John 17 and Psalm 119
I remember the very first time I heard John 17 preached back in high school. I remember it so well because I kind of felt like I’d been missing out my entire life… because somehow, I’d missed the fact that Jesus, the very Savior of the world, had actually prayed for me thousands of years ago. This passage instantly became so special to me, and I’m excited that we’re reading it together today.
The title in my Bible for John 17 is, literally, “Jesus’ Prayer for His Followers.” Let’s read part of John 17 together… these are verses 6:12:
I spelled out your character in detail
To the men and women you gave me.
They were yours in the first place;
Then you gave them to me,
And they have now done what you said.
They know now, beyond the shadow of a doubt,
That everything you gave me is firsthand from you,
For the message you gave me, I gave them;
And they took it, and were convinced
That I came from you.
They believed that you sent me.
I pray for them.
I’m not praying for the God-rejecting world
But for those you gave me,
For they are yours by right.
Everything mine is yours, and yours mine,
And my life is on display in them.
For I’m no longer going to be visible in the world;
They’ll continue in the world
While I return to you.
Holy Father, guard them as they pursue this life
That you conferred as a gift through me,
So they can be one heart and mind
As we are one heart and mind.
As long as I was with them, I guarded them
In the pursuit of the life you gave through me;
I even posted a night watch.
And not one of them got away,
Except for the rebel bent on destruction
(the exception that proved the rule of Scripture).
These verses are literally full of language that speaks so much to Jesus’ deep love for his followers. I love how much Jesus talks about this love, as well as how thankful He is to God for giving Him us. Imagine that.
Despite the fact that Jesus was literally about to die on the cross on behalf of every human, and despite the fact that it was OUR sin that put Him there, He was still thanking God for us.
If that doesn’t blow your mind, I don’t know what will. These verses remind us that no matter what we’ve done or how far we’ve drifted from Him, Jesus still loves us. I especially love John 17:20-23:
I’m praying not only for them
But also for those who will believe in me
Because of them and their witness about me.
The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.
Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they’ll be as unified and together as we are—
I in them and you in me.
Then they’ll be mature in this oneness,
And give the godless world evidence
That you’ve sent me and loved them
In the same way you’ve loved me.
Not only does Jesus spend a lot of time thanking God for the very people He’s about to die for, but He also prays specifically for us who will not know Him in person like His disciples got to. There are a few specific things He prays for, and friends, we fall into this category of people.
First, He asks that God won’t take us out of the world, but that God will consecrate us within the world and sets us apart for His glory. Next, He prays that God would help believers to have one heart and one mind – literally so that the world would believe that God sent Jesus. (No pressure on that one, right?) I especially love the line of Jesus’ prayer that says, “And give the godless world evidence that you’ve sent me and loved them, in the same way you’ve loved me.” That’s our mission, friends- to give this godless world evidence, by the way that we love others, that God sent Jesus to save them. It’s a simple calling, yet such a big deal… and often so difficult.
Today, I’m thankful to worship a God who not only loved us enough to take on human flesh and walk amongst us, but who also wanted to leave us record through the Scriptures of His specific prayers for us. What a gift we have in John 17. I hope you are encouraged by Jesus’ prayer for you today.