About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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    Jesus Prayers For His Disciples (ch. 17:6-20)

In verse 6 Jesus says that He has revealed the Father to all those His Father gave Him out of the world.  The Father chose certain people and brought them out of the world and introduced them to Jesus and the new world that He had to offer. 


The specific people that Jesus had in mind here were at least His close followers.  That would include such people as Mary Magdalene, Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and others like them.  Remember, there were 120 disciples in the upper room that the Holy Spirit fell on, as seen on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2.  If Jesus was not talking about the broader community of disciples He surely was talking about the eleven men who were with him at this moment in time.        


In verse 6 Jesus said that "they were yours and you gave them to me."  In one sense of the word, all mankind belongs to God because of creation, but not all mankind live for God.  This is yet another verse that Calvinists used to build their doctrine of predestination on.  The text appears to say that certain men and women belong to God while others don't.     


From the group of people who belonged to the Father, the Father gave these people to Jesus.  The Eleven were part of this group, and of course, as I've said before, there were other men and women given to Jesus as well. 


John also says in verse 6 that those the Father gave Him obeyed the Father's word.  Now we've seen throughout the book of John that Jesus disciples were more often than not confused by what Jesus taught them.  The question could then be asked; "What word did these people obey if they misunderstood much of what Jesus told them?"  I think the obedience spoken of here was the obedience of faith.  That is to say, these people trusted God the Father's words that Jesus passed on to them as best they could.   


In verse 7 Jesus tells His Father that the disciples know that everything that has been given Him comes from the Father.  We know this from the last chapter when the light of understanding finally came to these eleven men.  They finally believed that Jesus was really sent by the Father. 


Why did Jesus know the disciples knew that He came from the Father?  In verse 8 He says that everything He heard from the Father, He passed on to them and they accepted these words and believed them.  So Jesus could then say with certainty that the disciples, or at least the Eleven who He was with at the moment, knew He came from His Father.  Once again I refer back to the upper room when the Eleven acknowledge that they really knew Jesus was sent by His Father and Jesus responded by saying, "you believe at last" (John 16:31).


In verse 9 Jesus prays for those His Father gave Him.  He specifically says that He does not pray for the rest of the world but only for those who the Father gave Him out of the world.  You might wonder why Jesus only specifies His followers in His prayer.  Was He not concerned with the rest of the world?  I think Jesus prayed for His followers because as He had already told them, they would be kicked out of the synagogue.  That means they would be disowned as a Jew and receive no social benefits from being a Jew. Also Jesus told them that they would die for their association with Him.  The fact of the matter is that these men and women who Jesus was praying for were going to experience great suffering on account of Him.  They needed His prayers.     


The world does not need protection from itself.  That is an illogical thought.  What the world needs is prayer to come to Jesus in true faith.  Once this comes about, then the prayer for perfection becomes a valid prayer for them.  Sometimes we get the cart before the horse when we pray for non-Christians.  We often pray that they forsake their sinful life, but what they need before they can do that is to repent and believe.  Forsaking their sinful life will take care of itself if they honestly give their lives over to Jesus.   


In verse 10 Jesus says that "all I have is yours and all you have is mine."  We cannot separate this sentence from the context.  The context is speaking of Jesusí followers as belonging to the Father.  With the addition of this verse Jesus is basically saying that as a matter of fact everything I have is yours, and vise versa, and that includes my followers.


The last half of verse 10 speaks of the followers of Jesus as well.  Jesus says that glory has come to Him through these followers.  So you can see that the previous sentence should not be isolated unto itself.  Because Jesus'í followers showed loyalty to Him and they were beginning to do as He wished, they gave honour and glory to Jesus.  When we obey Jesus; when we represent Him as we should, we certainly bring great glory and honour to Him and His name.  


In verse 11 Jesus says that
He will not stay in the world much longer but His disciples will.  For this reason Jesus is asking the Father to protect them while they live in the world.  John speaks to this issue a lot in his first letter.  He says over and over that we should not love the world.  There is a fine line between being in the world but not of the world.  Some groups, like the Amish, have disassociated themselves from the world and have withdrawn unto themselves.  Although I have great respect for these people, I donít believe their way of living is Biblical.  On the other hand, many Christians today are so much like the world that you canít tell them from the world.  Jesus told His followers to "go into all the world and preach Ö"  We must go into the world, that is, live in the world in order to be a witness of Jesus to the world.  We must live in the world and associate ourselves with the world, but not act and live as the world does.


Jesus asks His Father to protect these people "by the power of His name," that is, the "name of the Father."  As we represent the good name of Jesus so Jesus represented the good name of His Father.  We're talking about more than a simple name.  We're talking about the one the name represents.  In this case we are talking about God the Father, the Almighty God, who has power over all things.      

Jesus then speaks of the name the Father had given Him.  This clearly points out that the Father has sent Jesus and given Him the authority and responsibility to represent Him.  Jesus has also passed both the authority and responsibility over to us His disciples.  That is why He prays that His followers will be as one, even as He and His Father are one.  Obviously this is what is called a unified oneness.  This means that even though we are separate individuals, we are united by the Holy Spirit in purpose, desire, goals, and all that pertains to our job as representatives to the world.       


This oneness is hard to come by.  Over the centuries we have tried to be one based on a number of criteria.  Some have promoted submission to leadership as the basis of oneness.  Others say agreeing on doctrinal issues is being one.  Still others say that oneness comes through the outpouring of the Spirit.  History, both current and past, clearly tells us that this oneness has never been realized.  Jesus' prayer is yet to be answered. 


In verse 12 Jesus tells His Father that while He was with His followers, He protected them by the name He was given.  Jesus protected His followers because He had the authority and power from His Father to do so, but He was now leaving them.  He would no longer be around to protect them, but of course that was one reason why the Holy Spirit would be given them.   


