Bible Reading: John 17:6-19
Having prayed for Himself, Jesus now prays specifically for His disciples. They were very special to Him. He had spent three years teaching them and preparing them to continue His ministry on earth. In John chapters thirteen to sixteen Jesus had spent time preparing them for His departure. Now He prays for them. It would be like a spiritual father praying for his children.
Because His Father had given these disciples to Him [v.6], Jesus now reports back to His Father and tells Him about them. Jesus tells His Father that He had revealed the Father to them [v7-8]. This is so special because knowing the Father’s heart and experiencing His embrace is the very heart of a person’s relationship with God. They knew that it was the Father who sent Jesus [v.8]. Jesus told the Father that He had given them His Word, and that the disciples had recognized that it was the Father’s Word and believed it [v.8, 14]. Jesus actually told the Father that He was glorified in His disciples [v.10]. His glory was now being seen in them. They were becoming just like Him!
There is an apocryphal story, that when Jesus returned to heaven the angels asked Him who would continue His work on earth. Jesus answered that He had left everything in the hands of His disciples. The Angels responded, “But what if they fail – your work would have been in vain?” Jesus replied, and said simply, “They will not fail!”
It would not have been easy for Jesus to leave these men, with whom He had such a bond, but He knew that they would not fail. When He prayed to His Father for them He made three requests.
Firstly, Jesus prayed that the Father would protect them with His Name, and keep them safe from the evil one. The Father’s Name is a strong tower of safety [Proverbs 18:10]. Just as Jesus had protected them, He now asks His Father to protect them. Like Jesus they are not of this world [v.16]. They had been set free from the spirit of this world, that anti-God world system ruled by the evil “prince of this world.” As God’s children they were being sent into the world with His Word. They were in the world, but not of the world!
Secondly, Jesus prayed that they would be united. The enemy knows that unity is very powerful. Even for unbelievers nothing would be impossible for those of one heart [Genesis 11:6]. So powerful was the unity of those builders of the Tower of Babel, that God had to scatter them. Unity is a powerful spiritual life principle! The enemy knew that an army divided against itself can never stand, and so he would do all he could to bring division.
Thirdly, Jesus prayed for His disciples that they would be made Holy by the knowledge of His Word. It is the entrance of God’s word that brings light, strength, and assurance. The Psalmist wrote, “How shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed and keeping watch [on himself] according to Your word [conforming his life to it]” [Psalm 119:9 Amp. Bible]. The Psalmist also said, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” [Psalm 119:11 NLT]. Many years ago someone wrote in the flyleaf of my Bible, “Sin will keep you from this Book, or this Book will keep you from sin!”
Read Matthew 28:19. Jesus told us to go and make disciples. Why do you think Jesus emphasized making disciples rather than making believers?
Jesus made disciples and prayed for them. How are you making disciples, and how do you pray for them?
What lessons do you learn from Jesus reporting back to His Father in this passage about making disciples?
Knowing God as Father is vital? In what way have you found Him to be your Father?