He prays for us
Last summer, I went to Canada with a team from our church to visit some missionary friends. Even though we were as prepared as I thought we could be, we were still detained at the border for nearly an hour.
Thankfully, we made it into the country, although not without a minor bit of stress. Within two hours of the border fiasco, I had the distinct displeasure of viewing the flashing lights of a police car in my rearview mirror.
"Sir, I pulled you over because you were going 73 in a 50 zone." Wow! That's fast! Oh, wait. Canada uses the metric system. 73 kilometers per hour is pretty close to 50 miles per hour. Whoops. Conversion is a beast.
And so within two hours in a new country, I had been detained by immigration agents and then ticketed by Canada's finest (and I thought the cops up there only rode horses!).
We had spent a lot of time preparing and praying for this trip to go smoothly, but by now I wasn't sure if we would ever get to our destination. Thankfully, that was the end of our troubles with the law, and the remainder of our trip was smooth and wonderful.
One of the things that consistently threatens to derail discipleship—that is, following Jesus—is the presence of continual resistance and opposition in our lives.
Like being pulled over—again and again. Or being continuously undermined by a passive-aggressive employee. Or constantly being questioned about your decisions by a spouse or child or in-law. We all know what resistance and opposition feel like.
Thankfully, Jesus is not surprised by this kind of opposition. Jesus himself faced opposition from his own people, betrayal by a close friend, and death at the hands of strangers. He faced opposition all the way to his death. So he knows what he's talking about.
He also knew that we, too, would face opposition. So Jesus prepared his disciples for it, telling them they would "have tribulation" in this world. But "take heart," he assured them, "I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). Facing opposition did not turn into defeat for Jesus. It exploded into victory!
And along with the comfort of Jesus' victory—the fact that we fight in a battle with a fixed and certain outcome—we can be assured in the midst of opposition that Jesus has not left us alone.
"Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age," he promised his disciples (Matthew 28:20).
Indeed, he has even sent the Holy Spirit to be with and in all those who believe (John 14:16-17). He has not left us as orphans (John 14:18). These are profound promises of his presence and our belonging.
Jesus has also ensured us that his mind and heart are with us in the midst of the opposition of this world. He proves this in the fact that he prays for us.
The 17th chapter of John is a written testament to the fact that the Son of God himself actively prays for his people. We can take great comfort in knowing that Jesus—nearly 2,000 years ago—was praying for us: "I do not ask for these only [those disciples who were present], but also for those who will believe in me through their word [all of his disciples throughout all of time]…" (verse 20).
Jesus was praying for us who believe — and lest we think he didn't include us in this sweeping prayer, let us remember that we belonged to him even then, for "he chose us in him before the foundation of the world" (Ephesians 1:4). Jesus is not limited by our timeframes.
Take this in: The Son of God prayed for us. For you and for me. If you are his disciple by faith, the fact is that Jesus continues to pray for you, for he "always lives to make intercession" for His followers (Hebrews 7:25). He is "at the right hand of God … interceding for us" (Romans 8:34).
In a world where we constantly face resistance and opposition, what greater thing could you ask for than the God of the universe loving you so much—even in spite of yourself—that he would be praying for you even now?
If you don't know him yet, this should be reason enough to respond to Jesus in faith. He is Someone worth knowing—for this reason and so many more!
Mike Phay is the lead pastor at First Baptist Church. He can be reached at 541-447-7717.