John 17: 1–26—Jesus Prays for Himself & Us

1 After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. 2 For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. 3 And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. 4 I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.

 6 “I have revealed you to the ones you gave me from this world. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything I have is a gift from you, 8 for I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from you, and they believe you sent me.

 9 “My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you. 10 All who are mine belong to you, and you have given them to me, so they bring me glory. 11 Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are. 12 During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me. I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold.

 13 “Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy. 14 I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. 16They do not belong to this world any more than I do. 17 Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. 18 Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19 And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.

 20 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.

 22 “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. 23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. 24 Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!

 25 “O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. 26 I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.”

Points of Interest

  • ‘I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do’—this prayer is like Jesus’ final status report before departing. He wants the Father to know that he has successfully completed his to-do list. He also has a list of things that he is now handing off to the Father to continue.
  • ‘bring me into the glory we shared before the world began’—Jesus was able to raise Lazarus from the dead, but he won’t be able to raise himself; he’ll be dead. He’s putting his life into the Father’s hands.
  • ‘they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you’—the Father commissioned Jesus to be a good shepherd to the disciples. He has faithfully done so, and in doing so gained a whole new level of affection for and devotion to them. So now he asks the Father to take special care of them as he leaves.
  • ‘They do not belong to this world’—it seems that Jesus uses ‘world’ here in several different ways. Maybe, like me, you’re finding it a little challenging to keep straight what he means in any given instance. Let’s see if I can make a stab at it:

• ‘before the world began’—in this instance, he merely seems to be talking about the material universe;

• ‘the world hates them’—here it seems ‘the world’ is Jesus’ name for the devil’s domain. Confusing as it is (since he also uses the word in other ways), I think Jesus calls the devil’s domain ‘the world’ because, in John’s gospel at least, the devil’s main work is to get people to settle for merely earthly satisfaction, instead of reaching higher for the real satisfaction Jesus offers. They want mere bread instead of the bread of life, water instead of the Spirit, to be Abraham’s genetic heirs rather than his spiritual heirs.

• ‘I am sending them into the world’ and ‘so that the world will believe’—here, ‘the world’ seems to refer to wider human society, beyond just our little group, whether that little group be the disciples or the entire Jewish nation. In this regard, ‘the world’ is Jesus’ eventual aim. He eventually wants to include ‘the world’ in the loving relationship he shares with the Father and is now inviting the disciples into.

So, in summary, Jesus came to the world, to send his disciples into the world, to invite the world to leave the world behind and join him in eternal life. What could be clearer?

Taking It Home

  • For you: Those of us who are suckers for to-do lists, accomplishments, and lots of processing most likely love Jesus’ recap to God the Father. If for nothing else, it’s also a helpful synopsis as we near the end of John. Take some time to think back on the past year of your life and create a recap of your own. What happened? Were there some distinct seasons you noticed (like John, we’re speaking spiritually here, not meteorologically)? Were there certain places you really saw Jesus come through? Or certain things you did that seemed to bring you closer to Jesus? Further from Jesus? What were the highlights? The disappointments? Talk to God about what life has been like for you the past year. Ask Jesus for his insight into what’s been going on in your life. Ask him to show you where he was working and what he is doing. Ask Jesus if there are any key lessons he wants you to remember from this past year.
  • For your 6: The great pity in John’s gospel is that so many of us, so much of the time, get stuck in ‘this world,’ the world of shallow appetites and limited benefits. Pray that this wouldn’t happen to your 6. Ask Jesus to give them tastes of what Jesus calls ‘eternal life’: truly, deeply satisfying life that lies just beyond what we can see or grasp ourselves.
  • For our church: Pray that our church would bring God glory. If the word glory seems a little lofty and angelic, here is how Merriam Webster defines it:

a : praise, honor, or distinction extended by common consent : renown

b : worshipful praise, honor, and thanksgiving <giving glory to God>

Ask Jesus that among us God would get all of the honor God deserves, that our times together on the weekend would be filled with exuberant praise to God, and that everything we do as a church would bring recognition of and thanksgiving to God in the wider world.