reader will note that two rather different treatments of this chapter are also
available on our web site. It is a very rich passage.)
Prays for Himself
John 17:1-5 NASB
Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the
Son may glorify You, (2) even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all
whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. (3) "This is eternal
life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have
sent. (4) "I
glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given
Me to do. (5) "Now,
Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You
before the world was.
glory of God is a subject passing the perceptions of man. We can simply note a
glory of Christ is pre-incarnate. Christ is eternal, and before time was
created (if I might say, “before”) the glory of God was the glory of
we are told
that we too shall receive this glory with Christ. You have never met a
glory proceeds from the Father – for Christ asks to God to glorify him
“with Yourself.” The glory of God is part of the very nature of God. As
Aquinas might put it, it is one of God’s attributes, and therefore it is
one of Christ’s attributes.
Greek word here is not simply “authority” in English; it also carries with it
the meaning of “power.” What is stunning in this passage is the purpose given
for this authority. It is not so that Christ may lord it over humanity;
rather, its purpose is so that we may have eternal life.
of that! So great is Christ’s authority that it extends to giving eternal life
to those whom He loves. More than that, the reason such awesome authority is
given comes out to be the love Christ has for us – that we might be saved.
are two ways in which we may take the verb, “to know.” We use it to mean that
we are acquainted with someone or something; we also use it to mean a deep
understanding – as in, “he really knows his stuff.” The word used here could
be translated, “really know.”
really know what? Not what, who. First, to know God is eternal life. If you
know God, you will know Christ (and vice versa). The “personal relationship”
so beloved of Southern Baptists carries this truth: if you memorize the
Scripture, but do not know the very heart of God, it is vanity, as Solomon
John 17:6-8 NASB "I have manifested Your name to the men whom You
gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they
have kept Your word. (7) "Now they have come to know that everything You have
given Me is from You; (8) for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and
they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they
believed that You sent Me.
Father, the source
is an old expression of the church that good things come “from the Father,
through the Son, by the Spirit.” Every good and perfect gift comes from the
What gift, then, has the Son brought us from the Father?
there is the Name of God. When you know someone by name, it’s personal!
We do not worship an abstract “force” but one who has taken the
astonishing step of introducing Himself personally.
also have, obviously, the words of God – as revealed by Christ. Indeed,
Christ is the Word of God.
the disciples themselves are gifts of God the Father, given to the Son.
(Did you ever think of yourself as God’s gift to Jesus? Think about that
one for a while.)
Father is spirit; how can He give us things in a material world? Through His
Son, who was sent into that material world for us. And what does this result
in? Our belief, our faith. God did this for us, out of His great love.
John 17:9-13 NASB "I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of
the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours; (10) and all things that are
Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them. (11) "I am no longer in
the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy
Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. (12) "While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name
which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but
the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled. (13) "But now I come to
You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made
full in themselves.
to Christ, from the disciples
at verse 10. Did you ever think of yourself as bringing glory to Christ?
Well, you do – or at least you should. Christ speaks this aloud so that his
disciples will know this fact, from which we may conclude that it is not
entirely obvious. If we bring glory to Christ, do we not thus automatically
bring glory to God? Makes you want to think about your conduct, doesn’t it?
by the Name
an obvious problem here. Christ is leaving – but the disciples are not. They
are still in the world. They are citizens of the kingdom, and therefore the
world hates them. Christ has overcome the world,
but they haven’t. Yet. So Christ provides them with the protection they will
need – not just to resist, but to triumph. A protection so strong that even
death cannot threaten it – the Name of God. In this Name, triumph.
why is Christ telling them this? Is it so that they won’t be so afraid? No;
he is telling this to them so that they might have joy! In this we imitate
our Lord, who despised the Cross for the joy set before Him.
in the World
John 17:14-19 NASB "I have given them Your word; and the world has
hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. (15) "I do not
ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. (16) "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the
world. (17) "Sanctify
them in the truth; Your word is truth. (18) "As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent
them into the world. (19) "For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves
also may be sanctified in truth.
have a problem: if we love Christ as we should, the world hates us.
the world, not of the world
every problem, there is a solution: neat, plausible, and wrong. Such a
solution would be to simply take the disciples out of this world. Start again
on another planet, say. God has chosen instead to protect us while we’re here.
protect us from what? Persecution, beatings, death by the cruelest of means –
millions of Christians have been quite literally crucified – doesn’t seem to be
included. Nor are they. We are protected from the real dangers. Do not fear
the one who can kill the body, but the soul.
We are citizens of the Kingdom of God; therefore we are aliens here. And you
know how aliens are treated in this country.
us be clear about something. Christians are different. They’re
sanctified, or holy. The word means to be set apart for a particular use. In
our case, the use is spreading the kingdom of God. Why do we need to be set
apart like that? Because of the Truth.
has no fellowship with lies; truth that is mixed with lies is, by definition,
no longer the truth. Each of us has a decision to make: go with the truth, or
go with the convenient. If you choose the truth, that sets you apart.
expresses this in prophetic language:
Zechariah 8:3 NASB
"Thus says the LORD, 'I will return to Zion and will dwell in the midst of
Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of
the LORD of hosts will be called the
appears that Truth is so much the nature of God, and is so inseparable from
holiness, that even at His return we find this division.
into the world
may not be “of the world” but we are certainly sent into it. It is not an
accident. The great commission is clear. But we may ask why God would do such
a thing; why didn’t he send a string of angels (for example) to do the job?
put, we are ambassadors of reconciliation.
As such, only humans will do – for an ambassador must be able to deal with the
citizens of the land to which he has sent. We’re the ones who know,
personally, what it is to be sinners – and what it is to be saved.
for the Church
John 17:20-26 NASB "I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for
those also who believe in Me through their word; (21) that they may all be
one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the
world may believe that You sent Me. (22) "The glory which You have given Me I have given to
them, that they may be one, just as We are one; (23) I in them and You in Me, that they
may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and
loved them, even as You have loved Me. (24) "Father, I desire that they also, whom You have
given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have
given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. (25) "O righteous
Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these
have known that You sent Me; (26) and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it
known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in
is an astonishing fact: Christ, on the last night of his life, prays for us –
prays on our behalf for our unity. Why?
So that we may be
like God – who is One, yet three persons.
For the sake of
the lost – that they might see one church, just as there is one way to God.
For our own sakes
– division in the church is painful!
thought to the contrary withstanding, we’re the ones who know God – not the
folks of the world. Oprah will create her God in her own image, and call it
good. But the truth is not something we create; the Truth Is. We know that.
We must proclaim what we know.
the world should see in the church
know one answer already: unity. But there is another here: unity – so that
the world may know that the Father has sent Christ to us. Everything revolves
around that mission: bringing others to know Who He Is. There is only one
question that counts: “who do you say He is?”
are they going to see that? What will convince them? The mechanism might be
preaching, but the underlying power is this: the love of God. If we have the
love of God within us, given by the Spirit, then we become a picture of Christ
to the world. God is love, and love walked among us. Now we should walk in the
world in that same love.