In John 16:26 Jesus said that He would not need to pray to the Father for them because they would be able to approach the throne of grace direct, through Him and in His name. He did not mean that He would 'not pray" for them for " He ever lives to intercede on our behalf" (Heb. 7:25). In this chapter we have the 'real" "Lord's Prayer" and not what is commonly called the Lord's Prayer "Our Father which art in heaven", which is the pattern prayer Jesus gave for his disciples.
Jesus Prays for Himself
17:1 When Jesus had finished saying these things, he looked upward to heaven and said, "Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, so that your Son may glorify you.
Notice that it says that "Jesus lifted up His eyes to heaven" and we find in a number of places in the scriptures that when Jesus prayed He did this (John 11:41). The first Christian martyr, Stephen, lifted His eyes to heaven and He saw the Lord (Acts 7:55). In the Old Testament we find that when addressing God the people looked heavenward (Ps. 123:1). Although we cannot see God with our eyes, when we pray we should lift our heart towards heaven for the outward is merely a response to the inward. By looking heavenward, God's dwelling place, we declare our confidence that through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ we can approach God with the full assurance of faith that we are accepted (Eph. 3:11-12 and Heb. 10:19). We show our complete trust in that God will hear us and that He is more than able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think (Eph. 3:20). Jesus could do this because He is the spotless Lamb of God, without sin, we can only because He has saved, cleansed and made us whole through His atoning death. In Luke 18:13 the sinner could not lift His eyes to heaven because he was conscious and convicted of his sins. It was only when he confessed his sin and cried on God to forgive him that he could lift up his eyes to heaven. The time had now arrived for Jesus to fulfil the purpose He came into the world, to die on the cross. The first thing He asks is that by His death God would exalt, honour and magnify His Son that the Son might exalt, honour and magnify the Father. When we pray do we ask for that which will glorify God?
17:2 Just as you have given him authority over all humanity, so that he may give eternal life to everyone you have given him.
God has given all authority and power to the Lord Jesus Christ over all things in heaven and earth and over all flesh (Matt. 28:18). He has been given power to impart eternal life to those who have been given to Him.
17:3 Now this is eternal life — that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent
The Father and Son are eternal life therefore all who know them have eternal life.
17:4 I glorified you on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.
The point of no return had gone by (John 13:31) and so Jesus could speak as if everything that He had been sent to do by the Father had been accomplished, "I have finished the work."
17:5 And now, Father, glorify me at your side with the glory I had with you before the world was created.
In all that He had said and done He gave all the glory and praise to God. He is ready to return to His Father to take the place that He had as the Son of God His before He came to earth. Now He would be returning as the exalted "Son of Man" as well.
Jesus Prays for His Disciples
From praying for Himself He now comes to pray for His disciples.
17:6 "I have revealed your name to the men you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have obeyed your word.
First of all He reminds God of a few things concerning His disciples. Jesus had made known to them all things concerning God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. God had separated them from the world to Himself. They belonged to God by right of creation as all things do, but God had also been preparing these disciples to heed the call of Jesus to follow Him and He given them to the Lord Jesus Christ. They had obeyed and held fast to the word that Christ had taught them.
17:7-8 Now they understand that everything you have given me comes from you, because I have given them the words you have given me. They accepted them and really understand that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.
They understood that everything which God had given to His Son truly belonged to God and they believed with absolute assurance that Jesus came from and was sent by God.
17:9 I am praying on behalf of them. I am not praying on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those you have given me, because they belong to you.
His prayers are specifically for these disciples who have been separated and given to Him and not for those who are still a part of the world.
17:10 Everything I have belongs to you, and everything you have belongs to me, and I have been glorified by them.
Everything that belongs to God belongs to His Son and the Son is glorified in them (Phil 2:6 and Col. 1:15-17).
