John 17. We Hear Jesus Pray to the Father.
Key Notes: Seven prayers. Jesus submits His final report. Six petitions. Disciples in the world. Four servants who would have prefered to die. Jesus' glory.
Jesus prayed. He prayed publicly and He prayed privately.
Jesus' seven audible prayers in the New Testament are instructive. They show His immediate and intimate contact with the Father, a relationship we would desire to have as well. They also show profound respect, as of a Son to His Father.
*He prayed in a moment of exaltation: “I thank Thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou has hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was Thy gracious will.” Matt.11:25,26
*At Lazarus’ tomb: “Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard Me. I knew that Thou hearest Me always, but I have said this on account of the people standing by, that they may believe that Thou didst send Me.” Jn.11:41–42
*When Greeks came to Him. “Father, glorify Thy Name.” Jn.12:28
*The High Priestly prayer: “Father, the hour has come…” Jn.17:1
*In the Garden: “My Father, if it be possible….” Matt.26:39–44. Mark adds "Abba". (Mk.14:36)
*On the cross: “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Matt.27:46
*“Father, into Thy hands I commit My Spirit.” Lk.23:46
The private prayers we would love to have heard:
During His baptism. Lk.3:21
At the beginning of His ministry. Mk.1:35
When multitudes gathered. Lk.5:16
Before appointing the twelve disciples. Lk.6:12
After feeding 5000 (Lk.9:18) and before walking on Sea of Galilee.
During the Transfiguration. Lk.9:29
Jesus gave the Lord’s Prayer to us as a template. (Matt.6:9–13). It has several bases to cover before petitions are offered. But when Jesus prays, there is no preamble: He prays as if He were in constant communication with the Father, but with utmost deference; He calls Him “Holy Father” 17:11 and “Righteous Father” 17:25. The prayer is also a statement to the disciples of who Jesus really is, and what He is doing. It is a unique piece of literature and a window into who God is. The prayer is in three parts: He prays for
a restoration of His glorified position. 17:1–5
the unity and integrity of the disciples 17:6–19
future generations of believers. 17:20–26
1–5. Jesus asked the Father to return Him to the glory of His pre-incarnate and prehistoric place. Jesus had glorified the Father on earth by giving eternal life to all the elect. He gives us the crucial doctrinal statement that Eternal Life is knowing the Father and Jesus Christ Whom He had sent. [This is the only place in Scripture where Jesus uses His formal name--and only in the presence of the disciples.]
6–19. Jesus had given the Father’s word to the disciples and they believed Him. They know; they received; they believed. He does not pray for the World, but for those who must remain in the World, that they would be one. He was glorified in them and He prayed that His joy would be fulfilled in them. He had guarded them so that only Judas was lost. The Scripture fulfilled is probably Psa.41:10 "...my bosom friend...has lifted up his heel aganst Me." He knew they were hated by the World, but prayed that God would keep them from the Evil One and that they might be sanctified, totally dedicated to God, as He was.
20–26. Then Jesus prayed for future believers, praying for their unity, their glory, and their eventual experience of Jesus in His pre-incarnate, prehistoric glory. He uses a strong word “I will” or “I desire” 17:24 that the disciples would be with Him.
He gave a report of His work to the Father.
He glorified the Father on earth.
He completed the work He had been given to do. 17:4
He manifested the Father’s name to His chosen one. 17:6
He gave them His Father’s words. 17:8, 14
He guarded and kept the disciples. 17:11, 12, 15
He was sending them into the World. 17:18
He gave them His glory from the Father. 17:22
He made a number of petitions
Glorify the Son. 17:1,5
Keep the disciples. 17:11, 15
Have my joy fulfilled in them. 17:13
Sanctify them. 17:17
May they be one. 17:21, 22, 23)
May they behold His glory. 17:24
Jesus spoke of the disciples in the World.
They were given to Him out of the World. 17:6
They were left in the World. (17:11), but they were not of the World. 17:14
They are hated by the World, but God must keep them from the Evil One. 17:14, 15
As Jesus was sent in to the World, so they were sent into the World. 17:18
Their love will lead the World to know that Jesus was the Sent One. 17:22
There are several individual lessons.
“And this is eternal life, that they know Thee, the Only True God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” It is Christ, and the knowledge of Him that gives us eternal life. We have heard the complaint more than once: “I tried Christianity and it didn‘t work. “ That is a correct observation. But we are not concerned with “it”—the religion--- but with Him. The trappings of religion—prayers and penance, liturgy and ceremony, alms-giving and candle-lighting—cannot transform the heart. Knowing God and Jesus is the transforming goal.
“I do not pray that Thou shouldst take them out of the World….” Four of God’s chosen workers did pray to be taken out of the world.
*Moses was overwhelmed with the burdens of caring for Israel. Num.11:15
*Elijah was exhausted from his confrontation with Baal worship and distraught from Jezebel’s threat.IK.19:4
*Jonah was angry at God’s care for Ninevah and asked to die. Jon.4:1–4
*Paul, too, would have been happy to be with Lord, but knew He was to stay on duty.
“My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is necessary on your account. Convince of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all…..” Phil.1:19–26
“And for their sake I consecrate Myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth.”
Jesus consecrated Himself, set Himself apart for the Cross.
Parents must likewise consecrate themselves for the sake of their children. Parents know that they must discipline their own behavior if their children are to grow up into responsible citizens. There are movies and plays, drinks and dances, gambling games, race cars and motorcycles which adults may enjoy but which are serious threats to children. I would love to own a big motorcycle, but I abstained for the sake of my young sons. Their uncles had no such scruples and the kids have the leg scars to prove it.
The most stunning aspect of the passage is Jesus’ glory and our relationship to it. He said “I have glorified Thee on earth”. We go at once to John 1:14: “…we have beheld His glory, glory as of the Only Son from the Father”. We think of Jesus glorified at His baptism (Matt.3:13–17), and at the Transfiguration (Lk.9:28–36), but He was also glorified before the multitudes in many miraculous acts.
On a dozen or more occasions, people glorified God for the wonders they saw Jesus do.
One humorous story is told of the woman bent over for‘ years whom Jesus healed on the Sabbath. The synagogue ruler protested that people should come to be healed some other day than Sabbath. Really? Jesus responded that anyone would water his donkey on the Sabbath, so why should this poor woman wait another day? That day “all His adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by Him. “ (Lk.13:10–17). Everyone went home laughing for joy that day because Jesus had done a great work and confounded the authorities.
Jesus seen in His pre-incarnate glory by Moses, Joshua, Isaiah, Ezekiel and many others was awesome. Isaiah was overwhelmed by His vision of Jesus. (Isa.6:5). But much of His glory as a human being was concealed by His self-emptying. He gave up the exercise of some of His attributes. (Phil.2:5–8). And of Jesus’ prehistoric glory we know little or nothing. There are only a few hints of ivory palaces, myrrh and music (Psa.45:6–9) but it is likely to be simply indescribable.
Jesus prayed “The glory which Thou has given Me I have given to them.” (17:22) . “Father, I desire that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, may be with me where I am, to behold My glory which Thou has given Me...before the foundation of the World.” (17:24). He was longing for His home. And we long to be there with Him.
Peter described himself later “as a fellow elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ as well as a partaker in the glory that is to be revealed". (IPet.5:1). The marvel is that Jesus wills that we enjoy the previous and the final Glory with Him, greater than the Transfiguration, greater than Isaiah’s vision, established before even Creation itself.
What shall we do in Heaven? Won’t it be boring? Not after what we have just heard. …