Christ's Pastoral Prayer for His People
September 1, 1889
C. H. SPURGEON
"I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them."John 17:9-10.
To begin with, I remark that our Lord Jesus pleads for his own people. When he puts on his priestly breastplate, it is for the tribes whose names are there. When he presents the atoning sacrifice, it is for Israel whom God hath chosen; and he utters this great truth, which some regard as narrow, but which we adore, "I pray for them: I pray not for the world." The point to which I want to call attention is this, the reason why Christ prays not for the world, but for his people. He puts it, "For they are thine," as if they wore all the dearer to him because they were the Father's: "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me, for they are thine." We might have half thought that Jesus would have said, "They are mine, and therefore I pray for them." It would have been true; but there would not have been the beauty of truth about it which we have here. He loves us all the better, and he prays for us all the more fervently, because we are the Father's. Such is his love to his Father, that our being the Father's sheds upon us an extra halo of beauty. Because we belong to the Father, therefore does the Savior plead for us with all the greater earnestness at the throne of the heavenly grace.
But this leads us on to remember that our Lord had undertaken suretyship engagements on account of his people; he undertook to preserve the Father's gift: "Those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost." He looked upon the sheep of his pasture as belonging to his Father, and the Father had put them into his charge, saying to him, "Of thine hand will I require them." As Jacob kept his uncle's flocks, by day the heat devoured him, and at night the frost but he was more careful over them because they were Laban's than if they had been his own; he was to give in an account of all the sheep committed to him, and he did so, and he lost none of Laban's sheep; but his care over them was partly accounted for by the fact that they did not belong to himself, but belonged to his uncle Laban.
Understand this twofold reason, then, for Christ's pastoral prayer for his people. He first prays for them because they belong to the Father, and therefore have it peculiar value in his eye; and next, because they belong to the Father, he is under suretyship engagements to deliver them all to the Father in that last great day when the sheep shall pass under the rod of him that telleth them. Now you see where I am bringing you to-night. I am not going to preach at this time to the world any more than Christ upon this occasion prayed for the world; but I am going to preach to his own people as he in this intercessory prayer pleaded for them. I trust that they will all follow me, step by step, through this great theme; and I pray the Lord that, in these deep central truths of the gospel we may find real refreshment for our souls to-night.
I. In calling your attention to my text, I want you to notice, first, THE INTENSITY OF THE SENSE OF PROPERTY WHICH CHRIST HAS IN HIS PEOPLE.
Here are six words selling forth Christ's property in those who are saved: "Them which thou hast given me"(that is one); "for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them." There are certain persons so precious to Christ that they are marked all over with special tokens that they belong to him; as I have known it man write his name in a book which he has greatly valued, and then he has turned over some pages, and he has written his name again; and as we have sometimes known persons, when they have highly valued a thing, to put their mark, their seal, their stamp, here, there, and almost everywhere upon it. So, notice in my text how the Lord seems to have the seal in his hand, and he stamps it all over his peculiar possession: "They are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine." It is all possessive pronouns, to show that God looks upon his people as his portion, his possession, his property. "They shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I makeup my jewels." Every man has something or other which he values above the rest of his estate; and here the Lord, by so often reiterating the words which signify possession, proves that he values his people above everything. Let us show that we appreciate this privilege of being set apart unto God; and let us each one say to him
"Take my poor heart, and let it be
For ever closed to all but thee!
Seal thou my breast, and let me wear
That pledge of love for ever there."
