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Jesus prays for all believers

My column this week is from John 17:20-26, “Jesus Prays for All Believers.”

Verse 20 – “My prayer is not for them alone, I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message.”

As you may recall, last week Jesus prayed for His disciples. Jesus says: I pray also for those who will believe in Me.” He had just spoken of the mission and the sanctification of His followers (John 17:18-19). Jesus was confident that they would spread the gospel, and He prayed for those who would believe as a result. All future believers are included in His prayer.

Verse 21 – “That all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.”

Jesus prayed that all people in the world would believe in Him and would become united as one. The unity of believers should have an effect on outsiders, to convince them of the mission of Christ. Jesus’ prayer is a rebuke of the groundless and often bitter divisions among believers.

Verse 22 – “I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are One;”

Jesus has given His glory to the people of the world, just as His Father gave it to Him. The glory of the Father and that of the Son are closely connected, and the death by which Jesus would glorify God would lead to eternal life for all believers. Believers are to be characterized by humility and service, just as Christ was, and it is on them that God’s glory rests. Jesus wants all believers to be one in unity just as He and The Father are One. Again the Lord emphasized the importance of unity among His followers, and again the standard is the unity of the Father and the Son.

Verse 23 – “I in them and You in Me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.”

I in them and You in Me; There are two indwelling: that of the Son in believers, and that of the Father in the Son. It is because the latter is a reality that the former can take place. Complete unity, again the emphasis on unity has an evangelistic aim. This time it is connected not only with the mission of Jesus but also with God’s love for people and for Christ.

Verse 24 – “Father, I want those You have given Me to be with Me where I am, and to see My glory, the glory You have given Me because You loved Me before the creation of the world.”

I want means “I will that.” Jesus said, “I will”—His last will and testament for His followers. Where He Himself was concerned, He prayed, “not what I will, but what You will” (see Mark 14:36). The Christian’s greatest blessing is to be with Jesus Christ. My glory, perhaps used here to refer to Jesus’ eternal splendor (see John 3:21). Or Jesus’ prayer may have been that in the life to come they might fully appreciate the glory of His lowly service (see Ephesians 2:7).

Verses 25, 26, – “Righteous Father, though the world does not know You, I know You, and they know that You have sent Me. I have made You known to them, and will continue to make You known in order that the love You have for Me may be in them and that I Myself may be in them.”

Righteous Father, a form of address found only here in the New Testament (“Holy Father,” in John 17:11). They did not know God directly and personally, but they knew God had sent Christ. To recognize God in Christ’s mission is a great advance over anything the world can know.

My prayer: O Lord: Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law He meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Not so the wicked!

They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. Amen. (Psalm 1).

Scripture and commentary from The NIV Study Bible.

Next week’s column will be from John 18:1-11, “Jesus Arrested.”

You can reach Dick at hhester@twc.com.

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