The Greatest Prayer

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed. John 17:1

Men, take a moment today to read and reflect on Jesus’ last prayer found in John 17. With the weight of the cross pressing in, Jesus makes a passionate plea to His Father on our behalf. Jesus’ hour has finally come. Judas and a battalion of Roman soldiers and Jewish religious leaders are on their way to arrest Jesus. His death on the cross is looming. In these final moments, we find Jesus focused on His task at hand – to provide forgiveness and salvation through the shedding of His blood on the cross. In the face of grave danger, we find Jesus in prayer; interceding for us. Jesus opens His prayer with this selfless declaration – “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.” He then prays two prayers of unity for those whom He came to serve and save. He prayed for His disciples then he prayed for you and I, His chosen children.

In this dialogue with His Father, Jesus reveals His relationship with God, His ability to save (v. 2), His task to complete the work of redemption (v. 4), and His desire to unite believers (v. 21). It’s as if, Jesus is giving a recap of His assignment on earth, connecting the dots with the Old Testament and giving us a glimpse of His future intercession when He would sit at the right hand of God.

Every word of this prayer is important and each section contains valuable insights into the heart of God. As I spent the weekend studying this prayer, several words and truths came to light.

Let me reemphasize one more thing so it’s not lost. Jesus knows that His death is imminent. In the shadow of His tortuous and gruesome death, Jesus pauses to pray the following for each of you.

  1. (Gave) Jesus said in verse 6, “I have revealed You to those You gave Me out of the world, and they obeyed Your word!”
  2. (Accepted) Jesus said in verses 7-8, “Now they know that everything You have given Me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave Me and they accepted them.”
  3. (Certainty) Jesus said that they knew with certainty that His words came from God.
  4. (Believed) Jesus said in verse 8, “They believed that I came from You and was sent by You!” This belief is the source of their salvation.
  5. (Pray) Jesus focuses His prayers so intensely on His disciples. He knows His mission is coming to an end and He prays not for the world as a whole but specifically for those who will take up the banner next – His followers.
  6. (Yours) Jesus deeply values His relationship with His disciples and sets them apart for this great task of spreading the Gospel. He says “God, they are yours” (v. 9).
  7. (Yours and mine) Jesus said, “All that You have is Yours, and all that is Mine is Yours.”
  8. (Protect) Jesus prays, “Holy Father, protect them by the power of Your name, the name You gave Me, so they may be one as we are one (v. 11).”
  9. (Joy) Jesus makes a great declaration over His people as he prays “So they may have the full measure of Your joy within them (v. 13).”
  10. (Hated) An expectation is given that persecution will come. Jesus continues “I have given them Your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world (v. 14).”
  11. (Evil one) Jesus asks the Father for protection and perseverance for His people against the adversary – “My prayer is not that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one (v. 15).”
  12. (Sanctify) Holding God’s Word in the highest regard he closes His prayer  “Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth (v. 16).”
  13. (Sent) His last comment to the Father comes with a commission as Jesus declares “As You sent Me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them, I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.”

Men, this is a lot, but it’s critical. Jesus, the Son of God, was sent not only to cover our sins so that we can spend eternity with Him, but also to show us His Word, to pray for us, to protect us, to give us joy, and to sanctify us so that we, like Jesus, would be one with Him and God!

Through Jesus, we are made one with our Creator. Jesus didn’t leave anything out; He didn’t miss one item! He came, He prayed, then He made the ultimate sacrifice. He is our Savior, Intercessor, Protector, and Guide! He prayed the hard prayer and he did the hard work. Then out of love, He left behind a toolkit (His Word) so that as we’re built up, we do so on the Solid Rock with the best tools! What an awesome Savior!

Steve L. Thomas, RTM