I call your attention, next, to the fact that, while there are these six expressions here, they are all applied to the Lord's own people. "Mine" (that is, the saints) are thine (that is, the saints); "and thine" (that is, the saints) I are mine (that is, the saints). These broad arrows of the King of kings are all stamped upon his people. While the, marks of possession are numerous, they are all set upon one object. What, doth not God care for anything else? I answer, No; as compared with his own people, he cares for nothing else. "The Lord's portion is his people: Jacob is the lot of his inheritance." Has not God other things? Ah, what is there that he has not? The silver and the gold are his, and the cattle on a thousand hills. All things are of God; of him, and by him, and through him, and to him are all things; yet he reckons them not in comparison with his people. You know how you, dearly beloved, value your children much more than you do anything else. If there were a fire in your house to-night, and you could only carry one thing out of it, mother, would you hesitate a moment as to what that one thing should be? You would carry your babe, and let everything else be consumed in the flames; and it is so with God. He cares for his people beyond everything else. He is the Lord God of Israel, and in Israel he hath set his name, and there he takes his delight. There doth he rest in his love, and over her doth he rejoice with singing.
I want you to notice these different points, not because I can fully explain them all to you; but if I can only give you some of these great truths to think about, and to help you to communion with Christ tonight, I shall have done well. I want you to remark yet further, concerning these notes of possession, that they occur in the private intercourse between the Father and the Son. It is in our Lord's prayer, when he is in the inner sanctuary speaking with the Father, that we have these words, "All mine are thine, and thine are mine." It is not to you and to me that he is talking now; the Son of God is speaking with the Father when they are in very near communion one with the other. Now, what does this say to me but that the Father and the Son greatly value believers? What people talk about when they are alone, not what they say in the market, not what they talk of in the midst of the confused mob, but what they say when they are in private, that lays bare their heart. Here is the Son speaking to the Father, not about thrones and royalties, nor cherubim and seraphim, but about poor men and women, in those days mostly fishermen and peasant folk, who believed on him. They are talking about these people, and the Son is taking his own solace with the Father in their secret privacy by talking about these precious jewels, these dear ones that are their peculiar treasure. You have not any notion how much God loves you. Dear brother, dear sister, you have never yet had half an idea, or the tithe of an idea, of how precious you are to Christ. You think, because you are so imperfect, and you fall so much below your own ideal, that, therefore, he does not love you much; you think that he cannot do so. Have you ever measured the depth of Christ's agony in Gethsemane, and of his death on Calvary? If you have tried to do so, you will be quite sure that, apart from anything in you or about you, he loves you with a love that passeth knowledge. Believe it. "But I do not love him as I should," I think I hear you say. No, and you never will unless you first know his love to you. Believe it; believe it to the highest degree, that he so loves you that, when there is no one who can commune with him but the Father, even then their converse is about their mutual estimate of you, how much they love you: "All mine are thine, and thine are mine."
Only one other thought under this head, and I do but put it before you, and leave it with you, for I cannot expound it to-night. All that Jesus says is about all his people, for he says, "All mine are thine, and thine are mine." These high, secret talks are not about some few saints who have reached a "higher life", but about all of us who belong to him. Jesus bears all of us on his heart, and he speaks of us all to the Father: "All mine are thine." "That poor woman who could never serve her Lord except by patient endurance, she is mine," says Jesus. "She is thine, great Father." "That poor girl, newly-converted, whose only spiritual life was spent upon a sick-bed, and then she exhaled to heaven, like a dewdrop of the morning, she is mine, and she is thine. That poor child of mine, who often stumbles, who never brought much credit to the sacred name, he is mine, and he is thine. All mine are thine." I seem as if I heard a silver bell ringing out; the very tones of the words are like the music from the harps of angels: "Mine,thine; thine,mine." May such sweet risings and fallings of heavenly melodies charm all our ears!
I think that I have said enough to show you the intensity of the sense of property which Christ has in his people: "All mine are thine, and thine are mine."
II. The next head of my discourse is, THE INTENSITY OF UNITED INTEREST BETWEEN THE FATHER AND THE SON CONCERNING BELIEVERS.
