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Gospel of John - Chapter Seventeen
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Pastor Ovid Need
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This is the last of these four intensely doctrinal chapters. Chapters 14:1-16:33 was His final discourse (sermon, lecture, teaching) to these eleven men. This chapter is the prayer which closes the preceding message; it has rightly been called Christ's "High Priestly Prayer." The prayer recorded here much better fits the description of the "Lord's Prayer." Chapter 17 is probably the most difficult of all the chapters in John, except maybe chapter 6.
These four chapters are giving the sum total of His 3 1/2 years of instruction to these men. We can safely call these three chapters containing His sermon and this final prayer, their "Commencement Exercise," as their Teacher gives them their final charge. His last illustration was on humility as He washed their feet. His last message emphasizes along with the humility, love toward God and one another.
Now He lifts His eyes toward heaven, and prays. He knows that His hour has come. Up until now, His enemies had no power over Him. Now that His job is complete, His enemies can (and will) kill him. Yet even in this death, it is all within the plan and purpose of the Father. His death had to be in accord with all that was spoken of in the law, prophets and the psalms.
1. Note here that it is within just a few hours of His death at the hands of wicked men, yet what does He say has been given to Him by the Father, v. 2?
a. As a result, what does the Son have power to give, v. 2?
(The listed cross references for this verse are interesting. Ps. 2:6; Dan. 7:14; Mt. 11:27. These all seem to be in effect BEFORE His death. [Of course they are: Christ was the Creator and Ruler before the beginning.])
2. What is a result of knowing the true God and Jesus Christ, whom the Father sent, v. 3?
(As we have already discussed, this is far more than just knowing a historical fact.)
3. How did Christ glorify the Father, (Jn. 5:19, 20; 8:29; Lk. 22:42), v. 4?
In this final message, the Lord spoke a great deal about this point, which is very basis of all His work here on earth. This is the foundation of His final lesson here and, as we see, the basis of His prayer for His disciples (of all time, v. 20). We cannot emphasize v. 4 enough. The Christian virtues the Lord prays to His Father to be developed in His followers are based in the principle of this verse. These virtues are not identified as an estatic experience of emotions, but are identified as a "fringe benefit" that is developed in His people as they do what Jesus did here in v. 4.
a. How do His people glorify the Father, (and the Son, 17:10), 15:7-10; 16:13, 14? ______________________
The world (sinful people), flesh and the devil will fight the believer every step of the way. Thus it is as difficult to develop these Christian virtues as it is to bring every thought into accord with Philippians 4:7, 8.
4. Jesus is asking to receive again the glory He once had with the Father. By taking v. 4 and v. 5 together, and some other passages, we can see what He meant here. What is God's condition (requirement), upon being exalted, Ja. 4:10; 1 Pet. 5:5, 6?
a. How did Jesus do this, (Jn. 17:4), Ph. 2:8?
5. Manifested thy name... Everything that can be known about the Heavenly Father by man is made known by Christ. The Father's personality (Holy, Just, Love, etc.), His law, His nature, etc. How did Jesus manifest the Father's name (compare v. 4 with v. 6. Also check Jn. 3:21; 8:29-31; 9:3, 4; 10:38; 12:49; 14:21, 22; 17:8 which we have already covered)?
a. How did the disciples know v. 7? See v. 8 and 14:8-11.
The principles here in vv. 1-7 are vital in order for the rest to fit together.
6. Who is Jesus praying for, v. 9?
a. Who else is He praying for, v. 20?
7. Glorified... How is the Father and the Son glorified in His people, Matt. 5:15, 16?
Now some things that Jesus is asking His Father to do. We should keep in mind that these requests are grounded in the instructions from 13:1 to 17:36. Even including the foot washing, which was done to deal with contention and divisions that had arisen among the disciples. The rest of the Scripture is also the basis for this request (prayer).
Jesus is departing, and is leaving His followers among wicked men who will be against them. While Jesus was here, He protected them from the wicked desires and devices of sinners. Because He will not be here, He requests that the Father would keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me.
In accord with the context and other passages, He is not praying that they would be safe from trials, tribulations and difficulties of all kinds, though "escape" seems to be taught here, and "escape" is how many like to teach it. Salvation is not deliverance from these difficulties. To say such is contrary to passages like Jn. 15:20 and I Pet. 1:7.
8. If He is not praying for His followers to be removed from their difficulties, what is He praying that His followers will be delivered from 17:15?
Let us look at evil for a moment. Rev. 3:10 tells us that those who keep His word will be kept from temptation. Matt. 6:13 identifies temptation with evil. A quick summary: The Lord is preparing for His departure. Up to this time, He has been close at hand to keep these men in line (remember the bickering over who would be the greatest?). He will no longer be with them to keep them in line, but He has left His word (15:11), and will send His Spirit (14:26), to them to do this. He is now praying that His followers of all time will be delivered from the evil that would cause them to depart from following His Word and His Spirit. 17:12 confirms this, as Judas departed from following Christ. The prayer here is that the Father would strengthen His people so that they would not turn away as Judas did.
They would have hatred from the world, Jn. 17:14. They would have many trials, 1 Pet. 1:7. They would have the traditions of their past pulling at them, 1 Pet. 1:18-22; 2:11. There would be many false teachers, 1 Pet. 2:1-4. As we search the Scriptures, we find MANY things that present temptations to get His followers to depart from following His Word and His Spirit (15:10).
V. 11, the prayer here for His disciples is for the Father to strengthen them by His Spirit of grace, enabling them to remain true to His Word (Commandments), even to the death. In other words, "Father, keep them strong in the midst of the evil around them, so that they will not be lost as was Judas. (He adds that Judas was lost from the beginning.) Strengthen them, Father, that they may be able to glorify You in the midst of this crooked and perverse generation." (Ph. 2:15.)
a. What will be a result (Christian virtue) of His peoples' common dedication to remain pure, holy, and righteous in the midst of the evil and wickedness around them, Jn. 17:11c?
b. Not only will His people have a common dedication, but what else will they have, v. 14?
1.) Why, Jn. 14:21, 23; II Tim. 3:12?
c. What is another Christian virtue from this common dedication to live a godly life (according to His commands), v. 26?
V. 17, as His people are sanctified (set apart from sin unto godliness, accomplished through His Word, Truthas they study it, their sins are revealed and they depart from them to godliness), the world will persecute them. His prayer is that the Father will strengthen and keep them in that persecution, that they will remain faithful and not allow evil to overtake them. Every believer of every period of time is included in His request.
9. Why did Jesus sanctify (set Himself apart to the Fathers will), Himself, v. 19?
Because of what He did, we now have the desire, power and direction to walk pleasing to Him. (Rom. 12:1, 2; 1 Pet. 2:21.)
Vv. 20-23, as His people have a common dedication to please the Father, they will face similar hate from sinners; they will face common tribulations and trials; they will be joined together "in their spirits". Those outside of the covenant (believers), will see this common dedication to the Word of God, Jn. 13:34, 35, and glorify the Father which is in heaven, Matt. 5:16.
10. How are evil men put to silence, 1 Pet. 2:15; 3:1, (I Cor. 15:34)?
Our Lord finishes His prayer with a statement that He has declared the Father's name through His words and works. He will continue to declare it even through the believers. His obedience resulted in the Father's love toward Him.
This prayer is a prayer that EVERY CHILD OF GOD needs. It is a prayer for God's strength and grace to keep His people faithful to His Word in the face of all the wickedness and evil which sinners, the flesh and the devil, can throw at them to influence them to give up and turn back.
May we have the strength to abide in His love no matter what, even to the death if need be.
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