John 17:1-3 (KJV) These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:  As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.  And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
This section of Scripture is often called by the commentaries The High Priestly Prayer of Christ. Jesus Christ is indeed the High Priest of His Church. Yet I do not believe that calling this prayer a High Priestly Prayer of Christ is exactly accurate.
Jesus Did Not Become Our High Priest Until After He Offered Himself Up For Our Sins.
When you look at the Scripture of:
Romans 8:34 (KJV) Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also MAKETH INTERCESSION FOR US.
Hebrews 7:25-27 (KJV) Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.  For SUCH AN HIGH PRIEST became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;  Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.
1 John 2:1 (KJV) My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an ADVOCATE with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
At this point in His ministry Christ is still the Lamb of God (John 1:29, 36; Romans 8:3; 1 Peter 1:18-21). His sacrifice was coming, but was not yet done. He has walked on the earth for over three years, being examined by all to see if there was any sin in Him. There wasn’t. Even Pilate, on condemning Christ to death, said:
John 19:4, 6 …. “I find no fault in him …”
None could find fault in Jesus. He is the Lamb of God without spot or blemish. He will offer up Himself for our sins, and following His resurrection Christ will be our High Priest.
As I look at John 17 I prefer to call it either “The Shepherd’s Prayer”. Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd:
John 10:11 (KJV) I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
Jesus is soon to give His life as the Lamb of God for His Church. As He prepares for this moment, this hour for which He was born, Jesus has two things in mind.
(1) Jesus prays that He will meet His death in a God honoring way.
(2) Jesus prays for His people whom He will leave for three days.
Jesus’ Prays To The Father For Empowerment
John 17:1 (KJV) These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven …
The Oneness Pentecostals – a branch of Christianity – do not believe in the Trinity of God. They teach a form of doctrine called Modalistic Monarchianism which teaches there is but one God Who manifests Himself in three different ways – as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This doctrine was initially taught in the early Church by a man named Sabellius, who was a theologian and priest from the 3rd century. Sabellianism or Modalism is rejected by most Christians because of texts like Matthew 3:16-17:
Matthew 3:16-17 (KJV) And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:  And lo a VOICE FROM HEAVEN, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
At Jesus’ baptism you see three distinct Persons. Christ is being baptized, the Spirit comes to Him, and the Father speaks from Heaven. This is a Trinity.
The Trinity comes into play as the Shepherd Jesus prays. Christ looks toward Heaven, where the Father sits enthroned! Jesus taught His disciples – that’s us – to pray:
Matthew 6:9 … After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in Heaven …
John 17:1 (KJV) These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father …
Now Jesus prays looking toward Heaven, just as He has taught us to do. Though Jesus was just hours from excruciating pain and absolute humiliation His eyes and His heart was not focused on the coming crucifixion, but on His Father and the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Lamb of God was focused on the Father.
The Son of God was focused on doing what was required.
The Lamb, like Abraham’s son Isaac, was willing to die.
Abraham’s son was saved from death (Genesis 22:11).
But the Lamb of God would not be.
John 17:1 (KJV) These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee
Jesus spoke. “The hour is come”. What is He speaking of? When Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane with His disciples they fell asleep rather than praying. Our Lord said:
Matthew 26:45 (KJV) … Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the HOUR is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
When Jesus spoke of the “hour” He spoke of the Cross. As He will hang on this Cross as the Lamb of God our Lord will be forsaken by both Father and Spirit. In the agony of our sins being poured out on Him He will cry out:
Matthew 27:46 (KJV) And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
quoting the prophetic Scripture of
Psalms 22:1 (KJV) … My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
The Lamb knows why He is forsaken. Our sins will be poured out on Him and judged. He Who is without sin shall be made sin for us, so that we who believe might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). The beatings Christ could endure without groaning. The nakedness Christ could endure without blushing. The nails Christ could endure without a whimper. But as our sins are placed on Him He must cry out.
As hornets burn the flesh with their sting and bite, so our sins torment the soul of the Perfect Redeemer.
We see a great truth here that we need to learn in prayer. Faced with a seemingly impossible burden Christ prays for strength to endure.
John 17:1 (KJV) … glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee
Father, let Me be strengthened in what is to come. Fill Me up with power so that I can do that which is undoable. Let Me glorify You as the Lamb of God! If Jesus prayed thus before His trials, should not we pray the more? If the Strong Man that is our Messiah looked to the Father for empowerment in the flesh, should not we who are weak look upward with confidence and pray?
Jesus Is The Source Of Life
John 17:2 (KJV) As thou hast given HIM power over all flesh, that HE should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given HIM.
What is interesting and often overlooked – I know I have not noticed it till now – is that Jesus prays in the third person at this point. He doesn’t says “as You have given ME power over all flesh” but instead prays outside of Himself, saying “as you have given HIM power over all flesh”. Jesus often did this in Scripture, and it has caused a lot of interesting statements in the various commentaries. In John 5 Jesus speaks of Himself :
(Third Person) John 5:19 (KJV) Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
(First Person) John 5:30 (KJV) I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.
Personally I believe that Jesus Christ is unique. He is both God and Man. The God of Him could not fail – but I believe He prayed for strength in His humanity as He approached the Cross. I think this would explain the “third person references” that Jesus makes to Himself. Regardless as to whether you agree with me or not, Jesus prayed for strength as the Cross loomed on the horizon. The Giver of Eternal Life is facing death. Christ is the Source of all life. It is through Christ that the Godhead created humanity.
