One with the Father and the Son. 17:11b-19


In the central section of Jesus' High Priestly Prayer, Jesus prays for his disciples, v6-19. In our section for study, he prays that his followers will be infused with the truth of the gospel and that the powers of darkness will be powerless to undermine their salvation.

The passage

v11b. Addressing God in both awesome and intimate terms, Jesus prays that the disciples are kept in "the Name." He may mean, kept safe from dark powers by the power of God's awesome character, but he probably means, overshadowed by the truth of God's revealed character in Christ, kept in the truth of the gospel of God's grace. He prays this that his disciples my be one, one in this truth.

v12. While Jesus was with his disciples he kept them safe in the truth of the gospel such that they were preserved for the day of salvation. He is now handing that task over to the Holy Spirit. Yet, one was lost, Judas, "the child destined to destruction." It was destined that one disciple would face destruction and Judas chose to play this part.

v13-14. Jesus has revealed the truth of the gospel to his disciples before leaving the world so that their joy may be complete. By possessing this truth the disciples are separated from this world and therefore, are hated by the world.

v15. Yet, Jesus doesn't want to take his disciples out from under the temptations and aggression of a world opposed to God, but rather that they might be protected from the dark powers that would undermine their eternal salvation.

v16. The hostility of the world toward both Jesus and his disciples is a consequence of their not being identified with the world's indifference toward God.

v17. Yet, although the world is indifferent toward God, God is not indifferent to the world. Jesus prays that the disciples might be set apart for divine service in the power of God's Word for the service of God's Word, a Word that is eternal truth, grace.

v18. This service of the disciples involves a confrontation with the world, a confrontation in similar terms to Jesus' confrontation with the world. "Jesus is the one uniquely consecrated by the Father and sent by him into the world to bring to the world the revelation of the Father and his saving sovereignty", Beasley-Murray. Jesus sends his disciples on the same mission.

v19. Jesus has dedicated his life to the gospel of God's sovereign grace so that his disciples may be similarly dedicated to the gospel, that they might find life in it and make it known.


Discuss the implications of Jesus' prayer for his disciples.

Two prayer requests sealed by God

It's always a bit of a worry when someone says to us that they will pray for us. We immediately feel inadequate, a charity case. We have no problem singing "it's me, it's me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer", but a brother or sister telling us that we are in need of prayer, that's another matter altogether. Charity case or not, we are forced to be gracious. We thank them for their consideration, head for the high moral ground and respond, "you are always in my prayers."

Of course, there is one person whose prayers we do greatly appreciate. The Bible tells us that Jesus presents himself on our behalf in the throne room of the Ancient of Days. Now that's a nice thought and we welcome his prayers for us. There is no sense of inadequacy when Jesus' prays for us

In our passage for study, John has recorded the prayer Jesus prayed in the upper room on the Thursday evening before his arrest and crucifixion. Way back in the sixteenth century a Lutheran theologian, David Chytraeus, gave the prayer the title "Jesus' High Priestly Prayer" and this title has stuck. In summing up the prayer, one of the great Bible commentator's, B.F. Westcott, writing at the beginning of the twentieth century, said, it is "at once a prayer, a profession and a revelation."

Yes indeed! a revelation, for what Jesus prays for, Jesus gets. Now we know he is praying for the apostles, and that what Jesus asks for them he does not necessarily ask for us. Verses 20, 21a may well deal with that problem, anyhow, we will proceed on the gracious assumption that the prayer is for all believers. So what does Jesus ask on our behalf?

Jesus makes two requests, the first is: "keep them in your name", v11b. The NIV has "protect them by the power of your name" which is a poor translation. Jesus repeats the prayer in v17, but in different words; "sanctify them in the truth." Only in recent years have commentators come to grips with the term "the name." It represents the character of God, it means virtually the same as "the word", "the truth", the gospel, and distills down to love, for God is love, a love that expresses itself in grace and mercy. Jesus prays that we are kept in gospel truth, the truth of God's eternal gracious loving mercy.

The second request is: "keep them from the evil one", v15b. There are those who argue Jesus is praying that we are kept from evil, from temptation, testing and trouble, but if this is the substance of the prayer then it hasn't been answered. No, the prayer is far weightier. Jesus prays that we will not be overcome by the powers of darkness such that we lose our eternal standing in the sight of God.

Remember, what Jesus prays for, Jesus gets.

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