In the last half of verse 12 Jesus notes that He protected all of His followers to such a degree that He lost none of them except for the one who was doomed to destruction so that the Scriptures would be fulfilled.  Of course, Jesus is speaking of Judas.  This is one of those debatable verses.  Depending on your view of predestination, will determine how you understand this verse.  To see my view on this subject you can read my comments on Romans 8:28 and following. 


Jesus chose Judas in the first place.  He even chose him to be the treasurer of the group, even though He knew Judas was a thief.  Jesus knew from the very beginning that Judas was not a true believer.  Jesus knew that Judas would betray him, but He must have given Judas ample opportunities to turn around in the three years they were together.  It was Judasí choice to turn Jesus in.  Once he made that choice, satan entered him and helped him carry out the plan of betrayal.  God did not predetermine Judasí fate.  He did know in advance what would transpire in Judas' life. 


In verse 13 Jesus tells His Father that He is "coming to Him now."  I believe the word "now" is in reference to His return to Heaven.  I don't think Jesus is thinking of coming to His Father in prayer at that moment.  Jesus then says that He is saying these things while still in the world so that the disciples "will have the full measure of His joy."  Jesus did not have to pray out loud, but He did for the sake of those with Him at that moment.  Weíve seen this before.  This prayer, and the answer to this prayer, would bring more of the joy of Jesus into the hearts of His disciples.  I am sure at a future date the disciples would remember these words and would be full of joy.


In verse 14 Jesus says that He has given His disciples His Fatherís word.  Once again, Jesus did not speak what was on His mind.  He repeated what was on the mind of His Father.  The disciples believed what Jesus told them, even though they might not have fully understood what they were told.  Jesus then says that the world has rejected His disciples because they are no longer of the world.  Not being of the world means not living as those in the world live, no matter how religious they may appear to be.  It means not to be influenced by the culture of the day.  The world in which these Jews lived was an outwardly religious world.  Granted, Rome had the final authority over all matters, and these men did live in the secular Roman world as well, but their first allegiance would have been to their Jewish culture, and now to Jesus.  So we need to understand that the world can include what we would call the church so-called.  There is the church so-called, and then there is the true church.  The so-called church is not different than the apostate religious Judaism when Jesus was on earth.  


Verse 15 is very important when thinking about how Christians live and relate to the world at large.  Jesus prays that God does not take His followers out of the world.  He wants them to be in the world but not of the world.  He wants them to represent Him to the world once He leaves, but, what He doesnít want is that His followers to be influenced by the evil one.  The evil one is obviously in reference to satan, the prince of this world.  So Jesus prays that God will protect His followers from the devil.  That can be a prayer of ours as well, at least for those we know who are true Christians. 


Jesus knew that His followers would be tempted by the devil.  He also knew that His Father could protect them from the devil.  While living in this world, we have all sorts of opportunities to be influenced by the devil.  If God the Father can protect us, we should allow Him to do so.


This tells me something concerning how we should live in the world.  We should not disassociate ourselves from the world, meaning, we should not move out into the country and become a community unto ourselves.  We should live side by side with worldly people and be a light of salvation to them.  Remember what the Great Commission of Matthew 28 says.  It tells us to go into the world and teach all nations.


In verse 16 Jesus repeats Himself, as He often does, by saying that like Him, His disciples are not of this world.     


In verse 17 Jesus asks His Father to "sanctify them through the truth, your word is truth."  In Biblical terms the word "sanctify" means to be set apart unto a holy lifestyle.  Jesus wants God to separate His followers from worldly influence that surrounds us.  There should be a visible difference between Christians and those who are not Christian.  The difference should not be in how we dress, or what we look like, but how we live and what we behave.  It's my opinion that we as Christians in today's world act and live more like the world than we should. 


According to Jesus the way we become set apart for God is by the
truth, which is God's word.   

What is Godís Word?  Godís Word is all the words that He gave Jesus to speak to us.  So whatever we have heard Jesus say is Godís Word.  We find His word in our Bible.  We also believe as Christians that the rest of the Bible is inspired by God - not dictated but inspired.  So the Bible is Godís Word and thus it should be a very important thing in our lives.  The Holy Spirit can also speak Godís Word to us.  We know from what Jesus said earlier that the Holy Spirit will not speak about Himself but about the things that pertain to Jesus.  So this is a good check for us who claim that the Holy Spirit does indeed speak to us.  Sometimes we say some pretty far out things that we claim the Holy Spirit says to us that are far from Scriptural. 


As I type these words western world Christianity is Biblically illiterate.  Hosea 4:6 states that God's people are destroyed because of lack of knowledge.  It is for this reason that much of the western world church has little impact on the world.  It is being destroyed.     


In verse 18 Jesus tells His Father that as He was sent into the world by Him, so He has sent His disciples into the world.  Jesus was sent by His Father to represent His Father to the world.  We have been sent by Jesus to represent Jesus to the world.  That is why we do all things in the name of Jesus.  We represent Jesus to the world because He is the one who has sent us.    


In verse 19 Jesus says that He "sanctifies Himself."  From the very beginning Jesus was sanctified or set apart to do His Fatherís will, yet, every so often there were times of re-affirmation of Him being sanctified.  His water baptism would be one of these times.  His prayer in the garden when He prayed "not my will but your will be done" would be another time when Jesus re-affirmed His sanctification.  Now He is verbally re-affirming that He has been set apart for the work of God.  These words are spoken out loud so the Eleven can hear them and take as an example to do the same.  We all must realize that we are set apart people.  We are set apart to Jesus to live for Him and do His will here on earth. 

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