John 17:1-26 JESUS: THE GREAT HIGH PRIEST
Intro: As we have journeyed through John's majestic Gospel, we have
encountered many glorious portraits of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have seen His heart of
compassion on display as He healed the sick, we have sen His power revealed as He raised
the dead and fed the hungry, we have seen His grace revealed as He saved the sinner. Every
portrait that each chapter given to us has been an encouragement and a blessing. This
chapter is no exception! When we come to chapter 17, we find ourselves standing on holy
ground. In these verses, the Holy Spirit of God gives us access into the Garden of
Gethsemane as Jesus pours His heart out to His Heavenly Father.
On this, the last night of the earthly life of Jesus, He is found
serving as our great High Priest making intercession with the Father. In fact, the Bible
declares Him to be our Great High Priest - Heb. 3:1; 6:20. As He prayed that night, His
prayer focused on four great themes that we need to consider this morning. As we look into
these verses and listen in on the prayer of our wonderful Lord, please understand that
what Jesus prayed about that night in the Garden still impacts your life and mine this
morning. His was a prayer that had power then and will have power throughout the remainder
of time and on into eternity. With all that in mind, allow me to share with you this
morning those things that were the focus of our Lord's prayer in the Garden. What we will
learn is that there is a lesson here about prayer and several lessons about the Lord's
will for His people. By the way, this is a very encouraging passage! When you stop to
think that on the eve of His death, Jesus took the time to pray for you and me. I find
that pretty encouraging! Please join me in these verses as we encounter Jesus: The Great
I. V. 1-26 HIS PRAYER HAD AN UPWARD FOCUS
A. V. 1, 4 The Father's Glory - Jesus began His
prayer by expressing a desire to glorify the Father. The entire ministry of Jesus on earth
had revolved around a single purpose. That purpose was to reveal God to men - John 14:9;
Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3. Jesus was the perfect expression of God. When a man saw Jesus, he was
seeing the Father.
(Ill. So it is today! Jesus is still the only way for a person to see
God, John 1:18, "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son,
which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." The Bible
tells us that no one can come to God except they go through Jesus - John 14:6. Men may say
they believe in God and try to bypass Jesus, but that is a totally useless endeavor. Jesus
is the only way anyone ever comes to God - 1 Tim. 2:5; Acts 4:12.)
B. V. 6, 26 The Father's Gift - Next, Jesus
referred to those the Father had given unto Him. Jesus knew something that many in our day
have forgotten: salvation is not the decision of man, but it is the Sovereign act of God.
What I mean is this, no man just decides that he will be saved! That is an impossibility.
After all, man, in his natural state is dead, Eph. 2:1. Dead men have no thought, no will
and no movement toward God. Before that dead man can live, he must be made alive, Eph.
2:1. This is accomplished through the work of the Holy Spirit who quickens the dead heart
and gives the sinner an awareness of sin and judgment and of the need of getting right
with God, John 16:8-11. This is called conviction and no man can ever be saved until he
first has his wicked heart stirred by the Father and is drawn to Jesus - John 6:44; 6:65.
Therefore, salvation is not something to be toyed with! The Bible teaches us that God's
Spirit will not always strive with man, Gen. 6:3. The time to be saved is when God is
dealing with your heart. 2 Cor. 6:2. Remember, we are the Father's gift to the Son and
what the Father gives, the Son never refuses - John 6:37.
C. V. 6, 8-12, 22, 26 The Father's Grace - In
these verses, Jesus calls to mind the great grace of God calling these men, in using these
men and in keeping these men. In praying this prayer, Jesus reminds us that what we have
and are is not of our own making. We are what we are by the grace of God, 1 Cor. 15:10.
(Ill. Like Jesus, we ought to praise God for His wonderful grace! After
all, we were nothing when He found us and did not deserve to be saved. But, in grace He
reached out to us and redeemed us, Eph. 2:8-9. Even after we were saved, we are still
capable of nothing in and of ourselves, John 15:5. Everything we are, have or ever hope to
be, we owe it all to the great grace of God! If there was ever a theme that should produce
praise in the hearts of the believers, it is the grace of God!)
I. His Prayer Had An Upward Focus
II. V. 1-5 HIS PRAYER HAD AN INWARD FOCUS
(In these verses, Jesus turns the focus of His prayer inward and prays
for the mission to which He has been called. He prays about His work!)
A. V. 1 He Prayed For Assistance - The hour for
which Jesus came into this world has finally arrived. During the course of His life and
ministry, we are reminded often that "His hour was not yet come." This was a
reminder to those around Him that He came for a high and noble purpose. You see, Jesus
came to this world for one purpose, and that purpose was to die for sin, John 18:37. Now,
at long last, the hour has arrived. Jesus is about to be betrayed, arrested, tried and
crucified. His prayer is for the Father to aid Him in these last hours of life that He
might accomplish the task for which He came. His desire is to go to the cross, die for
sin, satisfy the Father and then be glorified in being raised from the dead!
