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OUR SAVIOUR’S INTERCESSORY PRAYER, Sermon #758

These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee (JOH 17:1).

Our Saviour’s intercessory prayer begins with "Father," which is a word of confidence that is unmovable. The word Father instills confidence in the heart of a child. A child has no concern of who is paying the taxes, the rent or the utility bills. He is confident that his father will provide for him. It demonstrates the sweet parental relationship of Him whom He addresses. A little child can be turned loose in a crowd of people and feel totally lost, but as soon as he can take his father by the hand he is confident and has nothing to worry about.

By use of the word Father, Christ is demonstrating a confidence that what He asks will be granted. He lifted up his eyes to heaven in holy reverence and spoke the central theme of this prayer—that the Father glorify the Son, so that the Son may glorify him. Is this the central theme of our prayers? Are all of our requests centered on that which will bring glory to our Father?

See how blessedly our Saviour’s actions in His hour of greatest trial still correspond with His teachings. What we say must correspond with what we do. Christ not only commands prayer, but He also reveals how His Father’s being glorified in the Son must be the central theme of our prayer as we see in JOH 14:13. "And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." His entire motivation of granting what we desire is that His Father might be glorified in His doing so.

See the blessed promise the Lord Jesus Christ uses to commend obedience to such a precept in JOH 15:16. "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you." He promises a blessing upon obedience for praying this type of prayer. If we do not do what He has commanded us we may not expect the Father to give us what we ask.

Now to this precept and promise, our Lord adds His own example. The Lord does what He commands us to do. If Christ who is coequal with the Father prayed so earnestly in the hour of trial, how much more must we obey His precept to obtain the promises, that He be glorified in the trial we are in.

1TH 5:17-23 says, "Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." The Lord is looking at our hearts to see if this is our desire. This does not mean that we will be perfect. Our best righteousness outside of Christ is filthy rags in the sight of God. The Lord is looking at our hearts. He wants a heart religion. He wants us to come before Him in a childlike spirit addressing Him as our Father, with a desire to do His will. We must strive for holiness. This does not mean that we are holy in ourselves. This is talking about taking up our cross and crucifying our flesh.

Our Lord knew His own deliverance. He knew He would be raised from the dead. He knew of the joy that was set before Him. He had an eternal right to heaven and glory and also a new right by the purchase of perfect obedience unto death, yet He would have this right confirmed by prayer. So it is with all believers. Even if we are independently wealthy and have our assurance of mercy, yet we are commanded to acknowledge our dependency upon His grace as our Saviour taught in MAT 6:11-13. "Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen." This helps keep us humble, walking in the Spirit of Christ and dependent on the Lord. You and I still carry that old nature. We are still subject to temptation, and we must ask for this deliverance daily. The Lord wants us to acknowledge these things and reflect as a little child our dependence upon Him.

It is good to recognize that Christ did not commence His intercessory prayer saying "Our Father." He distinguishes between His relationship with the Father and ours even though we are coheirs with Him. JOH 20:17 says, "Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God." He is a Son who is coequal with the Father, and we cannot lay claim to that. We are sons by adoption in Christ.

ROM 8:15-17 says, "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." His relationship with the Father is the original relationship, and our relationship is only through Him. In our land, if you have a natural child and then you have an adopted child, you can disinherit your own child, but you cannot disinherit an adopted child. So now we become joint-heirs with Christ. We are not heirs by nature; Christ is. We can be glorified together with Christ, but we have no glory outside of the glory we have in Jesus Christ.

What an unspeakable blessing when we receive that spirit of adoption whereby we can, "cry, Abba, Father," that we can address Him as our Father. With such a parental relationship with our heavenly Father, we beam with affection, holy reverence, confidence and childlike submission, under the most trying circumstances. See Christ’s example in MAT 26:39, "And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." Think of a time when your child may have been on his death bed. It would draw all of your love and affection for such a one, and that is where the heart of our heavenly Father is toward His children. He was able to restrain His love for His own Son because of the love He had for such wretches as we are. We call into remembrance His parental love when we call to Him, "Abba, Father." We come with reverence, yet we also come with childlike submission. We can take the Father’s hand as a little child, confident that He will take care of all of our needs. We confess that our hearts are in unconditional submission to His will.

See how that all Christ’s prayers are bottomed on this parental relationship with His Father. JOH 17:5 says, "And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was."

Our Saviour taught by His example and in His teaching that we are to come unto God through faith, addressing Him as our Father. MAT 6:9 says, "After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name." We are to come before God respecting Him and acknowledging that parental relationship, which denotes authority and submission, reverence, dependency.

The great work of the Holy Spirit is to rebuild this family relationship between those whom the Father has loved from eternity and Himself. In paradise, we that parent-son relationship with God the Father. We rebelled against that authority. It is in that spirit of adoption that we acknowledge and accept that He is our Father, and that we bow to that authority, that we are drawn by that affection and love.

Those who remain under the "spirit of bondage" unto sin and self, may well cry "Lord Lord," but they cannot cry, "Abba, Father." We see this in MAT 7:22-23, "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." They could not address God as Father because there was no humble submission to His will. They were not in His service. They were still working iniquity even though they called Him Lord.

Those who rightly "cry, Abba, Father" are not the workers of iniquity. Can you dare to be a worker of iniquity and come and say, "Our Father"? The spirit of a true child of God is a submissive spirit to the will of the Father. Our Saviour said in MAT 7:20-21, "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." Those are the ones who enter His kingdom. They serve under His Kingship. They humbly submit and obey.

