John 17:1, 6, 17 – 19, 20 – 21 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you . . . I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word . . . Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified . . . My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 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.
Have you ever had to train someone to take over for a job you would no longer be able to do? And then eventually, you have to hand over the ropes to your successor. This is what we see Jesus doing in this passage. He’d spend 3 years investing in his disciples: teaching them about His Father and spiritual truths….things that they wouldn’t, or couldn’t, fully understand until after his death and resurrection. And here, at the end of the Passover meal, where He instituted the Lord’s Supper (or Communion), we see him turning over the reigns to his disciples. His time was near. His work on Earth was almost finished, for only a few short hours later He would be betrayed, tried, and crucified for our sins.
First, he prays for Himself, that He would bring glory to the Father in completing the work He had been sent to do. Then He prays for his disciples. He knew what lie ahead for them: trials, tribulation, and persecution.
But the most interesting thing is the last part: he prayed for all people who would believe in him through their testimony. That includes you and me. He prayed for us over 2000 years ago, long before any of us were alive. Isn’t that an amazing thought? He prayed that we would be unified with him and with each other so we could continue the ministry he began while on the Earth: to reach all people and let them know that wonderful message that God came for them too.
Father, thank you that you passed on what you knew to your disciples, that through them and those that followed, we too could learn of your love for us. And now I pray for all those reading this, that they would be empowered to keep spreading the word, sharing you with those around them. And not just for them, but for the ones they touch, that through they too can continue to pass it on, just like you said when you gave your Great Commission: “Go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19b-20a)