John 17 – Let Us Pray
The Upper Room Discourse is about to be concluded. The Lord now invites the disciples to leave the Upper Room and go for a walk down to the Kidron valley and up the Mount of Olives. They are accustomed to the Lord favoring that area where He would often stay when visiting Jerusalem. Either before they leave, or as they walk along, the Lord says “Let us Pray”. While many refer to Matthew 6:9-13 as “The Lord’s Prayer”, this prayer in John 17 is known as Jesus’ “High Priestly Prayer”. Recall the personal time that Jesus has just spent with His close disciples. Think about the important spiritual truths He has been teaching as He sought to comfort them regarding the important things that were about to happen. It is reasonable that one of the last personal expressions by Jesus with His disciples is this very personal prayer. Prayer has been shown throughout the Gospels to be a key activity for the Lord. Further, this prayer becomes a substantial foundation for the Apostles’ faith, and finds great resolution in much of what is found in the book of Hebrews.
John 17 – Jesus and the Father
- Jesus mentions God, His Father, 120 times in John’s Gospel, more than 50 times just in John 13-17, and 5 times in John 17. In his Gospel, John thoroughly expresses the love and deep connection Jesus had with His Father. Nowhere is that more evident than in Jn. 17, as is fitting as Jesus and His Father have been active together as one throughout His public earthly ministry, and now that ministry is concluding. Jesus addresses His Father in the first verse and “His name” in the last verse, and that emphasis underscores the significance as Jesus completes His Father’s mission and He expresses resolve in this prayer for that fulfillment.
- He knew the Father intimately as taught in Hebrews 1:1-4, He revealed the Father’s nature. The work He accomplished according to that passage in Hebrews has been very evident in our study of John. It is sobering and special to hear these words that express Jesus’ deepest heart for His Father and the mission He has been accomplishing.
- This prayer is different from the prayer He offers later in the Garden of Gethsemane. This prayer is conversational, oriented to relationship and the manifestation of care and purpose – a personal view of His divinity. The Garden prayer is private and emotional, full of personal anguish – perhaps a look at His humanness.
- As Jesus prays, He has three overriding themes that will show throughout:
- Intimacy with the Father
- The Security of our salvation
- Our Purity in the world
- This prayer is expressed in three sections – praying for Himself, for His Father, and for all believers.
Jesus Prays For Himself – John 17:1-6
- A prayer for troubled hearts
- Jesus prayed regarding “these things” , a key phrase used 33 times in John – this is a simple Greek pronoun, and a favorite reference by John, thinking of the broad scope of all the various “things” which came to be resolved in the “eternally weighty things” Jesus spoke and did during His earthly ministry.
Bible Study Journal
John likely also had in mind the “things” Jesus had spoken of with His apostles very recently – look at Jn. 14:25; 16:1, 4, 25, 33. Take time now to make notes from these passages.
- Jesus is still teaching the Apostles in the Upper Room, as He had been doing since Jn.13, but He is transitioning to a personal ministry to the men’s hearts. This prayer concludes His private ministry with the Apostles and is likely preparation for them to leave the Room and walk towards the Mount of Olives. This prayer is distinct from the prayer which He offers in the Garden before He is arrested.
- Main points of the prayer:
- Jesus’ Glorification – Jesus speaks of how He glorified His Father while on earth. It is also an important fact about the Lord Jesus that when He was resurrected, He ascended into heaven and sat at the right hand of the Father. His glorification was established – He returned to His former glory which He had set aside to be our Redeemer (Phil. 2:6-9).
- He manifested the Father to those whom God had given Him.
- He was faithful to His task – Jesus gathered (redeemed) them.
- This chapter becomes an important transition for John’s Gospel. Jesus now expresses His High Priestly, intercessory ministry (Heb. 7:25) and focuses on completing the Father’s mission of Redemption.
