusing. What does all this mean? Jesus, you're going to leave us? You can just imagine the tension that must be hanging in the air in the upper room, the confusion, the fear, the worry, the doubt, what's going to happen. Jesus makes this beautiful statement at the end of John 16, right before he prays this prayer. And I believe this prayer is being prayed in lights of this foundational statement Jesus makes in John 16"33 let's read it, and then we'll step back into the prayer of Jesus. John 16:33, "Jesus says, I have said all of these things to you, this farewell discourse, these final words that you may have, peace." I just wonder how many among us today are in need of peace? Anybody walking through something difficult, anybody in need of the peace of God? Jesus says, then in the world you will have tribulation., it's not going to be easy. I just wonder how many of us are walking through a season right now of of struggle, difficulty, tribulation, pain. In the world, you will have tribulation. I love how honest Jesus is. Jesus is not saying, hey, if you follow me, it's all gonna get easy. No, Jesus is saying, as you follow me in the world, you will have tribulation. But here's the statement, but take heart, follower of Jesus., take hearts Christian, take hard man of God, woman of God. Take heart, I have overcome the world.

George Wright: 10:34 Then Jesus prays, and prays that his disciples would stand in faith, that they would live in light of this beautiful declaration that Jesus Christ has overcome the world. That regardless of what you're walking through, regardless of the tribulation that you find, if you follow Jesus, you can know peace and you can rest assured that God has overcome the tribulation of this world, and the good news of what Jesus Christ has accomplished. So these final words, this final prayer, it's so beautiful. It's so important because it is so foundational to the Christian faith. Last words are to be lasting words.

George Wright: 11:27 Yesterday I had the opportunity to drive over to Atlanta to see my grandfather, George Bryant Wright Sr. one final time. He's right at the end of his life. Hospice was called in earlier last week, and he's in those final stages. We know the end is coming for him here on earth. He's lived an amazing, he's the greatest man of God I've ever known. He's my hero. So thankful for my granddaddy. But we had this really beautiful moments as I was there with my parents and my aunts and uncles and we were by his bedside. We're speaking to him, he's unaware, he's not conscious at this point. We're just thanking him, praying over him, grateful. And we stepped out in the hallway, and we just begin to talk about some of the things that he had said that were such a gift to us over the years. And some of those words that we're going to hold on to, and some of those final statements that he gave to us as a family, there's just so beautiful. About his love for us, and his faith in Christ, and the confidence that we can have in our savior. What a gift. Last words will be lasting words.

George Wright: 12:56 The words that Jesus gives us in this prayer, if you will heed them, if you will listen to what Jesus prays, and if you will follow in faith what Jesus lays out in John 17, it will change your life. It will change the way you view the world. This prayer is such a gift, because it shows us what matters most to Jesus. And in these first five verses that we are considering this morning, we are given this theological framework, this doctrinal foundation that really guides the Christian faith. This is a doctrinal sermon from these first five verses, because these statements Jesus makes about himself are so incredibly important. They are so foundational to our faith and we must understand the claims of Jesus, so that we can then understand how to live our lives as a follower of Jesus Christ. So let's look back at John 17 verse 1, the first doctrinal foundational statement we see here is, "Glorify your Son, that the Son may glorify you." What is this pointing to? Jesus is pointing to his deity. Jesus is claiming to be God. He is declaring his deity. And please hear this, I cannot emphasize this strongly enough in our postmodern universalistic culture that says, hey, everything is fine, believe whatever you believe, we're all going the same place in the end, just have faith in something. Jesus is claiming to be God. These are not just the words of a good man. These are not just the words of one who is simply a religious leader or a good moral teacher. These are not just the words of someone who set a good example. These are the words of God. Jesus is claiming to be God. When he says, glorify your Son. God, glorify me. And you may say, okay, how do you know that? Jesus doesn't say here in John 17, I'm God. So how are you saying that Jesus claims to be God?