(Ill. Why did Jesus pray such a prayer? It seems to me that every
attempt was made by man and Satan to keep Jesus away from the cross. Later, in the Garden
of Gethsemane, Jesus came under direct satanic attack. It is my opinion that Satan tried
to kill Jesus in the Garden to prevent Him from reaching Calvary, Luke 22:41-44. After
that, Pilate's made brutalized the Lamb of God and could have easily killed Him then,
Matt. 27:27-31; John 19:1-5. Christ's prayer was answered in that the Father brought Him
safely to the cross where He was crucified and paid the price for the eternal redemption
of our souls.)
(Ill. What proof do we have? 2 days after they laid Him in the tomb, He
arose from the dead, victorious over death, hell and the grave - Matt. 28:1-6)
B. V. 2-4 He Prayed About His Accomplishment -
Jesus knew the hour of His death was upon Him. He knew that He was about to finish all
that the Father had sent Him to do. Therefore, He mentions His great accomplishment to the
Father in Heaven.
(Ill. What is His accomplishment? Providing a way for sinners to enter
into eternal life, v. 2-3! When Jesus died on the cross, He cried, "It is
finished!", John 19:30. What Jesus meant by this statement was that the price of
eternal redemption had been paid in full! Now, the door of salvation had been blown off
the hinges and whosoever will could enter and be saved! What a blessing! Now, regardless
of who you are, or what kind of a background you might have come from, regardless of what
kind of life you have lived, you can be eternally saved by coming to Jesus and receiving
Him into your heart and life, Rev. 22:17! That is what Jesus accomplished on your behalf!
Have you received Him as your Savior?)
C. V. 5 He Prayed About His Assurance - Jesus
knew that after the cross and after the grave, He would return to His Father in heaven and
would, once again, enjoy the glory He had left behind to come to the earth. He was going
(Ill. Few, if any, of us can realize the agony Jesus suffered in just
coming into this world. Phil. 2:5-8 sheds a little light on it for us. These verse make it
clear that Jesus was living in absolute equality with His Father. Then, He willingly
allowed His glory to be concealed under human flesh and entered a sinful world as a man.
He did this for one purpose, and that purpose has already been stated. He came so that man
could see God and so that God could die for man! Now, praise His Name, He sits enthroned
in Heaven! No more to die, no more to suffer, but ever to be praised!)
(Ill. Here is the good news: All who place their faith in Jesus are
going to be with Him in that Heavenly city! More about that later!)
I. His Prayer Had An Upward Focus
II. His Prayer Had An Inward Focus
III. V. 6-19 HIS PRAYER HAD AN OUTWARD FOCUS
(Now, Jesus turns His focus outward and prays for those men who have
given Him their hearts and lives; His Disciples. In this prayer, we can find some nuggets
of truth that will help us as well.)
A. V. 6-11 He Prayed For Their Preservation - In
this section, Jesus prayed for His men that they would be Kept by the Father. Jesus knew
the wickedness of the world and He had seen first hand the wretchedness of the human
heart. He knew that left to themselves, the Disciples would not be able to maintain their
relationship with the Father. Therefore, He took that responsibility and placed it
squarely upon the shoulders of the Father.
(Ill. I praise the Lord this morning that it is not my duty to keep
myself saved! I am grateful that salvation is not like a bicycle, but that we are kept by
the power of God, 1 Pet. 1:5. You see, we are wicked! If we had to maintain a life of
sinless perfection to remain saved, we would all be in Hell eventually! Salvation is God's
gift and maintaining it is His responsibility. That does not mean that you and I do as we
please. After all, if salvation is a reality in your life and mine then there will be a
hunger for righteousness and clean living. Being a new creature is part and parcel of the
new life, 2 Cor. 5:17. Anyone who claims to be saved but who does not exhibit a clean life
is deceived and needs to be born again. However, even the redeemed fall into sin
occasionally. When they do, they are convicted and chastened by the Lord, but they are not
removed from the family. What I am saying is that salvation is eternal, Eccl. 3:14. If
salvation were something that was mine one day and gone the next, why did Jesus call it
"eternal" and "everlasting"? Either
Jesus doesn't know what He is talking about, or salvation is "eternal"
and it is "everlasting"! You can believe anything you want to
about this subject, but I say, "Let God be true and every man a liar!", Rom.
2:4. I'll just believe the Book if it's all the same to you - John 10:28!
B. V. 12-15 He Prayed For Their Protection -
Next, Jesus prayed that His Disciples would be protected from "the evil."
Literally, "the evil one!" Jesus is merely praying that they be given strength
to face the task at hand and that they be given strength to stand against the attacks that
are sure to come from the devil.
