JESUS PRAYED FOR HIS DISCIPLES
Jesus’ final act of love for His disciples was to pray for them before He left them. How blessed we are to have a record of His prayer and to glean from His words the depth of His love for them and His confidence in the Father that they would not fail Him or waste all the effort He put into them to become His true talmidim!
In this prayer Jesus summed up His entire life’s work and His attitude towards the most important people in His life, His Father and His followers.
Father, the time 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 may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing 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. (John 17: 1b -5)
Why did Jesus pray for Himself first? He took nothing for granted. Is this a sample of His daily prayers as He fellowshipped with the Father late at night and in the early hours of the morning? He was on earth on the Father’s business. He could not afford to miss a cue or to mess up on any assignment. His Father’s glory took precedence over everything else. It was always uppermost in His mind and, because they were one, when the Father glorified Him, He reflected that glory straight back to the Father.
In our journey with Jesus, we have discovered that God’s glory is supremely revealed in the mercy He showed to undeserving people. Jesus was the Father’s representative, always extending the Father’s mercy to those who needed Him most. As He showed mercy, so the Father’s heart was revealed to His people who had badly misunderstood Him through those who falsely represented Him. Whenever He extended mercy to a suffering soul, Jesus was not only revealing His own nature but also the nature of the Father, glorifying Him by revealing His own glory wherever He went.
Jesus was facing an ordeal no person in all of history before Him had ever faced. Yes, people had suffered. People have always suffered, from the moment sin had entered into the world, but no one has ever suffered in the way that Jesus was about to suffer. He needed the Holy Spirit’s strength to endure the agony of a death He did not deserve so that the glory He reflected would be the pure light of God’s glory. His glory and the glory of the Father were inseparably linked together.
Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son that your Son may glorify you. (John 17: 1b)
And so Jesus prayed, not at this point to return to the glory He had with the Father but that He would endure His suffering and death in such a way that the glory of God would be reflected in Him every step of the way. It was in the Garden of Gethsemane that the battle raged and was won – so fierce that bloody sweat oozed from His pores. He made His surrender then, remaining in perfect unity with the Father and perfectly fulfilling the Father’s will.
What was the kernel of His prayer for His disciples? One had already fallen away – on his way to sell his rabbi out for a few pieces of silver? Have you noticed that Jesus excluded Judas from His prayer? Judas’s mind was already made up. Jesus made no urgent request for the Father to stop him or for the Holy Spirit to convict him. It had to be and in the sovereignty of God He would blend every circumstance into His plan of redemption, even the free will of Judas who chose to betray his Master.
I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave then to me and they have obeyed your word. (John 17: 6)
What an insight into the heart of Jesus! The Father had given Him twelve men as a sacred trust. It was His task to impart the Father’s Word to them until they had grasped, embraced and obeyed that Word. Jesus could not leave them alone in this world until He was sure that His task of training them to be His disciples was complete. From the moment He finally left them, their role would change. No longer would they simply be His disciples. They would be, like Him, true sons of the Father.
Verse 6 can also be translated:
I have revealed your name to those you gave me out of the world.
What was the significance of this declaration? The Lord revealed Himself to His covenant people by many names; Elohim – the Mighty One; El Elyon – the Most High God; El Shaddai – the one who nourishes; Adonai – the Master; El Olam – the everlasting God; Yahweh – the one who is; and the many facets of Yahweh – provider, shepherd, healer, righteousness, peace, banner, sanctifier, Lord of hosts and the Lord who is there.
But there was one name by which He was not known until Jesus came – the name, Father. Jesus came to reveal that name by being the perfect Son. It was that name He made known to His disciples and it was to that name that He entrusted them because He knew that God, as the perfect Father, would always be with them, vigilant and caring like no earthly father could ever be.
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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