The Hour Has Come
John 17:1-5; Matt 25:31-34, 41
Turn to John 17. This morning we enter what has been called the High Priestly Prayer by Christ. And we are only going to look at a few verses, but amazing verses.
“Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I glorified You on the earth, having finished the work which You have given Me to do. Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.’”
John 17:1-5 (LSB)
The significance of the name of this high priestly prayer is that Jesus is about to fulfill His role as Priest, as the go-between, providing what is needed for mankind because of man’s sin and providing a way for men and women to be made right before God. For this is what the cross is all about, as the major problem with mankind is that he stands condemned before God. The major problem is not global warming, the health care system, electricity versus gas, the goal to live longer in this life, or liberals versus conservatives. Those things are all human concerns that are all worth thinking about. And yes, I am glad that the pollution problem in the 70’s has been somewhat changed since those days. And that we do live in a country where we are cared for greatly relative to much of the rest of the world. And that technological advances are constantly being developed. I mean who would still want a 36” high x 36” wide x 36” deep TV sitting in their rec room that likely used to weigh the same as a piano if you had to move it? And I am sure that most of us are glad that the average life expectancy of a Canadian today is 82 years, whereas in 1920 it was just over 60 years. I’d be dead by now. My heart would have ceased to beat. And of course, we all desire the conservative values of things such as commitment, good marriages, hard work, honesty, better use of time, and wisdom with money. Many of those things that seem to have been stronger in former generations. And as important as some of these are and some maybe others, not as important, the greatest problem you and I will be concerned about 100 years from now; in other words, all of us, is our relationship with God.
And this is exactly what Jesus came to resolve. The purpose for Jesus coming to the earth as a Man was to reconcile men and women to God. Because God is holy and we are not holy. God is perfect and we are not perfect. God is sinless and we are sinful. And this is an ongoing problem as way back in Genesis 3, we are introduced to man’s problem. God created Adam and Eve and gave them great blessings together as a couple, as they lived in a perfect environment without sin. Which also means without irritation, without impatience, without failure, without sickness, without bugs! Their love for each other and for God would have been right and pure and good. And God placed parameters around them that they were able to do all these things, except they were not able to eat of one tree. And they sinned, they did what they were not supposed to do, and God said that now they would someday die. See, they would not have died if they had not sinned. You and I would never die if we did not sin. I have said before that when someone we know dies or we hear that someone has died on the news, we might say it was because someone was murdered, or killed in a fire, or a car accident, or they died of cancer or they had a heart attack, or maybe they just ate too much Kentucky Fried Chicken. But ultimately the reason you and I die is not because of any of those things. As those things are all only results of a deeper problem, our sin. As we all will die someday because we all sin.
And this is not a problem that you and I have because we sin at some point in our lives. No, the Bible teaches that we are born this way. All of us are bent on sin from the get-go. The Bible says that we received this sin nature through Adam. Sure, there is a relative innocence of children. But children are selfish because they already have a sin nature, and as we grow older we all fall to sin to some degree or another. Now sometimes we have amazing parents or we live in a helpful environment. But we all fall to selfishness, sinful thoughts, anger, hatred, wastefulness, envy, covetousness, materialism, sometimes hurting others; and good parents or bad parents, they too suffered with these same things. And this is no different than Adam and Eve. For God has placed boundaries around all men and women, around us. Commanding things such as don’t lie, but we have lied. Don’t hate, but Jesus said our anger is like hatred. Don’t be an adulterer, but Jesus said our lust is just as bad. Don’t covet, but we are be envious of others at times. So, the result is that we are guilty on all counts. For ultimately Jesus said that if you break even one of God’s laws, we are guilty of breaking all of them.
So, this is a problem, the problem. Sometimes you might hear a sermon and be thinking about someone else who might struggle with what the sermon is addressing. But I have to think there is no one here who wouldn’t be caught up in this problem. Any perfect people out there? Because the Bible says, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And it says, for the wages of sin or the fallout of that sin is death, eternal punishment. Don’t let the funeral talk cause you to be coaxed into thinking that I am going to be playing golf in heaven, or I am going to be sitting under a palm tree on a beach somewhere. All that is, is man’s ramblings and wishes, but without a hint of truth. This is just sinful man wishing himself the best, while ignoring what God has said. The Bible says:
“He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have that life.”
- John 5:12 (LSB)
Because it is God made us, in fact, God made everything that we enjoy. It was God who made those palm trees and that beach. It was God who made it possible for beautiful golf courses and beautiful anything. It was God who gave to you children and the blessing of marriage. It was God that allowed you to laugh and to eat and to enjoy life. Therefore, we are responsible to Him, and it is God’s right to place boundaries around us. It is His right to say that this is right and this is wrong. So, this becomes our responsibility, yet we have all sinned, and therefore this is the problem. And yet God did not leave us in our desperate situation. In fact, when Satan tempted Adam and Eve in the garden and they sinned, God promised mankind way back in Genesis 3:15 that someday Satan would injure Christ, but that Christ would ultimately defeat Satan.
