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The High Priestly Prayer of Jesus - part 1

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Jesus’ High Priestly prayer

March 2, 2008 sermon


In today’s sermon we will enter into the holy of holies. We will hear the prayer of Jesus to His Father concerning us, those who have trusted Jesus as our personal Savior.

This is like Moses standing by the burning bush: where God tells him to take off his shoes, for it is holy ground. This is similar to Peter, James and John watching Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration; where they heard the Father and saw the Son. This is holy ground, a personal prayer of Jesus, the Son of God, to His Father. We cannot really appreciate this Chapter, until we have looked at all that Jesus said from Chapter 13 through Chapter 16. Now we are ready to enter this holy scene.

John 17:1-2 Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life.

Jesus spoke these things, what things – the things that He spoke in Chapters 13 through 16. Those things about washing their feet and being servants. Those things about sending the HS; those things about Him being the vine and we being the branches; those things about Satan coming, as the ruler of this world; those things about the world trying to trip them up, but His words keeping them on track.

Jesus then said “Father, the hour has come” – here is that time phrase again. Here we see Jesus looking intently at the cross; desiring to go to Calvary in order that He may give eternal life. In order for us to be saved and to receive eternal life, Jesus must die.

This was his hour of triumph over death and sin. Sin is part of the human nature. We inherited it from Adam. Without the death of a perfect sacrifice, you and I would die in our sins and would never see God. Jesus saw His death as glory. The world sees His death as a tragedy. Non-believers scoff, but Christians bow their knees in humble adoration to the loving Savior.

John 17:3 “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

Jesus defines eternal life – that is - to know God and His Son, Jesus, who came from the Father. Knowing God is not good enough. Those who claim to know God and reject Jesus are only kidding themselves. Eternal life is to know God and his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Anyone who says “I believe in God” is not saved because they still are rejecting God’s Son as their Savior. All religions believe in god. The demons also believe and tremble (James 2:19 – You believe that there is one God, you do well; the demons also believe and tremble). Man made gods are made by man so that man can be god of their lives.

John 17:4 “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.

Jesus, glorified the Father, by acting out all of the Scripture passages that referred to Him, His ministry and His ultimate goal of dying on the cross, as the suffering Savior. Jesus’ whole purpose was to glorify the Father. He accomplished all that was needed for your salvation.

Notice that Jesus has accomplished all the work that His Father had sent Him to do. Jesus looks past the agony to the Joy of victory.

John 17:5 “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

Jesus looks past the cross to His return to the bosom of the Father. The glorification of Jesus included the cross. Jesus is the express glory of God. Jesus revealed His glory to Peter, James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration. His glory was revealed and made an impression upon John, to the point that we read in

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of the only one of a kind Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Also notice, in 17:5, that Jesus is submitting to the Father. He knows what must be done and gives consent for the final sacrifice. The Lamb of God, now steps into the silent sacrificial phase of His ministry. Abraham’s statement “God will provide a lamb” is now imminent in being fulfilled.

Jesus is the very Word of God as expressed in John 1:1-4:

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:2 He was in the beginning with God.
John 1:3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
John 1:4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.

The one who with the Father and the Holy Spirit, created all the universe by His Word, as recorded in the first chapter of Genesis.

This Jesus is the God-man: the God of Creation as shown in

Jeremiah 10:10 But the Lord is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, And the nations cannot endure His indignation.

Jeremiah 10:12 It is He who made the earth by His power, Who established the world by His wisdom; And by His understanding He has stretched out the heavens.

John 17:6 “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.

Jesus has shown the disciples, the Father through Himself. Jesus revealed the Father to His disciples. To reveal His name is to reveal His attributes, His likeness, His very essence.

“If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father. (14:9)

The Only One of a Kind God, has revealed the Father to us.

Notice also that the Father gave the disciples to His Son. This is in direct contrast to how other teachers, in that day, chose their pupils. The teachers of those days always looked to how much the student could pay and support them before they would accept that student. No so with God. The Father draws the sinner to the Son. The Son reveals His plan of sacrifice to the sinner. The HS leads and guides the sinner into the truth of the cross. The sinner trust in the good news of Jesus and then the HS indwells the believer to seal him, guide him, and use him for the glory of God.

