The Bible is the most powerful book in the world, and that is evidenced by the countless millions of lives that have been radically changed from reading/hearing it throughout history. The sense of awe, wonder, and amazement that one feels when reading the inspired Word of God is almost beyond description. All of those powerful emotions truly come to a head when one enters the sacred ground of Jesus’ high-priestly prayer in John 17. Honestly, whenever I endeavor to read John 17, my mind always wanders back to God’s message to Moses at the Burning Bush in Exodus 3:5, “Do not come any closer,’ God said. ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.’” John 17 is holy ground! It graciously gives us an intimate look at one of Jesus’ prayers to His Father, and I am awestruck with its beauty each and every time I read through this chapter in the Bible. Sounding the Depths: When Jesus Prays for His People by Michael A. Milton is brief glimpse at the Jesus’ high-priestly prayer in which Milton draws attention to the character, compassion, conviction, truthfulness, submission, humility, and trust that Jesus both prays for in his followers, and exemplified before them.
Chapter 1 of the book takes a look at the character, compassion, and conviction of Jesus’ prayer. The character is unique (nothing else like it), victorious, deep, and intimate. The compassion of the prayer is seen in that it is rooted in the covenant relationship of the triune God, revealed in ministry, and reaching out to His people. And finally, the conviction of the prayer comes into play whenever we understand that Jesus was not only praying for His disciples at that present time, but He was also praying for everyone who would believe in Him throughout history. As Milton says, “This kind of compassion which was demonstrated in Jesus’ prayer leading to His death for sinners, leading to God’s descending into the grave, leading to His resurrection and ascension and coronation as Lord of all in heaven, leading to His Spirit being poured out on His people for worldwide ministry coming down to this very movement, must have a profound effect upon our hearts and our wills.”
Chapter 2 deals with the truth that not only Jesus stands for, but also for the truth that He prays we would come to know in and through Him. The fact remains that truth can be known because, “Your word is truth.” Truth is both personal and propositional (teachings that propose something that can be either affirmed or denied). Also, because the truth can be known it is powerful to save, separate, seal, sanctify, and send.
Chapter 3 focuses on four myths about submission in the life of believers. Christ was our model as it pertains to submission, so if we are to truly understand what biblical submission looks like then we need to look no further than the life Christ modeled for us and the prayer He prayed for us in John 17. The four myths about submission that Milton talks briefly about are: (1) Submission to God is a loss of our freedom; (2) Submission is a loss of identity; (3) Submission is a loss of purpose, and; (4) Submission is a loss of joy. Milton not only identifies these four myths concerning submission that we struggle against, but he also provides us with the clear-cut answer to dealing with these struggles by consistently drawing our attention back to the life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ.
The focus of Chapter 4 is what constitutes authentic faith, and how can you tell if you have it. According to Milton and his analyzation of John 17:20-23, true faith begins with the prayer of Jesus, is a response to testimony, produces union with Christ, bears witness to the world, and is a love like no other. The importance of this chapter cannot be overstated as authentic faith is so unique, but it rarely gets treated that way in today’s society. Faith is a very flippant term that is described at times by the secular world as “fresh, vibrant, intelligent, and liberating.” The world tries to convince you that faith doesn’t require a belief system, and it also does not need to have any conjunction to a deity or God. If you just trust your deepest emotional experiences, then you will be okay, but that is completely contrary to the Bible, and specifically to what Jesus prayed for in John 17.
Chapter 5 talks in depth about the humility of Jesus Christ, even though it is a word that is not specifically used in John 17 but rather demonstrated in the life of Christ. The image of humility is modeled by Christ in His role as God’s Son, His role as Servant, and His role as sacrifice. I loved the freshness that this chapter brought to the image of the humility of Christ. Just thinking about the incarnation and the active and passive obedience of Christ caused me to worship the Lord for the sincere model of humility that He lived out before us.
The last Chapter of the book focuses the attention of the reader on “Trusting in the Christ who prays for you”, and is an exposition of John 17:20-26. Milton reminds us that Jesus prayed for each and every believer before they were born (John 17:20), He prayed for you before He died for you, and He prayed for you though some of us will not pray to Him (either because some readers are still unbelievers, or they are weak Christians who are struggling in their prayer lives).
Sounding the Depths, even though it is a quick read, accomplishes what Milton set out to do with it and that is to help his readers see the beauty and depth of the high-priestly prayer of Jesus Christ in John 17.
I received this book for free from EP Books via Cross Focused Media for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”