John 17:1–26 (NKJV)
As Jesus is giving His disciples His final discourse before going to Gethsemane, He sums it up with prayers for himself, for His disciples, and for all believers who will serve Him.
Christ Prays for Himself
1 Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, 2 as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. 4 I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.John 17:1-5
Jesus calls to the Father first for Himself. This is not a selfish prayer, but rather a prayer asking God to glorify Himself in Christ. He wants the world to know that the Father is completing His purpose of providing salvation to any who will come. Jesus has come to recapitulate the truth of Who God is and His stature in all of creation.
Christ Prays for His Disciples
6 “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. 7 Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. 8 For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.John 17:6-19
9 “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. 10 And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. 12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.
In His prayer for His disciples, Jesus begins by establishing that His purpose with them is complete. They have received the words of the Father, and they have been assured that Jesus came from the Father to fulfill His purpose. He then moves into a portion of the prayer where He asks the Father to keep and protect His disciples. He asks Him to keep them together in unity, and that their joy would be fulfilled. He does not ask God to sequester them or hide them in cave. They are not of the world, but are in the world. Therefore, He asks God to keep them. This is a powerful distinction from what is often asked of God. We often expect God to spare us from any problems, to ward off any evil that may come our way. However, here Jesus does not ask the Father to take it all away, but to simply keep them in the midst of it. He then asks the Father to sanctify them, or set them apart, for His service. This happens by the truth, the Word. We must be in the Word in order to be set apart or sanctified.
Christ Prays for All Believers
20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.John 17:20-26
24 “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. 26 And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
Jesus finished His prayer by praying for all believers. he reiterates His desire for all believers to be one, and that the church may be one in the Godhead. He also asks the Father to give those who follow Him eternal life in heaven with the Godhead. He finishes by asking that the love of God would be in them as well.
Jesus’ final prayers before Gethsemane and the cross were selfless, asking for the Father’s glory to be revealed, for His disciples to be protected and helped and unified under God, and for all the believers who would come to Him to be one, have eternal life, and dwell in God’s love. These priestly prayers are a stellar example of the love of Christ for His followers and the world. Without this love, the world would have no hope and be lost. Thanks be to God that our High Priest intercedes for us at all times. His prayers for us are the salvation of our existence!
Artwork from http://watershedfellowship.org/messages/2019/1/6/010618-the-gospel-of-john-jesus-prays-for-glory and https://dailyverse.knowing-jesus.com/john-17-11 and https://www.biblestudytools.com/john/17.html