Monday 15 April 2019
After Jesus said this, he looked towards heaven and prayed:
‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
Last week when we were looking at John 16 we saw what John records as the last words of Jesus to his disciples before his death. This week in John 17 we will be reading some words of Jesus that the disciples heard. However, Jesus isn’t actually talking to his disciples; he is talking to his Father. Jesus’ prayer is in three parts: praying for himself, praying for his disciples and praying for those who will believe in Jesus through the disciples’ message.
Jesus prays for himself
There is so much depth in this prayer of Jesus that today we will only be scratching the surface. First of all, Jesus calls God ‘Father’. He is comfortable speaking to his Father and his simple language shows the reality of his intimate relationship with God the Father. We can infer from his simple language that Jesus knew that he was the eternal Son of God. He clearly remembers having the same glory as God before the world began. He realises that he has given this glory up in order to become a human. And he now prays to be glorified again in his Father’s presence as he was before the world began.
We saw back in John 13 that when Jesus was speaking about ‘glory’ he was not referring to success and fame by normal human standards. For him, the road to glory was through the cross. He had to go through suffering before he could receive the glory that he deserved.
We can see echoes of John 3:16 in this prayer. (For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.) Jesus understands that this is the purpose of his death. He also gives a definition of eternal life: knowing God and knowing Jesus. Notice that Jesus does not say, “Eternal life is going to heaven when you die.” Eternal life is defined as a relationship with God and with his Son Jesus. This starts here on earth and continues after our physical death.
The amazing truth is that we too can call God ‘father’. Unlike Jesus, none of us can say “I am the eternal Son of God.” Yet we are adopted children of God. We can call God ‘father’ or even ‘dad’.
I encourage you to spend some time re-reading today’s passage and then talking to God our father, thanking him that we have the privilege of knowing him.
Thomas Halley, Sawyers Church Leadership Team
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