Today’s reading is John 17.
For how often we as Christians are instructed to display peace and trust in God’s future for us, it can be so easy to worry about the future. We’re told of the Lord in Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Again in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” the Lord says “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” In the Psalms, in Psalms 94:18, the author tells us “When I said ‘my foot is slipping,’ your love, O Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.” These are only a few examples of many, but we hear time and time again to take our worries to Scripture. Turning to the Lord in prayer and surrender is exactly what Jesus demonstrates in John 17.
On the evening before his execution, after spending the evening in fellowship with his disciples and teaching them, he knows that the time of his death is quickly approaching. In his final moments as a free man, rather than worry or be afraid or experience the other host of human emotions we’d feel knowing our death is close, he turns to God in prayer. And with this important and conclusive prayer, Jesus provides a timeline of his experience with the Lord, summarizing His past works, reflecting on the future, and sharing His hope for the future.
First, Jesus reflects on how His past experiences have shown the glory of God. He recounts with thanks for the opportunities He has had to reveal God’s nature to the world, and tells fondly of how the world has come to know God more through His teaching. He prays for all those He has encountered, that they belong to God, and that they would be protected. He says in verse 10, “glory has come to me through them-“ noting that through their learning, reverence, and celebration of who God is, they have glorified the Lord and shown that He is good and faithful. He concludes the reflective portion of this prayer by praying that as He kept his disciples and all believers safe from evil in His time on earth, that God might continue to protect His believers for all time to come.
Jesus proceeds to recognize the task at hand presently now – namely, His approaching death. He says in verse 13, “I am coming to you now,” fully admitting as He has many times before that the hour of His death is present. He compares His own detachment to this world to ourselves – “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.” Just as the ways of the world went vindictively against what Jesus taught, the world around us may scoff at us for putting our faith in the eternal Lord. But Jesus, knowing this, prays not that we may avoid hardship in this world, but for strength despite the hardships we will face. In verse 15, He prays “not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one.” Jesus prays that as we are sent out to the world to spread the word of God that He has shared, God would provide refuge from Satan’s counter-attacks against us.
As Jesus’s prayer continues, He next prays for those who will believe in Him – those in the future, who either have not yet turned to Christ or those not yet born. His prayer for the future emphasizes “that all of them may be one… just as you are in me and I am in you.” Just as Jesus and God are together, He prays for the unity and togetherness of all us and all to come, for togetherness and community in not only our spiritual lives, but all aspects. And Jesus prays that this unity that we share would point the world to the unifying and all-encompassing love the God shows for us.
In what must be a difficult time for Jesus in His human state, He instead takes this last opportunity to turn to God in prayer, praying specifically for us. Being at peace knowing that His work is complete and the world’s salvation is coming soon by His death, Jesus sets us a wonderful example to come to God when worries grow. His blessings continue as His prayers bless us with protection from evil, perseverance against the corrupt ways of the world, and strength in unity with our other believers. In Jesus’s example, we are reminded that when we are worried about the future and what troubles it will bring, God is ready to ease our hearts when we turn to Him in prayer, just as Jesus prayed we could do. Let’s give thanks today for the incredible God watching over us and providing salvation from the clutches of death. Let’s give thanks today for the God who saves and gives eternal life!