Also note the John writes that they have kept the Word, at the time of his writing this book. Jesus looked down the course of time to the writing of this book, 60 years later, and says “they have kept Your Word”. The Apostles were true to God and did not alter the Word of God. Through the ages, through the translations, we can know that Godly men have kept the Word of God intact for us today.

John is the last living Apostle and writes “we have kept the words of Jesus”, we have not allowed His words to be slandered nor changed. We can be assured that we have the very Words of God in our Bibles.

John 17:7-8 “Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me.

Jesus has revealed all we need to know, in the Words we have written down in our Bibles. Through the witness of the written Word of God, we can understand that Jesus came from the Father, on our behalf, to accomplish His One of a Kind mission. That Mission is - To save the lost family of Adam, from our sins.

Verse 8 again emphasizes the fact that if you are a Christian, you will believe that Jesus was sent by the Father, and He came forth from the Father. This does not mean that you will understand all there is to know about the Trinity, but you will be able to accept what God reveals to us in His Word, concerning the Holy Trinity.

Also note how important it is to know that Jesus came from the Father. These men and women will be subjected to cruel punishment, and yet they will sing praises to the Father as their lives are sacrificed. No one will offer their lives for something they do not believe in. The readers of this book, in the Apostle John’s day were suffering cruel punishment, at the hands of the world. All who suffer for Christ need to rest their head on this pillow of truth - Jesus came to us from the Father.

These early Christians have gone through and are going through the valley of death, as depicted in the Psalm 23. Jesus has given them a promise that they can ask anything in His name during this time of persecution (stated in John 16:24). The recorded letters and historical documents show that these Christians did not pray to be delivered out of these trials, but to faithfully go through the trials and not deny His name.

John 17:9 “I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours;

Jesus asks the Father on their/our behalf - those who have believed/trusted in Jesus Christ. What a privilege to have God the Son intercede for each one of us. Jesus is asking on our behalf. Jesus does not ask the Father for those who are not His, but He asks the Father for us, those who believe/trust in Jesus. Jesus acknowledged that the eleven belong to His Father. Notice that Judas has already left, at the end of the Passover meal, and was not present during any of these sayings of Jesus. Jesus only gives intimate information to those who belong to Him.

Jesus is asking on our behalf, because we will be rejected by the world and will suffer persecution for our faith in Christ. Jesus knows what we are going to go through, because He is the Good Shepherd who is leading the way through the dark valley of persecution.

What is Jesus asking on our behalf? All that we have seen so far, and we will see in verse 11; but first let’s read verse 10.

John 17:10 and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them.

Jesus states that He has been glorified in His disciples? How can that be? They will all desert Him; later that same night. Yes, but Jesus is looking past their failures in the flesh, to the time when they will be filled by the HS: and they will stand in front of the Jewish Religious Leaders, later on, to proclaim the gospel in a new bold way.

Jesus is also seeing the future when the disciples, then, as well as believers, today, will stand boldly as they are tortured and abused for the name of Jesus. You can almost see the pride of a Father; telling someone – Look at my children, they are following in My footsteps. They are doing as I ask them. When they are persecuted, they return blessings. When they see an enemy hurt, they help them. When they see an enemy thirsty, they give him drink. When they are persecuted, they bless their persecutors and ask God to forgive them. They send us hate, we send them love.

Jesus says “I am so proud of them”. For God to do this in one thing, but for us, who are weak and want to be on top of our circumstances, this can only happen if we truly submit our lives to a loving and faithful Savior.

John 17:11 “I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You, Holy Father: keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are.

Jesus prepares to go back to His Father, and asks the Father to protect the believers He left behind. This is the first Left Behind Series. The Bible is the first written record of the “Left Behind Series”. Yes, there will another one, yet to come, but for now, Jesus must leave His own and go back to His Father. But He will not leave us on our own. He not only will send the HS, but now, He asks the Father to protect His disciples during that interim time, until the HS comes. If Jesus would not have asked, these disciples would not have made it. They cannot survive against Satan on their own.