If a person prays to God and says, Our Father, yet He has a heart of rebellion and loves to work iniquity, he is taking the Lord’s name in vain. The self-sacrificial Spirit of Christ tends to a right to cry, "Abba, Father," with a submissive, childlike faith. For those who remain in the service of sin, to call God their Father is to take His name in vain. Christ counts none to be His brethren who are not sanctified. HEB 2:10-11 says, "For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren." If we have not been adopted in the Lord Jesus Christ and sanctified, we cannot call God our Father. We are not one in Christ.

The unclean ravens may cry unto God for providential provisions, which God will hear and supply, but they cannot call God their Father. This does not mean that they possess grace. PSA 147:9 says, "He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry." This is written to encourage the believer to trust in the mercy of the loving Father of all creation, and to teach us to do good, even to our enemies. If we are going to have the image of God, if we are going to have the Spirit of God, we see that God even grants to His enemies things in providence.

MAT 5:44-45 teaches us to show love and mercy to our enemies, following the example of our heavenly Father. "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." If God the Father does this, ought not we as children of the Father, to pray for our enemies and do good to those who despitefully use us. God gives His enemies the bounties of His providence for which they will have to account on the day of judgment that they have sinned against such love.

Crying "Lord, Lord" as a creature is not half as sweet as to cry, "Abba, Father" as a child with a submissive, childlike faith. GAL 4:6-7 says, "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ." This is a ground of hope and expectation that will not make ashamed. Only those whom He has sanctified is He not ashamed to call His brothers.

Christ, the Son of God, was about to step into His Father’s wrath to appease His wrath upon our sin, yet He addresses Him as Father. The Lord Jesus did not lose sight of the loving, tender affection of His Father just because He was about to step into the Father’s wrath. The hour had come to meet the just demands of our Father with Him as our surety for a debt that we could not pay, yet He addresses Him as Father, not as Judge. A surety is one who has taken upon himself to pay what the debtor is not able to pay. He did not come before the Father as a righteous judge, He came before Him as a tender, loving Father, fulfilling all the demands of the law in our behalf, that you and I might be able to cry, "Abba, Father." These truths are beyond all human understanding.

In so doing, our Surety teaches us by His own humble obedience as His acknowledgment of His Father’s love, that in all adversities we must maintain our claim of adoption and behave ourselves like children, even in the utmost adversity. Whatever the Lord brings upon us, it is from a loving Father’s hand. When we see that He is using His chastening hand, we do not start questioning our salvation. These are but tokens of His love, of His sanctifying work, of His purging and cleansing us from our sins. Many people when faced with adversity resort to alcohol or drugs to blot it out of their minds, but we must accept the adversity as from Him. HEB 12:5-8 says, "And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons." As the Lord takes you and me through the furnace of afflictions for purification, we must not lose sight of His loving hand, that it is in His love that He chastens us. The Lord is a God of the valleys as well as of the hills. If we are without chastisement, we cannot claim God as our Father; we have no heavenly Father.

To be exempted from the cross is to be excluded from the family of God as dear children, and brethren of Christ. The bramble is allowed to grow wild, but see what we read about the vine in JOH 15:1-2. "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit." He does not do this for the bramble. He does not allow His children to go out and destroy themselves. Even though it is painful to our flesh, He brings us into childlike submission. HEB 12:11 says, "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." There is a joy of being sanctified, that we may be brethren with Christ, that we can be adopted into the family of God.

Fatherly acts are not only directed with authority but with loving care. A slave driver may correct with cruelty and malice, but loving fathers do not deal so with children. HEB 12:9-10 says, "Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness."

To express the parental love of our heavenly Father, His bowels of love are likened unto those of a mother. Throughout Scripture we see that the heart of the Father yearns for His children. ISA 49:15-16 says, "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me." His love for us exceeds the natural love of a mother for her children. Those walls are our security, our eternal security. It is impossible for Him to forget us. Every time His hands are before His face, He sees our names written there. Every scar in His hand was engraved there to pay for our sins.

He is likened unto a natural father to illustrate His wisdom and loving care. MAT 6:31-33 says, "Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Seek in the original means to go after these things with our utmost desires. He will provide these things. We do not have to run after them. We do not have to make them our care.

If we have a trial in providence, where should we go? We should come before Him and seek His will and what we can do to enter into His service and not be so worried about our problems in this life. He has it all under control, and He can correct it by just speaking a word. What He wants is our hearts.

Our natural fathers may have chastised us with some mixture of passion or fleshly corruption, but our heavenly Father’s corrections are perfected with love and sound judgment. A natural father may overreact out of fleshly passion, but our heavenly Father knows exactly what chastening it takes to bring us into the furnace of affliction to purify us that we might be partakers of His holiness. It is for our own good. This is the only reason He sends chastening.

A schoolteacher said she had a discipline problem, and I asked her, Why do you not use some discipline? She replied, By the time I get over there I am not mad any more. That is not the way to discipline. You do not discipline a child because you are mad. A man told me, It is obvious that the Lord is punishing you for this, or for this, or for this. I said, No, I am sorry. I do not agree with you. If Christ is mine, and I am His, then my sins have already been punished. The Lord is not punishing, but He may be correcting. If that be the case, I am willing to kiss His hand. That is a totally different thing.

Therefore, we can say with Christ as in JOH 18:11b, "The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?" We do not have to become discouraged when the Lord brings His chastening hand. Even every bitter cup comes from a loving Father’s hand. Can we not taste the sweetness in a cup, when we know it was first touched by our Saviour’s lips, when we know that He has drunk from that very cup in our behalf? Does that not take the pain and bitterness out of it?

PRO 27:7 says, "The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet." Even the most bitter trials can become so sweet when we have a right appetite for the things of the Lord. When we rightly understand our loving Father’s hand, then the bitter things He gives us to drink, are sweet.


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