Story 182: The Last Supper: The Prayers of God’s Son

John 17

VIENNA - JULY 27: Holy Trinity. Detail from fresco of scene from apocalypse from 19. cent. in main apse of Altlerchenfelder church on July 27, 2013 Vienna.

A fresco of the Trinity from Vienna                          With Christ in glory.

On His last night with His disciples, Jesus finally made it clear. The Kingdom they were going to proclaim would be far different from what they had imagined, but it was also far greater and more wonderful. As Jesus looked ahead to the days and years to come, He lifted up His eyes to His Father in Heaven and prayed. Let’s listen in on how God the Son talked to His Father:

“‘Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify You. For You granted Him authority over all people that He might give eternal life to all those You have given Him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent. I have brought You glory on earth by completing the work You gave Me to do. And now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence with the glory I had with You before the world began.’”

John 17:1b-5

Wow. Did you get that? Those who have put their faith in Jesus are a gift from God the Father to His Son. Not only that, but the love between the Father and the Son was such that they were working to bring glory to one another. If humans worked to bring glory to each other, it could become ridiculous. It is nice to encourage friends and compliment them, but because every person is a sinner, there is a limit to what we can say to each other or about each other and still speak truthfully. You cannot bring true glory to someone if they don’t deserve it. But God does deserve it, and so does His Son. The only right thing is for them to be magnificently glorified. The only right thing for us to do is fall down and worship them in all their radiant glory. That is why the rejection of Christ is such a deep and terrible sin. It is the ultimate wrong. The Son of God and the Father are Truth, and they bring glory to each other.

Jesus knew that He had completed the work the Father had for Him on earth. All that was left was the cross. And so He prayed that once He died, His Father would restore Him to the glory He had with the Father for all eternity past. Then He went on:

“‘I have revealed You to those whom You gave Me out the world. They were Yours; You gave them to Me and they have obeyed Your Word. Now they know that everything You have given Me comes from You. 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.’”

John 17:6-8

Do you see how important belief is to Jesus? Consider the wondrous humility of Christ that it matters to Him whether we trust Him. That He cares so much about our faith that everything else that matters depends on it!

Listen to how Jesus prayed for the people of faith of His time and throughout all time:

“‘I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those You have given Me, for they are Yours. All I have is Yours, and all You have is Mine. And glory has come to Me through them. 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. 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.’”

John 17:9-12

Wow. It is impossible for us to imagine the grandeur of these words…or the magnificent goodness of what it means to us. Belonging to God…to have the God of the universe say, “You are Mine.” Wow. Consider the potential for you and I and all who believe…we are meant to be one as God the Father is One with His Son. And while Jesus was with His followers on earth, He was protecting them. From what? He seems to be saying that none of those that God the Father had given to Him was lost to unbelief. Jesus went on:

“‘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. 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. My prayer is not that You take them out of the world but that You would protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth: your word is truth. As you sent Me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify Myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.’”

John 17:13-19

There is so much in these words from Christ to think about. He was explaining God’s plan so that His disciples could share in His joy. He was about to pay the price for the sin and death of the world by hanging naked in a torturous death on a cross…and yet His own profound belief in His Father’s plan allowed Him to speak of joy. Just as His goal was not to avoid the suffering before Him, He was honoring His disciples with the privilege of their acting as heralds of His Kingdom. He would not stop them from having to live with the problems of this world, but He gave them an amazing purpose to live for as long as they were in it.

“‘My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one.   Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. may they also be in You so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are one. I in them and You in Me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.’”

John 17:20-23

Wow. Now Jesus was praying for all of us who have put our faith in Him. In fact, our life in God is meant to show the world that the story of Christ is true. And somehow, we have been given Christ’s glory, and the purpose is so that we can live in unity together. We are meant to be all bound up in the love of the Trinity together.

“‘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.’”

“‘Righteous Father, though the world does not know You, I know You, and they know that You have sent Me. 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.’”

John 17:24-26

What an amazing love story! The whole story of the universe is the love story of God. How the Father has loved the Son!  How greatly the Son glorified the Father with His perfect obedience. There is no deeper display of devotion than His willingness to suffer the ultimate agony on the cross. And the glory of God for those who love Him is eternal bliss. Jesus wants to draw His faithful ones into that glory to share it with Him forever.

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