The Prayer of Jesus
17 After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. 2 For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. 3 And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. 4 I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5 Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.
6 “I have revealed you[a] to the ones you gave me from this world. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything I have is a gift from you, 8 for I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from you, and they believe you sent me.
9 “My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you. 10 All who are mine belong to you, and you have given them to me, so they bring me glory. 11 Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name;[b] now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are. 12 During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me.[c] I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold.
13 “Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy. 14 I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.16 They do not belong to this world any more than I do. 17 Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. 18 Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19 And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.
20 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.
22 “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. 23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. 24 Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!
25 “O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. 26 I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.”
- 17:6 Greek have revealed your name; also in 17:26.
- 17:11 Some manuscripts read you have given me these [disciples].
- 17:12 Some manuscripts read I protected those you gave me, by the power of your name.
17:21 For believers, becoming one with one another is an outgrowth of the union they enjoy with Jesus himself, a union modeled on the oneness of the Father and the Son. • may they be in us: Through the power of the Spirit, believers would experience a profound spiritual intimacy with the Father and the Son and be transformed (John 14:20, 23; 1 Jn 4:13). • Disciples of Jesus represent him, so their conduct and relationships with each other reflect the credibility of Christ in the world. When there is disunity, infighting, and intolerance, their testimony to the world is unconvincing. When people observe the community of believers, they know that it represents Jesus; a unified, loving community convinces the world to believe (John 13:35; 1 Jn 3:11).
17:22 The community of believers should display the same glory that Jesus displayed from the Father.
17:23 that the world will know: If the church lives in the Spirit, reflects God’s glory and love, and shows unity sustained by a shared knowledge of God, then its testimony will astonish the world.
NLT Illustrated Study Bible
Two black men killed by police and captured on video. Seven police officers killed by a black man, also on video. America is reeling. I know that I am. We have been forced to face our hatred in living – and deadly – color. It is not a pretty sight. Amid the anger and sadness I have wondered what to say and how. How do we move forward, find healing? How does the church lead?
I am trained as a pastor. I serve as an elder. I help make and market Bibles for a living. I have preached in the last week on the need for Christians to take prayer seriously and the failure of the Church of Jesus Christ to act as the Church. I have participated in a beautiful, moving, and important multiracial, multidenominational prayer service. I have seen the Church begin to step up and say that enough is enough.
Here is the truth of the matter. We have a problem in our country which goes far deeper than race but it is not less than race. Unfortunately it is a problem that lives in the church. Hiding in the crevices of our lives, whispering in the darkness. It lies, saying to one group “there is no problem” and to another “see, they do not care”. And we, the people of God, the bride of Christ, are divided no less than the culture at large.
It is wrong. It is sin. There is no other way to put it. Jesus calls us to unity, to oneness, as a body – His body. There can no longer be a place for avoiding, for hiding, for acting as if this is not an issue that we must, as the Body of Christ meet headlong. Frankly, we must do more than claim to belong to Christ, more than claim to believe the Bible is true. Instead we must live that way.
Our hypocrisy is not a new phenomenon. Christians have always struggled with it. Early 19th century Danish Philosopher and theologian Søren Kierkegaard, wrote:
The matter is quite simple. The bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world?
Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard (The Plough Publishing Co., 2002, pg. 193)
Jesus, in his final prayer before his arrest, prays for his disciples, for his Church – “all who will ever believe in me.” (v.20). His most clear and urgent prayer is for the unity of his people. Not a superficial unity, but the same kind of unity that is had by the Father and the Son. This is, as the notes in the Illustrated Study Bible elaborate, an outgrowth of our union with Jesus.
Insofar as we do not have unity, do not have love (John 13:34-35) for our brothers and sisters in Christ – no matter their ethnicity or culture, socioeconomic status or any other thing which might be used to divide – we are not following the example of Christ, we are not heeding Jesus’ prayer. Even more, we are failing to show that we are indeed his and we cause the name of God to be derided not glorified. We are pretending that we do not understand.
Shame on us. We must repent of our divisions, our callousness and suspicion, our apathy and hatred. We must love one another. We must be unified in Christ. We must show that world that we are his and we will not sit idly by.
We cannot do this if we do not reach out to one another. The time for talking is done. It is time for us to stop pretending we do not understand. It is time for us to, as Kierkegaard said, actually live out what we say we believe.
Father, in this time of division and hatred, we pray that you would give us, your church, a spirit of unity and love for one another, that you would cause us to live out our faith, that we would be convicted by your word and show the world that we are yours. May the world glorify your name because of us. It is in the name of your Son through the power of your Holy Spirit we pray. Amen.
Kevin O’Brien is Bible and Reference Brand manager at Tyndale House. He is a husband, father, Church elder and lifelong Chicago Blackhawks fan who very rarely can be found tweeting @kevinrobrienthm.