Remember last Sunday, Jesus had warned His disciples that He was leaving and that things would likely get worse. But He encouraged them that during this time when more trouble would come that: the HS would be coming to them; that they would have the joy of seeing Christ exalted, for He would be resurrected and then they would see Him go into heaven; and that the Father loved them dearly. And talk about a climax here, where you have creation and then you have generations of sin and rebellion against God. And then Jesus is about to say here, Father, the hour has come.
If someone asked you about Albert Einstein. You would have to respond that he was one of the greatest scientists who ever lived. If someone asked you about Leonardo DaVinci. You would have to respond that he was one of the best artists to ever paint. If someone asked you about Wayne Gretzky. You would have to respond that he was one of the best hockey players of all time. But if someone asked you about Jesus Christ. You would have to respond that He was the Saviour of mankind. Because of everything He did, this was His primary reason to come into the world. The Apostle Paul said, this is a trustworthy saying and deserving of full acceptance by everyone, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. So, if someone asks you about Christ, there is much that could be said of Him. In fact, John said that if everything was written about all that Christ did, the world could not contain the number of books. But our first response must be that Jesus Christ came into the world, that He was God in the flesh, and that He gave His life, so that those who believed in Him would live.
“Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You.’”
John 17:1 (LSB)
Yes, the hour has come:
- For Christ to Receive Glory
Jesus said to His Father, glorify Your Son. Think of the life of Christ. He was born in a humble stable. He lived as a common Jew, fairly poor, nowhere at times to lay His head. He associated with the lowly for the most part, wandering out in the hillside, healing sick folks, and feeding the hungry. He was rejected mostly by His own people. And most who were of any standing that were around Him completely criticized His ministry and pitted others against Him. And the only real significant honour He received, we think of the transfiguration, was only witnessed by a few disciples. So, we have an entire life of 33 short years that was soon going to end. So, from anybody that was anybody, Jesus had not gained a lot of accolades. Now this does not mean that His life was meaningless. For His timetable was in exact accordance with the Father’s plan, as Christ Himself was very careful to not promote Himself too soon. We read in Matthew this week that Jesus directly told His disciples to not tell anyone that He was the Messiah. Matthew 16:20, He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ. This was partly important because if this got out too quickly, they would have killed Him earlier.
And because His time had not yet come, but now His time had come, the promise in Genesis 3:15 that Satan would bruise Jesus’ heal, as Satan caused Jesus to suffer while on earth; and the promise that Jesus would bruise Satan’s head, as Christ ultimately defeated Satan and sin at the cross. Teaching us that God is not on my schedule. God is not on the world’s timetable. No, this is all about God’s agenda and timing. For here we have 4,000 years of history, people doing their own thing and making their own plans, building their houses and going on their holidays, and planning for their retirement. And here God has no respect for those things and says, it is the time for My Son to be glorified. In fact, this time by God was not a last-minute decision. It was not like God the Father saw that My Son is not getting anywhere, so We had better act quickly here. No, all these events., all this timing had already been determined by God before the foundation of the world. Here the world, when they thought they were doing their own thing, when some ignored Christ, when some had come against Him to kill Him, God the Father was not floundering around wondering what to do. No, this was all according to His plan. The Apostle Paul wrote:
“For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.”
Acts 4:27-28 (LSB)
None of this was reactionary by God. No, it was all planned before history even began, and told to us in the beginning of Genesis. The Old Testament prophets knew about this. Isaiah told us that Jesus would be oppressed and afflicted, like a lamb that is led to slaughter, that He would not open His mouth, that He would be cut off out of the land of the living, and that Yahweh (His Father) would be pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief. But that just as Jonah was in the belly of the fish for 3 days, in 3 days, Jesus would be resurrected, and God the Father would glorify His Son. See, the world had had its way with Jesus, or so they thought. For He made no impact on their lives. His message was sort of, take it or leave it. Today the message of Christ is as little respected. The world would say, take it or leave it. What is your pleasure? Do whatever you want. Gamble your money away. Watch whatever you want. Don’t worry about purity or your marriage vow. Do what you like. Spend eight hours a day watching video games. It’s your life. Do you want to believe this? Believe it. If this is truth for you, then go for it. Write a book about it. The Christian faith? Jesus Christ? Serving Him? If it works for you, great; but if not, okay. But there is another statement in this passage that could really be taken as a warning, and remembering that God is not on your timetable. For Jesus has also said, the hour has come:
- For Christ’s Authority to Extend Over All
Verse 2, even as the Father has given the Son authority over all flesh. Well, this does not seem to be true, for there are a lot of people doing their own thing. Many people who believe in other religions and they are doing just fine. Actually, Job thought this in Job 21, he said, those who do not serve God grow old and powerful, they live to see their children grow up and settle down, and they enjoy their grandchildren, their homes are safe from every fear, and God does not punish them. Their children play, and they celebrate. They spend their days in prosperity, then go down to the grave in peace, and yet:
“They say to God, ‘Depart from us! We do not even desire the knowledge of Your ways. Who is the Almighty, that we should serve Him, And what would we profit if we entreat Him [or pray to Him]?’”
