John 17.1-12 Prayer of Jesus

April 20, 2008 Series: Gospel According to John

Topic: Gospel Passage: John 17:1–17:12


John 17.1-12 - The Prayer of Jesus

April 20, 2008

Sam Ford


The Dali Lama came to Seattle this past week.  He seems like a nice false teacher. 


Along with many other religious leaders, he participated in the recent SEEDS of COMPASSION INTERSPIRTUALITY Conference downtown.  Such events are evidence of what can only be described as a ‘new spirituality' that people are getting into.  You have the Oprah reading through A Course in Miracles over radio show, all kinds of new TV shows spouting off Scripture alone with confusing spiritual messages, and we even have Pope Benedict XVI hosting an inter-faith conference inviting the world's religions together to talk about common ground.  Then of course, you have the Dali Lama, a supposed reincarnation of another earlier teacher becoming so popular that public schools are bussing down thousands of people to hear him promote the "compassion" movement.


Then, along side the Dali Lama representing Christianity you have the likes of pastors like Rob Bell and Doug Paggit putting forward a new way of thinking, a new blended form of Christianity that seeks to bring a sense of oneness among the people's of different spiritualities-hence, "inter-faith."  Archaic ideas like "sin" and "judgment" and even Lordship of Jesus Christ are being viewed as "old ways" of thinking.  At the same time, the compassionate, humble, and servant Jesus has been lifted up while the exclusive, one and only way Jesus, has gotten lost in the mix.  Instead of lifting of the God Man Jesus Christ as central in our lives, the world pursues a "Christ consciousness" apart of the Jesus himself.  He is less than a good teacher...he's just teachings. 


Jesus is not simply a man who sets a good example of love and sacrifice for us to follow.  Our study of the gospel of John is titled, "Hello...I AM Jesus" because our cultures, including Christians, have all but denied the supremacy of Jesus Christ.  We've had two purposes with this series. 


One is John's stated for his gospel tated in   John 20.30-31 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.  John the Apostle, wrote about a man, Jesus of Nazareth to provide more than a description of how to live, but to argue for an identity.

  • If Jesus is God, he is not simply to be admired and respected but to be worshipped, adored and delighted in.
  • If Jesus is God, he is to be absolutely obeyed and given central priority in our lives.
  • If Jesus is God, the salvation he offers in his blood is of infinite value. (T.Keller, Gospel Christianity)


Under this overarching theme then, John gives us a portrait of Jesus unlike any other in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, or Luke.  90% of the narrative is unique to John.  There are no parables or exorcisms', but powerful and difficult statements that declare that Jesus is God AND actions that all but blow our image of that God as wrap our minds around the fact that Jesus is not just Godlike, but God is Christ-like.  


 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said,

I appreciate the fact that Jesus' prayer is somewhat spontaneous.  I find it curious how formalized we have made prayer.  Bow your heads, close your eyes, say "dear God", pray at dinner, pray at church, pray before bed. I believe that once our prayer life becomes rote and routine, our spiritual life follows suit.  In 2Thessalonians 5, Paul encourages his disciples "pray without ceasing, (2Thess 5.17)  which seems only possible if we consider prayer so formally.  If our prayer life is mechanical, I'm betting that our relationship with God is quite similar. 


At the same time, we don't want a lack of formality to the extent that we forget whose presence we're in what why we're able to be in it.   Jesus never sounds formal or informal.  He prays as if his relationship with God is real, active, and meaningful. 


"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.

v. 1 - the hour has come

Several times before this Jesus' time had not come (2:4; 7:6, 8, 30; 8:20). When it comes time to begin the final and most painful stages of his mission on earth, Jesus prays.  The hour he refers to is the appointed time for his death and glorification.  This is an entirely other way of thinking.  It is not as if Jesus knows the time as come and he's resigning himself to accept the inevitable.  Jesus prays, rather, that God's will be done and that His Father will accomplish His purpose.   God's sovereignty should encourage us to pray not discourage us to.  The fact that He is in control should bring us hope and not despair because all things are inevitable. 


v. 1-2 - glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you.

Jesus asks for the Father to glorify Him in this hour of horrible shame and suffering.  By asking this, He proves that he is willing to obey the Father even when it will lead to His death.  By glorify, Jesus asks the Father "praise and honor" him, to recognize his value (as a Son, and to raise him up as most precious.  Therefore, Jesus is glorified by the resurrection and eventual ascension back to the Father where (according to v. 5) he will be restored to the glorious position he emptied himself of by means of the incarnation. 


v. 2 The Father is glorified by Jesus giving eternal life

Ironically, it is expected that God the Father will in fact receive praise and honor for this terrible death and resurrection.  The cross is both the most terrible, horrible, dark, broken, and revolting view of man's depravity and yet, the clearest, most powerful magnification of God's grace and mercy and love.  It is the living out of what Jesus depicted when he washed his disciples' feet.   It is not just a picture, but an act of love and sacrifice like no other.


