After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.”
If there is a conversation in all of history that I would most like to have overheard, it would be this one: Jesus talking to His Father about His friends. In Jesus’ prayer we hear Him interceding not only for his disciples, but also for you and me today. Jesus seems to have deliberately prayed aloud in the presence of His disciples so that they could hear His love for those the Father had “given him”. He lifts up His eyes towards heaven, indicating His submission to the Father, and prays for His own.
The other gospels speak often about Jesus praying, but say little about what He said. We know that Jesus prayed all night before He chose the twelve disciples; He prayed for them often and long. But we know little about what He prayed. As He nears the hour when He will glorify the Father, Jesus pours out His heart for those He loves.
We can only be struck by Jesus’ selflessness, as just hours from death His thoughts and prayers are both for His Father’s glory and the wellbeing of His friends. Having planted His word in the disciples’ hearts, Jesus now waters the word with prayer. Many Bible commentators and preachers call this full prayer (John 17:1-26) the “Holy of Holies” of the Gospel story. We feel a sense of awe and humility as we enter here. Scottish churchman John Knox said of this prayer:“This is the place where I cast my first anchor”. Martin Luther said that it is a prayer “impossible to fathom in its profound significance, its wealth and its compass”. And John Stott adds that “the best we can do is but to paddle in its shallows”. Jesus’ prayer rivals the mystery of the Godhead.
The prayer gives a glimpse of Jesus’ intercessory prayers He offers up for us right now:
“Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us” (Romans 8:34).
“Jesus is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).
Jesus has walked in our shoes; He knows by experience the problems we face and the heartaches we feel. He who sits at the right hand of the Father is praying for you, ever drawing you close to the Father’s heart.
What are there in Jesus’ words today to know; to feel; to do?