There are several “keywords” in Jesus’ prayer found in John 17. Specifically, we notice the words “glorified” and “sanctified” repeated. As Jesus prays for strength to continue on to Calvary, the focus of His prayer is for His sacrifice to glorify His Father. Even in the face of the immense suffering He will endure, Christ still chooses to put His Father’s will and glory first. To really understand this idea of glory, we are reminded of Great Controversy theme in Job, where Satan accuses God of bribing his creation to love Him (Job 1). The Adversary calls God’s character into question, purporting that God selfishly desires the service and obedience of mankind. But then there is Calvary — a sacrifice performed through pure, selfless love. Through this self-giving sacrifice, God’s holy name is vindicated! We can think of glory, then, as an affirmation that the Lord IS true, just, and Love. Jesus prayed for glory to do justice to God’s name and character.
Jesus’ prayer for the disciples repeated the word “sanctify” several times. We can see this as “spiritual protectiveness” or “spiritual armor.” As the disciples continued to journey through the world, they would be persecuted, tested, and ridiculed. Jesus asked for the Comforter to strengthen their spirit. How could these words be any less relevant and important for us today? We may not be physically persecuted as the early church was, but we are in far greater spiritual danger of being distracted by the wiles and deceptions of the modern world!
Jesus’ last prayer is for the believers in His own time and for those who would come in future generations: “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:20-21). Jesus’ last prayer is for all of us – it is timeless and all-inclusive. As such, prayer is timeless. We are also reminded of Jesus’ mission as the eternal Word: “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 14:17). How does the Book of John begin again? The Word. The Word created everything in the beginning. The Word protects. The Word heals. The Word loves. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. And now we see the Word pleading with His heavenly Father for future generations to be “with Him” (keeping His promise in John 14).
In conclusion: Jesus, in his last hours, thinks not of himself, but of others. Prayer, when in line with the Spirit, in essence is our understanding aligning itself to the will of God through humility and submission. Prayer is not selfish, but thinks of others. It intercedes and holds on to faith that the Lord will deliver.
(Thank you to Edrey S. for submitting this blog post.)