The Greatest Prayer Ever Prayed: John 17

We’re going to shake things up a bit this week. Instead of providing commentary verse-by-verse for John 17, we are going to section it into three parts, and I’ll provide introductory and closing comments.

John 17 contains the greatest prayer ever prayed on earth and the greatest prayer ever recorded in Scripture (Wiersbe). It’s broken into 3 parts, which point to Him being the Overcomer:

1.       Jesus prays to be glorified

2.       Jesus prays for His disciples

3.       Jesus prays for all believers

Jesus Prays to Be Glorified

Before you read verses 1-5, I want to point out Jesus’ posture of prayer, which you’ll read about in verse 1. Our heart’s posture is what’s most important, but I took note of the posture of Jesus looking toward heaven and thought it worthy to share. As you prepare to read the red-lettered words of Jesus, take a moment to prepare your heart to hear. Ask Him to speak to you. Commit to silence. Push aside the day and purpose in your heart to spend these next few moments hearing Him pray for you.

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

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

·         This prayer was for Jesus Himself, who was nearing the cross and heading into excruciating suffering. What a beautiful reminder that the prayer for oneself isn’t a selfish one.

·         I love the clarity Jesus provides about the definition of eternal life: “That they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” We often think eternal life is about mansions, streets of gold, seeing our family friends who died before us, and so forth. Jesus surpasses all those beliefs. Eternal life is to know God through Christ Jesus. That’s the power of the gospel, friends, and we should never be ashamed (Romans 1:6).

Jesus Prays for His Disciples

6 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

·         The premise of this section is about security and safety in Christ. At our core, we crave safety. “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.” The believer is secure in Christ. Though the world may crash against us, we can know the Anchor will hold us and that He is interceding for us (Romans 8:34).

·         How do we become an overcomer like Jesus? Joy. Joy is the secret and it’s a 3-letter-word that packs an eternal punch (v13). Live in the joy of your salvation and your perspective of this world will change. If you don’t know “full measure of joy” that comes from Jesus, ask God to restore to you the joy of your salvation (Psalm 51:2)! That is His nature and desire, so you can trust He will be faithful in answering (Matthew 21:22).

Jesus Prays for All Believers

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

·         God desires unity and sanctity in His believers. He wants the world to know Him, and our role—just like Jesus’—is to glorify the Father. It’s incomprehensible how a perfect God chose imperfect humans to carry the message of the gospel.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

2 Corinthians 4:7