Chapter 17: Jesus’ Farewell Prayer — An Introduction

In This Chapter

The Window
The Final Prayer

The Window

During his earthly ministry, Jesus revealed God to us in four ways: through his actions, his teachings, his conversations with others, and his prayers. Here in his farewell address to his friends, Jesus uses three of these methods of revelation. In chapters 14-16 Jesus teaches (“I am the vine”) and converses (“Have you not known me, Philip?”), but in chapter 17, Jesus lifts up his eyes in prayer. This is how Jesus chooses to end his farewell address. By turning to God in prayer, Jesus draws his Father into the conversation. Suddenly God is not someone out there to be discussed, but someone right here who can give the disciples the guidance and support they need at this critical time.

Jesus’ farewell prayer is a prayer that petitions God for certain things. For what does Jesus ask the Father when he prays? For what do any of us ask? We ask for the things we most greatly desire. Here Jesus does the same, using this last prayer as a way to express his deepest desires both to his Daddy and to those sitting around him. The more I have studied this passage, the more I have come to realize that this final prayer is really a window — a window which allows us to gaze into the very depths of Jesus’ own heart. This farewell prayer poignantly expresses what Jesus most wants, not only for his beloved followers, but for the rest of humanity as well. And, understanding the bond that exists between Jesus and his Daddy, I have also come to realize that the desires we observe in Jesus’ window merely reflect the very same yearnings which pulse — beat for beat — within God’s own heart.

In this prayer, Jesus places four desires before his Father: he asks God to glorify the Son, to keep the disciples safe, to sanctify the disciples, and he expresses his wish to have these disciples for his own. Our study of this last prayer is organized around these four requests. I have presented this prayer in its entirety at the end of this introduction, then in each of the next four chapters, I have included one of these requests for our in-depth study.

You will notice that there are certain words in this passage which I have marked with an asterisk (*). The asterisk indicates that these words are imperative verbs. An imperative verb is either a command or a request, depending upon who is issuing the imperative. If someone in authority states an imperative (a parent, teacher, boss, or judge), the verb is taken to be a command. If issued from someone of an equal or lower status, the imperative is taken as a polite request. In this prayer, the imperatives used by Jesus indicate the respectful requests he makes to God. For us, these imperatives underline precisely what Jesus is asking God to do. With this in mind, let us now turn our attention to Jesus’ farewell prayer.

The Final Prayer

Jesus spoke these things then lifted up his eyes in prayer to heaven and said, “Father, the hour of salvation has come; glorify* your Son — clothe your Son in radiance and splendor — so that your Son may then expose the magnitude of your significance. You granted him absolute power over all humanity so that he might grant the gift of eternal life to all those whom you entrusted permanently into his care. Indeed, this hour of sacrifice and salvation is the gift of eternal life, given so that these people may intimately know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one whom you sent out on this divine mission. On earth, I revealed your wealth, your weight, and your magnificence; I completed the mission which you have entrusted me to do; and now glorify* me — clothe me in radiance and splendor — Father, in your presence with the same magnificent splendor which I had in your presence before the world existed.

I revealed your name to these people whom you have taken out of the sinful world and entrusted to my care. They were yours, and you entrusted them to me, and they have carefully guarded your Word–your divine revelation in me. Now they know in their hearts that all the things which you have permanently placed in my care are from you; for the teachings which you have entrusted to me, I have entrusted to them. They accepted these teachings and truly understood within the depths of their hearts that I came from your side, and they believed that you sent me.

I pray for these people. I am not praying for the sinful world, but for those whom you have entrusted to me because they belong to you. All those who are mine are yours and yours are mine, and I have revealed my own significance to them. I am no longer going to be in the sinful world. Though these are going to remain in the sinful world, I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep safe* within the power of your name those whom you have entrusted to my care, so that they may be one in heart, mind, and purpose just as we are one in heart, mind, and purpose. When I was with them in the sinful world, I kept them safe within the power of your name. Those whom you entrusted to me, I protected, and not one of them was lost except the son of perdition, in order that the prophecy of Scripture might be fulfilled. And now I am coming to you, and I am speaking these things here in the world so that my people may experience my joy perfectly accomplished within them. I have permanently entrusted your Word to their care, and the sinful world has wrongfully hated them because they are not part of that godless world, just as I am not part of that godless world. I am not praying so that you would remove them from the sinful world, but so that you would keep them safely away from the Evil One. Spiritually, they no more belong to the sinful world than I belong to the sinful world.

Sanctify* these believers by your truth; your Word is truth. Just as you sent me into the godless world on a divine mission, I also send them into the godless world. And for their sakes I am dedicating myself as an offering so that they also may be set apart by truth.

And not only for these followers do I pray, but also for those who shall put their trust in me because of my followers’ witness. The goal of my prayer is that they all may be united as one in heart, mind, and purpose, just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you, and also that they may be united as one in us so that the sinful world might believe that you sent me. And the glory which you have entrusted to me I have permanently entrusted to them, so that they may be united as one just as we are united — I in them and you in me — so that they may be perfectly united in heart, mind, and purpose and so that the sinful world might know in their hearts that you sent me and loved them [the disciples] just as you loved me.

Father, those whom you have entrusted to my care, I desire, so that wherever I am, they also may be in my company. The reason I want them in my company is so that they may see my glory which you bestowed upon me because you loved me before you laid the foundation of the world.

Righteous Father, the godless world has not known you, but I know you intimately, and these know in their hearts that you sent me. For I have revealed your name to them, and I will reveal it so that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and I may be in them.
–John 17

>> Chapter 18: Glorify Your Son

Chapter 17 Footnotes

* Imperative verb = Jesus’ actual request to God; this is what Jesus is asking God to do.

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