The High Priestly Prayer
I. Jesus Prays For Himself
17 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you,2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
- There can be no mistake that chapter 16 closes with a promise of peace and chapter 17 opens with prayer.
- 3 important facts from this section:
- Jesus is confident in the Father’s plan
- Jesus is passionate about the Father’s glory
- Jesus is focused on the gift of eternal life which comes through his sacrifice (Cook, 252)
- “lifted up his eyes to heaven” – Jesus’ posture in prayer is unconventional in our eyes, however, our normal mode of bowing heads and closing eyes are not mentioned in scripture.
- “Father” – just as he taught the disciples to pray in Matt 6. A term of intimacy, authority, and sovereignty.
- “the hour has come” – the culmination of Jesus’ mission. The verb tense of this phrase has changed as we progress through the gospel. “will come” – “is coming” – “has come”. The glorification of God consumes Jesus’ desire. Notice that he doesn’t pray that the Father remove him from this moment, rather he prays that God is glorified through it. In Matthew 26.36-ff, we see a bit more of Jesus’ humanity in the Garden of Gethsemane, but his overarching concern is still on accomplishing the will of God…”if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will”…”if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done”.
- “glorify your son that the Son may glorify you” – Jesus never sought his own glory independent from the Father.
- v2 – Jesus has been given the authority (the means and the power) to give eternal life to those the Father gives him.
- v3 – Provides a definition of what eternal life is. It is knowing God. This is an experiential knowledge. It has personal implications. Knowing God is more than knowing theology. It is knowing him personally. APP: If the only thing it heaven was Jesus, would you be satisfied? Would that be enough?
- v4 – Two possible interpretations:
- Jesus has accomplished all (the other work) God had for him, only the cross remains
- Jesus sees the cross before him as already accomplished, it is a settled matter in his mind, thus he refers to his work as being completed.
- v5 –3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2.3-11)
II. Jesus Prays For His Disciples
A Progress Report
6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.
- “manifested your name” – in other words, Christ has revealed the character and essence of God to them.
- 2x in this passage the Father is described as giving the disciples to Jesus. “Yours they were” fits nicely with Ephesians 1.4,5 and Romans 8.29. The Father elects, the Son securely saves.
- 3 Characteristics of the disciples: (Cook, 253)
- obedience – v6 – “they have kept your word”.
- knowledge – v7 – “they know that everything that you have given me is from you…I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know the truth”
- faith – v8 – “they have believed that you sent me”
9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
- Here for his disciples, in verses 20-ff for us. Christ still carries on this ministry of mediation.
- For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, – 2 Tim. 2.5.
- v10 – we see the dual possession of believers here. We have seen this earlier in 10.28-30 –“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
- 3 Requests of Jesus for his disciples:
- that they be kept (11)
- that they be one (11)
- that they may have joy (13)
- v12 – “son of destruction” – lit. “son of perdition” or “the one destined to be lost”. This phrase can describe his character or his destiny. It is important to note that Judas was not lost against his own will, but with his full consent. The fact that Judas’ betrayal was prophesied in scripture (Zechariah 11.12, 13) does not alleviate his guilt.
- v15 – How then do any of us persevere? God keeps us.
17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
- v17 – Sanctification is the process of becoming more Christlike. This happens when we encounter God through his word.
- v18 – Matt. 28.18-20. We are sent just as Jesus was sent.
III. Jesus Prays For Future Believers
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
- In these verses, Jesus broadens his prayer to those who would be saved through the spread of the gospel. That’s you and me. These verses should be incredibly humbling for us.
- 3 aspects of Jesus’ prayer for future believers:
- perfect unity (23) – “that they may become perfectly one”. a unity built upon love. This is a public display because the world will see it.
- fellowship with God (21) – “that they also may be in us”
- gospel growth (26) – “I will continue to make it known”. Gospel growth is the work of the church publicly displaying unifying love toward one another and the work of God.