Jesus had a system of BELIEFS. By “beliefs,” we do not mean opinions or thoughts or suggestions. “Beliefs” for Jesus meant declarations of reality. As God the Son, Jesus had no need for people to tell Him what to think. As the Creator of the universe, He not only knew what was true but declared truth every time He spoke.
The first critical issue we noticed was His BELIEF about Himself. How did He view Himself? He saw Himself as One on mission, as One who came not to be served, but to serve, and to give Himself as a ransom for sinners (Mk. 10:45).
The second critical issue about which Jesus expressed a very strong belief concerns the world. He says much about the world in His high priestly prayer in John 17. There we learn —
- He shared the Father’s glory “before the world began” (v. 5).
- He revealed the Father to those the Father gave Him “out of the world” (v. 6).
- He specifically prays for these believers and is “not praying for the world” (v. 9).
- He will “remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world . . .” (v. 11).
- He is saying these things “while [He is] still in the world” (v. 13).
- The world hates His followers, for “they are not of the world any more than I am of the world” (v. 14).
- His prayer is specifically not that the Father take “them out of the world but . . . protect them from the evil one” (v. 15).
- A second time He says “they are not of the world, even as I am not of it” (v. 16).
- As the Father sent the Son into the world, “I have sent them into the world” (v. 18).
- The oneness of believers will help the world “believe that you sent me” (v. 21).
- The unity of believers will lead to the world knowing that the Father sent the Son and has loved the followers of Jesus even as He loved Jesus (v. 23).
- Jesus wants His disciples to see the glory the Father gave the Son “because you loved me before the creation of the world” (v. 24).
- The world does not know the Father, Jesus knows the Father and His followers know that the Father sent Him (v. 25).
Fifteen times Jesus uses the word “world.” We learn that He shared the Father’s glory before the world began (v. 5) and that He was loved by the Father before the creation of the world (v. 24). He has come into the world and is leaving the world (vv. 4-5). He is not of the world, nor are His disciples (vv. 14, 16). The disciples are those whom the Father gave the Son out of the world (v. 6) and are sent into the world (v. 18). Jesus doesn’t pray that His followers would be taken out of the world, but that they would be kept from the evil one (v. 15). Jesus doesn’t pray for the world, (for the world doesn’t know the Father, v. 25), but for His followers (v. 9). How the followers of Jesus relate to one another will help the world believe the Father sent the Son (v. 21). Their unity will lead the world to know the Father sent the Son and loves those who follow His Son (v. 23).
The term “cosmos” (“world”) can mean three things: (1) the physical planet; (2) the people of the planet; (3) the pagan system opposed to God and the things of God. An interesting study would be to ask: What specific meaning does the word “world” have in each of the fifteen uses of that word here in John 17?
- How do you relate to the world as a follower of Jesus?
- How can you be “in the world” but not have the world “in” you?