The Prayer Life of Jesus (John 12:20-33): Praying for Our Spouse’s Work

The Prayer Life Of Jesus:
Pray for Your Spouse’s Work
John 12:20-33

“Prayer is a mighty instrument, not for getting man’s will done in heaven, but for getting God’s will done on earth” - Robert Law.

When USA Today did a poll asking Americans about their prayer life, 90% said they prayed and here is what we prayed for:

98% for our families
81% for the children of the world
77% for world peace
69% for our co-workers

The second series of sermons I have been doing this year is looking at the prayer life of Jesus and then making some application of His pattern for us today, primarily relative to praying for our spouses. But of course, the principles would apply to praying for ourselves or our friends.

Turn in your copy of God’s word to John 12:20-33…

This is the last week of Jesus on earth - 12:1 states that Jesus was anointed by Mary six days before Passover, when Jesus was crucified.

THE HOUR HAS COME - 12:20-23:
The mention of the Greeks is a reference to non-Jews coming to Jesus. Jesus only actively pursued the “lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But if He had an opportunity to teach and serve non-Jews, He would take that opportunity.

This is a strong indication that Jesus’ life on earth is drawing to a close and Jesus is going to point that out…

The Greeks came to Philip, whom John mentions was from Bethsaida in Galilee, probably because Galilee had a number of non-Jews living there and the Greeks perhaps believed that they would have more success in their request if they came to Philip. Philip himself went first to Andrew. It is interesting that every time Andrew is mentioned in the Gospel of John, he is bringing someone to Jesus! We don’t know why Philip went first to Andrew, but perhaps he saw a “soul-winner” in Andrew and he wanted to see what Andrew would say about these Greeks, who wanted to see Jesus.

When they brought the Greeks to Jesus, then He states that “the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”

The “hour” of the glorification of Jesus is a theme John uses through His gospel account. It is first referenced when Jesus’ mother wanted Him to turn the water in wine in John 2:4. In John 7:30, the Jews were seeking to arrest Jesus but they did not lay their hand on Him “because His hour had not yet come.” Clearly, the life of Jesus was operating on the time of the Father. In 8:20, again, His enemies wanted to arrest Jesus, but they did not “because His hour had not yet come.” It was not time for Jesus to be arrested, because it was not time for Jesus to be crucified.

But once Gentiles asked to see Jesus, He knew now was the time… Jesus says the hour for the Son of Man to be glorified had come. Jesus will reference this hour again in verse 27

In John 13:1, Jesus knew that the hour had come for Him to depart out of this world and go to the Father. In John 17, a prayer of Jesus which we’ll study in a month or two, Jesus tells the Father in that prayer that His hour has come for Him to be glorified.

You will notice in our text that Jesus said in verse 23 that the hour had come for Him to be glorified. Then in verse 28, Jesus’ prayer is, “Father, glorify your name.” And in verse 28, the Father answers the Son and says, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.”

The verb “to glorify” is used 23 times in the gospel of John. In some texts (like John 11:4), the idea means to reveal Jesus’ deity. But in some passages it specifically relates to Jesus’ resurrection (John 12:16). The whole idea is the idea of honor or vindication. God the Father will honor the Son by raising Him from the dead, which would also vindicate Jesus and prove that what He was saying and what He was teaching were true. We will notice in verses 31-33 that Jesus was specifically referring to His death and the subsequent resurrection.

So, here the “hour has come” for Jesus to complete the work that He had come to do.

John will later write in 1 John 3:8 that He came to “destroy the works of the devil.” That is, He came to destroy the power Satan has through sin over mankind, specifically the power Satan has to get people to die in their sins.

That’s the work of Christ. Now, because I’m trying to make this series as practical as I can, especially in the context of our marriage relationships, I want to talk about us husbands or wives praying for our spouse's work.

If you read Proverbs 31, you see that the perfect woman works hard. But if a man is Christ-like, he also works hard. He is the head of his family, he works so they can eat, he provides for his own. He loves his family and his wife as Christ loves the church.

Just as we need to appreciate the work that Jesus came to do, we also need to appreciate the work our spouse does. For any woman who is married, she has a job simply taking care of her husband and the home; if you have children, you have a full-time job just taking care of them. But a lot of women also work outside the home. You might need to help financially with your family. You might work simply because you enjoy serving in whatever way you do. You might (probably) work because you have a skill that contributes meaning to the lives of other people.

We need to pray for our spouse, that their work will be fulfilling and that they can accomplish through their work what God wants them to accomplish.

Notice the essence of this short paragraph is in verse 25…

First, Jesus emphasizes what He is saying, by saying “Truly, truly…” Then He gives a lesson in botany - if a grain of wheat does not fall to the earth and decompose, it will not produce fruit. For it to produce fruit, it has to fall into the earth and “die” or “decompose” in order for it to produce fruit. The idea here is that “death” produces life.

What is Jesus’ application? In verse 25, Jesus says that if we do not have the humility to put His service above our own lives, we cannot be His disciples. One who “loves his life” is one who will not serve Christ with all of his heart, soul, mind, and strength. He is more interested in serving self than in serving Christ. But if one “loves his life” (in a physical sense) he’ll lose his life spiritually. That is, if we are not humble toward Christ and His teachings, we cannot go to heaven.

Jesus states the same truth in the opposite direction… If we “hate our life in this world,” that is, we are willing to sacrifice whatever we need to sacrifice from a spiritual perspective in order to become a disciple of Christ and stay faithful to Christ, then we will “keep our lives” (spiritually speaking) to life eternal.

