Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”.
The day before he was crucified, Jesus prayed the prayer in John 17. He begins, “Father, the hour has come…. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.” Jesus announced that his work on earth was finished. He had a clear sense of God’s to-do list for him, and he did it all.
I’m more like Calvin, of Calvin and Hobbes, who said, “God put me on earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now, I am so far behind I will never die.” For Jesus, dying the next day was part of the work God gave him to do. Oddly enough, in the whole gospel of John, Jesus never said clearly he was expecting to die. He left it to the gospel writer John, to explain his puzzling predictions. For example, when Jesus said he would be “lifted up from the earth,” John explains that he was describing death on a cross (John 12:32-33).
Let’s look briefly at three requests in Jesus’ prayer in John 17.
First he prays for himself saying, “Glorify me, God, so I can glorify you.” On meaning of “glory” is “beautiful” or “majestic” as in “a glorious sunrise”. It is also used of fame or success, like when a sports star “covers himself in glory.” Or more commonly with the teams I support, the commentator says, “They sure didn’t cover themselves with glory today!”
I think the glory Jesus prays for is the success of the work he plans to do by dying and rising again. Jesus wants this great finale of his ministry to cover himself and God in glory. And then he wants to return to the glory he came from, a place of beauty and majesty and splendor in God’s presence in heaven.
Second, Jesus prays that God will protect the disciples from the evil one and sanctify them by the truth. He recognizes how dangerous the evil one or other enemies will be as they try to subvert the disciples’ mission or kill them. Failure may come from discouragement, unbelief, or moral failure within, or from persecution without.
Jesus prays for his disciples: “Father, they are not of the world. Sanctify them by your truth.” The disciples will live in the world as Jesus did, but he prays that their strength and identity will come from outside the world, from the truth that resides in God.
Third, Jesus prays for future believers–those who will receive the disciples’ message. He prays they will experience complete unity, in the same way Jesus is in God and God is in Jesus. Given the disunity in the worldwide Christian church today, it seems to me this prayer has gone unanswered for 2100 years. I hope the answer will come during our lifetime.
Our father, we pray for our mission as Jesus prayed for his. Our lives and work look small and mundane and unimportant. When at last we bring them to your judgement, may we hear you say, “Well done.” May we be covered in glory.
We pray for all your servants as Jesus did. Protect us from the evil one. Sanctify us by your truth, for your word is truth.
We pray for the church using the Anglican liturgy:
your one holy catholic and apostolic Church,
redeemed by the blood of your Christ.
Reveal its unity, guard its faith, and preserve it in peace” (The Book of Alternative Services of the Anglican Church of Canada. Toronto: ABC publishing, 1985. 195.)
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.