Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer
Bible Reading: John 17
In his devotional study on the Gospel of John, John G. Mitchell shares these thoughts regarding Jesus’ magnificent prayer, “Now He brings us right within the holiest of all, and we are permitted to sit down in the presence of God. We are allowed to sit there and witness this fellowship, this communion, this bond, this oneness, this equality between the Father and the Son. How much do we really know about coming within the veil of the holiest of all, and being perfectly at home in the presence of the Father and the Son?” From the depths of the very heart of Jesus, this prayer invites us to listen in to the loftiest of all prayers. We are herein privileged to hear of God’s plan for the ages, whereby His glory is unveiled to all through His redemptive work.
So, what do we find Jesus praying about? Note the prayer is divided into three parts. In the first five verses Jesus prays for Himself. Then in verses 6 through 19 Jesus prays for the apostles who were with Him. In the remaining verses of the chapter, He prays for all His people throughout history. There is a common theme running through the entire chapter. In verse one, He prays, “glorify your Son that the Son may glorify You.” In verse 10 He prays regarding His apostles, “I am glorified in them.” And again, in verse 22 He prays over every believer throughout time, “The glory You have given me I have given to them.”
Jesus came not just to save sinners, but that He might be glorified in them. I love this quote by A.W. Tozer: “Why did Christ come? Why was He conceived? Why was He born? Why was He crucified? Why did He rise again? Why is He now at the right hand of the Father? The answer to all these questions is, in order that He might make worshipers out of rebels; in order that He might restore us again to the place of worship we knew when we were first created.” In His prayer Jesus prayed regarding this restoration. All that He has done is unto His glory. And so, we should pray that He might be glorified in our lives.
It would be impossible to plumb the depths, or explore the vast reaches of this transcendent prayer, but there are several things we can focus on, things which instruct us in what we should pray about: 1) He prayed we would know Him. In fact, eternal life equates to knowing “the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom (He) has sent.” Nothing matters more than this. So, we pray to know Him better and for others to know Him, too. 2) He prayed we would grow in Him. Our sanctification is a recurrent theme in this prayer (John 17:16-19). As God’s children we are out of place in this world, having been set apart for Him. We’ve been called to holiness and more than anything else it is the truth of the Word that works to transform us. So, we pray to love the truth and walk in it. It is also through the pursuit of the truth that we preserve the unity He has established in His body and experience the “oneness” for which He prayed. 3) He prayed we would share the truth with others (John 17:18). And so, as we share the Gospel, we pray for ourselves, that others will come to know Him. 4) He prayed we would be where He is in order “to see (His) glory” (John 17:24). That’s our destiny, and our hearts yearn for the day when we shall be with Him. Our prayers should likewise be governed by this heavenward focus in the desire to see Him as He is (1 John 3:2).
There is another main thought to be understood through Jesus’ prayer for us. John MacArthur commented on this: “He gives us the most magnificent example of our need for prayer. If the Son of God who controls all things, who is the ruler over all things, who is sovereign over all things, if the Son of God who knows all things, who has all power depends upon God to fulfill all His words, how much more are we dependent on God?”
What Mattered to Jesus in His Praying Should Matter to Us in Ours
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
To God be the glory, great things he has done!
So loved he the world that he gave us his Son,
who yielded his life an atonement for sin,
and opened the life-gate that all may go in.
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord,
Let the earth hear his voice!
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Let the people rejoice!
Great things he has taught us, great things he has done,
and great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son,
but purer and higher and greater will be
our joy and our wonder, when Jesus we see. [Refrain]