Read the Text
Intro to John 17:
Perhaps y\’all are aware of the “Lord’s Prayer” in Matt. 6:9-13 but that section of scripture is a prayer taught to the disciples by Jesus as a pattern for their prayers. John, here, records what is truly the Lord’s Prayer. There is very little is recorded in regards to the content of Jesus’ prayers; thus this is a particular portion of scripture that deserves its due diligence.
This is also a transition chapter from the very end of Jesus\’ public ministry and the start of His fulfillment in the role of accomplishing redemption.
In many ways, this chapter also serves as a summation of John’s Gospel with themes like:
Jesus\’ obedience to the Father
The glorification of His Father through his death
The revelation of God in Jesus
The gathering of the disciples out of the world
Their mission to the world
Their unity modeled/rooted in the unity of the Father and the Son
The believer’s final destiny in the presence of the Father and Son.
Jesus\’ prayer for Himself
It’s worth noting within the chapter the titles/names of God that Jesus uses here.
Father (4): 17:1, 5, 21, 24
The only true God (1): 17:3
Holy Father (1): 17:11
Righteous Father (1): 17:25
Why do y’all think that Jesus used these names of God in particular before going to the cross? Rather than, “Loving father” or “God of all comfort”?
Very likely it would be because God’s exclusivity, Fatherhood to Jesus, Holiness & Righteousness were about to be shown to the world on full display upon his crucifixion. Jesus is foreshadowing this.
Notice particularly, that in Jesus\’ prayer for Himself He calls upon God’s “Fatherhood” no less than 5 times.
In Jesus\’ hour of greatest suffering, He leads upon the intimacy between Him and God to strengthen Him the most. Our Earthly fathers no doubt failed us at some point within our time under their care Jesus knew that His Father would never fail Him and that this suffering/trial He was about to endure was not only to the design and benefit of Himself but to God the Father and to all whom the Father gave Him (IE the Church).
Let us, likewise, be quick to call upon our Father in suffering.
According to this verse, what benefit do we have by being given to Jesus by God?
Eternal life. Forgiveness. Redemption.
Does this verse say anything about how we contributed to our salvation?
No. Therefore, salvation is truly a gift of God by His grace alone and not our works/merits.
What is Jesus\’ definition of eternal life according to this verse?
Knowing God. In essence, it is participation in the life of Jesus within every believer.
Out of curiosity, how would you define/explain eternal life to an unbeliever if they asked?
[Let them answer]
The work Jesus was sent to do was, obviously, to grant/give eternal life to those whom the Father gave Him. [you may talk about what it means for the Father to grant Jesus ability “to give eternal life to all whom the Father gave him” should you so chose.]
“before the world existed.” “before the foundation of the world” (17:24).
It\’s interesting that Jesus should link His glory in the presence of the trinity to the Father’s love for Jesus and therefore the believers before the foundation of the world.
In essence, our salvation is founded on the intimacy/love between all 3 heads of the Trinity.
Jesus\’ prayer for the disciples
A callback to one of the disciples in John 16:29-30
“I am no longer in the world” So sure was His death and departure back to God that Jesus treated His departure as an already accomplished fact. He prayed here for His disciples because they would have to face the world’s temptation and hatred without his immediate presence and protection. Based upon the eternal nature of immutable God (“name”), he prayed for the eternal security of those who believed and that they would be unified just as the Trinity is unified. Our confidence lays in the mercy of God; not in ourselves.
Do y’all fear death?
It is a sobering, awesome [I mean “awesome” literally. IE “full of awe”] thing. But the Lord did not fear His death because He knew God and knew that His friends, their lives, and their salvation were in His Father’s eternal hands. Likewise, your lives and salvation are in the Father’s hands; you need not to worry or be fearful of death for on the other side of eternity is what you have longingly waited for.
Application: Take a moment tonight [or at the end of lesson] to soberly thing of your death. To quote the psalmist, “teach me to number my days that I should know you, God.”
“keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.”
Whats Jesus pray for the disciples here?
What\’shats it mean for the disciples to be one?
One, as in unified, in the truth of God, love of God, faith in God.