First, let me say that Jesus loves us because we belong to the Father. Turn that truth over. "My Father has chosen them, my Father loves them; therefore," says Jesus, "I love them, and I lay down my life for them, and I will take my life again for them, and live throughout eternity for them. They are dear to me because they are dear to my Father." Have you not often loved another person for the sake of a third one upon whom all your heart was set? There is an old proverb, and I cannot help quoting it just now; it is, "Love me, love my dog." It is as if the Lord Jesus so loved the Father that even such poor dogs as we are get loved by him for his Father's sake. To the eyes of Jesus we are radiant with beauty because God hath loved us.
Now turn that thought round the other way, the Father loves us because we belong to Christ. At first, the Father's love in election was sovereign and self-contained; but now, to-day, since he has given us over to Christ, he takes a still greater delight in us. "They are my Son's sheep," says he; "he bought them with his blood." Better Stilly "That is my Son's spouse," says he, "that is my Son's bride. I love her for his sake." There was that first love which came fresh from the Father's heart, but now, through this one channel of love to Jesus, the Father pours a double flood of love on us for his dear Son's sake. He sees the blood of Jesus sprinkled on us; he remembers the token, and for the sake of his beloved Son he prizes us beyond all price. Jesus loves us because we belong to the Father, and the Father loves us because we belong to Jesus.
Now come closer still to the central thought of the text, All mine are thine." All who are the Son's are the Father's. Do we belong to Jesus? Then we belong to the Father. Have I been washed in the precious blood? Can I sing to-night
"The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in his day;
And there have I, though vile as he,
Washed all my sins away"?
Then, by redemption I belong to Christ; but at the same time I may be sure that I belong to the Father: "All mine are thine." Are you trusting in Christ? Then you are one of God's elect. That high and deep mystery of predestination need trouble no man's heart if he be a believer in Christ. If thou believest in Christ, Christ hath redeemed thee, and the Father chose thee from before the foundation of the world. Rest thou happy in that firm belief, "All mine are thine." How often have I met with people puzzling themselves about election! They want to know if they are elect. No man can come to the Father but by Christ; no man can come to election except through redemption. If you have come to Christ, and are his redeemed, it is certain beyond all doubt that you were chosen of God, and are the Father's elect. "All mine are thine."
So, if I am bought by Christ's precious blood, I am not to sit down, and say how grateful I am to Christ as though he were apart from the Father, and more loving and more tender than the Father. No, no; I belong to the Father if I belong to Christ; and I have for the Father the same gratitude, the same love, and I would render the same service as to Jesus; for Jesus puts it, "All mine are thine."
If, to-night, also, I am a servant of Christ, if, because he bought me, I try to serve him, then I am a servant of the Father if I am a servant of the Son. "All mine, whatever position they occupy, belong to thee, great Father," and they have all the privileges which come to those who belong to the Father. I hope that I do not weary you; I cannot make these things entertaining to the careless I do not try to do so; but you who love my Lord, and his truth, ought to rejoice to-night to think that, in being the property of Christ, you are assured that you are the property of the Father. "All mine are thine."
"With Christ our Lord we share our part
In the affections of his heart;
Nor shall our souls be thence removed
Till he forgets his first-beloved."
But now you have to look at the other part of it: "and thine are mine." All who are the Father's are the Son's. If you belong to the Father, you belong to the Son. If you are elect, and so the Father's, you are redeemed, and so the Son's. If you are adopted, and so the Father's, you are justified in Christ, and so you are the Son's. If you are regenerated, and so are begotten of the Father, yet still your life is dependent upon the Son. Remember that, while one Biblical figure sets us forth as children who have each one a life within himself, another equally valid figure represents us as branches of the Vine, which die unless they continue united to the stem. "All thine are mine." If you are the Father's, you must be Christ's. If your life is given you of the Father, it still depends entirely upon the Son.
