About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Jesus Prays For Himself (ch. 17:1-5)


John chapter 17 is known by some as the High Priestly prayer of Jesus.  It is the longest prayer that we have on record from the lips of Jesus.  Jesus prays out loud, not for His sake or the Father’s sake, but for the sake of those men hearing the prayer.  Jesus does not ask them to pray.  He simply prays knowing that they will be watching and listening, and hopefully paying attention.


The content of the prayer is divided into three sections; Jesus prays about Himself in verse 1 to 5.  He prays for His disciples in verses 6 through 20, and then He prays for all believers of all time in verses 21 through 26.


Chapter 17 opens with these words.  "After Jesus said these things, He looked towards Heaven and prayed."  It is possible that they were still in the upper room, but it is just as possible that they were outside somewhere.  The words "after these things" is in reference to all that Jesus and spoken since the beginning of John 13.


"“Looking towards Heaven" implies looking up, and in Jewish traditional looking up towards Heaven with His eyes open, not closed.   


Jesus begins His prayer by saying that the time has now come for the Father to glorify His Son and for the Son to glorify the Father.  One thing to note here as we have seen before, and that is Jesus always glorified His Father and the Father always glorified Jesus.  They never glorified themselves.  This is an attribute of the Godhead and should be seen in us as well.


What does glorify mean?  To glorify someone is to give honour to that person in every way possible, both in words and deeds.


How did God glorify or bring honour to Jesus in this dreadful time in His life?  The cross, something that in human terms glorifies no one, glorified both Jesus and the Father.  Despite all the horrible things that took place on the cross, the results would be glorious.  The fact that Jesus endured the cross in obedience to the Father certainly brought glory to God the Father.  Leave it to God to turn a tragedy into glory.


Verse 2 is packed full of important things.  We first learn that God the Father has given Jesus authority over all people.   Jesus Himself says this in the Great Commission of Matthew 28.  So, right now in real time, Jesus has the final authority over every human being, whether they know it or not. 


The reason why Jesus has authority over all people is so that He can give eternal life to those that His Father has given Him.  Two things need to be noted here.  One is that it is Jesus who gives eternal life.  Two, eternal life is given to those God the Father has given to Jesus.  This is the question. Who are those that the Father has given Jesus?  Should we understand this verse in a broad sense of the word to include all saved people throughout history?  Should we also understand this in terms of Calvinism, meaning, God only chooses certain people to give to Jesus?  I believe verse 6 gives us the answer where Jesus says that He has revealed the Father to those the Father had given Him, meaning His disciples, and maybe even more specifically, the eleven men that were with him on this occasion.  I do not believe Calvinists can prove their doctrine of predestination from this verse.  Besides, this verse in not in reference to the salvation of these men.  I believe Jesus is simply talking about God giving these men to be with Him.   


Verse 3 reveals the true meaning to eternal life.  We often think of eternal life as living for ever in eternal bless, but that is secondary to the real meaning.  Eternal life is knowing, and knowing intimately, both God the Father and Jesus.  That is real life and that real life lasts forever.          


Verse 4 tells us how Jesus glorified the Father and that is by completing the work that His Father gave Him to do.  His work was almost complete.  Only the cross remained.  The cross was the ultimate act of honour that Jesus could give His Father because it was the ultimate act of obedience.


The same would apply to us.  As we obey Jesus we honour Him in front of the world.  When we disobey Him we bring dishonour and disgrace to Him, as much of that which we call church is doing right now.  We need to always keep this in mind as we live our lives both individually and collectively as the church.  Too often we disgrace Jesus by doing things we should not be doing.


Think of this in human terms.  If a child wants to glorify his parents he will honour them by doing the things that his parents want him to do.


In verse 5 we see Jesus asking His Father to now glorify Him.  Jesus glorified His Father by obeying Him and now we see how the Father will glorify Jesus.  It is by restoring the unity they once had prior to the incarnation of Jesus.  There was a complete oneness between Father and Son as we saw back in chapter 1, verses 1 and 2.  This unity obviously changed when God, the eternal Word, entered humanity.  When Jesus returns to Heaven, the separation that took place because of the incarnation would no longer exist. 


One side point to consider here is this.  When Jesus returned to Heaven, He was not in the same form as He was prior to the incarnation.  Jesus now has an eternal glorified body, the same kind of body we will have in eternity.  He never had this glorified body prior to His incarnation.  There was a total unified oneness between Father and Son that has now been altered, and just for our sake.       

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