Job 21:14-15 (LSB)
John Piper spoke about this as well, that many today would say that Jesus is said to be the authority of all men and women but it is not seen in our day. No one seems to suffer who does not claim Christ as their Lord and Saviour. So why does He not seem like the ultimate Judge today or the ultimate authority? For where is His ministry of subduing anyway? But then Piper reminded his listeners that on average 150,000 people die every day into a Christ-less eternity, and then must stand before Him and His judgment. That is a sobering truth, but a real truth that we do not want to even think about. But Jesus Christ is the final authority of all men and women, for His authority extends over all. And just like His exaltation had an hour when it would come, at that same time God the Father granted the Son all authority, though it may not be evident to us, until, our time has come. And just as God had a time when He would bestow on His Son glory and authority, God has placed a time on you. Hebrews 9:27, “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.”
Our time on earth has already been determined by God. We might think that by keeping fit or eating better, all good things, might prolong our days, but ultimately it is God who has our days numbered. Psalm 139, the days of my life have already been written in the Father’s book, and after this comes the judgment. In other words, Christ, the Father’s Son has been given that authority to preside over the soul of all men and women of all time. The hour has come for Christ to receive glory. The hour has come for Christ’s authority to extend over all. And the hour has come:
- For Christ to Give Eternal Life
End of verse 2, that to all whom You, the Father, have given Him, Jesus Christ; He, Christ, may give eternal life. One of the things that might be confusing in the Bible is the vast difference between the descriptions of Christ. If we asked on the street, how would you describe Christ? The answers would be that He was kind and loving, He had compassion on the poor and insignificant, He healed people, He fed them, He stood before His accusers without a word, and the Bible talks about Christ being the gentle Lamb. I mean if you ever were in a jam and you had to fall into the hands of someone who would have mercy on you, it would be Christ. If you ever need help, who would you call? Christ. But then there are times in the Bible when we read about Christ differently. You think about the time when He came into the temple and drove out those who were selling. And then the Bible says things such as Christ will come and judge and make war, that His eyes are a flame of fire and from His mouth comes a sharp sword. And those in Matthew 25 where Jesus will say to some, depart from Me and go into the eternal fire which has been prepared for Satan and His demons, into eternal punishment. Now if you spoke with someone on the street, you would only get the first description of Christ, the loving, kind, compassionate Christ, but rarely Christ the eternal Judge. So, how do we blend these together? How do we justify such a difference in the character of Christ? In closing, turn with me to Matthew 25. If you do not have a Bible it is on your handout.
“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom, which has been prepared for you from the foundation of the world’ … Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.’”
Matt 25:31-34; 41 (LSB)
See, the difference is not in the character of Christ. The difference is with whom He is judging. Our passage in John says, this is eternal life to whom the Father has given to Him. As Jesus will deal differently with one group on the right, as opposed to the other on the left. Both groups are sinners. Some are bad sinners and some are even worse sinners, as John Piper says there are only two kinds of sinners, from the bad to the worst. I might like to think that I am a bad sinner, but even the Apostle Paul said that he was the worst of sinners. So, I better be careful where I place myself. Some are the sheep and some are the goats, So, there is not much to choose from, as both of them can be a little annoying at times. But Jesus said that the hour has come. In Acts 13, Paul preached that God is now commanding men that everyone everywhere should repent. See, those whom the Lord has called will repent of their sins and follow Him, they will serve Jesus Christ as their Lord and Shepherd. The difference between the sheep and the goats is that the sheep repent and serve Christ, and the goats do not.
And then Paul said, that God the Father has “fixed a day” (Acts 17:31) in which He will judge the world through Christ, His Son, a Man whom He determined. There it is again. Already been determined, already been fixed in time, resolved not to change, And Jesus said in Matthew 24, “Therefore stay awake, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming … For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.” Are you a dumb sheep or a stupid goat? Yes, not much to choose from. But the consequences are eternal. Are you a follower of Jesus Christ or are you not? Is the ultimate authority Jesus Christ, the Lord of your life or is He not? Do you strive to serve and obey Christ or do you not? Will He be your Friend when you stand before Him someday or will He be your enemy? We have some young people this morning who wish to display before all of us that they are sheep, that they desire to follow the Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Let’s pray. Lord, sometimes Your word is a comfort to us and sometimes it brings a warning. In this passage, it is a comfort to the sheep, and it is a warning to the goats. So, I would pray this morning for anyone who has never truly come to that decision in their lives, to follow the Shepherd, the only One who can give eternal life. And all God’s people said, amen.