As the Father causes all to praise the brutality of the cross, He in fact receives praise as Jesus purchases eternal life with his blood AND gives it to the church.  That is why He came, that is how he brings glory to God-by giving eternal life.   John 3.36 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.


v. 3  And this is eternal life... 

But we're left to ask, what is eternal life? Is simply immortality?  Do we just live forever? In verse 3 Jesus defines eternal life saying it is knowledge of God and His Son.  But what does it mean to know God?


  • 1. KNOWLEDGE of someone (to know what God is like)

There is a different between knowledge of someone and knowing someone. Knowledge is helpful, but it's incomplete.   All the Bible studies in the world are not going to lead to eternal life.  The Pharisees dedicated their lives to memorizing long passages of Scripture.  They loved reciting it for hours.  But Jesus spent more time condemning them (more than any other group) because they had knowledge of God, but they did not know God.   John 5.39-40 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. Knowledge of God is clearly not enough even though there is enough of it.  All too often we become like the Pharisees who became expert religious people only to Jesus say in.


  • 2. KNOWING someone (to have relationship with God)

There must be something more than intellectual knowledge here.  The Old Testament regularly used "know" for sexual knowledge.  The knowledge of a marital relationship between a man and a woman is the most intimate type of relationship there can be.  The husband and wife are no longer two; they are one flesh.  It is the place where one experiences the greatest of joys and pains.  The sexual act itself is not the important thing; the important thing is the intimacy of heart and mind and soul which in true love fosters.


Knowing God is more than intellectual knowledge of him; it is to have an intimate personal relationship with him, which is like the nearest and dearest relationship in life.  The Old Testament says in Hosea 4.6 that God's people are destroyed from a lack of knowledge.  I'm certain God doesn't mean they haven't memorized enough verses about him, rather, he speaks of their hearts.  Paul describes it well in Philippians 3.4b-8 If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness, under the law blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ


v. 4-5  I have glorified by accomplishing the work you had to do

So, Jesus comes to give eternal life;  that eternal life is not just immortality; rather, Jesus MISSION was to bring knowledge of God to the world.  Romans 1 says that God's invisible attributes can, in sense, be seen through creation.   But this is special.  It is a NEW knowledge, a clearer knowledge; He intended to REVEAL the nature of God himself.  But how was he different from all of the other patriarchs and prophets that came before Him?  You have Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah, Elisha...the list goes on.  We're these guys coming to tell the people who their God was? What he wanted?  That is why John was written.... Hebrews 1.1-3a  Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.


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.

v. 6 Jesus manifested God's name through action and word

Jesus came to show us God.  John 1.18  18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known. The world, I imagine even the Dali Lama would agree that Jesus had a piece of the divine in him.  Yes, Jesus was Godlike, but Jesus said he was more than that.  Jesus himself said, and His works and words proved that He was God, THE CREATOR.  And, according to John, Jesus is the only one who has done more than TELL us about God, He has "witnessed" God by seeing him dwell among us.   John wrote in a later epistle, 1John 1.1-2 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life- 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us-


Jesus didn't just tell us...he showed us

John 10.30, 12.45, 14.9... I and the Father are one...And whoever sees me sees him who sent me..."Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip?  Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.  How can you say, "Show us the Father?"


Jesus manifested the name of God.  Quite literally, Jesus declared the name of God.  In the spirit of Exodus 3.14 where God tells Moses to tell Israel that "I AM " has sent you, Jesus says 7 times, I I AM the Bread of Life, I AM the Light of the World, I AM the Good Shepherd, I AM the Door of the Sheep, I AM the Resurrection and the Life, I AM the Way, and the Truth, and the Life, I AM the True Vine,   The name of God referred to is Jehovah "I AM". 


Jesus manifested the character of God. But by declaring the "name" of someone, means more than just saying "GOD GOD GOD" is in fact revealing the character of that person.  In Jesus, we see more than a declaration of title, more than an example of how to live a good life, we see what our God, what our creator is genuinely like...


  • We our God picking uneducated blue collar workers and IRS men to be his disciples
  • We see our God making wine for a young couple at a wedding feast
  • We see our God getting tired at the well and asking for a sandwich
  • We see our God angrily flipping tables and going postal on guys that made the church all about $
  • We see our God loving the religious who will listen and condemning the hyper-religious who won't
  • We see our God reaching out to those the culture feel are not worth it, the dirty and undesirable
  • We see our God healing a men and women multiple times while breaking man's traditions
  • We see our God dealing lovingly with those who betray him
  • We see our God making forgiving and making leaders out of those who abandon & deny him
  • We see our God feeding people with a few pickled fish and some bread
  • We see our God showing grace to a woman caught sin and yet telling her she's sinful
  • We see our God weeping for His friend who died and giving him life again
  • We see our God telling those who want to kill him that their Daddy's the devil
  • We see our God washing the feet of his disciples
  • We see our God humbly submitting to being arrested when he could blink and kill them all
  • We see our God willingly dying on the cross at the hands of his own creation


v. 7-8 Jesus gave them God's Words

In addition to his actions, Jesus also spoke many hard words-God's Words.  John 12.49-50  49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment-what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me." When you are unapologetic about God's truth, you will upset the world that is in rebellion to it. 


