The final meal is finished. Feet have been washed; predictions have been made. The betrayer has departed. Jesus’ earthly ministry has ended, and it is time for him to leave the men and women he loves so dearly. Jesus knows that his friends are troubled, so at the conclusion of the Last Supper, he speaks to them about his departure. Whereas the other Gospels mention a few of Jesus’ parting words, John’s Gospel devotes four chapters (14–17) to Jesus’ farewell conversation with his friends.
What does Jesus say? Many memorable words: Jesus speaks of a mansion with countless rooms; the way, the truth, and the life; the true vine and its branches; a love that lays down its life for its friends. Jesus’ final discourse in John’s Gospel is a beautiful tapestry with brightly colored themes woven into an elaborate masterpiece of comfort, guidance, and hope. Framed and set apart in its own display, the tapestry could be entitled “Relationships,” because this is what Jesus’ final conversation is about: Jesus’ relationships with his Father and his followers, the disciples’ relationships with God and one another, and the Creator’s relationships with his believers and the fallen world.
Many threads are woven together in repeating patterns throughout Jesus’ final conversation. One repeating theme is prayer. In fact, both of Jesus’ remaining prayers are found here within this magnificent tapestry. For us to pull these prayers out of their context would be like pulling a single thread out of its fabric. So you see, we must study these prayers within their setting. Although we do not have the space here to discuss all of John 14–17 in detail, in the next chapter we will examine four themes which are interwoven into these last two prayers: trusting, knowing intimately, living permanently, and loving unconditionally. Once we gain an understanding of these themes, we can then turn to a more meaningful examination of Jesus’ final prayers. Within each of these prayers, we will find important insights about how we should pray both for ourselves and for others.