Summary: In what has been called his "high priestly prayer" we hear Jesus’ prayer for each of us.
“I’ll pray for you.” Those are comforting words, aren’t they? We take it as a sign of love when someone offers to take the time to pray for us. When a friend, or a relative, or a brother or sister in Christ says, “I’ll pray for you,” we are always thankful for their thoughtfulness.
Although our prayers for each other are motivated by love, the Scriptures also command us to pray for each other. James 5:16 says exactly that, “pray for each other.” In 1 Timothy 2:1 the Apostle Paul urges that, “requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone.” In addition to directives like those the Scriptures are also filled with examples of people praying for others.
“I’ll pray for you.” How would you feel if Jesus said that to you? I know it would sure put a smile on my face! My Savior praying for me sounds pretty awesome. It would show his love and concern for me. And of course just knowing who he is and what he can do, would add to my appreciation of his offer to pray for me.
Thankfully the idea of Jesus praying for us is more than just wishful thinking. The Bible tells us that Jesus does pray for us. Since he has risen from the dead and has ascended into heaven he takes what we express in prayer (our needs, our hopes, and our fears) to his Father on our behalf. Hebrews 7:25 tells us that Jesus “lives to intercede” for us. And in 1 Timothy 2:5 we are told that Jesus is the “mediator between God and men.”
But Jesus does more than just act like a transmitter for our prayers. He has specific things that he too wants to see happen in our lives. And so he also prays for us in addition to bringing our prayers to God the Father. Of course the whole idea of Jesus praying for us when he is true God and one with the Father and the Holy Spirit boggles our minds. How can God pray to God? But may the truth still be a comfort to us. With childlike faith may we accept the awesome truth that our Savior prays for us.
So what does Jesus say when he prays for us? The Word of God that we will consider in our sermon this morning lets us listen in on at least one of Jesus’ prayers on our behalf. Listen to John 17:20, 24-26. (Read text.) We ask the Holy Spirit to touch our hearts through these words so we understand more clearly our Savior’s love for us. Today may each of you:
“HEAR JESUS’ PRAYER FOR YOU”
I. He wants you to grow in faith and love
II. He wants you to be in heaven with Him
Whenever we read or listen to something our Savior said we naturally consider the setting for his words. To whom was he speaking? When was he speaking? What did he say before and after? Context is especially important in the case of this prayer for you. Jesus spoke these words on the night he was betrayed in the upper room where he instituted the Lord’s Supper. He was just minutes away from the horrific events leading up to his crucifixion. And yet even then he was thinking of you—he was praying for you.
It is also worth noting that what Jesus was about to do would make the answer to his prayer possible. Experiencing God’s love and having a relationship with him was never going to be a possibility for humans unless Jesus went forward with his mission. His suffering and death in the place of those who had no hope of getting to heaven would allow them to go there just as Jesus prayed they would.
Since there is a progression to the fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer for us who believe in him let’s look at the last part of his prayer first. Jesus prayed, “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” As you hear Jesus’ prayer for you realize that he wants you to grow in faith and love, as you know God the Father’s love better. He also wants to dwell in you more completely.
How has Jesus made his Father known to us and how does he continue to make him known? He does that through the Scriptures. In the record of what Jesus said and did we have learned about God the Father’s deep love for him. And every time we read or study that Word our knowledge of God grows and our faith in him increases. Then as Jesus makes his Father known to us more and more we share more fully in the love between them.