It\’s worth noting that most of those who wish to do away with denominations will refer to this verse; saying that Jesus was praying for us to be unified in how we exercise the truth of the scripture (IE how we worship). We know from James that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. And I’d hate to think that, somehow, Jesus-who is the most righteous person of all- still hasn’t had His prayer answered. We are to be united in Spirit and truth first and foremost.
“the son of destruction” Who is Jesus talking about?
So that the scripture might be fulfilled. And I think Jesus is referring to Psalm 41:10, particularly verse 9 where David writes, “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who are my bread, has lifted his heel against me.” Because Jesus quotes this verse in John 13:18.
But wait, Jesus just said in verse, “…Father keep them in your name, which you have given me…” So why did Judas fall away?
Answer: God gave us/believers to Jesus. Jesus prayed that those given to Him would not fall away. Therefore, Judas was not given to Jesus and thus, fell away.
So having established that Judas did not believe let\’s talk about how we should believe/how we should not believe like Judas?
According to verse 12, how do we become children of God?
By believing in Him.
And how do we believe in Him?
We receive Him.
What\’s it mean to receive Him?
To believe in Him. “Him” as in nothing more and nothing less than what He has revealed Himself to be to us.
And how do we know all that He is for us?
Diligent study of His word and delight/love for Him.
What are yall\’s thoughts on the Christian monstera, “we in are in the world but not of it”?
[let them answer]
Ok given what we just said let\’s look at 17:18. What’s Jesus saying about the disciples here?
That we’re sent into the world.
So in light of 17:18, its not just a matter of being “in the world” but, moreover, being sent into it. So in reality, its “not of, but sent into the world”
What\’s it mean that the disciples, and therefore us, are sent into the world?
God sent Jesus into the world and Jesus, therefore, sends us. God sent Jesus to grant eternal life to all who believe. We are to merely tell of this great salvation to sinners by a merciful God.
If someone were to come up and ask you, “why should I convert to Christianity?” what would your response be to them?
[Let them answer. Feel free to push them further on this question or ask a lot of followup questions as well]
Let\’s talk about 17:19, what does it mean that Jesus sanctified/consecrated Himself?
He set Himself apart for holy service to God. IE He was totally set apart to do the Father’s will.
And why did Jesus set Himself apart?
So that we would also be set apart for the will of God. Jesus died to have redemption accomplished and, in His death, He also brought the application of His redemption to believers.
Jesus not only died for the believer’s sins but also that the believer could live a life for God. Jesus died so that the believer could be made more and more holy to prepare them for heaven one day. Moreover, Jesus died to guarantee the security of your salvation; likewise, He also died to guarantee you sanctification/consecration also.
Jesus\’ prayer for all the NT believers who will form the Church.
In this last section, Jesus prays for you, dear believer. If any portion of scripture should have your ears perk up its this one.
So all that Jesus just prayed for His disciples/the 11 just in the previous section also applies to you.
It strikes me as odd that of all the things that Jesus prayed for its that the world is to see our one-ness/unity and believe that because of that unity the Christ came from God.
Why do you think Jesus prayed that of all possible things?
Perhaps as a testament to His power or to His truthfulness or reality.
Given Jesus\’ prayer here, does the world see us, and our actions, and recognize that we are in God?
[Let them answer. Feel free to push them further on this question or ask a lot of followup questions as well].
What was Jesus\’ glory that was given to Him?
His suffering and death.
For what reason did Jesus give us His glory?
“so that they may be one even as we are one” It would seem our suffering for God creates unity amongst the Church. Why do yall think that is?
[Let them answer]
“perfectly one” The idea here is that they may be brought together in the same spiritual life around he truth that saves. And here we also see God’s particular love for His people when Jesus says, “…and loved them even as you loved me” and, “…because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”
So with the particular love that God has for Jesus that same love is now given to us. As the Trinitarian members are eternal so it is their love for one another. And, given this verse, so is God’s love for His Church; He has never not loved her and He will never stop loving her.
[Potential application: At the end of the lesson, consider spending some time meditating on the eternal love God has for the Church]
How does Jesus “continue” to make God known?
He will make God known through the work on the cross that He is about to do.
But notice Jesus says, “I will continue” with the love that the Father has for Him and by Jesus being “in them”
Jesus works in you even now to make God known.