John 17:18-21

Sunday Morning Bible Study

January 26, 1997


Jesus is on His last night with His beloved disciples.

He's given them plenty of instruction and warning about the times ahead as He leaves them.

He ends by praying for them.

Last week we talked about how Jesus prayed for us to be "sanctified", to be "holy", to be "set apart for His use", to be "clean and pure".

Now we see one of the reasons why He wants us to be "sanctified".

:18-19 Cleansed to go

:18 As thou hast sent me into the world,

Jesus came to do the will of the Father who sent Him.

Joh 5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

:18 even so have I also sent them into the world.

We've talked a lot the past few weeks about how we are "in the world but not of it".

We've talked about how that means that we are physically present in the midst of an evil society, but we are not to be a part of the evil.

Here's the big question:

Why do we have to stay in the world at all?

Why can't we just believe in Jesus, then get raptured directly into heaven?

Lesson #1:

We're here to share Jesus.

Jesus wants us to hang around for a reason.

We are His witnesses in this world.

Some people have the idea that as a Christian, we should have as little contact with the world as possible.

Monasteries, communes, etc.

We think the reason for the Christian coffee houses is to we don't have to go to the worldly coffee houses.

When they were really intended as a way of reaching unbelievers.

Yet Jesus doesn't say "get away from the world", He sends us INTO the world!

There's a difference between not being "of the world" and "isolating yourself from the world".

Don't be like them, but be there for them.

Paul wrote:

Rom 10:13-15 (KJV) For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. {14} How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? {15} And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

I know that many of you have this secret little dream of quitting your job and going to work in a place where everyone is a Christian, and everybody loves one another.

But could it be that God loves the pagans at your work so much, that He put you there to tell them about His love?

He's sending you.

How did the Father send Jesus into the world?

I think there's a sense in which Jesus is saying that the manner in which the Father sent Jesus, is the same manner Jesus sent His disciples.

Lesson #2:

Prepare to go.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus didn't start His ministry as soon as He was born?

After all, wasn't He truly God and truly man?

Yet after His birth, the next time you see Jesus was when He was twelve years old, and only briefly while He makes a visit to Jerusalem.

Then you read:

(Luke 2:52 KJV) And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

It wasn't until Jesus was about thirty years old (Luke 3:23) that His full ministry began.

The same pattern applies to the disciples.

When He first picked them out, they were not quite ready to be sent.

Mr 3:14 And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,

He picked them out first just to be with Him, but didn't send them until later.

Later on, after having been with Him for awhile, He sent them out:

Mr 6:7 And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits;

After their first missions trip, they gathered back with Jesus, for a time of more teaching and rest.

Mark 6:30-31 And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. 31 And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.

It's true that there's a sense in which God is able to use us from the very first moment that we give our heart to the Lord.

The woman at the well immediately went back and began to tell her whole city to come see Jesus (John 4).

The man healed of blindness did a great job of simply pointing people to Jesus (John 9).

But I believe there's also a sense in which we need to spend time with Jesus to be trained even more about how to serve Him.

I think that's what happens when we come to church and study the Word together.

I think that's what happens as you daily spend time reading and meditating on God's Word.

I think that's what happens when you take special classes, like the New Believers class.

This is one reason why I think it can be good to send my kids to a Christian school, to prepare them for reaching the world.

It's why we don't provide "babysitting" for the kids on Sunday morning, but have an entire ministry set up to be teaching and training our children to know Jesus and follow Him.

It's why we have things like the Ladies' Retreat coming up, to be encouraged, to be taught, to be trained for our ministries.

Be prepared, so you can go.


There is a story told about a faithful old deacon whose oft repeated prayer expression was, "O Lord, touch the unsaved with Thy finger."

One prayer meeting night he was leading in prayer when as he intoned this petition, as he so often did, he abruptly stopped praying. Supposing he had been taken suddenly ill, someone went to him and asked if there was anything wrong, if he were ill.

"No," he replied, "I'm not ill. But something seemed to say to me, 'Thou art the finger'."

:19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself

There are a couple of key ideas behind the idea of being "sanctified":

The basic idea is being "set apart for special use".

The secondary idea is being "cleansed".

For us to be set apart for God's use, we have to be cleansed first.


Just as Joseph, the dirty Jewish prisoner, had to change his clothes, shave, and take a bath before being brought out to meet the Pharoah, so we too have to be cleansed to come into the presence of a holy, pure God.

I don't think that Jesus is talking about Himself needing to be cleansed.

He was "without sin" (Heb.4:15)

I think Jesus is talking about how He set Himself apart for God's special use.

In particular, I think He's talking about God's plan to offer a sacrifice for our sins.

:19 that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

In the Old Testament, the priests were "sanctified" through the offering of sacrifices.

Ex 29:33 And they shall eat those things wherewith the atonement was made, to consecrate and to sanctify them: but a stranger shall not eat thereof, because they are holy.

This is talking about the sacrifices that were made for the priests during their ordination.

The sacrifices "consecrated" and "sanctified" the priests.

