Pastor Tom Ascol addresses John’s Gospel Chapter 17 in a message entitled “The Lord’s True Prayer.” John 17 records Jesus’ final words to His apostles before the Crucifixion. Jesus’ prayer has become known as His High Priestly Prayer. This prayer is much more than the example of how to pray given by Jesus much earlier in His Sermon on the Mount. It is here, in Chapter 17, Jesus prays for God’s glory and for His disciples.
There are three divisions in Jesus’ prayer. First, He prays for Himself. He asks the Father, whom He identifies as the one and then only true God, to restore the glory He, Jesus, had before the world existed. Jesus thus reaffirms His eternal relationship with God the Father as part of the Trinity and seeks to glorify the Father. Jesus once again reiterates that eternal life is in knowing God. This knowledge is not a mere intellectual assent but a genuine heart knowledge. Furthermore, Jesus, recognizing His hour had come, prays that the significance of His suffering would become known to His own people.
In a clear teaching on election, Jesus acknowledges His followers were given to Him by the Father. Thus begins the second division of the prayer as Jesus prays specifically for the eleven disciples. The Father has not only given the disciples to Jesus but Jesus has spent His three years of ministry revealing God to the disciples. Jesus’ current concern for the disciples is predicated on the knowledge that He is about to leave them. His time is at hand. He purposely prays for the protection, sanctification, and unity of the eleven.
The world is a dangerous place for Christians. The disciples thus need protection, they need to be kept. The world and the powers of darkness will try to divide. The disciples thus need unity. Only as the disciples are set apart can they carry and exemplify the message of Christ. The disciples thus need sanctification.
Finally, Jesus comes to the third part of His prayer. He prays for future Christians. He prays for us over 2000 years ago, long before we were conceived we were known by God. What encouragement that should provide to believers. What He asked for the disciples He asks for us, protection, unity, sanctification, and He prays for our eventual presence with Him in glory.
Jesus, on the very brink of His suffering and Crucifixion makes time to stop and pray. That alone is an example for us. Since Jesus prayed for us specifically we ought to be encouraged to carry forth the message He proclaimed. In the true knowledge of God is life eternal.