Every verse in John Chapter 17 is a part of the prayer that Jesus prayed. Itís a very intimate prayer between the Son and the Father, that reveals the nature of the relationship between them, and the prayer of Jesus also especially reveals what motivated Him, what was on His heart, and why He did what He did. In John 17:1 the Bible says, "These words spoke Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify your Son, that your Son also may glorify you."
In this sentence Jesus made a request to the Father. When Jesus was on the earth, He emptied Himself of many of the divine prerogatives, and for the most part He lived as a human totally dependent upon assistance from the heavenly Father. Jesus was about to face the greatest crisis of His human life: to die for the sins of the world. He accomplished His great work by trusting in the Father to strengthen Him and by depending upon the Father to glorify His name.
Why were you born into the world?ÖTo glorify the name of God. If Jesus had to trust in the Father in order for the name of God to be glorified, then certainly you and I do also. If Jesus prayed in order to glorify the name of the Father, then you and I must do so also. One of the prayers that we should pray every day is to ask God to help us do what we do for His glory.
In John 17:2 Jesus prayed, "As you have given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as you have given him." Jesus Christ has power over all flesh. Everyone who is on the earth has been given physical life by Jesus Christ, and when their life is over, He is the one who takes it. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away that which He has given. But much more important than the physical life that Jesus gives, is the spiritual life that He alone can give. Jesus has power over all flesh, and part of His power is the capability to give eternal life. If you are going to have eternal life, you must get it from Jesus.
In John 17:3 Jesus prayed, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." Notice that the way that Jesus Christ gives eternal life is through the experience of knowing Him. If you know God, and if you know Jesus Christ whom he has sent, then you have eternal life. If you do not know God and Jesus Christ, then you do not have eternal life. Of all the problems that humans face, the greatest is the need to have spiritual life instead of spiritual death. Because Jesus prayed to the Father, and because Jesus did the will of the Father all the way to the cross, Jesus has the power to give eternal life to all that come to Him. Jesus said that He would give eternal life to everyone that the Father had given Him. We come to Jesus and He gives us eternal life, but we can only come to Him when God touches our heart. Salvation starts with God and it finishes with God, and in between is man, surrendering and cooperating.
In John 17:4 Jesus prayed, "I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which you gave me to do." Many people do not finish the work that God gave them to do. Some never start the work that God has for them. What a shame, and what a wasted life. Other people start the work that God has given them to do, but they do not finish it. Some sin, or some lack of faith, or some act of self-will gets them off course. Jesus finished the work that God had for Him to do. He went all the way from the manger to the cross. You are on the earth because God has something for you to do for Him. Wise and blessed is the person who knows what God wants them to do, and who finishes it. If Jesus had not finished the work that God had for Him to do, then we would all die in our sins.
In John 17:5 Jesus prayed, "And now, O Father, glorify me with your own self with the glory which I had with you before the world was." This is another of the many places in the New Testament where the eternal existence of Jesus Christ is clearly declared. The life of Christ did not start in the manger of Bethlehem. He existed long before He came to the earth as a man. Thatís why the book of John starts out by saying, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." And thatís why it says in the book of Genesis, "Let us make man in our own image." Jesus Christ was present with the Father and with the Spirit at the creation of the earth. And when Jesus came to the earth He came to glorify the name of the Father; and it is the purpose of the Father to glorify the name of the Son. Therefore, if you do not honor the Son, you do not honor the Father.
In John 17:6 Jesus prayed, "I have manifested your name unto the men which you gave me out of the world: thine they were and you gave them me; and they have kept thy word." When a person comes to know God, it is a supernatural experience. To believe in the name of the Lord is a gift: it can only happen if the name of God is manifested to you in a spiritual way. This kind of spiritual relationship with God does not come about through the joining of a church, or reciting of a creed, or reforming oneself. It must be initiated by God, and then responded to by man. Once a person does meet God, their relationship with Him then becomes intertwined with their knowledge of and acceptance of the Word of God. Once the disciples came to be rightly related with God through Jesus, Jesus said that they kept the Word of God. Any teaching that questions the authority or the validity of the Word of God will come from those who are not rightly related to God, because Jesus said about His believers, "They have kept thy word."
In John 17:7-8 Jesus prayed, "Now they have known that all things whatsoever you have given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which you gave me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from you, and they have believed that you did send me." The way that humans come to know the truth about God is again very clearly given by Jesus. He said, "I have given unto them the words." God must make the first contact. He offers His truth to a human and the truth of God is always associated with the Word of God. But for the human to come to know the truth, the human must receive it. Therefore, anyone who resists or rejects the truth is resisting and rejecting God Himself. And anyone who is stiff-necked or hard-hearted against the truth is in danger of making the worst of all spiritual decisions and of damning his own soul. Both hell and judgment await those who resist or refuse God.
