Here’s Looking Towards Heaven

Here’s Looking Towards Heaven

A warm welcome to another edition of Brooklands Digital Church.

The message is given by our Pastor Karl Stanfield, and can be listened to as audio using the LISTEN button above. An audio MP3 is also available via the SAVE button.

The Bible readings are taken from John 17:1- 11 and 1 Peter 5:6-11.

The service starts with a 15 minute countdown, where we share some news and announcements. Please use the scroll bar to skip straight through to the service/message if desired.

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Sermon Transcript:

INTRO: As you know we always include prayers in our services. We have both Opening and Pastoral prayer and sometimes we say together The Lord’s Prayer, not forgetting a few congregational prayers. Now there is a thing – the Lord’s Prayers – how many recorded prayers of Jesus do we have in the Bible; very few actually.

The ones we do have include the Prayer Jesus taught his disciples, the prayer recorded in Matthew 11 where Jesus prays for those feeling weary, which includes the words, ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest’.

You also have the prayer of Jesus standing at the tomb of Lazarus where he, ’looked up’ and thanked his father saying, ‘I knew that you always hear me…’ And I think that alongside his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane and a couple of one sentence prayers from the Cross – that is it. John chapter 17 is, one could argue, a series of prayers and his most extensive collection all in one place.

I love the way it all starts –

‘He looked towards heaven and prayed’. (John 17: 1)

So this morning then, ‘Here’s looking towards Heaven’ together! We look up so that we might see everything else around us in a better light. I have to say though, t was… 1. A Defining Moment!
Something significant had just been declared. Here it is in verse

1. “After Jesus said this, he looked towards heaven and prayed: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.” (John 17:1)

We use the phrase, ‘It’s Time’ about lots of insignificant things; its 9.45am, I am in my study and I think to myself, ‘it’s time for a coffee’. Up until coronavirus came along, at 9.20 am every Sunday morning, I would say to Ingrid, ‘It’s time to go to church! It was the que to make sure we had everything we needed at the front door. Then about 10.30pm every evening, without much of an announcement we turn off the lights and head upstairs because… it’s time for bed! None of those are defining moments, but this one was…!

Within a number of hours and days the answer to this prayer would ultimately mean Jesus’ arrest, crucifixion and Resurrection! It was a series of events that would culminate in an event that many recalled last week; Thursday to be precise, when we recall the anniversary of Christ’s Ascension to Glory. That is what Jesus refers to in verse 5… “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” (John 17:5)

This defining moment encapsulates everything that Jesus did for us. God’s only begotten Son gave up his splendour for the 33 years he lived here so that we might believe – and in believing, that our name might be written down in Glory!

When we place our trust in Christ our name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life; a record kept in heaven’s glory.

But this does not mean we can forget about what goes on around us. Jesus, if you remember conducted a ministry that helped, healed and held peoples’ hopes together. In fact, the little things Jesus did for so many people have become huge things – who could ever forget that Jesus touched a Leper! This is compassionate ministry, even today.

There is a song the band had in mind to learn before lockdown came along. The line of the chorus says, ‘There’s a new name written down in glory – and it’s mine! I’ve met the author of my story, and He’s mine, yes He’s mine!

2. Our Personal Prayer

It was the Father’s delight to answer the prayer of His One and only Son. In a sense, it should become as personal to us as the Lord’s Prayer is. When I first read this passage in preparation for this morning, I lingered a little longer at Jesus’ prayer in verse 3 where it says, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3) The reason I lingered and re-read it a few times was because it didn’t seem to sit right.

If I had said this prayer I feel sure I would have said it like this… “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Me, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3) Instead, it is couched differently. The wisdom of a certain commentator helped me a great deal. N.T. Wright said of this, ‘it is John – the writer – making this prayer of Jesus’ his very own. John turns phrases round so that they become (so to speak) pray-able by the Christian community.’

I believe that Jesus is very interested in our well-being here and now. Much of Jesus ministry and miracles which he performed was about the immediate needs of people, compassion for the outcasts of society, and giving all people dignity etc. While not neglecting these important aspects of ministry (and should I also say, of our humanity), Jesus ultimate focus was revealed in this prayer.

In this Defining Moment upon which we are focused; in this Personal Prayer that must become ours, we see that this eternal weight of glory stands on its own –

incomparable with anything else…

Bereft of stewardship, many people invest everything they have in a temporal domain so they can be king for a day, even if the day might turn out to be 20 years or more; but come to an end it must, and then who will get it? The spirit of this prayer of Jesus is humility and – it is key to life.

Our second reading from Peter has these wise words: “clothe yourselves with humility towards one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.’ (1 Peter 5: 5-6)

Peter goes on to offer this timely advice for today, ‘Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.’ In humility – and what an example of humility it was – Jesus placed every aspect of his ministry and manner in the Hands of the Father seated in Glory.

Friends, the time has come; ten weeks into lock-down we must always look up! ”Til we cast our crowns before Thee, Lost in wonder, love, and praise. (C Wesley).

Blessings to all!