17:11-12 I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them safe in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one. When I was with them I kept them safe and watched over them in your name that you have given me. Not one of them was lost except the one destined for destruction, so that the scripture could be fulfilled.Up until now Jesus had cared for and kept His disciples, except for Judas Iscariot who was lost in fulfilment of the scriptures. Now that He would be leaving He commits them into the hands of His Father. He prays that the Father will keep them stedfast and unmovable in the faith by all that is implied by in His "Name", that is the very being of God, the "I AM". That they will be of one mind and one accord even as the Father and Son are (Acts 2:1 and Acts 2:42-46).
17:13 But now I am coming to you, and I am saying these things in the world, so they may experience my joy completed in themselves.
That His joy may be full, complete and perfect in them. The Amp. N.T. reads: "so they may experience My delight fulfilled in them, that My enjoyment may be perfected in their own souls, that they may have My gladness within them, filling their hearts."
17:14-15 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them, because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but that you keep them safe from the evil one.
Because they had received the word of God and been separated from the world unto God even as Jesus had, so the world hates them. He prays that God would not take them out of the world but protect them from the wiles of the Devil.
17:16-17 They do not belong to the world just as I do not belong to the world. Set them apart in the truth; your word is truth.
Although they have been separated to God they are still in the world and therefore He prays that they would be sanctified. It signifies to consecrate, to separate from earth and common use, and to devote or dedicate to God and his service, to be made holy and kept continually clean from the world's stain. The instrument used for this sanctification is the truth of God's Word (Eph. 5:26)
17:18 Just as you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world.
As Jesus was sent into the world by the Father so He sends His disciples to proclaim the Good News for this purpose they need to be sanctified. "That they might be holy, and patterns of all holiness to those to whom they announced the salvation of God" (Adam Clarke).
17:19 And I set myself apart on their behalf, so that they too may be truly set apart.
In order that the disciples might be sanctified Jesus dedicated and consecrated Himself and offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sins.
Jesus Prays for All Believers
17:20 "I am not praying only on their behalf, but also on behalf of those who believe in me through their testimony.
Jesus now prays for those who will believe on Him through the witness and testimony of His disciples and for all those down through the ages who have accepted Him as their Lord and Saviour.
17:21 That they will all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. I pray that they will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me.
He first prays that they should be in complete harmony with one another even as the Father is in Christ and Christ is in the Father. It is through this unity of love in Jesus Christ that the world will believe that God sent His Son. It is one thing for an handful of disciples to be in unity another for millions of believers throughout the world to be so. It is only possible through Jesus Christ so (Acts 4:32). The apostles Paul and Peter in their letters reminded the church of this pray of the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 2:2 and 1 Pet. 3:8).
17:22 The glory you gave to me I have given to them, that they may be one just as we are one.
It is Jesus that has lifted the sinner up from the pit of sin and sets him upon the Rock that is Himself. He has exalted us in that we are acccepted by God through Him and are the recipients of His love and all the spiritual blessings of being one with Him (1 John 3:1).
17:23 I in them and you in me — that they may be completely one, so that the world will know that you sent me, and you have loved them just as you have loved me.
When we receive Jesus as our Saviour He comes and abides in our hearts and as God the Father is in Christ so the believer is indwelt by both. This is what enables that perfect oneness of Spirit between believers. Again He says that through this perfect union the world will know that God sent His Son and He adds that the world will know that God loves every believer as He loves His Son.
17:24 "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they can see my glory that you gave me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
He prays that those whom God has given to Him should come to dwell with Him in His Father's House that they may behold and see Him in all His beauty and glory (1 John 3:2).
17:25 Righteous Father, even if the world does not know you, I know you, and these men know that you sent me.
The world does not accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God neither do they want to know Him therefore they do not know and reject God. Jesus Christ knows the Father and those who believe on Him know that He came from God.
17:26 I made known your name to them, and I will continue to make it known, so that the love you have loved me with may be in them, and I may be in them.
Jesus made known to His disciples the character of God by His teachings and His ministry. He continues to do so to every believer by the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). He closes by praying that the same love that God has for Him may be in those who belong to Him and that He, Jesus, will abide in them.
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