(Ill. Let's face it this morning, we are in a battle. For too many
believers, the Christian life is a ballfield and not a battlefield. When will we learn
that the devil hates us, opposes us and often attacks us? I am grateful that I have the
Lord's promise of His protection, Psa. 34:7 and of His presence, Heb. 13:5; Matt. 28:20,
as I go through this life. I just praise the Lord that when the devil comes against the
saint of God, the Lord takes up our defense! Ill. Job - Job 1-2. Before the devil can get
to me, he has to go through the Father and then through the Son. If he could do that, then
he would have to go through the blood and then he would be a saved devil. But that's not
going to happen! He roars, 1 Pet. 5:8, but he cannot touch the child of the King! We are
hidden in our Lord, Col. 3:3.)
C. V. 16-19 He Prayed For Their Purity - Jesus
asked the Father to set these men apart from the world by the Word of God! His prayer is
that they might live their lives against the backdrop of the Scriptures and that they
might live lives pleasing to the Father.
(Ill. The Lord's will hasn't changed one bit! He still intends for His
people to live clean, holy and separated lives - 2 Cor. 6:17. This purity that the Lord
desires is not a purity based on the opinions and rules of men, but rather it is a
righteousness based squarely upon the Word of God! His Word is truth and in this divinely
inspired Book, we find the keys to living holy and righteously in the midst of a corrupt
world. God's desire for our lives is summed up in Phil. 2:15.)
I. His Prayer Had An Upward Focus
II. His Prayer Had An Inward Focus
III. His Prayer Had An Outward Focus
IV. V. 20-26 HIS PRAYER HAD AN ONWARD FOCUS
(Finally, Jesus turns His attention to those who would receive Him down
through the ages. Think of it, on the eve of the crucifixion, with the weight of the
world's sins beginning to press down upon His shoulders, Jesus took time to pray for you
and me! I don't know about you, but that thrills my heart!)
A. V. 21-23 He Prayed For Our Harmony - Jesus
prayed that His followers might be marked by unity! His desire is that we be able to get
along in front of the world. Now, you know as well as Id do that a lack of unity in the
church is a bad witness in the world! God's desire is that we learn to get along one with
another and that we have a oneness of heart that unites us regardless of the storms we are
called upon to weather. Now, it is obvious that when you have 2 people, you are going to
have 2 opinions. When you have a 100, you will have a 100 opinions. The secret is being
able to disagree without being disagreeable! In other words, everything we do must be done
with a view to maintaining unity within the body! There is no room for struggles within
the body of Christ! Notice the Lord's will for His people - 1 Cor. 1:10; Phil. 1:27; Phil
2:1-4; 1 Thes. 5:13; 1 Pet. 3:8.
(Ill. You can mark this down, when there is disunity within the church,
someone is outside the will of God!)
(Ill. Why is unity so important in the church? Because we are a living
advertisement for the Lord Jesus. When the world sees the people of God, they either see
the presence of the Lord or the presence of strife. Where there is strife, there is
confusion and God is not the author of confusion, 1 Cor. 14:33. Therefore, strife and
trouble in the house of God is never His will!)
B. V. 24 He Prayed For Our Homegoing - In this
verse, Jesus says that His will is for all of His followers to be with Him in Heaven where
they can behold and share in His glory.
(Ill. In the New Testament, there are 2 Greek words that are translated
"to will". They are 1.) Thelo - which means to purpose. It
is used for the will of God which is unalterable and firmly fixed. It is the will of God
and will come to pass. 2.) Boulomai - which means to have a wish
of a desire about something. This word is used of God's desires that may or may not
come to pass depending upon the actions of others. For instance, this word is used in 2
Pet. 3:9. It is not God's wish that any perish, however, for that wish to be realized, men
must receive te Lord. In John 17:24, Thelo is the word used. Jesus is saying, "I am
declaring that it is my purpose that every one who receives Me will be with Me in Heaven
and will behold My glory!" In other words, if you are saved, you are going home!
C. V. 25-26 He Prayed For Our Hearts - As Jesus
brought His prayer to a close, He took a minute to pray that we would be filled with His
love. That is, He desires that His people be characterized by a life of love one for the
other. This kind of Love is God's demand for His children - 1 Cor. 13:1-8. In fact, Jesus
declared that our mutual love would be a sign to the world that we were genuinely of the
Lord - John 13:35.
(Ill. This is a love that cannot be duplicated in the world. But it is
produces by God in the hearts of every born again child of God. Who but God could produce
within us a love for people who are of differing backgrounds, of differing social and
financial standing, of varying race and creed? The love of God in the hearts of His
children is a thing of beauty and a thing of great wonder. We must ever strive to see that
we are indeed characterized by genuine godly love.)
Conc: As I close this message, let me remind you that Christ's prayers
are always heard and answered - John 11:41-42. The question that remains is are they being
fulfilled in your life and in the life of this church? A quick review is in order.
1. Are you saved? It is His desire that you come to know Him.
2. Is there unity in the church? It is His desire that there be.
3. Are we walking in love, one to the other as we should? That is His
prayer for us!
Has the Lord touched areas of your life that need to be attended to this
morning? If so, then I beg you to come to Him and allow Him to have His way in your heart
and life right now. Will you do as He would have you to?