What, a wonderful mixture all this is! The Father and the Son are one, and we are one with the Father and 'with the Son. A mystic union is established between us and the Father, by reason of our union with the Son, and the Son's union with the Father. See to what a glorious height our humanity has risen through Christ. By the grace of God, ye who were like stones in the brook are made sons of God. Lifted out of your dead materialism, you are elevated into a spiritual life, and you are united unto God. You have not any idea to-night of what God has already done for you, and truly it doth not yet appear what you shall be. A Christian man is the noblest work of God. God has hero reached the fullness of his power and his grace, in making us to be one with his own dear Son, and so bringing us into union and communion with himself. Oh, if the words that I speak could convey to you the fullness of their own meaning, you might spring to your feet, electrified with holy joy to think of this, that we should be Christ's, and the Father's, and that we should be thought worthy to be the object of intricate transactions and inter-communions of the dearest kind between the Father and the Son! We, even we, who are but dust and ashes at our very best, are favored as angels never were; therefore let all praise be ascribed to sovereign grace!
III. And now I shall only detain you a few minutes longer while I speak upon the third part of our subject, that is, THE GLORY OF CHRIST: "And I am glorified in them." I must confess that, while the former part of my subject was very deep, this third part seems to me to be deeper still, "I am glorified in them."
If Christ had said, "I will glorify them," I could have understood it. If he had said, "I am pleased with them," I might have set it down to his great kindness to them; but when he says, "I am glorified in them," it is very wonderful. The sun can be reflected, but you need proper objects to act as reflectors; and the brighter they are, the better will they reflect. You and I do not seem to have the power of reflecting Christ's glory; we break up the glorious rays that shine upon us; we spoil, we ruin so much of the good that falls upon us. Yet Christ says that he is glorified in us. Take these words home, dear friend, to yourself, and think that the Lord Jesus met you to-night, and as you went out of the Tabernacle, said to you, "Thou art mine, thou art my Father's; and I am glorified in thee." I dare not say that it would be a proud moment for you; but I dare to say that there would be more in it to make you feel exalted for him to say, "I am glorified in you," than if you could have all the honors that all the kings can put upon all men in the world. I think that I could say, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word," if he would but say to me, "I am glorified in thy ministry." I hope that he is; I believe that he is; but, oh, for an assuring word, if not spoken to us personally, yet spoken to his Father about us, as in our text, "I am glorified in them"!
How can this be? Well, it is a very wide subject. Christ is glorified in his people in many ways. He is glorified by saving such sinners, taking these people, so sinful, so lost, so unworthy. When the Lord lays hold upon a drunkard, a thief, an adulterer, when he arrests one who has been guilty of blasphemy, whose very heart is reeking with evil thoughts, when he picks up the far-off one, the abandoned, the dissolute, the fallen, as he often does, and when he says, "These Shall be mine; I will wash these in my blood; I will use these to Speak my word," oh, then, he is glorified in them! Read the lives of many great sinners who have afterwards become great saints, and you will see how they have tried to glorify him, not only she who washed his feet with her tears, but many another like her. Oh, how they have loved to praise him! Eyes have wept tears, lips have spoken words, but hearts have felt what neither eyes nor lips could speak, of adoring gratitude to him. "I am glorified in them." Great sinners, Christ is glorified in you. Some of you Pharisees, if you were to be converted, would not bring Christ such glory as he gets through saving publicans and harlots. Even if you struggled into heaven, it would be with very little music for him on the road, certainly no tears and no ointment for his feet, and no wiping them with the hairs of your head. You are too respectable ever to do that; but when he saves great sinners, he can truly say, "I am glorified in them," and each of them can sing,
"It passeth praises, that dear love of thine,
My Jesus, Savior: yet this heart of mine
Would sing that love, so full, so rich, so free,
Which brings a rebel sinner, such as me,
Nigh unto God."
