Can you imagine having dinner with Jesus tonight and having it end with Him lifting His eyes to heaven and begin to pray? I’d be hanging on every word! The disciples heard this prayer immediately following the Last Supper. It is the last great prayer of Jesus in the Bible and the longest recorded prayer.
Jesus knew His disciples would mourn his physical presence and wanted them (and us) to receive His comfort and love. It was the last chance, of sorts, to let them know his plans/desires for their lives.
We are gifted with a unique chance to experience this prayer of the heart and mind of Jesus. It shows us His deep affection and special value we have to him as he prays.
Jesus had a rich prayer life. As a devoted Jewish man, He prayed many daily prayers.
“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16.) He prays before raising Lazarus from the dead, in the Garden of Gethsemane, and even as He suffered on the cross
He gave us a pattern of prayer in the Lord’s Prayer. (Matthew 6:5-13.) The prayers of Jesus are such a beautiful example for us to learn how to pray.
Jesus Prays for Himself
There are several lessons in this prayer that Jesus modeled for us. We find this prayer in John 17:1-26.
“After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.”
•These verses give us a peek into the relationship between our Heavenly Father and the Son of God. Together since before the world began, our Father gave His Son supreme authority over all people.
•Jesus looked “up” to heaven-that word picture comforts me. Jesus didn’t look about aimlessly; He was seeing His Father on His throne. Our future home- the kingdom of heaven- is above us!
•Jesus uses the word “glory” repeatedly. It’s hard to picture this amazing “glory.” However splendid it looks- worship, praise, and honor exist mutually between the Father and the Son.
•Jesus explains clearly how we can receive the free gift of salvation and eternal life by KNOWING God the Father and the saving work of his Son, Jesus. We must KNOW them- not just about them, but who they are to us personally. Jesus’ sheep KNOW His voice.
Jesus’ Prayer for His Disciples
His focus now turns to intercessory prayer-
“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them.”
•The Lord Jesus Christ prayed for the disciples and He prays for us, his loved ones! The Father gave us to Jesus as a precious gift. He values, loves, and accepts each of us.
•We bring glory to Jesus when we reveal his character (his glory) to those around us. Christ Jesus lives in the world today through our actions!
Jesus Prays for Unity
“Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are. During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me. I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold.“
“Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy. I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.”
•Jesus prayed a personal prayer of protection for his disciples, present and future- that God would watch over, guide and protect them. I guess I didn’t fully realize or appreciate how securely we are being held and protected.
2 Thessalonians 3:3 has special meaning to me now- “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.”
Make Them One as We are One
•Jesus also prayed for unity among his disciples. Not just “togetherness” but unity as strong as the bond that exists between the Father and the Son. He wants us to be as one, strongly rooted in Him.
The Joy of the Lord
•In verse 13, Jesus says he taught his disciples “many things” so that they would be “filled” with his joy. He prays the same for you and me. Jesus wants us to experience the overflowing joy that comes from truly knowing him.
Experiencing the joy of his presence does not depend on our circumstances. Joy is one of the fruits of Holy Spirit; it come from His nature living within us.
He wants more than the happiness circumstances bring. Happiness comes and goes. His joy lives within us forever.
Jesus Praying for Us
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.“
“I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!“
“O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.”
Jesus Prays for All Believers
•Jesus finishes his prayer by including us and the future ones who would believe and follow Him. He again prays for unity and spiritual protection.
•He wants us bonded together in His love; being witnesses to his life, love, and sacrifice.
•In verse 24, Jesus asks his Father for something- “I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am.”
As incredible as that seems, Jesus wants us with him! His greatest desire is for us to be with him in Heaven and experience the full glory of God- forever.
Not only does this cement in my mind that Heaven is a place, but how great His love is for me.
•His last words resound with his deep desire: “Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.”
His great love compelled him to sacrifice himself for us. He wanted us to live with him forever.
While we live on earth, He sits at the right hand of God, praying we trust completely in his plan and purpose.
John 17- Prayer of Intercession
This prayer gives us an intimate look at his mindset: The Son of the Living God is going to the cross and prays fervently for us; the human beings He created, the ones He loves.
Jesus knew the cross lay ahead, and ever compassionate, he prayed aloud to his Father in the presence of his disciples. He made sure his words were recorded so we can hear what was on his mind and heart.
It’s hard to comprehend, isn’t it?
He was thinking of me. He was thinking of you.
I’m sure it strengthened the disciples, and I want to feel that same love, protection, comfort, and strength each day. This prayer is a beautiful reminder as we head into Holy Week and Easter!
As we inch closer to Easter, Jesus’ final prayer is something I want to ponder. If you have time this week, reread the last great prayer of Jesus slowly, sentence by sentence.
Here are some questions to ask ourselves:
•What is my plan to KNOW Jesus better?
•What actionable ways can I use to bring glory (worship, honor, praise, living out his attributes) to Jesus in my daily life?
•Do I really understand and accept the incredible value Jesus places on my life? If not, why?
•How can I be filled with his joy daily- even through difficult circumstances?
•What steps can I take to live a life in unity with my fellow believers?
•How does my witness express the love that Jesus has for me?
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