George Wright: 15:24 Well, let me turn your attention real quickly to two passages in the Old Testament, both from the book of Isaiah. Turn real quickly to Isaiah. It's right in the middle of the Bible. We're going to put some references to this up on the screen. Isaiah chapter 42 verse 8. Isaiah 42 verse 8 listen to what the scripture says, "I am the Lord. That is my name, my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols." I am the Lord. That is my name, my glory I give to no other. Isaiah 48 chapter 48 verse 11, turnover a couple of pages. Isaiah 48:11, God says, "For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it. For how should my name be profaned my glory" Listen to this. "my glory, I will not give to another." There is one who deserves all glory and honor and praise. God will not be robbed of his glory. The glory of God belongs to God and to no other. He will not be deprived of his glory. He will not lose his glory. His glory will not be tarnished. His glory will not fade away. He is the only one worthy of his glory. And so as Jesus prays, "Glorify me, glorify the Son." Jesus is praying a prayer that only God can pray. Jesus is making a statement that only God can make, and Jesus is declaring that he is God, that he will be glorified as the Son of God who is worthy of all glory and honor and praise. Let me just ask you, who's glory are you living for? Jesus is declaring his deity in John 17:1, as the one who is worthy of all glory and honor and praise.

George Wright: 18:01 Secondly, John 17 verse 2, we see the authority of Jesus. This is so important, the authority of Jesus. He says this in his prayer, "Since you have given him (speaking about the Son) since you have given him, the Son, authority over all flesh. To give eternal life to all whom you have given him." Now commentators say that John 17 really marks the start of a new era, as Jesus prepares to go to the cross. He's going to the cross to die for the sins of the world. The greatest gift that anyone could ever receive is the gift that Jesus provides through his death on the cross, and through the power of his resurrection. Because in his death on the cross, he is demonstrating his authority over all flesh. That he alone is the one who can die for all sin. That's authority over all mankind, over all flesh, and through his resurrection he is declaring his authority over sin and death itself, all authority belongs to him. This is fulfillments of the Old Covenant through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the perfect accomplishment of the law of God through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. He has authority over all things, and he brings about a New Covenant through his death on the cross and through his resurrection.

George Wright: 19:35 Now Daniel chapter 7, back in the Old Testament, and now we're jumping around a little bit, but this is so incredibly important. Remember, these are, these are doctrinal statements from the mouth of Jesus. This is theological framework that helps us live our lives on the foundation of what Jesus says. Daniel chapter 7 is this prophetic word about the Messiah. Listen to what the word of God says, Daniel 7 verse 13, "I saw in the night visions, and behold with the clouds of heaven, there came one like a Son of man. He came to the ancient of days and was presented before him, and to him (listen) and to him was given dominion, (That's authority.) and glory, and a kingdom. That all peoples, nations, and languages, should serve him and his dominion. His authority is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away. And his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed." Dominion and glory are his. The kingdom belongs to Jesus, and all peoples, all nations, all languages will gather around the throne to worship and serve the everlasting authority in his kingdom that will not be destroyed. This is so good, and this is so important for those who are seeking to live a life as a follower of Jesus Christ, a life of faith. Because this is foundational, this doctrinal statement, this theological framework that holds us together in our faith when life feels like it's spinning out of control around us. Again, we saw this last week because Jesus calls his followers to live out this mission, to build his kingdom, to live for his glory, to live as a new creation, to serve others, to take the good news of the gospel to the world. ,Matthew 28 that great commission, he says this, verse 18, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." Jesus Christ is the authority over all, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And his mission, and his calling, please hear this, is the only thing that is truly worth living for.

George Wright: 22:25 Number four, excuse me, number three, number three. John 17 verse 3, don't want to jump ahead.. this one's an important one. John 17 verse 3, we see the doctrine of salvation from Jesus Christ. Jesus says, "This is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." Now I want you to know right up front, I love talking about salvation that comes through Jesus Christ. I love talking about the gift of salvation that comes through Christ. Is there anybody else they can get excited with me? Anybody? I love talking, love talking, about the gift of salvation that comes through Christ. There is nothing better than this, and here's the amazing thing, Jesus makes it so clear. Do you want to know how you can be sure that you have salvation? Do you want to know how you can be sure that your life is right with God? Do you want to know how you can be sure that you receive the gift of eternal life? Don't miss this, there's only one way and that way is Jesus. The gift of eternal life is to know the one and only true God, and to know the Son that comes from the Father. The Father and the Son are one perfect union with the Spirit, the triune God, the doctrine of the Trinity. The way to eternal life is to know the one true God through the Son Jesus Christ. Jesus makes this statement in John 14:6, "I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life, (And please hear this.) and no one comes to the Father except through me." This is foundational to the Christian faith. This is of the utmost importance. Jesus is saying, salvation comes through me, I am the only one who provides salvation, I am the only path to God.