But those who do not resist God, and who come to know Him are in a very good situation. Jesus prayed for us in John 17:9 when He said to the Father, "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which you have given me; for they are thine." There are times when some believers are aware of being in need of assistance from God, and they ask others to pray for them. But in John Chapter 17 Jesus has already prayed for us all concerning the most important spiritual things. Since God the Father answers our prayers and gives us the things that we pray about, then most definitely the things that Jesus prayed about will come to pass.
In John 17:10-11 Jesus prayed and said, "And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one as we are." Because of Jesus we have a relationship and a standing with God that is in many ways similar to the relationship between Jesus and The Father. The great God of the universe has made us a part of Him. Jesus prayed that we would be kept, and so there is a great security in that. If you have ever been united with God through faith in Jesus, then you donít have to worry about your standing with God. In spite of whatever happens and in spite of how much you might sometimes fail, you will be kept by God not only because Jesus died for you, but also because He prayed for you.
Jesus also prayed that there would be unity among all those who believed in Him. Jesus prayed and said, "that they may be one, as we are." This is the great doctrine of the unity of the believers, the brotherhood of the saints. If you are a true believer in Jesus, then everyone in the world who is also a believer is united with you by your common Savior and your common faith in the Savior. There is only one church, and this one true church is made up of all the believers in Jesus. The way to become a member of this church is to repent of your sins and believe in Jesus. Some people are members of local churches but they are not members of the one true church if they have never repented and turned to Jesus. Never forget the truth of the unity of the believers that Jesus prayed for, and watch out for those who cause divisions contrary to this principle. Some people harm the principle of unity by forgetting that they are united by faith with all true believers no matter what is their denominational affiliation. Others go to the other extreme and harm the principle of unity by wanting to unite even with false teachers. Remember that the Bible warns that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, and we are not to be united with those.
There are many enemies to the unity of the believers but that unity will always exist because the same spirit lives within the heart of every true believer, and because Jesus prayed that all believers would be one. In the end, itís the unity of the believers that will win, in spite of all the disunity that you can see around you. The day will come when Christians will be ashamed of how easily they were divided. How much more we could accomplish if we were united the way that Jesus said we should be. The divisions between Christians is often a shameful thing: divisions because of race, divisions because of tradition, divisions because of theology, divisions because of denomination, divisions because of personality differences, divisions because of personal opinion, divisions because of pride. What does Jesus have to say about all these divisions among Christians? He prayed to the Father and He said, "that they may be one, even as we are." When we all get to heaven all the divisions will cease for evermore and the prayer of Jesus will be fulfilled, and we will be ashamed as never before knowing more than ever what we could have accomplished when we were on the earth if we had only been united in the way that Jesus proclaimed that we should be.
In John 17:12 Jesus prayed, "While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that you gave me, I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled." It must have been important for Jesus to remind His believers about the security that they have in Him. In this prayer in John Chapter 17 Jesus had already stated that He has kept all that have come to Him. Now He says it two more times in this verse, and He also says, "none of them is lost." The disciples were about to commit the greatest failure of their lives in denying Christ and leaving Him alone to suffer the crucifixion. But Jesus said "none of them is lost." Thatís because salvation is a gift from God. It cannot be earned or merited, and therefore it cannot be lost by failure. Once you are connected to God through Jesus you will be kept forever.
Sometimes you hear people ask about the eternal destiny of Judas Iscariot. What Judas did in betraying Christ was a horrible thing. But we know that sins can be forgiven. Is it possible that Judas became forgiven of his great sin? This verse seems to answer that question because Jesus said concerning Judas, "none of them is lost, except the son of perdition." Was Judas saved or lost? Jesus said that He was lost. Evidently Judas became one of the disciples not by repentance and a desire to follow the Lord, but by deception and with ulterior motives. Because he never became honest with God about himself and never came to know God, he did not have the benefits of being a believer in Jesus; and the greatest benefit is to have your soul saved, and then to be kept forever.
In John 17:13 Jesus prayed to the Father, "And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves." Of course we no longer have Jesus in the world the way that the disciples did. But the most important thing about Jesus we still have, and that is His Words, His wonderful and powerful words. The words of Jesus are the power of God. The words of Jesus are spirit and they are life. No man ever spake as this man, and His words were written down and preserved for us. If you are burdened by the world or saddened by your sins, then here is the best medicine for you: the words of Jesus. If you are a believer in Jesus and if you have the words of Jesus in a sufficient daily supply, then this will surely be one of the results: your joy will be fulfilled. It will happen that way because Jesus said that it would. Itís no wonder that Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God."
Copyright; 2000 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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