Summary: Christ in us, the hope of glory.
THE PRAYER OF JESUS - Part 3
In order that His disciples might be sanctified, Jesus gave them the Word (John 17:14). This Word was to be the means of bringing others to the faith (John 17:20). So Jesus prayed for those who would hear the gospel from them - including their contemporaries, and those who inherit their legacy through the writings of the New Testament.
It is not inappropriate to pray for our children, and our grandchildren, and those who are bound with us in the covenant of God’s love. We may also pray for those that are afar off, remote from the Gospel on account of geography or circumstance (Acts 2:39). We may even pray for generations yet unborn.
Jesus prayed that the eleven Apostles would be “kept” in the type of unity which reflects the oneness of the Godhead (John 17:11). He prayed similarly for unity amongst those who would follow them (John 17:21). We cannot, however, expect to be “kept” in our Christian faith if we deny the truth of the Word of God; nor may we base our unity on anything that compromises its teaching.
Despite all appearances to the contrary, we need not doubt that this prayer has been answered. There is an organic unity between Christians, from every culture, denomination, and walk of life. This is reflected in the fellowship and hospitality which born-again believers find amongst those of the same faith wherever they may go in the world.
There is an evangelical unity which needs to be manifested in our lives “that the world may believe” (John 17:21). Ecclesiastical disharmony lends an excuse to those who choose to reject the gospel - and so does uniformity without love. We need to nurture our love, one for the other (John 13:34-35), in order to bear a credible testimony to those around us.
Jesus says that He has given us His glory (John 17:22). Is He speaking in the prophetic future, as He did earlier in this chapter (John 17:4; John 17:11; John 17:13)? Certainly we find ourselves being changed “from glory into glory” by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18).
When Jesus appeared to His disciples after His resurrection He spoke of sending them forth to preach the gospel, breathed upon them, and said “Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:21-22). The present tense used there may be viewed prophetically, for He also said, “Behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). The “Spirit of glory” (1 Peter 4:14) is the same Spirit who makes possible our endeavours to keep the unity in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3).
There is a community of the Father and the Son within the Godhead (John 17:23): we are drawn by the Spirit into that Oneness. We have no relationship with the Father without the Son, because “there is no other name under heaven given among men by whom we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). As each is perfected in love, so our unity is there for all to see.
The Lord Jesus Christ is our peace, who has broken down the middle wall of partition between us (Ephesians 2:14): this was demonstrated in the reconciliatory act of the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:23-29). There is but one shepherd and one flock (John 10:16). We are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28): He is our all, and in all (Colossians 3:11).
Brotherly love is not just something that is seen when we “share the peace” in liturgy and worship. Aaron was only anointed once; but the oil of his anointing filled the whole environment with its pleasant aroma. The “oil” of our Holy Ghost anointing, like the heavy dew of the mountain, brings blessing and fruitfulness and abundant life (Psalm 133).
When Jesus prayed for Himself in Gethsemane, He prayed “Not my will but yours” (Luke 22:42) - but He is not afraid to express HIS will when praying for us (John 17:24). He sees Himself in glory - and us with Him - dwelling in the love which His Father had for Him before the foundation of the world. The Holy Spirit is given as the “pledge” of our inheritance (Ephesians 1:14).
It is the tragedy of mankind that the world remains ignorant of the “righteous Father” (John 17:25). This echoes earlier chapters, where the Lord came to His own creation but was rejected (John 1:10-11), and men chose darkness rather than light (John 3:19). The only begotten Son has known the Father, and has revealed Him (John 1:18), and we know Him as the “sent one” of God (Hebrews 3:1).
Jesus declares - and goes on declaring - His Father’s name, displaying His attributes in His own Person (John 17:26). Jesus prays that we might feel the love with which the Father has loved Him in His ongoing love towards us. He is “Christ in us, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).