George Wright: 24:45 Now I realize, I realize, you may be here this morning, new to church, new to Bible study, maybe from a different background, you may be joining us online with questions about the Christian faith. And you may be saying, okay, that's a little close minded. I mean how can you be so narrow minded as to say, Jesus is the only way to God? I mean what about all the other religions? What about all the other belief systems? What about all the other spiritual paths that people are trying to navigate today in the culture that we live in? How can you be so cold and so cruel as to say that there is only one way to God and that's through Jesus? It's a great question, that's an important question. Here's the deal, if there are multiple ways to God, if there are multiple ways to God, it is incredibly cold, incredibly cruel to say that Jesus is the only way. Because if there are multiple ways to God, we are actually revealing that God himself is incredibly cold and cruel. Think about this, because if there are multiple ways to God, then the cross of Jesus Christ is the most colossal waste of time in the history of the world. If there are multiple ways to God, then why in the world would God say to his only Son, I want you to go to earth, take on flesh, live as a man without sin, totally perfect, totally worthy, and then I want you to die the most horrific death we can imagine. Why? Why? Well, there's a lot of ways to me and I'm just kind of bored, and I think it'd be fun to watch you die on a cross. I mean after all, I've run through every show on Netflix, and I can't find anything else that's exciting, entertaining. So Jesus wants you die on a cross, and we'll call it a day. Is there anything more cruel than that? How could we ever say God is loving, if he sent his Son to die on a cross for no reason at all. But if Jesus is the only way, if Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, if Jesus is the path to God, the Father, if Jesus and salvation that comes through him is the only way we receive forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life. If Jesus is who he says he is, then the statement Jesus makes that no one it comes to the Father except through him, is the most gracious and kind and compassionate statement that he could ever make.

George Wright: 28:04 I don't want you to be confused Jesus is saying, you're going to have a lot of people tell you a lot of things. You're going to have a lot of people tell you about a lot of paths to God. Please don't miss this, Jesus is saying, I'm the only way, and I'm telling you I'm the only way because I love you. I don't want you to miss it. I don't want you to buy into all the stuff that your culture is trying to sell you. I don't want you to buy into all this stuff that you can find your own way. I want you to know the way, I'm here to give my life for you so that you will know the way. What could be more loving than this. Jesus is the way the God. Do you know him?

George Wright: 28:58 You see, John makes this amazing statement in another letter he wrote, we call it First John. We're very creative in the way we name Books of the Bible. We have John, and we have First John, then he wrote another letter, we call that second John, and then one more letter, we call it Third John. It's pretty amazing, right? But in First John, there's this incredible statement and it's a statement that if it takes root in your heart and in your life, I'm telling it'll change everything. The statement is simply this, this is the testimony, God gave eternal life. God gave us eternal life, and the life is in his Son. He who has the Son has the life, but whoever does not have the Son of God does not have the life. Don't be confused, that's what the scripture is saying over and over again, we're not trying to confuse you here. God is a God of clarity, he's not a God of confusion. He wants you to see very simply, very plainly, there is a way to him, and that way is Jesus. If you have the Son, you have the life. If you do not have the Son, you do not have the life. Here's the question. Do you have the Son?

George Wright: 30:24 The fourth theological statement that is so foundational from the mouth of Jesus? John 17 verse 4, is about the finished work of Jesus, and this is why Jesus is the gift of eternal life. This is why the way that God comes through Jesus. John 17 verse 4, I love this verse, "I glorified you on earth, Jesus says, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do." Now, I believe every follower of Jesus should underline, highlight, memorize this verse. John 17 verse 4, can you imagine being able to pray this at the end of your life? Can you imagine being able to say this at the end of your life? It is the prayer of my heart that I will be able to say these words of Jesus at the end of my life. "I glorified you on earth having accomplished all the work that you gave me to do." What a statement. Do you want to be like Jesus? Pray this verse. Do you want to live your life as a follower of Jesus? Live your life to be able to say, this statement, I glorified you on earth having finished and accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And it's all through the power of the finished work of Jesus Christ at the cross, that we are invited into this gift of eternal life. It is all through the power, the finished work of Jesus Christ, and the power of his resurrection, that fuels us to live this mission, to do the work that he has called us to do.

