Summary: An inspiring study of Jesus’ high priestly prayer uttered on the eve of His crucifixion.
Jesus prayed this prayer while on His way to Gethsemane. His words are dominated, even in His (humanly speaking) darkest "hour", by a spirit of high reverence for His Father and a loving concern for His then-present and future followers -
I.Prayer for Himself: Glorification, Vss. 1-8
"Glorify Thy Son, that the Son may glorify Thee". Jesus is not self-seeking in asking that the Father glorify Him since the ultimate result of the request would be that the Father would be glorified by and through the Son. Jesus, here, is simply asking that the Father would see to it that He would successfully complete the mission for which He came to this Earth - His sacrificial death, burial, and the resurrection (JOHN 7:16-18; 6:38; 8:28-29; 12:23-24; 13:31).
Jesus asks that the Father grant this privileged request in the same measure as the Father had given "Him authority over all mankind, that to all Whom Thou hast given Him, He may give eternal life."
"And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom Thou hast sent. In other words, eternal life is truly knowing of, believing in, and having fellowship with the Father and Son. See 1 JOHN 5:20; 2:23-25; 2 TIMOTHY 1:10.
"Glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was." Jesus now asks that the Father would receive Him up in Heaven to again experience the honors and joys which were His with the Father in eternity past. For, attests Jesus (speaking as if the death, burial, resurrection and final commissioning of the Apostles were a foregone conclusion), "I glorified Thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which Thou hast given Me to do."
Part of the work that Jesus had accomplished dealt with converting the disciples (Vss. 6-8): He helped them come to know Jehovah as their Father and accepted the Father’s word. The disciples had come to understand that "everything" (the message and mission of Christ) came from the Father. From the "words" delivered to the disciples, they had learned: (1) Jesus "came forth from" the Father (Jesus’ Divine Nature); (2) and that God sent Him (Jesus’ being the Jewish Messiah or Christ).
II.Prayer for Disciples: Protection, Sanctification, Unification and Glorification, Vss. 9-26
"I ask on their behalf... those whom Thou hast given Me." Jesus’ concern was for His own (the Apostles, firstly, and all disciples, generally) at this occasion. He now intercedes on their behalf as a loving High Priest (ROMANS 8:34; HEBREWS 7:25), asking for four things. He is confident that His prayer will be answered since the disciples belong to the Father as well as to the Son (Vs. 10).
"Holy Father, keep them in Thy Name, .... I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the Evil One." During Jesus’ earthly ministry, He had "guarded" the disciples from falling prey to the world’s wickedness and deceit - except Judas, "the son of perdition", who "perished" by his choice (Vs. 12). Now that Jesus won’t be "in the world" to keep them safe, He prays for the "Holy Father" to stand guard over the disciples (Vs. 11).
Jesus did not want the disciples taken "out of the world" because the Lord would fulfill His purpose in their lives while they were "in the world" (Vss. 18, 15). Jesus wanted them - and us - to be protected from Satan, "the Evil One" (2 THESSALONIANS 3:3-4; JAMES 4:7).
"Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth." To "sanctify" means ’to make holy, purify, to set apart for divine service’. Jesus is asking that His disciples be purified and set apart (from those in the world) for spiritual service by having a knowledge of and directing their lives according to Divine "truth" - which is the word of God (Vs. 17).
The Apostles were directed into the knowledge of the truth by the miraculous influence of the Holy Spirit, "the Spirit of Truth" (JOHN 14:16-17, 26; 16:13). We, today, are ’sanctified’ when we learn and obey God’s word as delivered to us by the Apostles in the New Testament (MATTHEW 28:19-20; ACTS 2:42; 2 TIMOTHY 3:16-17; 2:15, 19-21).
Jesus ’sanctified’ Himself by receiving the Father’s teachings and obeying them. Had He not been faithful, there would have been no means for the Apostles and we, ourselves, to "be sanctified in truth" (Vs. 19).
"I ... ask ... that they may all be one; ....that they may be perfected in unity." Jesus prays that His followers will be "one" - united - just as He and the Father "are one" (Vss. 11, 20-23). How is it that the Father and Son are "one" in a manner that Christians can imitate? We know that the Father and Son are "one" in doctrine, character, and aims: