It’s the night of the Last Supper. Jesus has just finished washing his disciples feet, predicting who will betray Him, and giving a long talk to His disciples, covering everything from the Holy Spirit to foretelling His death and resurrection. And then, Jesus lifts his eyes up to heaven and offers up what we now know of as “The High Priestly Prayer.” In other words, on the night that Jesus faced the most monumental moment in all of history as we know it— He prayed for you.
Let’s take a deeper look at this beautiful prayer.
Keeping in His Name
“I am no longer in this world; yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled” (John 17:11-12).
Actually read those verses, and think about what Jesus is praying about. He’s praying that the Father would keep us in His name. Jesus did a lot of keeping and guarding— but now He’s praying that God would do it.
I’ve said this before on this blog, but I absolutely love this idea of God keeping us. I’ve heard the question asked before: “How do you know that you’re still going to be a Christian when you wake up tomorrow morning?”
Some might answer the question with, “Because I choose it again every morning.” But think about that… if I am a human with a heart that is deceitful and quite frankly just fickle, how can I guarantee that I am going to choose God tomorrow? If my lasting salvation depends only on me, then— frankly, I’m not certain about my salvation at all.
I answer the question with, “Because God will keep me saved.” And it’s pretty clear that Jesus thinks similarly… He prays that God will keep me in His name.
Protection from the Evil One
“I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15).
This one reminds me of a scenario which also took place at the Last Supper, but was recorded in a different gospel, Luke:
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32).
Notice that Jesus implies that His praying for Peter means that Peter’s faith won’t fail. Jesus is our High Priest— He knows our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15), and He knows that we have an enemy of our souls who prowls around like a lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8-9). Basically— Jesus is pretty capable of rescuing us from the snares of the enemy, and to think of Him praying that for me is pretty amazing to me.
“Sanctify them in Your Truth; Your Word is Truth” (John 17: 17).
Sanctification is setting something apart and making it holy, most of the time referring to the refining away of sin from the Christian. I’m not going to spend a ton of time on this one, but can we just agree that it’s super cool that Jesus is praying that God will sanctify me?
“The glory which You have given Me I have given them, that they may be one, just as We are one, I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity…” (John 17:22-23a).
Jesus wants His church to be unified. There’s a lot of verses referencing unity in the church, including Ephesians 4:3-6, which talks about how we ought to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” It goes on to tell that there is one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God, and one Father of all. That’s kind of a mouthful, but its a great example of just how much there is to unify the church. As followers of Christ, we share so much in common (including all the stuff in that list and more), and we ought to be unified.
That the World Will Know…
“…so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me” (John 17:23b).
This one made me stop and think. Jesus prayed that the world would know two things: that Jesus was sent from God, and that God has loved us (Christians). As relates to us… Jesus wants the world to know that God loves us. Again, isn’t that just super cool? I was astounded that the love of God, for us, means so much to Jesus that He prays for it.
Be With Him
“Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see my glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24).
Jesus doesn’t often express His desires. Most of the time, He’s just deferring to what the Father wants. But this time, He’s actually asking God about something He wants. And look what He wants: that we would be with Him, and that we would see His glory.
Think about what we want for ourselves: to be rich, to be famous, to have all our needs totally satisfied, to be happy all the time, to be popular, to be healthy, to experience no pain or sadness… The list of what Jesus wants for us, however, is quite different. It’s simply that we would be with Him, and that we would see His glory.
And think what He accomplished later that night on the Cross, and three days later with the empty tomb: He made a way for us to be with Him and see His glory, even when we were so hopelessly sinful that it would have never worked out.
I hope this is encouraging to you! I loved looking at this prayer, and realizing that the King of kings and Lord of lords prays for me. Right now, Jesus is praying for you. Isn’t that comforting? Jesus is praying that God would keep you, that He would protect you from the evil one, that He would sanctify you, that the church would be unified, that the world would know, and that we would one day be with Him and see His glory.
Each of the things Jesus prayed for on that night, mere hours before He would hang on that cross, were accomplished for you and for me when He satisfied the wrath of God toward us. He bought the answers to these prayers with His precious blood, and then conquered death when He rose again.
And now He stands to intercede for us before the throne of God.
Even right now, He’s praying for you.
Isn’t that amazing?
Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)