Yesterday, while reading John 17, I was deeply moved by the Holy Spirit to recognize...to remember...and to experience the words of Jesus. John 17 is more commonly referred to as Jesus’ “high priestly prayer.” It is beautiful and glorious.
These words comes after the Last Supper and the foot-washing from John’s account of that Thursday on the eve of Good Friday. These words come after Jesus has shared his final parting words with the disciples.
After all of these events, Jesus prays and so ends John 17. John 18:1 says that when Jesus finished praying, he and his disciples crossed the Kidron Valley and entered the garden where Judas would betray him.
This prayer comes in Jesus’ final moments when he could speak freely and openly to his disciples and to his Father in prayer. This is lengthy, but listen....just listen to what Jesus says:
6 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled. 13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
[pay close attention here]
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
Did you read it? Right there in verse 20...in Jesus final moments...when could have prayed for many things....Jesus prayed for YOU! JESUS PRAYED FOR YOU!
I have read that passage more times than I can count, but the words just leapt off the page when I read them this time!
Here, when Jesus is finished with teaching in parables, when all is about to revealed, when he is about to go to the cross, we literally eavesdrop on Jesus praying to his Father for us!
Friends, in these uncertain times when things are so strange; when everything is turned upside down, crossing the invisible borders of every nation and tribe, I remind you that Jesus prayed for you. He prayed that His love would be in us! He prayed that we would be in “complete unity!”
Then Jesus went and faced down death. He went to the cross and let death have its way, but death would not have the final say, because in the end Christ was glorified! Risen from the dead, this same Jesus who prayed for YOU was glorified, just as he spoke of in that same prayer!
I want to shout it from my porch, “He did it for you!” He didn’t just die for you, he was resurrected for you and he prayed , “that [God] not take [you] out of the world but that [God] protect [you] from the evil one.”
Jesus prayed for you! He prayed for your protection in the midst of this pandemic and every crisis. He prayed that you would know his love and the love of the Father.
Today, I encourage you to continue clinging to that love! Be unified in that love and share in the glory of the resurrection promise!
God bless you on this damp, soggy Thursday! Never stop loving one another with the love of Christ!
Yours in Him,
Brian Abbott is a pastor in the Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church under appointment to Nelson Memorial and Dogwood United Methodist Churches.
Brian has a love of people that had been a lifelong calling which began with a 24-year career as both a social work and a juvenile officer before answering God’s call to ministry.
Brian and his wife, Anna, have four adult children & four grandchildren. They joyfully share their empty nest home with three happy pups who keep them on their toes!