We have come to the end of the long summaries of Jesus’ conversations with His disciples. In this chapter He prays for them. It is remarkable that John records this prayer in so much detail. It is clear that Jesus’ words made a huge impression on him and it was part of the cherished words of Jesus he so lovingly preserved.
We also know that the Bible was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and He quickened things in John to write about this Man he so loved. We trust God wholly for the Word. Holy Scripture is a revelation of who Jesus is and by Him we know the heart of the Almighty God as well as everything we need to know how to live a life of victory in Jesus here on earth.
[I refer again to the miracle of Scripture so extensively researched in Josh McDowell’s book: Evidence that demands a verdict.]
Back to John 17.
It is the prayer of all times, a prayer reaching over centuries to touch our hearts, encourage us, and inspire us. It is the man Jesus praying for us.
Could you pause for a moment and use your imagination to make this a reality? Think of Jesus praying for you. It is difficult to “make” a picture, but I am a visual person and need a “faith” picture. I think of Jesus as the lovely man I learnt to know in my children’s Bible from long ago. I often imagine Him sitting somewhere in my house. Right now I “see” Him looking up and saying to His father: Dad, I lift Ansophie up before your throne.Just writing it, is overwhelming.
Always KNOW that Jesus wants all men to be saved. He is praying for you!
…who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:4)
The climax of the life of Jesus was the cross.
History shows that many great men found glory in death. How and when they died showed the people their inner convictions.
There at the cross the centurion cried out in a dramatic moment of conviction. Jesus was a magnet to men in life but also in His very public death.
The Cross was the completion of His work on earth. He showed that there is NO LIMIT to the love of God.
He walked in full obedience and through the Cross obeyed His father.
The Cross was not the end. The resurrection was the full glorification of the Father. Man could do their worst and still Jesus triumphs.
The Cross was the way back into the glory of the Father.
Jesus talks about eternal life.
The Greek is aionios meaning not so much duration but quality. Only God has eternal life and therefore for us it can only mean that God gives us HIS life, God-life, to live like Him.
Knowing God is a goal right through the Old Testament. Knowledge of God is the highest life possible.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:6)
For the earth will be filled
With the knowledge of the glory of the Lord,
As the waters cover the sea. (Habakkuk 2:14)
For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel: “Seek Me and live; (Amos 5:4)
To know God through intellectual knowledge is to know what God is like. It will make all the difference to life. The most primitive people believe in a collection of gods in every tree, river, mountain and rock. All these gods are hostile and brings fear to the people. They must appease and live carefully not to offend. Missionaries tell of the immense relief when they surrender to One God. God is not stern and cruel, but loving and kind. Jesus is the ultimate example of this.
To know means intimate knowledge and is used in a sexual context (Genesis 4:1). Knowledge between the husband and wife is the most intimate. They become one flesh. One flesh implies an intimacy of heart, mind and soul in which true love reigns. To know God is to have an intimate relationship with Him, not mere intellectual knowledge. It is only possible in Jesus through the working of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus has shown forth the Father’s name. (17: 6-8)
- A name is very important in the Old Testament and Jewish culture in the time of Jesus. The name contains the whole character of the person. Psalms 9:10 states that those who know God’s name will put their trust in Him. By His name they will know what God is like in His character and nature. (Psalms 20:7; 22:22)
My people shall know my Name. (Isaiah 52:6)
Jesus says that whoever saw Him, saw the Father (John 14:9).
- Another aspect of the name of God is that is was so sacred it was never used. Only the high priest going into the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement, used the name of God – Yahweh. It was a name with no vowels in Hebrew and under it they wrote Adonai, so that the reader could talk about Adonai when he reads and not even say YHWH, which became Jehovah in English.
In the time of Jesus, God was so holy and so far away that ordinary people hardly talked about him. Jesus came and put the name of a sacred God on the lips of every person who could whisper a prayer to Him. He taught them to say our Father; actually it was even closer – calling God dad. It was unheard of. They never called God Father. To most people it was unthinkable, blasphemous and disrespectful.
But for those who accepted the teaching of Jesus, the unutterable became the beloved and powerful Father.
Jesus obeys God. Obedience is a natural consequence of following Jesus. Obedience is to be fully submitted to listening to His voice and following up in action.
The disciples were given to Jesus by God. He did not choose to call only those. He calls all, but only those who heed the call can enter into the special relationship.
Parents have dreams for their children and can do everything possible to enable them to have a wonderful life. In the end the child chooses. He can refuse and walk away. We can choose our destiny. We have free will. It is not forced upon us, but we all have the opportunity to choose God as a father for our lives.
In this prayer Jesus has confidence in the future. Nowhere is He gloomy or uncertain about the future. With the luxury of hindsight the church was off to a rocky start with severe persecution, and Jesus knew it.
Jesus had no doubt that the people He was praying for will carry His message no matter what.
He does not despise small beginnings. (Zechariah 4:10) He had eleven men around Him after three years of ministry. Jesus knew His father and the fullness of His glory. He had no doubt that His mission was successful.
He puts His trust in men – it is almost unthinkable that a mission as great as the Christian church on earth was put in the hands of these fishermen.
What an encouragement!
Jesus was never daunted by human weakness and the evil of the world.
[This is a discussion of verses 1-8.]