Have you ever prayed with someone and learned things about them you neither knew nor suspected? Or prayed with someone and gained a new understanding of their depth of thought and insight? When you talk to your Father in heaven, do you share the profound things of your heart?
After being married about a year, Carol and I were praying one day, and that happened to us. When we finished praying Carol said, “I didn't know you were worried about that! You haven't mentioned it to me!" I explained that I didn't want to worry her, but the subject had been on my mind a lot. That happened so long ago I don't even remember what it was that caused the conversation, but I will always remember our discussion about talking to God about things we don't share with others - the pressing issues of life.
John 17 allows us to hear Jesus express to the Father His priorities on the evening before His crucifixion. Scripture provides us with two conversations Christ Jesus had with God the Father that night. The second is in the Garden of Gethsemane. Mark 14:36 contains the most extended recorded version of Jesus' prayer in the synoptic Gospels. “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Matthew and Mark record the fact that Jesus prayed this prayer twice. Luke 22:42-44 adds the fact that an angel came and strengthened Jesus because He was in great agony after which He prayed apparently the same prayer with such intensity that drops of blood, like sweat, came from His body. Compared to Jesus' prayer in John 17 this prayer is short and succinct expressing above all else His desire for the Father's will to be accomplished.
The focus of Jesus' prayer in John 17 is the glory of God the Father, and the Son uniquely expressed through those the Father gave the Son. In the first five verses, Jesus explicitly states His desire for the Father to glorify Him with the glory He had before the world began so that He might glorify the Father. The Father is glorified by His completing the assigned task of fulfilling the requirements so those the Father gave Him might have eternal life by knowing both the true God and Jesus Christ.
Jesus revealed the Father to all those He gave Him, in verses 6-8, by making His name and word known to them. By accepting Jesus' teaching, these people obey God. John 6:29 (NLT) says “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” They now know and understand the truth. Verse ten says these are the ones who glorify Him. Since Jesus is returning to the Father, He asks Him to protect them from the evil one and sanctify them through His word. Jesus is not just requesting these things for those with Him but for those who will believe because of His apostle’s words.
Jesus' prayer provides several qualities that characterize the people He is describing. First, their unity will be like the relationship between Him and the Father. Second, they will exhibit His joy. In verse thirteen, He asks that His joy is fulfilled in them. In John 15:11 Jesus said everything He told them was so that His joy would be in them and for their joy to be full. Third, these people will accept Jesus' mission as their own. In verse 18, just as the Father sent Jesus into the world so too are His disciples. In the same way, He makes the Father known, those who follow Him will also. Lastly, these are people who love. Knowing the Father loves them as He loves His Son, their love is evidence to the world of their unity, joy, and commitment to His mission.
Thank You, Jesus, for revealing Your heart in this prayer. May all of those the Father gave You glorify both of You in the world. May we be united in the tasks You give us with joy and love. We want the world to know that You are the only One the Father sent. It is only through You we can know the One True God.