A study series called Jesus Intercedes for Us for Wednesday evenings on John 17; Study ten – review and summary.
1. What are the three main parts of Jesus’ intercessory prayer? What is one thing about each section that either surprised you or impressed you and why?
The three main parts of Jesus prayer are: Jesus prays for himself in verses one through five, Jesus prays for his 12 disciples in verses six through 19, Jesus prays for all disciples in verses 20 through 26.
The thing that surprised and impressed me about section 1 is the relationship between Jesus’ prayer to be glorified and the cross. At the least, he is looking past the cross in his prayer to be glorified, a perfect illustration of Hebrews 12:2. But it seems more than that. It seems that he is including the cross as well as the exultation that follows in his prayer to be glorified. This would mean that he would be glorified through his sufferings as well as through his resurrection. This is a much deeper theology that really challenges our human way of thinking.
Have you ever had someone say to you, I think it’s selfish to pray about myself?” I’ve had people talk to me about that. The first section of this prayer contains a good answer. One person in our Bible study noted that Jesus prayed for himself. If Jesus prayed for himself, it encourages us also to be free to pray about our own requests!
Another person in our study noted that eternal life is one of the key concerns of the first section of this prayer. Jesus was given authority from his Father in order that we might receive eternal life.
The surprise for me in section 2 was the extent to which Jesus’ prayer presupposes his preexistence. The prayer presupposes transactions before Jesus came to earth when it mentions things given to Jesus by the Father. The prayer also presupposes Jesus’ preexistence when Jesus speaks of being sent into the world in verse 18.
What impressed me about section 2 was the sense of ownership over us that is presupposed in this prayer. Believers were given to Jesus by the Father. They belong to the Father. Jesus and the Father protect us because we are their own.
What surprised and impressed me in section 3 was the kind of unity that Jesus is praying for us. He is not simply praying for a good brotherly relationship. He is praying for something far more heavenly. He wants the relationship between believers to be like the love of the Trinity. That is a high standard indeed. No wonder he says that as his prayer is answered our joy will be full (v. 13).
2. All prayers reveal a great deal about the one who prays them. Jesus’ high priestly prayer is no exception. What did you learn about Jesus, or what facts about Jesus were reaffirmed as you studied John 17?
- As mentioned, Jesus prayer presupposes his preexistence with the Father (vv. 4, 5, 18, 24).
- Jesus and the Father are one (v.10,11,21,22).
- Jesus was carrying out orders while he was on earth (vv. 2, 4, 6, 8, 18).
- He came with a message from God (v. 8).
- Jesus came with authority from God (v. 13).
- Jesus was soon to return to the Father(vv. 11, 13, 24).
- Our Bible study noted that even though Jesus was about to suffer greatly, his prayers at this upper room moment were for others. It is a great example of the unselfishness of intercession.
- Our Bible study noted that Jesus was conscious of the spiritual battle. He spoke of how he had protected the disciples and prayed for our continued keeping from the evil one.
3. What was Jesus’ key request, one that was repeated several times, for his disciples corporately? What are some practical ways that we can be a part of the answer to that prayer of Jesus today?
Jesus’ key request for his disciples in the prayer is for their unity. Here are some ways I think that we can be a part of the answer to Jesus’ prayer.
- Do not look down on other denominational or nondenominational Christians who have different opinions about nonessential matters. God’s kingdom is much broader than any one denomination.
- Cooperate with other Christians whenever possible. Examples in our own church ministry include the annual Chittenango area Thanksgiving service, the CROP walk fundraiser for the hungry, and our mission trips in Romania where we are working with Romanian churches that are not specifically Wesleyan.
- Cooperate inside the church even though you don’t agree with everything. If we waited to find a group where we agreed with absolutely everything, nothing would ever be accomplished.
4. Review the requests that Jesus made for his disciples individually in verses 13-24. How does knowing these requests that Jesus has prayed and is praying for you encourage your spiritual life today?
In verses 13 through 24 there are several requests Jesus made for us. First, he prays that the full measure of his joy may be within us (v. 13). Secondly, he prays that God would protect us from the evil one (v. 15). Thirdly, he prays for our sanctification (vv. 17-19). Then he prays for our unity (vv. 21-23). Bound together with his prayer for our unity is his prayer that we may be in the Father and the Son (vv. 21,23). Finally he prays to his Father asking that we be able to be with him where he is someday and see his glory (v. 24).
Studying John 17 has been a tremendous prod to my own spiritual life in several ways. The prayer requests of Jesus set the goals for our own spiritual growth. These goals are little different from some of the ones we might set for ourselves. We tend to concentrate on knowledge, attendance, and perhaps prayers. While these are good, Jesus’ prayer prompts me to look at my relationships in the church (unity), my depth of commitment (sanctification), and the level of intimacy of my relationship with God (God in me and I in God). I notice that these latter three are a little less performance oriented and a little more about being and becoming.
The second thing that Jesus’ prayer does to encourage my spiritual life is to give me great assurance about how much I am valued by Jesus and by God himself. God sent his Son specifically to bring God’s message to me about who God is and how to get to know him. Jesus loved me so much that he sacrificed so much to deliver this message, even giving his life to complete the task. Jesus loves us so much that his prayers for us continue. No doubt as he intercedes in heaven now these same high priestly prayers are in his mind. This high sense of how God and Jesus value us makes me want to respond in love and discipleship on an even higher level than I have before.
5. Would you describe as the most important lesson for you, or the biggest take away for you from this study of John 17?
Jesus wants so much for me to succeed as his disciple, as a lover of God. He wants me to succeed, not as a Lone Ranger but as a part of his family of disciples. He came to bring the resources of heaven to help you and I flourish as his followers. Someday he wants to welcome us home to heaven where we can find rewards for our successful journey, even as Jesus was exalted for completing the task given to him.
Our Bible study noted that one of the repeated concepts of the prayer is glory. In the first section Jesus is praying to be glorified. He is praying for the return of the glory that he had before the world began (v. 5). In the second section, Jesus acknowledges that he has received glory because of his disciples (v. 10). And in the third section he mentions having given his disciples glory that had been given to him by the Father (v. 22). Then in verse 24 he prays that his disciples would one day see him in his glory. When you see this progression in Jesus prayer, you cannot help but be reminded of Paul’s explanation. “We, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Co 3:18 NIV).