John 17 records the intercessory prayer of Jesus for His disciples. As a way of introduction there are a couple of things to make note of. First of all, this intercessory prayer is what is referred to as the High Priestly prayer of Jesus. It is unsure as to where Jesus prayed this prayer. We do know that it was at the conclusion of the upper room discourse. However, Jesus may have not been in the upper room at this time. He and His disciples may have been making their way to the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus prayed this prayer. It is called the High Priestly prayer of Jesus because of its intercessory nature. He is praying on behalf of His disciples. Secondly, the immediate context suggest that Jesus starts His prayer by praying specifically for the eleven disciples that remained with Him. Judas betrayed Jesus and left the upper room. Jesus then turns to the remaining eleven and teaches them. At the conclusion of His teaching, He then prays for those remaining disciples. Finally, Jesus prays for all believers. In this intercessory prayer, Jesus prays not just for those disciples that were with Him that day, but, He also prays for all those who would come to faith in Him. Essentially, He prays for you and me! This intercessory prayer of Jesus can be outlined with five parts to His prayer.
The Glorification of Jesus (v. 1-8). Jesus prays to the Father that He would be glorified. Notice several ways in which Jesus is glorified. (1) Jesus is glorified in the saving of lost souls. Jesus receives glory by those who have been given Him by the Father. It is important to note here the literal interpretation of this text. Jesus prays to the Father and thanks Him for those that He has given to Him. Specifically, Jesus was referring to those disciples that were present with Him at that moment. Jesus was praying concerning the remaining eleven disciples that were with Him. Jesus thanks the Father for giving Him the power to give eternal life to those disciples. A parallel application speaks in regards to all believers. The Father has given Jesus the right to grant eternal life to all who believe on Him. Those whom the Father gives to Jesus are those who have believed on the Lord Jesus for salvation. It is in this that Jesus is glorified. Every time a lost soul comes to faith in Christ and is gloriously born-again, Jesus is glorified. This shows the importance of evangelism. The way in which we bring glory to Jesus is by leading lost souls to Him. As we are involved in the evangelization of the world, we are bringing glory to Jesus. (2) Jesus is glorified by the Father. When Jesus came to this earth as a man, He emptied Himself of His glory. He prays that He would be restored to the place where He was even before the world was created. In other words, He tells the Father, it’s time to come home. Jesus’ work on the earth was coming to an end. He would soon go to the cross and die for the sins of the world and would then be resurrected. Jesus prays that after all is done, and He finishes what He came to do, that His glory would be restored.
The Security of the Believer (v. 9-16). Jesus is once again praying in reference to the remaining eleven disciples that were with Him. However, He is also praying in reference to every believer. Those whom the Father has given to Him are all those both then, now, and in the future that come to Him by faith and believe on the Lord Jesus for their salvation. Jesus prays that they would be kept secured. In verse 12 he mentions that there was one disciple that was lost and that was Judas. This is not a reference to a loss of salvation. Rather, Jesus was stating that one of those original disciples was not a true disciple after all, because he never believed on Jesus by faith. Jesus prays that the remaining disciples would stay true to the faith and that their salvation would be secured. Jesus is also praying for you and me. He reminds the Father that we have been given to Him when we believed on Him and, thus, we now belong to Him. I don’t know about you, but, I am very thankful that my salvation is secure. No one can pluck me out of God’s hand. I am saved, sealed, and delivered! I am kept by the power of God and Jesus makes sure of that as He intercedes for me.
The Sanctification of the Believer (v. 17-19). Jesus prays that both His original disciples along with all who believe on Him, would be sanctified. To be sanctified is to be set apart. We are set apart from the world and set apart unto Christ. We are set apart for a purpose and that purpose is that we would bring glory to Christ by being His ambassadors to this world and by bringing others to Him. In verse 19 Jesus prays that we would be sanctified through the truth. This is a reference to our progressive sanctification. God is working in us in order to conform us to the image of Christ. It is through the Word of God that we are transformed and we become more like Jesus.
The Unity of Believers (v. 20-23). Jesus makes it clear that He is not only praying for those disciples that were with Him that day, but also, for all who believe on Him. He prays for our unity. He prays that we would be one as the Father and Jesus are one. Verse 23 tells us that such unity is a demonstration of the love of God. As the world around us sees our love for Jesus and our love for each other, they will then be compelled to believe on the Lord Jesus too. One of the saddest things to see is a church that is divided. I am not talking about denominational divisions, however, I am talking about division in the local church. It is a sad thing when God’s people are divided in such a way that it hinders others from coming to faith in the Lord Jesus. That is one of Satan’s greatest ploys. He knows that if He can divide the church then He can keep those who are lost from being saved. Just as Jesus prayed for our unity, we too must pray that we would be united and that we would not allow anything to hinder us from bringing others to Christ.
The Glorification of Believers (v. 24-26). Jesus prays that we would one day share in His glory. There is coming a day when all who have believed on the Lord Jesus will be together with the Lord. There we will have a new body. There will be no pain or sorrow. Most of all, there will be no sin. There will be no curse. We will forever be with the Lord. What a day that will be!
All that Jesus prayed for that day was made possible by the cross. Without the cross there is no salvation or sanctification or glorification. Without the cross we are all hopelessly lost. Come to the cross today and receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior.