Monday, November 7, 2016

Jesus' Prayer (John 17)

Jesus ends His last-minute teaching with a prayer. In the flow of the Gospel it is a climactic moment. We have witnessed Jesus ministry, and heard His message. He has taught and prepared His followers for what is to come, and now He looks to heaven and signals the end. Up until now, Jesus has repeatedly said that His hour had not come. Now it is here.

Jesus begins by asking the Father to glorify Him. Far from a selfish or personal request, this is Jesus acknowledging that the time has come. The plan is ready. Jesus had surrendered His divine nature in the incarnation, but now—headed to the cross—He is about to be lifted up above all creation. He is going to regain His divinity and authority. He is going to glorify the Father in His own victory over sin and death.

In the event that we need to hear it again, Jesus clarifies His message. “This is eternal life, that they may know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” Unlike other religious systems, following Jesus is not about divine information. We come to know God. He has brought us back into the relationship with Him for which we were created.

And just as Jesus is all about bringing glory to God the Father, and receiving the glory that He is due as God, we exist to bring glory to God as well.

Jesus goes on to pray for His disciples. He prays that they will be kept in Christ, even as they will remain in the world once He is gone. Not that they will be kept from the world, but that they will exist in the world but saved from evil. Jesus seems to be clearly indicating here that His people are a continuation of His incarnation. They are to truly be His body in the world.

In verse 20, we get to one of the most moving passages of scripture for us today. Jesus does not only pray for His disciples, but “for those also who believe in Me through their word.” Jesus prayed then for us now. And the clear missional intent of Christ is seen in this prayer. He was sent to save His people. He sent His people to carry on the mission of getting the message out. Down through history that message has survived and been preserved in the testimony of all who hear, believe and are sent.

And the pinnacle of this pinnacle prayer—what Jesus prays for His people above all else—is unity. Despite all the cultural, historical, and experiential differences of the people of God with all of our various understandings and callings in Christ, there is an ultimate unity in the Gospel. Up until this point in John’s account, we have seen the message of reconciliation through belief. What comes next makes the story of the Gospel so real, so effective, so powerful…

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