Jesus is concluding His time with His disciples as they talkred after dinner. I don’t know if they took a stroll around the yard or are the home they were using for their Passover meal or if they were still in the upper room for their discourse. At first I thought they might be sitting together in the garden of the home but I imagine Jesus wanted privacy while He spent His last hours with His disciples. Wherever they are, Jesus is about to bless them with a personal prayer.
Jesus begins His prayer with ‘it’s time.’ His whole life has been leading up to this purpose; to glorify the Father. In doing so He is providing eternal life for ALL who believe in Him. “To all whom You have given Him [the Son]” (verse 2). That eternal life comes from knowing the ONLY true God and His Son, Jesus Christ, whom He sent.
For a moment Jesus sounds homesick, or tired, to me. He has been on a LONG journey and mission from God. He is nearing the finish line and His heart is looking forward to the end of that journey. He still has the hardest part up ahead, but He is longing for the return home. He is looking forward to that welcome from the Father. ‘Great job Son!’
Now Jesus turns His attention to His disciples and the needs they are about to encounter. Up to this point Jesus has been able to personally protect them from Satan and those on his side. Jesus has saved them from the elements and from the religious leaders of the time. Now He has to completely hand that responsibility back to the Father.
Jesus asks for their future ministry and continued service to God. He is not going to be there in the flesh to referee the discussions of ‘who is the greatest’ or refocus them on the mission when the wrong spirit sounds in their ears. This transition from physical presence to spiritual presence is going to require the Holy Spirit’s intervention and God’s hand on them.
To this end, Jesus prays for several things for His disciples. The first thing He asks for is that His disciples have “my joy fulfilled in themselves” (verse 13b). He wants His disciples to understand the joy that He has in making this sacrifice. It is not a horror that He is facing but a great honor in doing the Father’s will. No, He is not looking forward to the pain and suffering that is quickly approaching but the joy of the restored relationship for all on the other side of it.
Next Jesus asks God to keep His disciples safe from Satan. He knows that to be effective they must operate in the world ruled by Satan. Jesus doesn’t ask that they be removed from any harm but that Satan be kept away from their hearts. Satan will succeed in killing the body but Jesus is asking for protection for their spirits. Eternal life.
Jesus then asks that His disciples be sanctified. I wanted to know exactly what sanctify means. We use it liberally in religious circles, but do we really understand its meaning? I looked it up on dictionary.com and this is what I found:
verb (used with object), sanctified, sanctifying.
- to make holy; set apart as sacred; consecrate.
- to purify or free from sin:
Sanctify your hearts.
- to impart religious sanction to; render legitimate or binding:
to sanctify a vow.
- to entitle to reverence or respect.
- to make productive of or conducive to spiritual blessing.
Jesus asked God to set His disciples apart. To make them holy in their service to Him. They were more than disciples, they were the Apostles. The physical leaders of the brand new church. Jesus is the Spiritual head but they will be His hands and feet to the world. They will be who the new believers look to for direction. They will have to settle the discussions of ‘who is the greatest’ now. They will need God’s wisdom in their new role. God’s word that Jesus shared with them will be their road map in this role.
I become part of Jesus’ prayer now. He prays for EACH of us that are brought to a relationship with Him through the words of His disciples. He has asked God to fill them with joy because of the greatest gift ever given, protect them from Satan’s influence, cleanse them from ALL sin, set them in a place of spiritual leadership, and keep them in the truth of God’s word. Through this personal preparation of Jesus’ disciples, their influence and testimony will span through the ages to reach trillions of people for Jesus. And for those people Jesus offers two more prayers. The first is that there will be unity among them and the second is that God will bring each of them home to be with Him in the end.
The unity Jesus is praying for in His new church is more than just having the same goal or purpose. It is being of the same spirit. Not everyone will look the same or worship the same. Not all will speak the same either. But ALL will share in a personal relationship with Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Father. All will welcome the fullness of God into their lives. This is the unity Jesus wants from His people. And that unity will lead to following His example in word and deed.
Jesus asks the Father for the BIGGEST ‘sleepover’ ever! Each new believer in Jesus is invited Home to live with Jesus forever! No one will be left out when they accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. When they believe that Jesus is truly God’s Son and was sent by Him on our behalf.
The last thing I want to point out in Jesus’ prayer is contained in two phrases He uses. The first is found in verse 5: “And now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence with the glory that I had with You before the world existed.” The second is in verse 24: Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given me, may be with me where I am, to see My glory that You have given Me because You loved Me before the foundations of the world.” In both these verses Jesus references His glory that existed before the world existed. God had this plan in mind before He even spoke the first words “Let there be…” Adam and Eve’s sin didn’t cause God to have to figure out an alternate plan. Your sin and my sin don’t have Jesus tabulating the coverage amount for His blood. God knew from the beginning what was going to happen and what it was going to take to have a relationship with us, His creation. He counted the cost and chose to proceed anyway. From before the beginning of time until eternity ends (which is NEVER), He has wanted a relationship with us. And HE did everything necessary to allow that to happen. All we need to do is reach out and accept His free gift. His gift of perfect love. Jesus, our High Priest makes this intercessors prayer for us.
Thank You Jesus for including me in Your prayer. Thank You for willingly taking the steps of creation, knowing what lay ahead. I love You and am SO grateful You called me to Yourself. I have NO WAY to repay You for this gift of life You have provided for me. I pray that I will make You proud. Please don’t let me become prideful, but help me act in ways that make You smile.
Thank You Father that we didn’t catch You off guard with our sins. Thank You that Jesus’ blood is enough for ALL our sins. Thank You for Your love!