The sacrifices cleansed them and set them aside for service, and then they ate part of the sacrifice.

Here, I think the idea of "sanctified" carries both the ideas of being "set apart" for God's special use, as well as the idea of being "cleansed".

Heb 10:14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

Tit 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Jesus, through setting Himself aside for God's use, as a sacrifice for our sins, has made it possible that we could be "sanctified".

through the truth

A better translation of this verse would be: "And for their sakes I am sanctifying myself, in order that they might be sanctified in truth"


True cleansing starts with Jesus' work.

You're not going to experience true sanctification, true cleansing, until you understand what Jesus has done for you.

If you're trying to clean up your life so you can be good enough for God to like you, you'll never make it.

It's only through what Jesus has done for us on the cross that we can be acceptable and holy to God.


Last night at the outreach concert we looked at the story of a lady who needed healing and cleansing.

(Luke 8:43-44 KJV) And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, {44} Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched.

Only Jesus could solve her problem.


True service starts with Jesus' cleansing.

When we have been cleansed, then we can be sent.

We see the pattern in Isaiah's life:

(Isa 6:1-8 KJV) In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. {2} Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. {3} And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. {4} And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. {5} Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. {6} Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: {7} And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. {8} Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.

When Isaiah saw the Lord, he began to realize just how dirty and unworthy he was.

Often in worship, as we begin to magnify the Lord and think of His greatness and holiness, we become aware of how unworthy we are.

Isaiah's problem was solved by an angel taking a coal from the altar and cleansing Isaiah with it.

We are "sanctified" through the sacrifice of Jesus for us.

After Isaiah's cleansing, God asked who would go and speak for Him.

He's asking that same question today.

:20-21 Unity of believers

:20 Neither pray I for these alone

Jesus isn't just praying for these eleven disciples (Judas isn't with them).

:20 but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

He's praying for all those that would believe in Jesus through the word of the disciples.

And that includes us!

Everything He's prayed for, concerning the disciples, goes for us as well.

When Jesus was praying for the disciples to be kept in unity, He was praying for us (vs.11).

When Jesus was praying for the disciples to be kept from the evil of the world, He was praying for us (vs.15).

When Jesus was praying for God to set them apart and send them, He was praying for us (vs.17,18)

Jesus is praying for you.

(Heb 7:25 KJV) Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

(Rom 8:34 KJV) Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

:21 That they all may be one

Jesus' prayer is for our unity.

:21 that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.


Unity for ministry's sake.

One of the greatest witnesses to the world is when we learn to get along with each other in unity.

But there's something very troubling when we start backbiting and criticizing one another.


To dwell above with saints we love,

That will be grace and glory.

To live below with saints we know;

That's another story!

Too often, we make our standards for unity the wrong things. We unite over the wrong things.


One lady wrote, "My granddaughter was telling me that she and her three playmates all attended different churches. Then she added, 'It really doesn't matter if we go to different churches, does it Grandma -- just as long as we're all Republicans?'"

Our unity should be over the fact that we serve the same Lord!

We'll get much farther if we learn to work together.

We need to learn from the geese.


Next time you see geese flying along in V formation, you might be interested in knowing what science has discovered about why they fly that way. It has been learned that as each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in a V formation, the whole flock adds at least 71 percent greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.

(Christians who share a common direction and a sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier, because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.)

Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone, and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front.

(If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those who are headed the same way we are going.)

When the lead goose gets tired, he rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point.

(It pays to take turns doing hard jobs--with people at church or with geese flying south.)

The geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

(What do we say when we honk from behind?)

Finally, when a goose gets sick, or is wounded by a shot and falls out, two geese fall out of formation and follow him down to help and protect him. They stay with him until he is either able to fly, or until he is dead, and then they launch out on their own or with another formation to catch up with their original group.

(If people knew we would stand by them like that in church, they would push down these walls to get in.)

It's crazy not to get along with each other.


A man was visiting an insane asylum one day, and he noticed that all the insane people were on the field outside, but there was only one guard. He asked the guard, "Aren't you afraid?" The guard said, "Absolutely not." He said, "Don't you believe that since you are the only one here, these people could over-run you and break out of the asylum?" He said, "That's impossible." The man asked, "Why is that impossible?" The guard replied, "Because lunatics don't unite."

-- Tony Evans

If I'm a person who doesn't want to get along with others and put our differences behind us, what does that make me?

Are there Christians at work that you aren't getting along with?

Are there Christians that you turn your nose up at because their church might do some things a little differently than yours?

Have you allowed a silly argument to come between you and another Christian?

Jesus said:

(John 13:34-35 KJV) A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. {35} By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

We may not all agree on certain points of doctrine.

You may not agree with me concerning when the Rapture of the church takes place.

I may not agree with you as to what worship music should sound like.

We don't have to be a bunch of identical Christians.

It's not about cloning, it's about harmonizing.


Unity does not eliminate diversity. The absence of diversity is not unity; it is uniformity, and uniformity is dull. It is fine when the choir sings in unison, but I prefer that they sing in harmony.

-- Warren Wiersbe, Be Hopeful, p. 53.