Jesus, God’s Servant: John 17:1-26

Focus Passage: John 17:1-26 (CEV)

After Jesus had finished speaking to his disciples, he looked up toward heaven and prayed:

Father, the time has come for you to bring glory to your Son, in order that he may bring glory to you. And you gave him power over all people, so that he would give eternal life to everyone you give him. Eternal life is to know you, the only true God, and to know Jesus Christ, the one you sent. I have brought glory to you here on earth by doing everything you gave me to do. Now, Father, give me back the glory that I had with you before the world was created.

You have given me some followers from this world, and I have shown them what you are like. They were yours, but you gave them to me, and they have obeyed you. They know that you gave me everything I have. I told my followers what you told me, and they accepted it. They know that I came from you, and they believe that you are the one who sent me. I am praying for them, but not for those who belong to this world. My followers belong to you, and I am praying for them. 10 All that I have is yours, and all that you have is mine, and they will bring glory to me.

11 Holy Father, I am no longer in the world. I am coming to you, but my followers are still in the world. So keep them safe by the power of the name that you have given me. Then they will be one with each other, just as you and I are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them safe by the power you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost, except the one who had to be lost. This happened so that what the Scriptures say would come true.

13 I am on my way to you. But I say these things while I am still in the world, so that my followers will have the same complete joy that I do. 14 I have told them your message. But the people of this world hate them, because they don’t belong to this world, just as I don’t.

15 Father, I don’t ask you to take my followers out of the world, but keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They don’t belong to this world, and neither do I. 17 Your word is the truth. So let this truth make them completely yours. 18 I am sending them into the world, just as you sent me. 19 I have given myself completely for their sake, so that they may belong completely to the truth.

20 I am not praying just for these followers. I am also praying for everyone else who will have faith because of what my followers will say about me. 21 I want all of them to be one with each other, just as I am one with you and you are one with me. I also want them to be one with us. Then the people of this world will believe that you sent me.

22 I have honored my followers in the same way that you honored me, in order that they may be one with each other, just as we are one. 23 I am one with them, and you are one with me, so that they may become completely one. Then this world’s people will know that you sent me. They will know that you love my followers as much as you love me.

24 Father, I want everyone you have given me to be with me, wherever I am. Then they will see the glory that you have given me, because you loved me before the world was created. 25 Good Father, the people of this world don’t know you. But I know you, and my followers know that you sent me. 26 I told them what you are like, and I will tell them even more. Then the love that you have for me will become part of them, and I will be one with them.

Read John 17:1-26 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

During one of His prayers on the night He was arrested, Jesus extends His focus past the immediate circumstances that He would face that weekend, and He prays for the small group of disciples and He gives these disciples a new identity. While the disciples began as a scattered collection of unique personalities, with the new identity Jesus gives them, they helped change history.

John, one of these disciples, writes in his gospel what Jesus prayed. John tells us that in His prayer, Jesus prayed to the Father saying, “You have given me some followers from this world, and I have shown them what you are like. They were yours, but you gave them to me, and they have obeyed you. They know that you gave me everything I have. I told my followers what you told me, and they accepted it. They know that I came from you, and they believe that you are the one who sent me. I am praying for them, but not for those who belong to this world. My followers belong to you, and I am praying for them. All that I have is yours, and all that you have is mine, and they will bring glory to me.” (v. 6-10)

In these few statements, Jesus shifts the focus of the identity of His followers out of belonging to the world, and into being a member of God’s family. In a subtle way, Jesus shares how those who choose to follow Him shift their allegiance towards God. It is as though Jesus shares that it is impossible to truly follow Him while also rejecting God the Father. Some people believe the God of the Old Testament is mean, while Jesus came to be the nice God.

But everything implied in these verses says the exact opposite. Before Jesus came into the world, all of His followers were God’s. Jesus opened this portion of His prayer by saying, “You have given me some followers from this world…They were yours, but you gave them to me…” (v. 6)

However, Jesus doesn’t collect followers to keep followers. Instead, He returns them to God when He says, “My followers belong to you.” And “All that I have is yours.” (v. 9b, 10a)

In this prayer, Jesus shares a portion of His mission that focused on serving. Jesus summarizes His ministry to the disciples up to this point by describing in this prayer that He has shown them what God is like and that He has told His followers what God had shared with Him. (v. 6b, 8a)

But Jesus’ prayer is exclusive. In His prayer, Jesus clearly states, “I am praying for them [His followers], but not for those who belong to this world. My followers belong to you, and I am praying for them.” (v. 9)

In Jesus’ prayer, He shares how He is loyal to those who have chosen to follow God, and His prayer is for His followers. The disciples were about to experience a night they would never forget, and Jesus prays for them specifically. Jesus excludes those who have chosen to reject Him and/or God the Father.

When Jesus entered the world, He knew that not everyone would accept Him, and He knew that entrance into the world would ultimately mean death. But that didn’t stop Him from coming.

Jesus came to draw God’s followers together and to give them a picture of who God is and what He is like. He knew that some people would be able to see this picture clearly, while others would be confused by it. Jesus prays that His followers will bring God glory – and that is something only Jesus’ followers can do.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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