Jesus said in Matthew 10.24 that he came to bring division not peace!  And when he said divisive things (as graciously as could be expected) people walked away from him: John 6.66-69  66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, "Do you want to go away as well?" 68 Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God."


We always talk about the actions that Jesus performed-the miracle and the healings.  That is part of the problem with this new "spirituality movement", they want to spend all of their time talking about how to live like Jesus but refuse to listen to what Jesus said... 

  • For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved thru him. Whoever believes is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the ONLY son of God. 3.17
  • Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. 3.36
  • As the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, so the Son gives life to whom he will. 5.21
  • No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day. 6.44
  • I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in you sins. 8.24
  • My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them from my hand 10.27,30
  • I am the resurrection and life, whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live. 11.25
  • I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me. 14.6
  • Abide in me...If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers, and the braches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. 15. 5-6


Jesus IS so much more, and DID so much more than give us an example of compassion and love.  He brought us to God SPIRITUALLY by coming near to us LITERALLY.  Our creator has not left us here to "figure out" how to be more loving and compassionate.  We can't.  He came and lived a perfectly sinless selfless life not to show us, but to give it to us.  It doesn't how many conferences we have or how many people come to agreement on how to be "better" or "more spiritual" people---healing of our brokenness comes through acceptance of His Words (as opposed to my opinions) FIRST, admitting my imperfections/weakness FIRST, accepting Jesus perfection/strength FIRST, submitting every part of our lives to the Lordship of Jesus FIRST, accepting the death our own life, death of our own desires, of our own way of living FIRST, that I/we might live like Him for Him FIRST in all things big and small.   


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 them11 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. 

 v. 9 Prays for his Disciples, not the world

Jesus transitions from a prayer for himself to a prayer for his disciples-for those who receive his words.  He does not PRAY for those who attempt of model their lives after Him because he's a good example to follow.  He prays for his disciples, those who BELIEVE JESUS IS WHO HE SAYS HE IS. 


v. 10 All mine are yours and yours are mine.

Those people who believe are OWNED by God because he created and OWNED by Jesus because he bought them with his blood.  In other words, as John Piper says, you are doubly owned-Your life is not your own! 


Further, ownership by Jesus and ownership by God are the same thing-they have shared ownership. You cannot love God and not love Jesus.  There is no such thing as "spiritual" and "Divine" and "Godly" unless you are talking about Jesus.  We serve, we praise, we worship a God and His name is Jesus.  We are OWNED by Jesus.  He purchased us with his blood.  Jesus created you, Jesus called you, and Jesus paid for you on the cross.  YOU ARE NOT YOUR OWN.   We often talk about how "our stuff" is the Lords...but YOU are the Lord's  


v. 11-12  They are still in the world, keep them.

So he prays for those who are HIS, not those who have been separated OUT of the world, but these 11 guys who have been chosen while still IN a world that is in rebellion against God-even it talks about "god" a lot. 


Jesus came to save for himself a people to do something

At this point it's 11 guys he prays for, whom he frees from a life self-glory, and saves them to the glory God.  And he prays something very specific for these men....


  • Keep them in your name

It is so easy and tempting to become about "God and Godliness" and forget Jesus. Jesus says that for three years with these guys, he guarded them to KEEP them in the "name of God", which we know "God's name" means the CHARACTER of God revealed in actions and words of Jesus.  He prays then, that as he leaves, God will keep them devoted to following the amazing God that Jesus' life has revealed to the extent that we say, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ Phi..3.8


  • ..that they might be one, as we are one.

The purpose of this "keeping", of this loyalty, is that his disciples will remain UNIFIED and in relationship just as Jesus and the Father are.  We need to be fearful when the world, and Christians, begin to be unified more about being compassionate and loving apart from Jesus.  God was about glorifying Jesus and Jesus was about glorifying God.  God has spoken clearly about what is of FIRST importance.  1John 5.11-12  11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.


CONCLUSION - this must be preached to ourselves every single day.


More in Gospel According to John

April 27, 2008

John 17.13-26 Sent, Like Jesus

April 13, 2008

John 16.4-33 Jesus Overcomes the World

April 6, 2008

John 15.18-16.4 Hated for Jesus or Just Hated