One of the most famous prayers between Jesus and His Father, God, is recorded in John Chapter 17. While the wording differs slightly than accounts written in other gospels, the overall theme is consistent: Jesus’ heart is heavy with the ordeal that He is about to endure, as well as the trials and tribulations that will befall His followers afterward.
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Jesus begins his supplication, as He demonstrated in the prayer, glorifying the Father. He affirms that everything that He has been given to do is completed as requested. He expresses a yearning to share in the fellowship of glorying with His Father.
Praying for the Disciples
Jesus’ love for His followers is never more evident than in this passage in which He fervently asks the Father to watch over them because they will be charged with continuing the work that He began. Furthermore, Jesus knew that they would be doing so in a world that would not be particularly receptive to their message and would sometimes even be downright hostile towards them.
He understood the challenges that the disciples would face by living in the world without actually being worldly. He earnestly asked the Father to protect them and to keep the “evil one” away.
Praying for Future Believers
Jesus concludes His prayer by praying for those who would come to believe in Him by the words of His followers after He was gone. The main focus of this part of Jesus’ prayer is for unity on the part of believers to mirror the unity of Jesus with His Father.
The stark chasm that exists between God and unbelievers is emotionally illustrated as one can almost hear the heart-wrenching manner in which Jesus yearns for mankind to know God as He knows God. As many have questioned how Jesus could have withstood the beatings and agony of crucifixion on behalf of those who did not even believe in Him, perhaps verses 20-26 would serve to provide those answers. It was just simply that important to Him.
John 17 (King James Version)
1 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.
7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.
8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.
9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.
11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.
26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.