John 17

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 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. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake, I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Understanding And Applying the Text

This whole prayer is directed to one thing, that the disciples not lose courage.

Jesus lifted His eyes up to the heaven. Christ did not look up to heaven because that is where God is. Gods’ is everywhere. He is not confined to a place. (Jeremiah 23:24) Christ looks to the heavens because the heavens display God’s majesty. By looking to the heavens, He reminds us God’s majesty is above every creature.

There are those who think since Christ looked up to the heavens, that prescribes how we are to pray. This is a descriptive, not a prescriptive text. That is, it describes what Christ did. It is not a command for us to follow. The desire to imitate Christ is admirable. But we are to imitate Christ with more than empty external gestures. People look up and raise their hands at a rock concert. That is not worship. Well, maybe it is. But it is not worshiping the one true God. What is inside us expresses our worship. We are not to work ourselves into an emotional frenzy with external means or devices.

Christ asks the Father give Him nothing but what is the Father’s will. That is a constant rule for prayer. We are to ask no more and no less than God’s will.

The Father gave Christ authority over everyone and every living thing. The Father gave Christ this authority for our salvation.

Christ does not claim the Father gave Him authority to give eternal life to everyone. Christ limits His grace to those whom the Father gave Him. Christ’s kingdom extends to all men. But it brings salvation only to those the Father gave Christ.

Christ explains how He gives eternal life. Christ gives eternal life by giving knowledge of the Father and of Himself. We are all dead until the Holy Spirit enlightens us.

When Christ said, He accomplished the work the Father gave Him, how could that be true? The cross still lied ahead. Christ had not yet done everything. Wasn’t the cross the whole reason He came?

That reasoning ignores or diminishes the value of Christ’s life. Christ was to be the perfect sacrifice. To be the perfect sacrifice, He must live the perfect life as a man. Christ had completed all He was to do to live the perfect life as a man. He was now the perfect sacrifice for our sins. In that sense, all had been accomplished.

The Father had sent Christ. Now, Christ’s desired the Father reunite Them. Christ wanted to return to the glory He had before the world began. Christ had stripped Himself of His glory for our benefit. Now it was time to return to His glory.

In verse 6 Jesus begins to pray for His disciples. He pleads for their salvation. He points out the disciples were elect before the foundations of the world. “Yours they were, and you gave them to me,”

Jesus states the disciples were the Father’s before they were His. By this Christ confirms election by free grace. The disciples had always belonged to God. God distinguishes them from the reprobate only by pure grace. It was not because of their faith or any other sort of merit. This was an election by grace alone.

When Christ says the disciples knew everything, He expresses a critical part of faith. That critical part of faith is knowledge. We must go beyond reading the Bible. We must study the Bible. It must know it.

Christ gave the Father’s words to the disciples and they received those words. But remember what John said at the beginning of his Gospel. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Christ is the word of God.

Christ prayed for the Father’s favor toward the disciples. He states in clear plain language He did not pray for the world. This may seem strange to us. The Scriptures command us to pray for the world. (1 Timothy 2:8)

The prayers which we offer are limited to God’s elect. Yes, we are to pray for the salvation of everyone. Because we do not know who God has predestined to election. That includes the entire human race. But that is because we do not know who the elect are. We are also to pray for the destruction of God’s enemies. But do not forget we all were once, by nature, enemies of God. (Romans 5:10, James 4:4)

“I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.” With these words Christ is repeating the theme He stated in chapter 6. All the Father gives Him come to Him. (John 6:37) And none of the non-elect will, or even, can come to Him. (John 6:44)

Christ’s prayer shows His concerned about the disciples after His departure. His concern is not about their future. His concern is about their anxiety. He prays the Father removes all doubt from them.

Christ knows the world will hate His disciples. The world will hate them because they belong to Him. The world does not hate them because of their actions or deeds. The world hates them for one reason. They belonged to Christ. They are not part of the world.

Christ does not ask the Father to spare them from trouble and the world. He asked the Father spare them for the evil one. He requests the Father provide for their weakness rather than spare them suffering. He requests the Father sanctify them in the truth. In other words, He requests the Father sanctify or consecrate them to Himself.

Christ requests the Father defend them as they are Christ’s inheritance.

Christ points out the means of our sanctification. God’s word sanctifies us. There are those who claim sanctification but neglect the God’s word. This cannot be. God consecrates us to Christ by His truth. It is God’s word that is truth. (Romans 1:16)

“Thy word is truth,” describes the doctrine of the Gospel. The Spirit cleanses the Church by the washing of the water and by God’s word (Ephesians 5:26)

The Father sent Christ into the world. In the same manner, Christ sent the disciples into the world. There is a sense in which both Christ and the Church have the same mission, to give the truth to the world. Because Christ consecrated Himself holiness comes to us and the Church can fulfill its mission.

There is great comfort in this prayer. Christ did not pray for the disciples alone He prayed for all believers. This prayer is also for those who believe in Christ because of the disciples’ teaching. Christ prayed for our protection as well as the disciples.

Christ prayed for the unity of the church. This is often miss understood. We are not to seek unity. We are united. We are united in Christ. To often unity is sought outside of Christ. We understand unity with men to be the same as unity with Christ. It is NOT! If we are in Christ, we are united. Our unity is in the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:3) Christ unites us to each other by Himself.

Christ said that the glory the Father gave Him, He gives to us. He transforms us into His image and His glory. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

He is in us. The Father is in Him. This is the unity Christ prayed to the Father for us.

How does what Christ said in this prayer is square with the idea that God loves the world? John 3:16 indicates the Father’s loved men separate from the redemptive work of Christ. In John 3:16 and similar passages love denotes mercy. It is God’s mercy that causes God to withhold his justice even from His enemies.

Paul tells us two ways we are loved. First, we are loved because the Father chose us before the creation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). Second, we are loved because in Christ the Father reconciles us to Himself (Romans 5:10). So we are at the same time enemies and friends of God until Christ atones for our sins.

Christ also prays for us to be with Him in Heaven. “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am.” (v24) He asked the Father not only that we are with Him, but that we may see His glory. Many long to see the majesty of the grand canyon or other natural wonders. The glory of Christ is infinitely greater than anything in this world. So what Christ asked the Father to give us is joy beyond measure.

Christ said the world does not know the Father. But He knows the Father and He knows us. Scripture uses “to know” in a very particular way. It is not an intellectual knowledge. It is not an awareness. Paul tells us God has shown Himself even to unbelievers (Romans 1:19). Even atheists know there is a God. “To know,” as used in scripture, is to have an intimate knowledge. Christ has an intimate knowledge of both the Father and us.

Christ made the Father known to His disciples and to all who believe in Him. And He continues to make the Father known to us. Why? So that the love the Father has for the Son will be in us for He is in us. Think about that. The Father loves us as He loves the Son. Wow! No greater love indeed.


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