John 1:3-4 (KJV) All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.  In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
There is no eternal life apart from Christ. There is ETERNITY – an ETERNAL DEATH. But NO LIFE without Christ. You must embrace Him and Him alone if you expect to live into eternity.
John 17:3 (KJV) And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
The reason for ETERNAL LIFE is explained in this prayer. As Jesus prayed for strength He wants us to know that God gives Eternal Life to us – not just so we can live forever – but so that we can live forever in union with God. You are given salvation and with it LIFE so that you can know the only True God and Jesus Christ. Let’s break this down textually.
Word Study The word translated KNOW is the Greek γινώσκω ginōskō which means “to perceive or understand intimately”. The reason for Heaven is not that we live forever in uselessness (as many on this earth live). Heaven is not about self existence without end. We are given eternal life so that we can forever learn of the Infinite and Eternal God of the Bible. He is the only TRUE God. All other gods are mere figments of man’s imagination. Eternal life is to KNOW God. Jesus is the Bringer of the New Covenant.
Hebrews 8:10-11 (KJV) For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:  And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
God gives us life so that we may know Him.
Life NOT so we can reunite with loved ones
Though we WILL!
Life NOT so we can continue animate
Though we WILL!
Life NOT so we can occupy a mansion
Though we WILL!
We are given eternal life so we can EXPERIENCE GOD to the fullest!
This was God’s plan in Eden, a plan rejected by Adam but re-established by the Second Adam, Jesus Christ our Lord. Praise Him for His unspeakable Gift! We who are saved will spend all of eternity learning of God, the true God, the Triune God. We will sit at Jesus’ feet and learn of Him forever. This is what Heaven is meant to be. Listen Beloved. If you are YAWNING through this sermon, and are BORED with what God’s Word says NOW, why would you want Heaven THEN? You wouldn’t. And you probably aren’t where you need to be spiritually.
Now Jesus Prays In The First PERSON
John 17:4-6 (KJV) I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.  And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.  I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.
The God-Man Jesus Christ now prays from His humanity, as the Great Shepherd of the Sheep. He is at the end of His earthly existence, and has “finished the work which thou gavest Me to do”. Jesus speaks of His work of representing the Godhead on the earth. From the age of twelve Jesus was focused on “doing My Father’s business” (Luke 2:49).
John 14:8-10 (KJV) Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.  Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? HE THAT HATH SEEN ME HATH SEEN THE FATHER; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?  Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.
Jesus lived to do the Father’s will, so much so that to see Him was to see the Father. Would that we who are Christians live our lives as imitators of God, as dear Children (Ephesians 5:1). Jesus lived to glorify God, and His road was at an end. Barclay noted in his commentary:
“There is only one way to glorify God, and that is to obey God.”
Jesus lived as we should live, representing the Father on this earth. As His work is finished He will soon die. Beloved, we live on this earth until we have finished the work that God has given to us. Once completed – or rejected – then God brings us to Himself. Christ ran a good race. He did as the Father commanded. Now His time was closing. So Jesus prays for His little flock that He must soon leave.
John 17:5-9 (KJV) And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.  I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.  Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.  For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.  I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
All souls belong to God. The Father gave these men to the Son, and Jesus was faithful to the stewardship He was given.
John 6:37-38 (KJV) All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.  For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
John 15:19 (KJV) If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
The Christian who is a Christian indeed is no longer OF this world. We belong to God. Jesus prayed for the men whom He taught, those called of God His disciples. He prayed that His disciples would remain strong as He moved toward the hour of the Cross. Jesus did not pray for the world. Jesus does not pray for the lost who reject Him as Lord and Savior. He prays for His own. He prays that they will be strengthened.
John 17:10-11 (KJV) And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.  And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
Jesus prayed for His disciples as the Good Shepherd. Jesus prays for His disciples today as our High Priest. He prays to the Holy Father. This phrase is only found in Bible in this Scripture. That makes the phrase unique. God is our Father in that He loves us and provides for our needs. And yet, even though our Father He is holy. He is without sin.
If the Father is holy, then we who are born
into His family are to be holy.
Leviticus 19:2 (KJV) …Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.
1 Peter 1:14-16 (KJV) As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:  But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;  Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
Amy Grant sang a song a few years ago called “My Father’s Eyes”:
I may not be every mother’s dream for her little girl
And my face may not grace the mind of everyone in the world
But that’s all right as long as I can have one wish I pray
When people look inside my life, I want to hear them say
She’s got her Father’s eyes, her Father’s eyes
Eyes that find the good in things
When good is not around
Eyes that find the source of help
When help just can’t be found
Eyes full of compassion, seeing every pain
Knowin’ what you’re going through, and feeling it the same
Just like my Father’s eyes
What she was speaking of was imitating God. As Jesus imitated the Father so perfectly that to see Him was to see the Father, we who are His are to imitate our Father.
We are to be like our Creator in behavior.
We are to reject sin.
We are to be like our Creator in unity.
Jesus prayed “That they may be ONE as we are”
God is glorified in this present world when His people – His Church – is united as the Trinity is united. As God is, so shall we one day be. Let us be in One Accord in all things holy, imitating God to His glory. The Church is not to be like the world, but like the Father. Let us band together to do so as He has called us to do. May God touch your hearts with his Word!