“After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began. I have revealed you to the ones you gave me from this world. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything I have is a gift from you, for I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from you, and they believe you sent me. John 17:1-8 (NLT)
Praying for Me
My mom used to pray, “Help Rachel be a good girl. Help her listen to her mother and obey.” Yes, I was within earshot—my mom was praying with me at bedtime. Passive aggressive—sure—but she got her point across. I don’t remember the exact thoughts that went through my head, but I’m sure it was something like, “Great! Now God knows I don’t listen to my mom.”
Sometimes mom’s prayers were as much for my ears as they were for God’s ears. Have you ever prayed yourself a “pep-talk” prayer? Have you spoken words to God that you needed to hear aloud as a reaffirmation of the truth? Maybe this is what Jesus is doing for His friends.
To fully understand this prayer let’s recap the details surrounding it. The scene begins back in John 13. At the beginning of the Passover celebration, Jesus washes the feet of the disciples—so the evening was off to an odd start—the leader doesn’t usually wash the feet of the followers—unless the leader is a servant. If that was not awkward enough, Jesus goes on to tell His close friends He’s going to die after being betrayed by one of them.
In John 14 Jesus tells His friends not to worry, they know where He’s going and how to get there. Layer on two more awkward moments as Thomas and Phillip speak for the group and essentially say no one has any idea what Jesus is talking about. After a sigh, and an indicting, rhetorical question, Jesus tells His friends, I am the way, and the truth and the life—to see me is to see the Father.
Jesus continues talking in John 15 giving them another analogy—be a branch, stay connected to the vine and you’ll be fine. Jesus gives them one last bit of advice, love each other because the world is going to hate you (that’s my paraphrase). Jesus offers one last bit of hope in Chapter 16 as He tells His friends that after He leaves, the Holy Spirit will give them power—don’t be discouraged—I (Jesus) have overcome the world.
WOW! That’s a heavy load. You may read those chapters over the course of a few days, but this was one evening with Jesus and His friends. I’m sure Jesus’ words frightened and confused the disciples. Certainly they were not expecting the upcoming event—Jesus’ crucifixion.
Chapter 17 begins, “After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said…”
Curious. Jesus follows all of His disturbing, closing remarks to the disciples by praying aloud.
Imagine for a moment what it would be like having Jesus pray for you, or pray over you. That is what He does today. Jesus intercedes for us at the Father’s throne. These eleven men listened to Jesus pray for them and for you and me. What a privilege!
What a touching moment. What a wonderful Savior, in tune with the weakness, fear and insecurity His friends were feeling and about to face. This prayer is as much an act of love as it is petition. Jesus prayed for His disciples.
Although you and I don’t get to hear it—Jesus is still praying for His disciples today.
Father, You for your love. What a wonderful demonstration of compassion as Jesus offered a prayer for His frightened and confused friends. May this serve as a reminder that Jesus not only prayed for me 2,000 years ago, but pleads for me today at Your throne. What a blessed gift. What an act of love.