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November 7, 2023

John Part 47

We’ve spent the last 10 lessons, the better part of three months now looking at Jesus’ final words to His disciples, His final words to them before He goes to the cross.




John 17:1-5


We’ve spent the last 10 lessons, the better part of three months now looking at Jesus’ final words to His disciples, His final words to them before He goes to the cross. That lengthy discourse covers 4 chapters, several hours, from John Chapters 13 thru 16. Jesus wrapped up His talk with those wonderful words of hope at the end of Ch 16, “I have overcome the world.”

In Chapter 17 we have a transition. Between Jesus’ words to His disciples and His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane John records something very unique. In other places in the gospels we hear little snippets of Jesus’ prayers as He talks to His Father at various times during His life. But here, in John Ch 17, we have the complete transcript of one of Jesus’ prayers. And it’s a very significant prayer. In this prayer Jesus prays out loud in the presence of His disciples. It’s commonly known as the High Priestly Prayer because Jesus is our high priest and in this prayer He intercedes for us to the Father. In Hebrews Chapter 4 we read these words: “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (4:14-15) So bear that in mind as we look at Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer – Jesus knows us and He sympathizes with us. This prayer is divided into three parts – Jesus’ prayer for Himself (1-5), Jesus’ prayer for His 11 true disciples, for those who are there physically present with Him at this time (6-19), and then His prayer for the church, for us, for all who would follow Him moving forward (20-26). So I’m going to teach Ch 17 that way. We’ll look at the first part this morning, v 1-5, Jesus’ prayer for Himself.

A side note, something I found very interesting while I was preparing this lesson. Often the question comes up, “why are there 4 gospels?” Well they each give different perspectives on the life and ministry of Jesus. All were written by the eyewitnesses themselves or by those who wrote down second hand what the eyewitnesses told them. Here we have a great example. Matthew, Mark and Luke go directly from Jesus’ talking to the disciples in the upper room to Jesus going off to pray by Himself just prior to His arrest. Only John provides us with the details of what happens in the hours between – Jesus long discourse to His disciples and this High Priestly Prayer. So if you look at a harmony of the gospels this prayer here in John Ch 17 immediately precedes His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane where He gets alone with the Father and pours out His heart – “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36) I’ll point out the significance of that a bit later on.

So with that let’s look at the first part of Jesus’ high priestly prayer, John Chapter 17 v 1 thru 5. Jesus, the Son of God is talking to His Father and praying for Himself. Clearly He has the cross on His mind.

READ John 17:1-5

V 1, “When Jesus had spoken these words,” -- Chap 13-16, His words to His disciples

“He lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, "Father,” -- Jesus, God the Son who at this time is in human flesh lifts his human face to heaven, toward God the Father. So He’s praying to the Father. What is the relationship between Jesus and His Father? They are one. Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” (10:30) “the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” (10:38) “Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father.” (14:9) Although Jesus and the Father are one and equal, at this point in history Jesus has submitted Himself to the Father and has come to earth and taken on human flesh on a mission of redemption, to save fallen mankind from their sins. Philippians 2 tells us that Jesus “emptied Himself (set aside some of His divine privileges), by taking the form of a servant (in submission to the Father and being led by the Holy Spirit), being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Phil 2:7-8) So that’s the relationship the Jesus has with His Father at this time.

In the model prayer we call God, “Our Father.” Because of Jesus and our association with Him we also can call God, “Father.”

“the hour has come,” Jesus knows the cross is near. God’s plan of redemption is about to be fulfilled – Jesus will atone for sin once for all, the just for the unjust. The Lamb of God will be slain for the sins of the world. The whole reason Jesus came is about to be accomplished.

In John 12:23 Jesus says, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” And here in v 1 Jesus says, “Father, glorify your Son that the Son may glorify You.” Jesus is talking about the cross here. How is it that Jesus, the Son will be glorified by those awful events of the cross coming up in Ch 19? Well, Jesus actually answers this question for us in the next few verses of this passage. Jesus will be glorified by His death on the cross and in turn will glorify the Father in it. Jesus’ whole purpose for doing anything while He was on this earth was to please and to glorify His Father. And it was no different with the cross.

Let me suggest three ways that Jesus is glorified by what happens on the cross. The first way is mentioned in v 2-3 “since You (the Father) have given Him (Jesus, He’s speaking in the 3rd person) authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom You have given Him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

The first and most obvious way that Jesus is glorified by what takes place on the cross is this: what He does there, His death, provides you and me with eternal life. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Hebrews 9:26 says, “He (speaking of Jesus) has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” Jesus took away our sins by His death on the cross and therefore we can have eternal life. Jesus is life. This is a constant theme throughout the Gospel of John – 47 times! And eternal life or life eternal are mentioned 17 times. The whole purpose of John writing his gospel is expressed in John 20:31: “but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

Jesus is glorified by His death on the cross because it provides us with eternal life. Jesus gives us His definition of eternal life, v 3, “this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God.” Eternal life isn’t necessarily so much about quantity of life as it is about quality of life – it’s about us knowing the one true God.

There is a second reason why the cross glorifies Jesus. It’s found in v 4. “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.” Jesus has been completely obedient to the Father. He has done what God the Father asked Him to do. And “therefore,” Philippians 2 again tells us, “God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:9-11).

V 5 gives us a third reason why Jesus is glorified in His death on the cross. “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” Jesus knows that the cross completes His mission of redemption. Jesus knows that after He dies He will be resurrected and ascend back to the glory of heaven, restored to full fellowship and presence He enjoyed with the Father since eternity past. Mission accomplished! Back to heaven!

Application. I like what John MacArthur said about this passage and its significance for us: “Jesus bore all my sin. He took my life and gave me His. And from God's vantage point, He treated Jesus as if He'd lived my life, so He can treat me as if I lived His.” It’s a profound thought. It wasn’t just that Jesus died on the cross to pay for my sin, which He did. But it goes far beyond that in how it impacts my whole life and my relationship with God for eternity. When God looks at me He sees Jesus. Galatians 3:27 says we have “clothed ourselves with Christ.” God sees, not my righteousness – after all, my righteousness is as filthy rags (Isa 64:6) – but a righteousness which comes from faith in Christ (Phil 3:9). What Jesus did on the cross changed our lives forever because we believe and trust in what He did, His redemptive work, by faith. So let’s sing about what Jesus did on the cross, OK – “Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross” a great hymn by Fanny Crosby…

Verse 1:

Jesus, keep me near the cross;

there a precious fountain,

free to all, a healing stream,

flows from Calvary's mountain.

Verse 2:

Near the cross, a trembling soul,

love and mercy found me;

there the bright and morning star

sheds its beams around me.


In the cross, in the cross,

be my glory ever,

till my raptured soul shall find

rest beyond the river.

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John 17:1-5

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