November 24, 2022
God sent Jesus to share His truth, and those who believed were sent into the world to share that truth as well. Now, we as believers uphold that mission so that the world may know God. For this is eternal, abundant life: to know God and the One He sent.
"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."
1 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, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
6 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. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 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. 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 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. 12 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. 13 But now I am coming 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 ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 1 17:15 Or from evil 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them 2 17:17 Greek Set them apart (for holy service to God) in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, 3 17:19 Or I sanctify myself; or I set myself apart (for holy service to God) that they also may be sanctified 4 17:19 Greek may be set apart (for holy service to God) in truth.
20 I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 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. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 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. 24 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. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 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.”
Have you ever wondered what God is really like? What is in His heart? This chapter of the Bible is one of my favorite windows into His character. There are only a few prayers of Jesus recorded in Scripture, today’s being the longest.
When I first read this chapter, John 17:20 took my breath away: "I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word." This is Jesus' prayer for ALL of His followers. Not just the disciples who heard the prayer firsthand, but "for those who will believe" in Him through their witness. That realization made me pay more attention, wondering what does Jesus ask of His Father for followers and ultimately for me?
1. To keep them in the Father's name (John 17:11)
2. To keep them from the evil one, but NOT to take them out of the world (John 17:15)
3. To sanctify them in truth, which is God's Word (John 17:17)
4. To be unified with the Father and Son and with each other "so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me." (John 17:21-23)
5. To be with Jesus and see His glory (John 17:24)
The most repeated theme in John 17 is unity—Jesus' with the Father, ours with Christ, and believers with each other. A close second is protection for His followers as we remain in the world to bear witness through our love for one another (John 13:35). And the purpose of it all is to bring others to belief in Jesus and to the knowledge of the Father, which in itself is the eternal life believers are promised (John 17:3).
Sometimes the circumstances of this world lead me to pray for deliverance, for Christ just to come now and end it all! But that is not His heart. If He came now, there would be many to perish. I realize He "is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." (2 Peter 3:9) I am grateful Jesus prayed for my mission to succeed.
1. You can read two of Jesus' other recorded prayers in Matthew 6:9-13 ("The Lord's Prayer") and Mark 14:32-42 (prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane). How are these prayers different from John 17? What other prayers of Jesus can you find in the Gospels?
2. Read John 17 again, inserting your name wherever Jesus says "they" or "them." How does this strengthen or amend your understanding of His regard for you?
3. Jesus asked God in John 17:17 to "[s]anctify them in the truth; your word is truth." What or Who is "His Word?" By what means does God sanctify us in truth? (See Exodus 31:13; Leviticus 20:7-8; John 1:1, 14; 15:26; and 1 John 5:6.)
4. In John 17:3, Jesus states that eternal life is now, and that it is to know God and His Son (John 17:3). What else can you glean about "eternal life" from the following verses?
5. All of Scripture is united in one theme: God's desire for relationship with His people, which was tainted by sin but redeemed in Christ. Read the following verses and reflect on this key aspect of God's heart.