“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me…that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17: 24-26
These verses are the conclusion of John 17 and the end of the section we call “The High Priestly Prayer” of Jesus, so called because this extended prayer finds Jesus interceding for his followers – in every age – before the Father. In doing so, he is fulfilling the role of the Old Testament high priest to seek the forgiveness of his peoples’ sins and offer a blood sacrifice on their behalf. Of course, he is the only High Priest in all of history who was both the priest and the sacrifice!
The preceding four chapters describe the Last Supper and an extended time of teaching, where Jesus reassures the disciples (and us!) of the depth of his love and the extent of his protection. All of these chapters lay bare the strikingly tender heart of the Savior. The trajectory he is on here leads, in a matter of hours, to the cross. Yet, his heart, his love, his prayer is for us. What wondrous love is this!
So much rich theology and clear teaching resides here. Before he leaves them, Jesus explains everything about who he is, what they have been experiencing for three years, and what will happen in the days ahead. I imagine the disciples’ heads were spinning as the Lord unpacked all this. They could be forgiven for not taking it all in and only piecing it together after the resurrection. But before Jesus was hauled off to his midnight trial, not one of them would have doubted that he loved them.
But let’s think, briefly, about just two things that this prayer shows us.
First, as we spend time in prayer, we’re most likely distracted and unsure of what to pray for or how to pray.
That’s just real life and everyone lives here. Obviously, we want our prayers to include elements of praise and gratitude, and intercession for others we care about. That’s all good, and we should pray that way. But – what if we were to pray through John 17 echoing and agreeing with Jesus’ prayer to the Father, aligning our thoughts and desires with his.
Every verse in this chapter has an opportunity to do that – an example would be verse 17:
“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth,” where we might pray, with Jesus, “Father, give me a new love for your word and new eyes to see the truth in it. Help me embrace the rock-solid truth of your word and be set apart for service to your Name and your mission.”
By praying with Jesus as he prays for us, our hearts will align with his and his work will be accomplished in us.
This, quite simply, is what we were made for.
Second, look for a moment at how Jesus prays for us in the verses above, as he concludes this prayer.
Do you see anything there that refers to success or comfort, prosperity or health, or even long life? When Jesus prays to the Father for you, he asks for three things: that you see his glory, that you experience his love, and that you have his Spirit in you.
This is profound. The things that matter most to God have everything to do with relationship and eternity and almost nothing to do with quality of life in this world. His provision, Jesus tells us in the heart of the Sermon on the Mount, is extravagant and continuous, and this confidence frees us to pursue him rather than the temporal things that the world values (Matt 6:25-34).
Real life, for Jesus and for us, extends far beyond the here and now, and real joy flows from the well of his glory and our satisfaction in that. If we pray like this – with the One who answers prayer – we can be certain our prayer will be heard, delighted in, and answered in ways we have yet to imagine. Thank you Jesus!