This entry is part 6 of 15 in the series: The Fountain of Life (Flavel)
- The excellency of knowing Christ crucified
- Christ’s primeval glory
- Christ’s wonderful person
- Christ’s humiliation in his incarnation
- Christ’s humiliation in his life
- Christ’s prayer for his people
- The Lord’s Supper
- Christ’s illegal trial and condemnation
- The nature of Christ’s death
- ‘Father, forgive them’
- Flavel on Jesus’ cry of dereliction
- “It is finished”
- ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit’
- The resurrection of Christ
- The ascension of Christ
A summary of ch. 20 of John Flavel’s The Fountain of Life.
“And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to you. Holy Father, keep through your own name those whom you have given me, that they may be one, as we are.” John 17:11
This scripture contains the first preparative of Christ for death, whereby he sets his house in order, prays for his people, and blesses them before he dies.
1. We have here Christ’s petition, or request in behalf of his people, that his Father would keep them through his name. 1 Pet 1:5.
2. The arguments with which he urgeth and presses on this request, are drawn partly from his own condition, “I am no more in the world;” that is I am going to die; partly from their condition: “but these are in the world;” that is I must leave them in the midst of danger; and partly from the joint interest his Father and himself had in them; “Keep those that you have given me”.
DOCTRINE. That the fatherly care, and tender love of our Lord Jesus Christ, was eminently discovered in that pleading prayer he poured out for his people at his parting with them.
I. What those mercies and special favors were, which Christ begged for his people, when he was to die.
1. The mercy of preservation, both from sin and danger: so in the text; “Keep, through your own name, those whom you have given me”, which is explained, ver. 15. “I pray not that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil.”
2. Another mercy he prays for, is the blessing of union among themselves. This he joins immediately with the first mercy of preservation, and prays for it in the same breath, verse 11. “That they may be one, as we are.”
3. A third mercy that Christ earnestly prayed for, was, that his “joy might be fulfilled in them,” verse 13. He would provide for their joy, even when the hour of his greatest sorrow was at hand; yes, he would not only obtain joy for them, but full joy: “that my joy might be fulfilled in them.”
4. And as a continued spring to maintain all the aforementioned mercies, he prays that “they all may be sanctified through the word of truth”, verse 17.
5. And lastly, as the complement and perfection of all desirable mercies, he prays, “that they may be with him, where he is, to behold his glory,” verse 24.
II. See with what arguments he pleads with the Father for these things.
1. The first argument is drawn from the joint interest, that both himself, and his Father, have in their persons, for whom he prays, “All mine are your, and your are mine,” verse 10. Everyone cares for his own, provides for, and secures his own. Property, (even among creatures) is fundamental to our labor, care, and watchfulness; they would not so much prize life, health, estates, or children, if they were not their own. Lord these are your own by many ties or titles: O therefore keep, comfort, sanctify, and save them, for they are yours.
2. The second argument follows on the heels of the former, “And I am glorified in them;” q. d. my glory and honor are infinitely dear to you; I know your heart is entirely upon the exalting and glorifying of your Son. Now, what glory have I in the world, but what comes from my people?
3. He adds, in the beginning of this verse, “And now I am no more in the world.” No more, that is, as to his corporeal presence. And this would leave them in sadness and trouble. While I was with them, I could help and comfort them. But now I must be gone. Therefore, O my Father, look you after them, see to them, for they are your as well as mine.
4. Then our Lord subjoins another great consideration: “But these are in the world.” The world is a sinful, infecting, and unquiet place; it lies in wickedness. I must leave them. They are your children, to be left in a strange country; your soldiers, in the enemies quarters; your sheep, in the midst of wolves; your precious treasure, among thieves.
5. He adds: “And I come to you.” As his leaving them was an argument, so his coming to the Father is a mighty argument also. I am coming, through many sufferings, to you as your Son, and as their advocate. Give them a little taste of that intercession work, which I shall live forever to perform for them in heaven. O give a comfortable earnest of those good things which I am coming to you for, and which I know you will not deny me.
6. And he tells the Father how careful he had been to observe, and perform that trust which was committed to him; “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in your name; those that you gave me, I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition” ver. 12. I have kept them safe while here on the earth; now I commit them to your care. O let them not fail now; Let not one of them perish.
III. Why did he thus pray and plead with God for them, when he was to die?
Certainly, it was not in order to overcome any unwillingness on the part of the Father. He was already sure of the Father’s love for them, Jn 16:27.
1. He foresaw a great trial then at hand, yes, and all the aftertrials of his people as well as that.
2. He desired to give us a specimen of his intercession-work in heaven, that by this we might understand what he would do for us, when he should be out of sight.
3. He would leave this as a standing monument of his father-like care, and love to his people, to the end of the world.
IV. How then does this give evidence of Christ’s tender care and love to his people?
1. In the choice of mercies for them. He does not pray for health, honor, long life, riches, etc. but for their preservation from sin, spiritual joy in God sanctification and eternal glory. No mercies but the very best in God’s treasure will content him.
2. That he should so intently affectionately plead your concerns with God, at such a time as this was. He does as it were forget his own sorrows, to mind our peace and comfort. O love unspeakable!
Corollary 1. If this be so, that Christ so eminently discovered his care and love for his people, in this his parting hour; then hence we conclude, The perseverance of the saints is unquestionable.
Corollary 2. Argumentative prayers are excellent prayers. God calls us to plead with him, Isa. 1:18. “Come now let us reason together.” “God (as one observes) reasons with us by his word and providences outwardly, and by the motions of his Spirit inwardly: let we reason with him by framing (through the help of his Spirit) certain holy arguments, grounded upon allowed principles, drawn from his nature, name, word, or works.” Isa. 62:6. “You that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence, give him no rest.”
Corollary 3. What an excellent pattern is here, for all that have the charge and government of others committed to them, whether magistrates, ministers, or parents, to teach them how to acquit themselves towards their relations, when they come to die?
Corollary 4. Hence we may see, what a high esteem and precious value Christ has of believers; this was the treasure which he could not quit, he could not die until he had secured it in a safe hand; “I come unto you, holy Father, keep through your own name those whom you have given me”.
Surely believers are dear to Jesus Christ; and good reason, for he has paid dear for them: let his dying language, this last farewell, speak for him, how he prized them.
Blessed be God for Jesus Christ!