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Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer (Pt 2)

John 17:6-26

In the Bible, “name” often refers to “nature,” because a name often revealed something about the individual or place. Jacob means “schemer,” and that is what he did. Bethel means “House of God” because that is where Jacob saw the ladder to heaven in his dream. Isaac means “laughter” because he brought joy to Abraham and Sarah in their old age. Jesus means Savior. The word “Father” is used fifty-three times in John 13-17. Jehovah was known as “I AM” to the Old Testament Jew. Jesus took this sacred name, I AM, and made it descriptive and meaningful to the disciples. He said, “I am the Good Shepherd.” “I am the Bread of Life.” “I am the Light of the World.” So, “I have manifested Your name” (6) means “I have revealed the nature of God.”

This prayer is the pinnacle of all prayers. We, with the disciples, listen in on inter- trinitarian communication in the Godhead. We examined the first part of this prayer, Jesus communes with the Father (1-5), last week. This week we see that Jesus intercedes for the disciples (6-19) and He prays for his church (20-26). Let’s break down the remaining verses of this chapter.

First, Jesus prays for the disciples’ security (6-12). Remember, believers or the elect are the Father’s love gift to the Son for his work of redemption (2, 6, 9, 11, 12, 24). Would the Father present to His Son a gift that would not last? No, we are secure in Christ! Jesus mentions “they have kept your word.” That obedience is not a meritorious work that contributes to salvation but is the inevitable result of genuine, saving faith. The disciples believed that the words (7) which the Father gave to Jesus were true. They believed in Jesus’ divine mission and, after Pentecost, they boldly proclaimed the gospel.

God is concerned for the lost world, but Christ’s intercession as High Priest is for His own who are facing persecutions and temptations (9). His desire is that we would glorify Him as He glorified the Father (10). That is the supreme goal of the Christian life. Whether then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (I Corinthians 10:31).

Verses 11 and the following mark a transition from Christ’s earthly ministry to His heavenly ministry. He continually “intercedes for us” (Romans 8:34). From a human perspective, this ragamuffin group of followers was anything but extraordinary, yet by God’s grace they turned the world upside down. Verse 12 references Judas. Judas is not an example of a believer who “lost his salvation.” He is an example of an unbeliever who pretended to have salvation but was finally exposed as a fraud. The point of Jesus’ prayer is that true believers are secure in Christ for eternity.

Then we see that Jesus prays for the disciples’ purity (13-19). He prays for their practical holy living in a corrupt and fallen world. “I have given them Your word” (verse 8, 14). The Father gave the words to his Son and the Son gave them to the disciples who have passed them along to us by the Spirit as a gift from God (II Peter 1:20, 21; II Timothy 3:16). A believer’s joy comes not from the world but from the Word of God (13). The Word reveals what the world is really like, exposing the world’s deceptions and dangerous devices. The first step toward a worldly life is the neglect of the Word of God. D.L. Moody wrote in the front of his Bible, “This book will keep you from sin and sin will keep you from this book.” The Word of God not only brings joy, but it imparts power for holy living (15–17). “Sanctify them by Your truth, Your word is truth.” (17) Every one of us will struggle with sin, the God-ordained way to deal with sin is through the Bible. Are you reading it? Are you coming into a closer relationship with Christ as a result?

Finally, Jesus prays for the Church’s unity (20-26), the whole church throughout all ages. It is staggering to consider that Jesus prayed for believers yet to be born! But He knew them all because their names have been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life (Revelation 13:8; 17:8; Philippians 4:3). “He always lives to make intercession for us” (Hebrews 7:25). He prays not for an outward, organizational unity, but inward spiritual unity. Despite denominational differences, all true Christians are spiritually united by regeneration in Christ. Our model and goal are to be unified as one in seeking to glorify God, even as Jesus did. Unity or harmony in the love of Christ is a powerful witness to the lost world (21c, 23c), who cannot see God but who can see Christians; what they see in us shapes what they believe about God. Unity, harmony, and love don’t happen automatically in a church any more than in a family. We must serve one another, grow in our faith, and together seek to glorify Christ. In verses 23-26, Jesus mentions the importance of love being manifested by the church five times. Truth without love is brutal but love without truth is hypocritical. We need truth and love. The mind grows by taking in truth, but the heart grows by giving out in love.

As we review this prayer, we see the spiritual priorities that were in the Savior’s heart: the glory of God, the sanctity of God’s people, the unity of the church and the ministry of sharing the Gospel in a lost world. Someday we will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ and give our “final report.” I hope we can say what Jesus said in 17:4: “I have glorified You on earth. I have finished the work which You have given me to do.”