I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf "of those" who will believe in me through their word; John 17:20.
A few years ago we were studying the week leading up to the crucifixion and part of my reading for that lesson was John 17. Richard Brunton told me that Steve Brown, a pastor, motivational speaker and founder of the Key Life Network, calls this passage the real Lord's Prayer. It is a beautifully written passage, with the words of Jesus as he prays to his Father, mind you, almost immediately before he is taken by the Jews. There is so much in this chapter that can be studied, discussed and have sermons written about from now until the end of time. However, after I finished reading John 17, caught my breath and my heart quit racing, verse 20 jumped out at me. And ever since that day, I had a whole new outlook on the bible. On if the words from 2,000 years ago are relevant to today's world and even more so, relevant to me. You see, I believe all of us, at one time or another, have a hard time seeing how God's word, written 2,000 years ago applies to our lives. Well for me, after reading John 17:20, I never really felt like that again.
Jesus was offering this prayer to his Father on behalf of the apostles, his friends. In the hours prior to being subjected to a suffering he knew would be extremely painful and torturous, Jesus took the time to pray for his friends. And every time I read that passage, it just warms my heart. You can feel the love he has for them and the genuine concern he has for them when they have to fend for themselves in the world. I can see why Mr. Brown calls this the real Lord's prayer. And in the midst of praying for his friends, Jesus prays verse 20. And in that verse, believe it or not, Jesus prayed for you, for me and for all of us.
How did you first come to Jesus or to God's word? Maybe it was via a Christian upbringing. Maybe through a church you attended or attend right now. Maybe through your parents, or another family member or close friend. Maybe a Sunday School teacher or pastor. However it happened, I would say for most of us, it was through the works of another person of faith. And how do you think it happened for them? Probably through one of those same channels. So when Jesus prayed not only for his disciples, but for those who will believe in him through their word, he in essence was praying for all of us. The words of the apostles were delivered to others of faith, who delivered those words to the next group of believers and so on and so on, until those words made it to the person or vessel that brought Jesus to you and to me. So yes, the words of 2,000 years ago are for you and for me, as was a part of this amazing prayer.
And finally, what's really great about being brought to Jesus is that it's not a one time thing, like if you miss it, you don't get another shot. In fact, you might have even got it and then lost it, but he's still there, he's still waiting for you to come to him for the first time, or to come back to him. And short of divine intervention, guess how that happens? Usually through the good works of those doing God's bidding on this earth. My first introductions to Christ were most definitely through my Catholic upbringing. However, I had those dark spiritual years as a teen and 20 something where making it to church was about my only contact with Jesus. And then over the next 30 years or so, I rode the spiritual roller coaster, through the highs and lows of my faith, often being brought back up by one "of those".
You see, Jesus prayed for us way back when he walked this earth. It's right there in John 17:20 and I know that he is praying for you and for me every day, 2,000 years later. My prayer for you is that you have many "of those" in your life and that you are one "of those" to others.