Now we see what Jesus asked – that we believers in Jesus Christ may be one – united. Praying for each other, forgiving offenses from other Christians, upholding the common faith, working in Christ’s Church for the good of the whole. Unity, oneness is possible when we are growing in Christ. If you see an upset Christian, you see someone who has taken their eyes off of Jesus. They have been tripped up by the world. They need forgiveness, understanding, love on our part.

Jesus asks the Father “Keep them in your name”. Jesus is asking the Father to protect His disciples as He goes to the cross. If Jesus does not ask, Satan could attack them and defeat the plan of God. So the Father will now protect the disciples, as Jesus goes forth to offer the perfect sacrifice for their sins. Then they can be filled with the Holy Spirit and be sealed from any destruction by the Devil.

John 17:12 “While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.

Again the reference that the Father gave the disciples directly to Jesus.

Teachers in that day did not select their students. The student selected the teacher and then went to the teacher proposing how much they would pay them in order to sit under their tutoring/teaching. But not so with Jesus. The Father gave the students to the Son; and they were a rag-tag bunch of misfits.

Notice also that Jesus guarded them so that none perished, none of the eleven. If Jesus does not protect them, they are done for. Satan can come in and have his way with them. They are powerless. We get a small glimpse of this in Luke 22:31-23

Luke 22: 31-32 And the Lord said “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he might sift you like wheat: but I have prayed for you, that your faith does not fail; and when you are converted, strengthen your brethren.”

But Jesus guarded them, and not one perished except Judas, the betrayer.

Notice also, in verse 12, that Jesus is acting out Scripture. All that is told of Jesus in the OT is fulfilled in Jesus, as He acts out the prophecies concerning Himself. There are still prophecies yet to be fulfilled concerning His second coming and His millennial reign.

John 17:13 “But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves.

Remember from the 16th chapter of John that our joy will come through a process similar to the birthing process. If we are to have Joy of Jesus made full within us, we must go through the tribulations of this world - which will crush us. This is a hard road in which you must bear your own cross. This is God’s plan. The trials are not from God, because God cannot sin nor is He the author of sin: but God allows these trials in our lives, so that, even though we are subjected to evil, good will result.

It is the joy of Jesus that will be made full in us – that same joy that He experienced in going to the cross in order that you and I might live eternally with Him. (Heb 12: -2)

John 17:14 “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

Jesus give us the Word of the Father: we have it recorded in our Bible. This Bible, that we have is God’s Word. In it, we find comfort to lay our head on after we have struggled with the world each day and encounter the problems of life.

Also notice that the world will hate us, not because we will be obnoxious, not because we deserve it; but because we are no longer from the world. We have been born again, transformed into little holy ones, a new creation. We now have the family trait of a heavenly family. The world is not our home, we are just passing through.

John 17:15 “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.

Jesus does not ask for us to be taken out of this world. When you receive Jesus as your Savior, you are left here to be His witness. The world will reject you and will not like you, if you tell them about Jesus. Our mission is to tell as many about Jesus as we can; to live faithfully for Jesus, until the Father allows our life to end here on earth. You will be a reminder to those who have rejected Jesus, that you are different. The HS will use you to interact within other peoples lives, so that they might see a difference in us. Some will want to come along on our journey to God’s throne.

Jesus asked the Father to keep us, those who trust Him as our Savior – to keep us from the evil one. We have power over Satan and his world system, because Jesus asked it from His Father. What a privilege to be a created being, made by God, with God’s blessing and God’s oversight into our lives.

So how do we apply these verses to our lives?


1. Remember that Jesus loves you, because you have accepted Him as your Savior

2. Your Heavenly Father loves you, because you love His Son.

3. Jesus is concerned about you, because you are special.

4. Jesus wants you to know that you were left here to be His witness.

5. The world will never accept you - the believer in Jesus Christ.

6. Jesus has given us the Word of God to be our guide, as we live for Him.

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