Last week, we began looking at the specific requests Jesus prayed for His children in the “Highly Priestly Prayer” of John 17. We covered the first three petitions in that essay, and we will look at the last three petitions in this one. If you missed last week’s blog, or would like to refresh your memory, you can access it here:
Let’s pick up with the fourth request Jesus made of His Father:
4. “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” (17:17)
“Sanctify” means “to make holy,” or “to purify.” Again, we are pointed to the Word of God as the means of accomplishing this. The New Living Translation puts it in these words: “Make them holy by Your truth; teach them Your word.” Ephesians 1:4 confirms the goal of holiness, saying that “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.” Jesus wants His children to be holy; but He makes it clear from this petition that it is a God-empowered process. We can try to be better human beings; to increase our level of “holiness” through our own efforts. But only God can truly sanctify us, and it is important to note that the truth of His Word is His chosen tool.
5. “…that they may all be one, just as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You…” (17:21)
The unity of the Church is obviously a priority for Jesus. As we saw last week in verse 11, the protection afforded by God’s name is given in order that we “may be one.” And later, in verse 22, Jesus says, “…that they may be one even as we are one.” Again, in verse 23 we read, “…that they may become perfectly one.” Four times in the space of 12 verses He repeats His desire that we would have oneness of spirit!
And the reason why this unity is so important?
“…so that the world may believe that You have sent Me” (v. 21); and again, “so that the world may know that You sent Me and loved them even as You loved Me” (v. 23).
And then there’s this:
Not once, not twice, but THREE times in the preceding chapters Jesus emphatically told the disciples, “I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other” (John 13:34, 15:12, 15:17). Each of the three times, He uses the word “command.” This is not optional! And in John 13:34, He gives the same reason we see above: that the world may know that we are His disciples.
It is a sad state of affairs when Christians are known more by what we take stands against than by what we are meant to take stands for—loving one another and loving our neighbors as ourselves.
But thankfully, the prayers of Jesus are ALWAYS answered!
This means we can be confident that one day, when God’s kingdom comes in all its glory and fullness, perfect unity among His people will be restored. In the meantime, we must do our part to bring about the fulfillment of His kingdom by seeking the unity that is so dear to our Savior’s heart.
6. “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, may be with Me where I am, to see My glory…” (17:24)
I met my husband-to-be at college, six hours away from my hometown. When he was finally able to visit my home with me, almost a year after we started dating, I remember how excited I was! I couldn’t wait to share with him all the people and places I had grown up with that were so special to me.
I hear that same excitement in Jesus’ voice as He expresses this desire to His Father—though magnified infinitely above anything Walter and I experienced long ago. Jesus cannot WAIT to show His Bride the magnificence of His home, and to reveal all the special places and people and surprises He has prepared for us! And we will have all eternity to enjoy it together.
Let’s fix our hopes and expectations less on here, and more on there.
Pondering the Prayer…
Over the last two weeks we have seen six specific requests that Jesus asked of the Father in His powerful John 17 prayer. Though at times it may seem like you are not yet seeing the answers to these prayers evident in your life, I encourage you to keep doing your part through obedience to God’s word; and trust that the petitions He has made on our behalf WILL ultimately be fulfilled.
Because praise God, the prayers of Jesus are ALWAYS answered!
“Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.
We would like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.
And yet, it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability— and that it may take a very long time.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God, our loving vine-dresser.”
--Pierre Teilhard de Chardin