And Christ is glorified by the perseverance which he shows in the matter of their salvation. See how he begins to save, and the man resists. He follows up his kind endeavor, and the man rebels. He hunts him, pursues him, dogs his footsteps. He will have the man, and the man will not have him. But the Lord, without violating the free will of man, which he never does, yet at length brings the one who was most unwilling to lie at his feet, and he that hated most begins to love, and he that was most stouthearted bows the knee in lowliest humility. It is wonderful how persevering the Lord is in the salvation of a sinner; ay, and in the salvation of his own, for you would have broken loose long ago if your great Shepherd had not penned you up within the fold. Many of you would have started aside, and have lost yourselves, if it bad not been for constraints of sovereign grace which have kept you to this day, and will not let you go. Christ is glorified in you. Oh, when you once get to heaven, when the angels know all that you were, and all that you tried to be, when the whole story of almighty, infinite grace is told, as it will be told, then will Christ be glorified in you!
Beloved, we actively glorify Christ when we display Christian graces. You who are loving, forgiving, tender-hearted, gentle, meek, self-sacrificing, you glorify him; he is glorified in you. You who are upright, and who will not be moved from your integrity, you who can despise the sinner's gold, and will not sell your conscience for it, you who are bold and brave for Christ, you who can bear and suffer for his name's sake, all your graces come from him. As all the flowers are bred and begotten of the sun, so all that is in you that is good comes from Christ, the Sun of righteousness; and therefore he is glorified in you.
But, beloved, God's people have glorified Christ in many other ways. When they make him the object of all their trust, they glorify him, when they say, Though I am the chief of sinners, yet, I trust him; though my mind is dark, and though my temptations abound, I believe that he can save to the uttermost, I do trust him." Christ is more glorified by a sinner's humble faith than by a seraph's loudest song. If thou believest, thou dost glorify him. Child of God, are you to-night very dark, and dull, and heavy? Do you feel half dead, spiritually? Come to your Lord's feet, and kiss them, and believe that he can save, nay, that he has saved you, even you; and thus you will glorify his holy name. "Oh!" said a believer, the other day, "I know whom I have believed; Christ is mine." "Ah!" said another," that is presumption." Beloved, it is nothing of the kind; it is not presumption for a child to own his own father; it might be pride for him to be ashamed of his father; it is certainly great alienation from his father if he is ashamed to own him. "I know whom I have believed." Happy state of heart, to be absolutely sure that you are resting upon Christ, that be is your Savior, that you believe in him, for Jesus said, "He that believeth on me hath everlasting life." I believe on him, and I have everlasting life. "He that believeth on him is not condemned." I believe on him, and I am not condemned. Make sure work of this, not only by signs and evidences, but do even better; make the one sign and the one evidence to be this, "Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners; I, a sinner, accept his great sacrifice, and I am saved."
Especially, I think that God's people glorify Christ by a cheerful conversation. If you go about moaning and mourning, pining and complaining, you bring no honor to his name; but if, when thou fastest, thou appear not unto men to fast, if thou canst wear a cheerful countenance, even when thy heart is heavy, and if, above all, thou canst rally thy spirit out of its depths, and begin to bless God when the cupboard is empty, and friends are few, then thou wilt indeed glorify Christ.
Many are the ways in which this good work may be done; let us try to do it. "I am glorified in them," says Christ; that is, by their bold confession of Christ. Do I address myself to any here who love Christ, but who have never owned it? Do come out, and come out very soon. He deserves to have all the glory that you can give him. If he has healed you, be not like the nine who forgot that Christ had healed their leprosy. Come and praise the name of the great Healer, and let others know what Christ can do. I am afraid that there are a great many here to-night who hope that they are Christians, but they have never said so. What are you ashamed of? Ashamed of your Lord? I am afraid that you do not, after all, love him. Now, at this time, at this particular crisis of the history of the Church and the world, if we do not publicly take sides with Christ, we shall really be against him. The time is come now when we cannot afford to have go-betweens. You must be for him or for his enemies; and to-night he asks you if you are really his, to say it. Come forward, unite yourself with his people, and let it be seen by your life and conversation that you do belong to Christ. If not, how can it be true, "I am glorified in them"? Is Christ glorified in a non-confessing people, a people that hope to go slinking into heaven by the by-roads or across the fields, but dare not come into the King's highway, and travel with the King's subjects, and own that the belong to him?
