All-church focus 2018 devotional

September 21st, Day #34 - John 17:1-26

start here

"I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” – John 17:20-21

Jesus is praying for you! How awesome is that?

Notice what He’s specifically praying about. 

What steps can you take to help make Jesus’ prayer a reality in the relationships where God has placed you? 

game on

Read John 17:1-26

Today’s passage has been called The High Priestly Prayer or The Consecration Prayer. It could be divided into three sections. One commentator titled them: Finishing the Mission in a Hostile World, Preparing the Disciples, and Looking into the Future. See if you can distinguish the different sections.

In addition to these sections, Jesus makes seven petitions or requests. Take note of the two verbs: give and send. These two verbs are important in our interpretation of the passage because this prayer is not focused on Jesus Himself, but on His mission of establishing a community that would believe, obey Him, and continue His work.

As you read, consider how Jesus is praying for you in today’s passage. How are you believing, obeying, and continuing His work?

your move

Let’s look to what God wants to say directly to you today through John 17:1-26.

Scripture: Where did the Holy Spirit direct your focus as you read this passage?


Observation: Let the reality that Jesus has prayed for you sink in. Jesus, the Creator and Sustainer, God and Savior of the universe, prayed for you and me. Jesus prayed for us. Wow!

Application: How does this change how you view your life? How does Jesus praying for you encourage you?


Prayer: Re-read the passage now and listen to how Jesus prays for you. Respond with however the Spirit moves you.  

bonus round

In his splendid exposition on John 17, Lesslie Newbigin, the great Anglican leader and missionary to India, writes:


When a man is going on a long journey, he will find time on the eve of his departure for a quiet talk with his family, and-if he is a man of God-will end by commending to God not only himself and his journey, but also the family whom he leaves behind. Very surely will this be so if his journey is the last journey.   (The Light Has Come, 223)


We understand this impulse. It reveals a great deal about us-our affection for our family and our personal commitment to God. Therefore when we open the words of Jesus in John 17, we should let them speak to us out of the setting of his life and world. For at least three years, these men have been his closest companions. They have lived and worked together through many trials and joys. But now they have come to "the hour" that has pounded like a drumbeat through the pages of the Gospel. Judas's departure signaled its arrival (13:31), and now Jesus knows that his own departure out of this world is at hand. He is leaving. Yet the prayer unveils his incredible love for his followers and his eagerness to return to his Father.

We should see ourselves too as the subjects of this prayer. Jesus is our Lord and shepherd as much as he was the shepherd of this small circle of men. Therefore when he prays, he invites us to listen, to hear the quality of the love and honor shared between himself and God. He invites us to listen too as he prays for believers, "so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them" (17:13). We are the church, the body of believers built on the apostles' word (17:20b).

A sensitive, spiritual reading of chapter 17 may even convert its many "third person" sentences into "second person" in order to get the full force of Jesus' passion for us. When we do this, suddenly the prayer takes on a remarkable force. For example:


But I say these things while I am still in the world, so that you may have the full measure of my joy within you. I have given you my Father's word and the world has hated you, for you are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that God would take you out of the world but that he would protect you from the evil one. You are not of the world, even as I am not of it. But I want you to be made holy by the truth; God's word is truth. As my Father sent me into the world, I am sending you into the world. I am sanctifying myself for you, that you too may be truly holy. (17:13-19)


Jesus and spirituality. Jesus' spirituality was visible. He exhibited a spiritual life of worship, prayer, devotion, and love that left an indelible mark on all his followers. When men and women witnessed it, they were changed. Such visible spirituality can have strong effects. I recall some years back when my first grandparent died. It was the first funeral of our gathered family. Perhaps what was most striking were the expressions of the children, my nieces and nephews, who were then from three to twelve years old. For the first time, they saw the spiritual convictions of their parents and grandparents at work; tears and prayers and words of faith poured forth. I remember the face of one nine-year-old as she took it all in, wide-eyed. That morning brought what was private out into the open and left permanent marks on not a few children's hearts.

This is why the Gospels point not only to Jesus' mighty works and profound words, but also to his personal relationship with God. On some occasions he went alone into the hills to pray (Mark 1:35), and at other times he told his followers that they had to do the same (Mark 6:31). But more often than we realize, when Jesus was "alone" in prayer, his disciples were by his side: "Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him" (Luke 9:18, italics added). Jesus made his spirituality visible. I am convinced that this explains the detailed Synoptic record of Jesus' prayer in Gethsemane (Matt. 26:36-46).

One of the chief things Jesus shows us in this prayer is God's desire for relationships. That is, at this point in the Gospel it is clear to us that Jesus is God's Son, but this means that he bears the presence of the Father in the world. He is not a courier sent from God, he is God-in-flesh. Yet within the personhood of God is a social dynamic, a desire for community, a yearning for conversation. Jesus talks at length to his Father, and we sense from his words that this is a conversation that has been going on for some time. One could expect from this divine Son a serene and silent tranquility, a composure formed from his intimacy with God, not needing any social intercourse or expression. But this is precisely what we do not find. Jesus lives in a conversation with the Father. "Words" are the medium of their shared life together (17:8).

This means that as we are invited into life with the Father, as the Father and the Son indwell us through Holy Spirit, spirituality is not a static experience. It is not a creedal position or a status any more than a marriage can be described as a "vocation" or a status. Marriage is not defined as sharing the same address. Marriage is about transparency and intimate union and life as one. Marriage is a conversation. It is the same here. The Christian life is a conversation, a dynamic relationship in which, as a result of our new birth, the talking begins. God's "word" now becomes the medium of our relationship too and with it, our talking develops an intimacy with profound social dimensions.


*This resource is an excerpt from The NIV Application Commentary on John by Gary Burge (Zondervan, 2000), pages 172-174