- This prayer becomes a “summary view” of John’s whole gospel
- Jesus’ perspective throughout the prayer is being on the other side of the Cross with His mission completed
- His prayer is for true believers – He came “that you might believe”
- His death is His exaltation – 13:31-32
- He is the Overcomer – 16:33 – The “hour” has come – there are no surprises, He is not being overtaken by circumstances
- 17:4-5 – The Glory of the Father
- Jesus’ life purpose was the Father’s glory
- Whatever is yet to be done is assumed completed here
- Christ will be reestablished to His former glory (Phil. 2:5-8; Heb…. seated at right hand – the fulfillment of the “kenosis” (God became Man) – Jesus will be glorified and this will bring more glory to the Father
- Spiritual victory comes along with trials – the key is to be willing for either
Jesus Prays for His Disciples – John 17:6-19
- 6-10: The Father’s Mission is Accomplished
Bible Study Journal
Consider how these verses expand on what God wanted to accomplish in the disciples –
Rom. 8:28-30; Phil. 1:6; 1 Thess. 5:23-24; 2 Tim. 1:12; Heb. 12:1-2; Jude 24-25
- 6, Jesus Revealed the Father to the men – the men belonged to God
- 7-8, Jesus gave them His Word
- 10, He in turn is glorified in the disciples by the Father
- These verses sum up His whole ministry
- Even before creation, Jesus’ disciples belonged to God (Jn. 6:37). Their names were already in the book of life
- in Acts 18:10, the Lord told Paul that there were many in Corinth whose names were in the Book but had not yet received Christ, they were already “His”.
- 7 – All I have and am, I have from You – not the romanticized Galilean Jesus that some today settle to talk about, but the Son of the Holy God is my Savior
- The Name sums up everything about God (Exo. 3:13-15; Isa. 52:6)
- Jesus manifested, gave a complete revelation of God (Heb. 1, Jn. 1, Col. 1)
- 8 – The Father and Son enjoyed direct communication, the authoritative words of God – see v14
- But more than the spoken word, Jesus Christ was the “Living Word”
- By inspiration, we have the written words of God
- The disciples received and believed the words of God – a work we know to be of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 16:13) in the their hearts, and in ours as well
- The act of giving mentioned several times in this prayer – giving results in sacrifice, treasuring, commitment
- Note that “eternal life” is also mentioned often in John – 15x during Jesus public ministry through John 12, then 2x in Jn. 17
- 9 – I pray for them – He still prays for us today, as we read in 1 Jn. 2:1; Heb. 7:25
- Jesus declares that “they” are the Father’s
- He prays that the Father would “keep” them
- 12, This demonstrates their being eternally secure in their relationship as God’s children – our task is to abide in Him, His is to keep us secure in our salvation
- 13, hearing these truths gives His followers joy in midst of trials
- 14, and there will by trials
- 15, those trials are Satan’s attacks
- 16-19, Sanctification is the key
- Just like the priests of the Temple, Christ’s followers are to be “holy to the Lord”, distinctly set aside for God’s use
- 16, they (we) are “not of the world” – They are in the world, but not of (or for) the world – this is a message each of us needs to take to heart
- 17, the instrument of sanctification is God’s Word – and we know from John 16 that it is work of the Holy Spirit to illuminate the Word to us
- 19, Jesus is our example, walk in His steps (1 Pet. 2:21)
Jesus Prays For All Believers – John 17:20-26
- 20 – “Not for these only” – Jesus steps aside from petitioning the Father for the disciples listening to His prayer and expands His prayer as only the omniscient God is able, praying now for all those who will believe
- we now realize that all the content of this prayer is for all believers of all time
- The witness of believers through all time – this is a concrete expression of Jesus’ mission.
- 21 – “That they all may be one”
- Unity is key theme here, as it is in Jesus’ entire ministry
- Just as the Trinity is a unity – the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14:23; Eph. 4:4-6)
- Biblical unity is built on revealed Truth
- Knowing Truth is key – John focused on the theme of “truth”, it is mentioned 90x in his Gospel, while only 70x in all three of the other Gospels
- Unity is built on union, not in uniformity – our union with Christ (Rom. 6:1) and with other believers (Eph. 4:16)
- 22 – The glory You gave Me I give to them
- Believers participate in God’s attributes & essence by the Holy Spirit’s indwelling – He teaches us about God’s character and leads us to live accordingly (Col 1:27; 2 Pet. 1:4)
- When a believer understands and believes the revelation of God in Jesus, we partake in His glory
- 23 – Jesus’ followers are made perfect (1 Cor. 12:12-13; Eph. 4:14-22)
- That the world may know – we are God’s plan for spreading the Gospel around the world
- 24 – Jesus anticipates the Believers’ glorification
- When we see Him, we will be like Him (1 Jn. 3:2; 2 Cor. 5:6-8; Col. 3:4;
- Eternal subjugation of Son to the Father – 1 Cor. 15:24
- What a remarkable thing that we are destined to share in Christ’s glory!
- 25-26 – the Summary by the the Lord of Lords
- O righteous Father! how amazing that You have revealed Yourself in the world and there are those who have come to know You
- Knowing God as a lifetime indwelling of the Holy Spirit