Lastly, I think that Christ is glorified in his people by their efforts to extend his kingdom. What efforts are you making? There is a great deal of force in a church like this; but I am afraid that there is a great deal of waste steam, waste power here. The tendency is, so often, to leave everything to be done by the minister, or else by one or two leading people; but I do pray you, beloved, if you be Christ's, and if you belong to the Father, if, unworthy though you be, you are claimed with a double ownership by the Father and the Son, do try to be of use to them. Let it be seen by your winning others to Christ that he is glorified in you. I believe that, by diligent attendance to even the smallest Sabbath-school class, Christ is glorified in you. By that private conversation in your own room, by that letter which you dropped into the post with many a prayer, by anything that you have done with a pure motive, trusting in God in order to glorify Christ, he is glorified in you. Do not mistake my meaning with regard to serving the Lord. I think it exceedingly wrong when I hear exhortations made to young people, "Quit your service as domestics, and come out into spiritual work. Business men, leave your shops. Workmen, give up your trades. You cannot serve Christ in that calling, come away from it altogether." I beg to say that nothing will be more pestilent than such advice as that. There are men called by the grace of God to separate themselves from every earthly occupation, and they have special gifts for the work of the ministry; but ever to imagine that the bulk of Christian people cannot serve God in their daily calling, is to think altogether contrary to the mind of the Spirit of God. If you are a servant, remain a servant. If you are a waiter, go on with your waiting. If you are a tradesman, go on with your trade. Let every man abide in the calling wherein he is called, unless there be to him some special call from God to devote himself to the ministry. Go on with your employment, dear Christian people, and do not imagine that you are to turn hermits, or monks, or nuns. You would not glorify God if you did so act. Soldiers of Christ are to fight the battle out where they are. To quit the field, and shut yourselves up alone, would be to render it impossible that you should get the victory. The work of God is as holy and acceptable in domestic service, or in trade, as any service that can be rendered in the pulpit, or even by the foreign missionary. We thank God for the men specially called and set apart for his own work; but we know that they would do nothing unless the salt of our holy faith should permeate the daily life of other Christians. You godly mothers, you are the glory of the Church of Christ. You hard-working men and women, who endure patiently "as seeing him who is invisible," are the crown and glory of the Church of God. You who do not shirk your daily labor, but stand manfully to it, obeying Christ in it, are proving what the Christian religion was meant to do. We can, if we are truly priests unto God, make our everyday garments into vestments, our meals into sacraments, and our houses into temples for God's worship. Our very beds will be within the veil, and our
inmost thoughts will be as a sweet incense perpetually smoking up to the Most High. Dream not that there is anything about any honest calling that degrades a man, or hinders him in glorifying God; but sanctify it all, till the bells, upon the horses shall ring out, "Holiness to the Lord," and the pots in your houses shall be as holy as the vessels of the sanctuary.
Now, I want that we should so come to the communion-table tonight, that even here Christ may be glorified in us. Ah, you may sit at the Lord's table wearing a fine dress or a diamond ring, and you may think that you are somebody of importance, but you are not! Ah, you may come to the Lord's table, and say, "Here is an experienced Christian man who knows a thing or two." You are not glorifying Christ that way; you are only a nobody. But if you come to-night saying, "Lord, I am hungry, thou canst feed me; that is glorifying him. If you come saying, "Lord, I have no merit, and no worthiness, I come because thou hast died for me, and I trust thee," you are glorifying him. He glorifies Christ most who takes most from him, and who then gives most back to him. Come, empty pitcher, come and be filled; and, when thou art filled, pour all out at the dear feet of him who filled thee. Come, trembler, come and let him touch thee with his strengthening hand, and then go out and work, and use the strength which he has given thee. I fear that I have not led you where I wanted to bring you, close to my Lord and to the Father, yet I have done my best. May the Lord forgive my feebleness and wandering, and yet bless you for his dear name's sake! Amen.
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