The Great High Priestly Prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ in John 17
Prayer • Sermon • Submitted • 1:10:42
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The Gospel of John, Chapter 17, also records our Lord’s prayer life, particularly His Great High Priestly Prayer, when he made intercession for His disciples and for all believers throughout the church age.
His prayer was for them to be protected, sanctified, and unified, and for His Father to be glorified.
This was our Lord’s longest recorded prayer, which occurred during His public ministry on earth and was offered in the presence of His apostles, after the institution and celebration of the Lord’s Supper, immediately following the Upper Room Discourse recorded in John 14-16.
Most consider the “Lord’s Prayer” the prayer Christ taught His disciples at the Sermon on the Mount but this Great High Priestly Prayer is truly the “Lord’s Prayer.”
In John 17, the veil concealing the Holy of Holies is drawn aside, and we are admitted with our Great High Priest into the “holiest of all.”
Therefore, let us approach this passage with reverence and humility, doing as Moses did before the burning bush and removing our shoes because we are on holy ground.
The Great High Priestly prayer of our Lord in John 17 was audibly spoken before His apostles in order that they, as well as all believers throughout history and the angels, might get a glimpse of the wonderful fellowship that exists between the Father and the Son.
John 17, and our Lord’s Prayer, can be divided into three parts: (1) the Lord prayed for Himself (John 17:1-5), (2) the Lord prayed for His disciples (John 17:6-19), and (3) the Lord prayed for future believers (John 17:20-26).
John 17 teaches us four principles concerning our privilege as a child of God.
They include, (1) sharing His life (John 17:1-5), (2) knowing His name (John 17:6-12), (3) having His Word (John 17:13-19), and (4) sharing His glory (John 17:20-26). John 17 also reveals the three-fold burden of our Lord’s Prayer: (1) security of the believer (John 17:6-12), (2) sanctity of the believer (John 17:13-19), and (3) unity of believers (John 17:20-26).
John 17:1 Jesus spoke these things [John 13-16]; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You.” (NASB95)
“Lifting up His eyes to heaven” is a typical Jewish gesture of prayer, whether offered to God or idols (Ps 121:1; 123:1; John 11:41).
The phrase “the hour as come; glorify Your Son that the Son may glorify You,” in John 17:1, refers to both the Father and the Son’s glorification through the Lord’s death, resurrection, ascension, and session at the Father’s right hand.
The ultimate objective of the Lord’s Prayer was the glorification of the Father.
Therefore, we, as the body and future bride of Christ, should have the same ultimate objective when offering intercessory prayers for others to the Father.
John 17:4 “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. 5 Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” (NASB95)
The glory our Lord was speaking of in John 17:5 was His “pre-incarnate” glory, meaning His glory as the Son of God before He became a human being.
The Lord Jesus Christ now turned His attention towards His disciples in John 17:6-8 and His prayer was based on their faith in Him.
The Lord Jesus Christ’s intercessory prayer in John 17:6-26 revealed His love and concern for His disciples and for every believer throughout the church age.
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.” (NASB95)
Like His Father, who is hidden on earth, the Lord Jesus Christ was in heaven previously hidden from view; but, after His incarnation, was made visible on earth as a man among men.
A three-fold relationship is described in John 17:6: (1) the Lord Jesus Christ is the One who reveals the character and nature of God, (2) the Father is the One who draws His disciples to Christ (John 6:44, 65), and (3) the men are the ones who obey the Father’s Word to believe in the Son.
John 17:7 “Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; 8 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. 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 10 and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them.” (NASB95)
The phrase “all things that are Mine, are Yours, and Yours are Mine” refers to our Lord’s equality with the Father (John 10:30; Col. 1:15, 19; 2:9).
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. 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.” (NASB95)
In John 17:13-19 the Lord emphasizes the fact that we have His Word and the “sanctity” of the believer.
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.” (NASB95)
The Lord Jesus Christ not only prayed to the Father for His disciple’s protection but also that they might experience joy in spite of coming conflict.
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. 15 I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.” (NASB95)
The Lord is requesting protection of His flock from Satan (cf. 2 Thess. 3:3; 1 John 2:14; 5:18-19)
John 17:16 “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” (NASB95)
In John 17:16-17, the Lord emphasized that we have His Word and, therefore, are sanctified in truth.
In John 17:16-17, the word “sanctify” is the verb hagiazo, which means, “to make holy, to sanctify, to consecrate.”
The principle here, therefore, is that the church believer is consecrated, dedicated, sanctified, and set apart for the exclusive use of God.
The phrase “in the truth” is composed of the preposition en, meaning “in,” and is followed by the articular instrumental form of the noun aletheia, meaning “truth.”
Therefore, the principle to note is the believer’s sanctification is accomplished by means of the Word of truth and other passages of Scripture teach this principle further (Eph 5:2, 25-27; 2 Th 2:13; 1 Pe 1:22-23; Ps 119:151-152; Eph 4:17).
John 17:19 “For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.” (NASB95)
The phrase “for their sakes I sanctify Myself” does not mean that the Lord intended to make Himself more holy than He already was; but rather, He was devoting Himself to the Father’s will in the interest of His work for the disciples.
His example of dedication and devotion to the Father’s will demonstrates His total and complete acceptance of the cross, and which dedication and devotion is the standard for the believer’s sanctification experientially.
Next, we see, in John 17:20-26, our Lord’s intercession for all future believers.
John 17:20 “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21 that they may all be one; even 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 sent Me.” (NASB95)
The Scriptures teach the Church the concept of unity by way of several analogies: (1) the last Adam and New Creation analogy, (2) the head and the body analogy, (3) the great Shepherd and sheep analogy, (4) the vine and the branches analogy, (5) the chief cornerstone and the stones of the building analogy, (6) the Great High Priest and royal priesthood analogy, (7) the Bridegroom and bride analogy, and (8) the King of kings and royal family of God analogy.
John 17:20 “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21 that they may all be one; even 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 sent Me. 22 The glory, which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; 23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” (NASB95)
John 17:24 is a reference to the believer’s future glorification in a resurrection body, which is called in theology, perfective sanctification, which refers to the church age believer receiving their resurrection body at the Rapture, i.e. the Resurrection of the Church (1 Co 15:53-54; Gal 6:8; 1 Pe 5:10; John 6:40).
John 17:25 “O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; 26 and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (NASB95)
In conclusion of our Lord’s Prayer in John 17, seven principles are revealed concerning believers: (1) believers are given to Christ out of the world (v.6), (2) believers are left in the world (v.11), (3) believers are not of the world (v.14), (4) believers are hated by the world (v.14), (5) believers are kept from the devil (v.15), (6) believers are sent into the world (v.18), and (7) believers are manifested in unity before the world (v.23).