When Jesus Prays - John 17
The night before Jesus died on the cross, He spent with His disciples in the Upper Room. He gave the Passover new meaning by starting a “new covenant in My blood,” for the disciples to remember and commemorate the death He was about to undergo for our sin. Then they left and headed for Olive Mountain (John 14:31). But before they get there (John 18:1), Jesus speaks some very important words to His disciples and to His Father, in John 15-17. I’m going to focus on chapter 17 – when Jesus prays to the Father, what does He ask for? He prays for 3 different people.
1. Jesus prays for Himself in verses 1-5, that the Father would glorify Him, as He has promised to do. Jesus wants this glory, so that He can in turn give it back to His Father. This glory is all about giving eternal life to the chosen people of God, which means God revealing Himself to them, so that they know both the Father and the Son. Jesus did this by teaching and living a God-pleasing life before others. He did this so well that those who saw Jesus, saw the Father. When Phillip asks to see the Father in John 14:8-10, Jesus says, “You’ve seen Him. I and the Father are one.” So in praying for His own glory, Jesus is not being selfish; He is asking for something He already knows the Father plans on giving Him. He is asking for the Father to get on with His death and resurrection.
2. Then Jesus prays for the disciples with Him. The Father gave them to Jesus. Since no one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws him or her, this makes sense (John 6:44). Jesus has been faithful in giving them the Father’s words, and they have believed. Jesus prays for them, since they will remain in the world. He prays for them to be unified and filled with joy. He doesn’t want them taken out of the world, but protected from Satan and made holy by the truth of God’s Word. God wants us to be in the world, but different from the world. That causes some problems, but it also draws out of the world many who are attracted to holiness. If we were isolated from the world, they wouldn’t see the light of Christ shining in us, so Jesus doesn’t want that.
3. Finally, Jesus prays for all who will believe in Him. That’s you and me! The prayer here is striking. He wants us to be one. Unified. Even as Jesus is with the Father, and that’s pretty close! The Trinity is three different persons, but bound so closely in perfect love and unity that there is One Being. This is what a marriage is supposed to be like, too. As Jesus loved the Church, so husbands should love their wives (Eph 5:25). There’s a mysterious analogy between the one-flesh union between a man and woman, and the close relationship between Jesus and His Church (Eph 5:31-32). Obviously the latter is not a sexual relationship, but Jesus prays for such intimacy, love and unity between church members that it rivals the unity of the Trinity Himself!
So how are we doing in living up to Jesus’ prayers? Are we in the world, yet different from it? Are we safe from the evil one? Are we becoming holy by reading the Word and letting it convict and change us? Do we know Jesus? Do we believe He is God’s Son? Are we one, to give a good example to the world?
As we remember Jesus’ resurrected body in this season, may we live up to the glory of Christ we profess to believe – being His Body in a broken world.