20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
(John 17:20-26 NIV)
As we noted yesterday and the day before, the entire text of Chapter 17 is Jesus’ final prayer with His disciples. In verses 1 – 5, Jesus prayed for Himself, focusing on two themes: unity and glory.
In verses 6 – 19, Jesus switched the focus of His prayer from Himself to His disciples. Jesus’ prayer for His disciples is unity and protection.
In today’s passage, Jesus concludes by praying for all future generations who would believe in Him as Messiah. Jesus’ focus returns to where He started: unity and glory.
Let’s stop for a moment and retrace the steps of Jesus’ prayer. The Father gave Jesus a mission to leave eternity and to enter space and time and humanity to share the Father’s love with all who would listen. Jesus invested time in countless people, primarily focusing His message and modeling His words with eleven men. Jesus has finished this work (v. 4) and is now ready to return to eternity and be with the Father again.
Jesus then prays for His disciples, these eleven men He had invested in and is sending to repeat His message of faith in Christ and love to all who would listen (vv. 6 – 9).
Now Jesus is praying for everyone in future generations that would hear the message of Christ and believe in Him as Messiah by way of these eleven men (vv. 20 – 21).
What Jesus laid out here in His prayer is the process of discipleship. Jesus came to earth and invested in eleven men, who then invested themselves in countless others. Those others then shared their time and life and the message of Christ with others.
If we name the name of Christ and believe in Him as Messiah, then we are the beneficiaries of this discipleship process. We can trace our spiritual “roots” back to Jesus sharing Himself with someone (whether it be the eleven disciples, the Apostle Paul, or another) who shared with someone else – all the way to someone sharing the Good News of Jesus as Messiah with us.
We, then, have the honor and privilege of sharing Christ with others, passing along this good news with others.
So what is our faith lesson today?
First of all, Jesus prayed for us, and as followers of Him, Jesus invites us into His community with the Trinity, to experience the unity that He has with the Father. In all that He was about to endure, through His arrest, trial, persecution, and death, Jesus so loved the world (including you and me) that He stopped and prayed for us as well as Himself and His disciples.
Also, we get to share the incredible, life-changing message of Christ with others, continuing this discipleship process. We don’t have to be a theologian or even a Bible expert to share God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice with others. Jesus called us to be witnesses, to openly tell our story of Jesus’ effect on our lives, then point others to Himself.
May you sense God’s pleasure and love for you today as a follower of Christ. And from that outpouring of God’s love for you today, may you share your story of what God has done in your life with someone else, pointing them to Jesus.