Study 3 THE LORD’S GREAT PRAYER OF INTERCESSION
GREAT PRAYERS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
by Francis Dixon
Scripture Portion: John 17: 1-26
In John chapter 17 we have the record of what really is the Lord’s Prayer. The prayer in Matthew 6 is the prayer given by our Lord as a sample, or outline, for His followers. In John 17 we are on very holy ground (Exodus 3:2-5); and it will help us in studying this chapter to keep in mind two important verses - Hebrews 7:24-25 and John 11:42. Compare Matthew 14:23-33 and Luke 22:31-32. This then is our Lord’s prayer for His disciples throughout all time. What does He pray for His own? How does He pray for them? This prayer can be divided into three parts:
1. In verses 1-5, where the Lord prays for Himself, His Person is revealed.
Who is Jesus? See the answer to this important question:-
- (1) He is the Son of God (verse 1) – “Father …Son…” This is a unique relationship, for He was and is the eternal, one and only, Son of God (John 3:16) - one with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the unity of the Godhead.
- (2) He is the Saviour of the world (verse 1) – “the time has come”. The reference to ’the time’ relates to the period of time marked off in God’s calendar when the Saviour would die on the cross of Calvary for our sins (John 2:4; 7:30; 8:20 and 12:23 and 27).
- (3) He is the Giver of eternal life (verses 2 and 3). He came to give life to dead people - look up John 10:10, and compare John 5:24; Ephesians 2:1 and 1 John 5:11-12. He had authority to give this life to all who believe on Him (Matthew 28:18). Only as we know Christ can we know God (verse 3; and compare John 14:6).
- (4) He is the Finisher of redemption (verse 4). The time came, the work was completed, He lived a perfect life and died as a sacrifice for sin, and so He glorified God in His life and by His death. He finished the work that He had come to do (John 19:30) – compare Hebrews 9:26.
- (5) He is the pre-incarnate and eternal One. Verse 5 states this, for He was none other than the eternal Son - look up Psalm 90:2, and compare Micah 5:2; John 1:1-3 and John 8:56-58.
2. In verses 6-19, where our Lord prays for His first friends and followers, we have a description of some of the blessings which we as believers possess through faith in Him.
- (1) We are the Father’s love-gift to the Son. Notice in verse 6, “you gave them to me”; and in this chapter there are six other occasions where we are told this. We belong to the Lord Jesus by creation (Colossians 1:16); by redemption (1 Corinthians 6:20); and by donation, for we were given to Him by the Father.
- (2) We are the recipients of His words. Verse 8 is a very important verse, for implicit in the fact of His giving us His word is also the fact of our having received that word. The natural man cannot do this (1 Corinthians 2:14); but we, who have been born again, have received the word - compare verse 17 and also Ephesians 5:25-26.
- (3) We are secure in His keeping. Will the prayer of verse 9 be answered? Is verse 10 true? Will He keep us according to verse 11? Here the truth of the security of the believer is most emphatically stated - look up and compare John 10:28-29; 2 Timothy 1:12; 1 Peter 1:5 and Jude 24. In verse 15 the word ‘protect’ refers to our being kept from the Evil One (2 Timothy 4:18).
- (4) We share His own joy. The words the full measure of my joy in verse 13 gives the idea of a complete joy! - compare John 15:11. His joy was fullness of joy, and His joy becomes our joy - look up Nehemiah 8:10, Philippians 4:4.
- (5) We are consecrated to the Lord. Verse 19 is marvellous, for it tells us that our Lord voluntarily set Himself apart for the work of redemption so that we might be set apart for His possession and use. Having been set apart to the Lord in this way, we are no longer ”of the world”, any more than Christ Himself is ”of the world” – as verse 16 makes clear.
3. In verses 20-26, where our Lord prays for all who in every age would believe on Him, we have a clear statement of His desires for His people.
- (1) He prays that we may be spiritually united. Read verses 20-23. Our Lord does not pray for uniformity but for an organic unity of all believers. This is brought about by the miracle of 1 Corinthians 12:13. We do not have to organise unity or join any ecumenical movement to get it. We have this unity, and we must maintain it (Ephesians 4:3-6).
- (2) He prays that we may be channels of blessing to others. Notice this in verse 23, which should be linked with verse 21 and verse 18. All who know Him as Saviour and Lord are commissioned by Him to carry on His work and to be available to Him that He may carry on His work through them - look up John 14:12.
- (3) He prays that we may share the glory of Heaven with Him. Verse 24 should be read in connection with John 12:26; John 14:2-3; Luke 23:42-43; 1 Thessalonians 4:17 and Revelation 22:3.
- (4) He prays that His love may fill our lives. We see this in verses 25-26 – look up and compare Romans 5:8 and Ephesians 3:16-19.
- (5) He prays that we may know the power of His indwelling. As you conclude this study, meditate quietly on the last three words in verse 26 - and compare Galatians 2:20 and Colossians 1:29.