Then in verse 26, Jesus says the exact same thing in a more specific way… If we we want to serve Christ, we must follow Him. Wherever Jesus goes, we go. “Where I am, there My servant will be also.” If Jesus goes to the waters of baptism, we’ll follow Him. If Jesus goes to a sick person’s house, we will follow Him. If Jesus goes to the tomb of a friend, we will follow Him. If Jesus picks up a towel to wash His disciples’ feet, we’ll be there too. If Jesus goes to the cross, we will follow Him there too. That’s what it means to follow Jesus.

Then, notice that if we follow Jesus, just as surely as God the Father is about to vindicate Jesus by raising Him from the dead, Jesus promises us in verse 26 that if we serve Jesus, then the Father will also honor us. We’ll be vindicated! When we are raised from the dead to spend eternity with the Father and the Son, we will be honored above anything we have ever received and it will be more exciting than anything we have ever experienced.

Don’t hesitate to pray for your spouse to be all he or she can be in their work. Just because your spouse is successful, doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t need you. You are a part of their success and so are your prayers. Your wife will not be so successful that she says she doesn’t need you. She will say that she is successful because she has you. You will never feel intimidated by your wife or husband’s success if you are praying for them because their success is bathed in your prayers!

Here we have Jesus’ prayer, in verse 28. First, in verse 27, upon meditating on how Jesus was going to bring His work on earth to a close - that is, through the crucifixion - He tells His audience that His soul is troubled. This word literally means “shaken” or “stirred up.” Jesus’ soul was in knots, we might say. Then He asks His audience, “Should I ask My Father, ‘Save Me from this hour?’” This is the equivalent of Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, which we’ll study in a month or two.

“Save Me from this hour?” But Jesus said, on the contrary, “I came to this hour.” That is, the death on the cross was the very reason why Jesus came to earth. How could He pray that the Father would spare Him from the cross? How could Jesus ask the Father to spare Him from death? It would be through His death that Jesus would vindicate the nature of God and God’s truth. Remember, Jesus was crucified for teaching the truth, God’s truth. If Jesus would pray that God would keep Him from death, then God’s truth would not have been vindicated.

Instead, Jesus prayed in verse 28: “Father, glorify Your name.” In other words, Jesus prayed that God would do whatever was necessary in and through the life of Jesus for God’s name, God’s honor, God’s reputation, God’s character to be glorified, honored, vindicated. If it took the death of Jesus to vindicate the honor of the Father, then Jesus was willing to do that.

In response to Jesus’ prayer, God the Father actually spoke from heaven. The Father said, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The Father had glorified His name throughout the ministry of Jesus when the Son, in the name of the Father, performed all the miracles and good works which Jesus did. When Jesus raised Lazarus in the last chapter, by the power of the Father, then the Father glorified His name through the ministry of Jesus. So when God said that He would glorify it again, He is referring to raising Jesus from the dead, to vindicate the Son and the Son’s teachings, and the name of the Father whom the Son represented.

Now, the audience did not grasp the fact that God was speaking. Some thought they heard thunder; others thought it was an angel who was speaking. Jesus commented in verse 30 that God did not speak for the sake of Jesus; God spoke on their behalf. So they would be able to put the crucifixion of Christ in the broader theological context. That is the theme of the Bible in fact: The salvation of man through Jesus Christ (His death and resurrection) to the glory of God.

Think about this… The Father was interested in glorifying the Son. The Son was interested in glorifying the Father. That’s why they had such unity.

If you, as a married couple, can see the success of your spouse as God’s blessing on both of you, your marriage will be stronger and more fulfilling. Don’t limit your spouse’s potential because of envy or jealousy. Pray for your spouse’s success and your marriage can be stronger for it.

Even if your wife is a stay-at-home mom or a stay-at-home wife. She needs to know that you are praying for her success and her accomplishments. Your spouse needs your prayers, your affirmation, your encouragement, God’s blessings and His guidance.

With Jesus moving toward the cross, toward destroying the works of the devil, He states that the judgment is upon the earth; the ruler of the world - the devil - is cast out. Of course, this is not referring to the literal destruction of Satan. He will not be cast into eternal hell until the final judgment. But, the power of Satan through sin over humanity would be - has been - destroyed at the cross and the subsequent resurrection. Satan cannot have power over anyone who follows Jesus Christ.

In verse 32, using the event from Numbers 20 as a historical background, Jesus states that if He is lifted up from the earth, He will draw all men to him - remember that non-Jews have showed up in His audience (ver. 20).

In verse 33, John tells us that Jesus was indicating the kind of death He would die so “being lifted up from the earth” is a reference to Jesus’ crucifixion. It’s a reference to Jesus’ glorification. It’s a reference to Jesus completing His work which the Father sent Him to do.

What can you pray for, relative to your spouse’s work?

Pray that he/she will glorify Jesus in their work.
Pray that he/she will do their work well.
Pray that he/she will be respected for the work they do.
Pray that he/she will be compensated fairly for the work they do.
Pray that he/she will have the strength to accomplish what they need to do.
You will approve his or her work.
Pray that he/she will find fulfillment in their work.

Psalm 90:17 - “Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; And confirm for us the work of our hands; Yes, confirm the work of our hands.”

Proverbs 10:4 - "Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, But the hand of the diligent makes rich.”

Proverbs 10:16 - “The wages of the righteous is life, The income of the wicked, punishment.”

Proverbs 14:23 - “In all labor there is profit, But mere talk leads only to poverty.”

Joshua 1:8 - “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”

Take home message: Pray that Jesus will bless your spouse’s work and, in turn, bless your marriage.


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