By Tyson Thorne

October 3, 2019

John 49 Large

So far in our examination of chapter 17 we've witnessed Jesus pray for himself and his glorification (verses 1-9), and pray for the disciples and their sanctification (9-19). Today we see how Jesus prays for us, the Universal Church, in verses 20 through 26. So far we've seen that when Jesus prays for his glory, it is so that the Father would be glorified, Also, when Jesus prays for the disciples to be protected in their mission, it is so that many may believe in Jesus and therefore bring glory to the Father. What might be Jesus' prayer for the Church?

These seven verses don't, at first, appear to warrant a post of their own. But this is the end of our Lord's longest prayer, and I think there are a lot of lessons for us in it. Jesus begins this part of his prayer, "I am not only praying on behalf of the disciples, but also on behalf of those who believe in me through their testimony" (verse 20). This tells us that Jesus is praying for all believers throughout all time. After all, no one comes to faith in Jesus without having at least some experience with the message of the disciples — even if it is only John 3.16! Jesus isn't praying just for Baptists, or Catholics, or Methodists or Pentecostals, he is praying for all believers throughout all time. That's the first lesson I think we need to learn, that we ought to pray for all our brothers and sisters in Christ regardless of our differences.

Jesus speaks in very clear statements. For those who believe (Christians) Jesus asks for unity. The church should be one. This isn't a condemnation of denominations, but it is a condemnation of the narrow view that only those who believe a set of theological arguments are real believers. Jesus wants the church universal to experience the same oneness that Jesus and the Father share. In this statement Jesus teaches that the Lord is one, while also confirming the idea of Trinity. Along with all believers being one, Jesus prays that the church would in God. This statement has a two-fold meaning. There is a oneness of God in purpose, and a oneness with God in regard to position. Saint Paul talks a lot about being "in Christ", and while we wont go into detail on that now, Paul uses the term as a spiritual position connecting us not with the world but to the kingdom. So we see that Jesus asks for something, then gives the reason for the request.

Earlier in the Prayer Jesus states that the Father gave Jesus glory, and now Jesus passes that glory on to believers. The glory Jesus received he gave back to the father, which is a model for us as we are to give our glory back to Jesus. This is how we become one with the Trinity and experience unity among all believers. What is more, this kind of glory to glory reveals the flow of love from the Father through Jesus to us, and from us through Jesus back to the Father. Glory and love being passed from person to person. That is a church vision any Jesus-follower can get behind.

Speaking of glory, Jesus argues that since he was given such high honor before the creation of the world, he would like for all believers to one day experience heaven so that they may see the glory of the Trinity. Because so much of the church's future depends on the success of the disciples, Jesus closes out his prayer asking the Father to provide special consideration for the eleven. They might be in the world physically, but his desire is that they would be in God positionally in order that they might know the love of God and share it with each other and all believers.

An important take-away from this prayer is the focus on glory, unity and love. How would our prayers change if they were well reasoned and focused on these three concepts? How would such prayers change us? Finally, there is no magic in understanding Jesus' intentions throughout this chapter. It only requires careful thinking through Jesus' words and allowing those thoughts to influence ours. In this way we learn how to think Biblically.

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