George Wright: 32:07 John 19:30, 'It is finished." This is the statement of Jesus at the cross. Remember, last words are to be lasting words. The final words of Jesus at the cross are, "It is finished." You can't earn your way to God, I've done it for you. You can't work your way to God, I've done it for you. You can't climb up to God, I came down to you. "It is finished." Get off the performance treadmill, and trust in the grace of God that is the finished work of Jesus, it changes everything. We work not to earn the love of God, we work because the love of God has been freely given. We work not because we are in bondage to religiosity, we work because we have been set free by the grace of God, it changes everything. The finished work of Jesus changes everything. Do you know him?

George Wright: 33:13 And finally, and importantly ,John chapter 17 verse 5, as we come to a close right here. Verse 5, we see the terminal glory of Jesus, Jesus says, "And now Father glorify me in your presence. With the glory that I had with you before the world existed." I've had conversations with people in the past who are surprised that the beginning of Jesus is not Bethlehem. They're surprised to hear that that the beginning of Jesus is not what we celebrate at Christmas, but in fact, Jesus has always been. Jesus is showing us here in verse 5 of John 17, this prayer, that he is eternal and he's not just talking about future, he's talking about past. Like eternity is never beginning, never ending, wrap your mind around it. It's crazy to think. And Jesus is saying, I am, have always been, will always be. Was, is, and is to come. Why does this matter? Why is it important that we recognize that Jesus Christ is the creator God, one with the Father, has always been, forever will be, Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.

George Wright: 34:44 Why does this matter that Jesus Christ is eternal? It matters because everything in our life changes, people come and go, kingdoms rise and fall, circumstances change. The culture around us changes, and if all we see are the things beginning and ending and changing and evolving, if all the things we see are the difficult circumstances that come our way that change our plans and change our path, if all we see are the changes in our culture that we're so afraid of and terrified about, if all we see are all these things that are changing around us, and we're not rooted and grounded, firmly secure on the one thing that is unchanging, we will lose heart, we will lose faith. If your faith is built on circumstance, if your faith is built on a certain people, if your faith is built on a culture or a political system, if your faith is built on a currency or an earthly kingdom, you will lose faith. But if your faith is built on that which is eternal, that which is unchanging, that which has always been and will always be, your faith will be rooted, grounded, and secure on the kingdom that never ends. Thousands of years from now, when you and I are long gone, the only thing that will remain is the glory of God in his everlasting kingdom. The only name that will be spoken, will be the name above all names. Thousands of years from now, when you and I are long gone, the only thing that will last from our lives and the things that we have done for the glory of God. Because the glory of God in Jesus Christ is eternal.

George Wright: 37:29 And so here's the final question as we conclude our time this morning, what are you living for? Are you living for that which will last? Are you living for a kingdom that will never end? Are you living for the name that is above all names? Because everything else will be gone. Jesus Christ is God. Jesus Christ is salvation. Jesus Christ is eternal. And through his authority he has finished the work that must happen so that we can be right with God. And he is inviting you, and inviting me, to live in the good news of what he has done for us. So may we be a people that are all about this mission, may we be a people that are all about his kingdom, and may we be a people that live to lift high the name above all names. For Jesus Christ is the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords, and he wants you to know that he loves you and is inviting you to follow him.

George Wright: 39:00 Pray with me as we close our time this morning. Father, I'm so grateful, so grateful, for the reminder that you have given us of who you are and what you have done for us through Jesus Christ. I just confess, I so quickly forget, in the circumstances of life, the busyness of life, the chaotic schedule, the frantic running around from one thing to the next, the changing circumstances, it's so easy to forget who you are. And Lord, how grateful I am to be reminded of who you are, the incredible gift that you've given us, that you are God, that you have authority over all, that you have offered us this amazing gift of salvation through the finished work of Jesus. That you are the same yesterday, today, and forever. Lord, fix our eyes on Jesus, fix our eyes on eternity, use our lives for your glory. That we would finish the work that you have given us to do in the freedom of the finished work of Jesus Christ. It's in the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Recorded in Columbia, South Carolina.
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Shandon Baptist Church
5250 Forest Drive
Columbia, South Carolina 29206