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 the last great prayer of Jesus immediately following the Last Supper. Jesus knew they 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. It is the longest recorded prayer of Jesus in the Bible and is found in John 17: 1-26. We are gifted with a unique chance to see the heart and mind of Jesus and it shows us the special value we have to him as he prays for us. Let’s have a look…
Jesus Prays for Himself
John 17 (NIV)
“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 Father and Son. 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 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 have eternal life with Him- KNOW 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. He tells us he is our shepherd and we are his flock. (John 17:14-15) The more we know him through the study of his Word, the more we trust in him and his promises.
Jesus’ Prayer for His Disciples
“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.”
•Jesus 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. 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 for 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.”
•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. He wants more than the happiness circumstances bring. Happiness comes and goes. His joy lives within us forever.
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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 finishes his prayer by including us and the future ones who would believe and follow Him. He again prays for unity and 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, he 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 wants us protected and secure, trusting completely in his plan and purpose.
John 17- Prayer of Intercession
This prayer gives us an intimate look at his mindset: He is going to the cross and prays fervently for us; 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?
•How can I 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?
•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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