The place where this prayer of intercession occurred may be difficult to determine. We know that it occurred after they left Jerusalem following the Passover meal. It appears that this prayer may be part of Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Remember that Peter, James, and John were having difficulty staying awake to watch and pray with Jesus. Matthew, Mark, and Luke recorded Christ’s prayer in the garden. The Lord was in such great agony that His sweat was as great drops of blood. Mathew, Mark, and Luke’s account demonstrate the intensity of the agony Christ was in during this prayer.
- Jesus’ prayer was broken into three sections.
- He came to His disciples and found them asleep three times.
There are three sections of the prayer that is in John 17.
John shows the depth of His prayer of intercession.
- He prayed for Himself.
- He prayed for His disciples.
- He prayed for all believers.
Jesus’ intercessory prayer – John 17:1-26
Intercession for Himself – John 17:1-5
See what you can learn by observing Christ Jesus in prayer.
John 17:1–3 (NKJV) 1Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, 2as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. 3And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
- He lifted His eyes to heaven.
Why did He lift His eyes to Heaven?
- Jesus is interceding in prayer for Himself.
- He has come to this hour knowing what was ahead of Him.
What hour has come?
- Jesus is looking ahead to His death, burial, and resurrection.
What does Jesus mean, “glorify your Son?”
- If Jesus remains in the grave, He would be proven to be a fraud.
How is God’s Son going to glorify the Father? (verse 2-3)
- One of the fundamental reasons that Jesus came into the world was to do what verse 3 says.
- “That they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus whom You have sent.”
Who are “they?”
John 17:4–5 (NKJV) 4I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. 5And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
What kinds of things did Jesus do that glorified the Father on earth?
What “finished work” is Jesus referring to?
- The glory that Jesus had before the world was created is beyond what has been revealed.
- Jesus is ready to return to the unfiltered glory that He had before His incarnation.
- Nothing in Jesus’ intercession prayer for Himself indicates that He is unprepared or unwilling to finish His assignment.
- Jesus said, “I have done everything You wanted Me to do.”
- His assignment was completed.
Intercession for His Disciples – John 17:6-19
John 17:6–7 (NKJV) 6“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. 7Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You.
What does it mean to “manifest Your name”?
- Jesus perfectly revealed the Father to them.
- He revealed the Father’s nature, character, and attributes.
- He did the work and spoke the word of the Father.
John 17:8–9 (NKJV) 8For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me. 9“I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.
- Jesus told His disciples everything the Father gave Him.
- The second part of verse 8 is equally important.
- They have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.
- They have received His words.
What happened as a result of their receiving His words?
Why did Jesus only pray for those the Father had given Him and not for the world?
- In other places He prayed for the unbelievers.
- He came so that the world through Him might be saved.
- Jesus is praying for those He represents to the Father.
Who are those whom You have given Me?
John 17:10–11 (NKJV) 10And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. 11Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.
- Notice the complete and perfect unity the Son had with the Father.
- Jesus possessed perfect equality with the Father.
Why is Jesus praying as if He was no longer in the world?
- Jesus wanted the Father to keep through His name those the Father has given Him.
- Jesus wants all that the Father has given Him to be as united as He and the Father are.
How can we do that?
John 17:12–13 (NKJV) 12While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.
- Notice that Jesus is so connected to the Father in prayer that He is “out of this world.”
How did Jesus keep and guard those the Father gave Him?
- With what is about to happen, Jesus is concerned about their survival.
John 17:14–19 (NKJV) 14I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.
Why is the Word of the Father so important for survival?
Intercession for All Believers – John 17:20-26
- Now Jesus is taking up every believer in His prayer.
- Jesus is praying for you.
- Listen carefully to these words.
John 17:20–21 (NKJV) 20“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.
- Read verse 21 out loud.
Why do we need unity among believers?
Why is it a testimony to the world when we are one?
John 17:22–23 (NKJV) 22And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
- Jesus is sharing His glory with believers.
- This glory is recognizable in our fellowship with one another and with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.
- Our fellowship with one another and with the Father and Son should be without division.
- Through the power of the Holy Spirit, believers will experience profound spiritual intimacy with the Father and the Son.
1 John 4:13 (NKJV) 13By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.
Is there any other way that we will share in the glory of the Father and the Son?
John 17:24 (NKJV) 24“Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.
Where does Jesus want all believers to be?
1 Corinthians 13:12 (NKJV) 12For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
John 17:25–26 (NKJV) 25O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. 26And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
- This is the ultimate goal that the Lord has for you.
- He wants everyone that has believed to experience the Father’s love.
- Jesus wants you to experience the same love of the Father that He experienced.