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JOHN - The Light Shines in the Darkness
A Bible Study Course on the Gospel of Christ according to John
PART 3 - Light Shines in the Circle of the Apostles (John 11:55 - 17:26)
E - Jesus' Intercessory Prayer (John 17:1-26)

1. Introduction to the intercessory prayer

Jesus served humanity with his Gospel and works; healing the lame, feeding the hungry, opening the eyes of the blind, and raising the dead. His love was a revelation of God’s glory amidst hatred and death.

At the start of his ministry, multitudes flocked to him. When the Jewish religious Council (made up of bigots and hypocrites) saw that the foundations of their religion and legalism were quaking, they threatened Jesus and his followers with banning and death. The enthusiasm of the crowds waned and they deserted him. Whereupon Christ and some of his loyal followers were persecuted, but he continued to love everyone.

In the end, the Council’s propaganda took in one of the twelve; he prepared to betray his Master, whereas Jesus was preparing his own during the Covenant supper for their vocation as apostles. In his farewell, he announced to them his oneness with the Father, and how the Comforting Spirit would establish them in the fellowship of divine love, despite the coming persecution.

But the disciples failed to grasp their Lord’s intent, because the Holy Spirit was not yet poured out into their souls. So Jesus went directly to his Father, and committed himself and his followers into the Father’s hands in this High Priestly prayer. He also made mention of those who would believe in him by the witness of those apostles.

Christ’s intercessory prayer, recorded in Chapter 17, gives us a unique insight into the manner in which the Son of God conversed with his Father, and the kind of love between the Persons of the Holy Trinity. The Spirit of Prayer is prominent here. Whoever delves deeply into this chapter, enters into God’s Temple where worship and intercession pervade.

2. The prayer for the Father's glory (John 17:1-5)

JOHN 17:1
1 Jesus said these things, and lifting up his eyes to heaven, he said, “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may also glorify you;

Christ announced to his disciples that he was one with the Father. He is in the Father and the Father in him. Whoever sees him has seen the Father. But the disciples were unable to grasp this striking revelation. Their minds boggled as they tried to grasp the presence of the divine in flesh. Jesus entrusted his weak and ignorant disciples to his Father’s care, to illumine and keep them in the fellowship of divine and holy love.

By lifting his eyes to heaven, Jesus may have surprised the disciples. How does he pray to a Father in heaven and say at the same time that he exists in the Father and the Father in him? These unintelligible gestures baffled their minds. We know that both ideas are valid: The perfect union between Father and Son, as well as the autonomy of each Person. God is mightier than our minds and the Holy Spirit teaches us to treat both concepts as valid. Ask God to enlighten you if this awareness is difficult. For no one can fully grasp the Father and the Son, except by means of the Holy Spirit.

In this prayer Jesus called God, Father. For God is not just a holy Lord and a severe Judge, but his merciful love covers all His other qualities. God is Himself holy Love and merciful Truth. This new concept of God as a loving Father arose when Jesus was born of the Holy Spirit, the Son of God. He lived eternally with God, but became flesh to redeem us as children for the Holy One. This revelation of the name Father, for God, is the essence of the message presented by Jesus to the world. By this inspired truth, Jesus freed us from the fear of judgment, since the Judge is our Father, and the guarantor is our Brother who paid our debts. If you absorb the name of Father in many of Jesus’ pronouncements into your soul and live in accordance with that knowledge, you have grasped the Gospel message.

Christ acknowledged before his Father that the world’s most vital hour had struck, the hour of reconciliation between God and Man. Mankind, the angels, religions and philosophies had unknowingly awaited these hours. It had come. Christ had lifted the guilt of the world as God’s Lamb. He had been ready to die alone in the flame of God’s wrath. In these decisive moments the betrayer was approaching on the road with a company of temple police to arrest God’s Son, the meek and strong Man who was ready to die with no protection.

JOHN 17:2
2 even as you gave him authority over all flesh, he will give eternal life to all whom you have given him.

Many think that "glory" means radiance and light. Jesus confessed that his sacrificial love was the essence of glory and the core of his divine being. He asked his Father to keep him in that love, during the hours on the cross, in the storms of pains and fears, so that the rays of love divine would shine perfectly in the crucified. The Son was willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of rebels and criminals, so that they might be justified by his death. This is the core of the Son’s glory.

Nor was he reticent to say that he was not dying for himself, but for the Father’s glory, and that he was undertaking a measure that no one else could. He glorified the father on the cross and accomplished humanity’s reconciliation with God. When sin is pardoned, God’s love is displayed, and all are invited to adoption. The Holy Spirit is poured on believers in Christ, so that the children may glorify their Father by means of a perfect walk in purity. There can be no greater sign of the Father’s name being glorified than His becoming a Father to many children. So Jesus asked for completion of redeeming love through the birth of many children by the Spirit of truth in praise to that Fatherly name.

The Son resumed his divine claim which the Father had given him, i.e. all authority over all these born of women. Christ is the true God, Creator and Redeemer. He is our Lord, King and Judge. We are his and he is our true hope. He received this authority, but, not for judgment and destruction, but to save and guide. The aim of Christ’s coming was that believers in him would receive eternal life. Death finds no more dominion in them. On the cross, Jesus forgave the sins of mankind; even though only a few responded to this offer of salvation. Believers are the elect who believe in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and continue in Christ’s saving glory. In them the divine Spirit abides. Their new existence is the miracle of our age, glorifying the Father’s name.

JOHN 17:3
3 This is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and him whom you sent, Jesus Christ

The Holy Spirit substantiates what Jesus said about God. He is Christ’s Father and ours. Whoever is aware of this divine mystery and believes in him has eternal life. There is no other key for knowing God except in the Person of Jesus Christ. He who sees in the Son the Fatherhood of the Father, and trusts in him, will be changed into sis holy sonship. The profound insight in Christ’s saying is not mere knowledge, but spiritual life and growth. God restores His image in every believer. What is the significance of this divine image? It is love, truth and integrity which the Holy Spirit brings about in God’s children. It is also the glorifying of the Father whereby His virtues are manifested.

Christ was sent by God into the world so that men might realize that apart from him, who was born of the Spirit, crucified and risen, they could not know God. The Son is the divine Apostle who gathered all authority in his person with love and holiness. If you wish to know the true God, study the life of Jesus who is God personified. As Messiah he is also King of Kings and the High Priest, the perfect Prophet and God’s word incarnate.

JOHN 17:4-5
4 I glorified you on the earth. I have accomplished the work which you have given me to do. 5 Now, Father, glorify me with your own self with the glory which I had with you before the world existed.

During his sojourn on earth, Jesus constantly meditated on the Father, witnessed to Him and carried out His works. He denied himself to glorify the Father. What he heard from the Father he passed on to us. His whole life glorified the Father, knowing that his prayers would be answered. He completed the task of redemption on the cross which his Father had given him to accomplish. He acknowledged that the Father had completed all things. Since Jesus emptied himself, and took no credit for himself, he deserves that the glory of eternity should redound to him. Thus he testified that he was glorious from eternity, God from God, light from light, begotten not created. After completing his purposes he longed to return to his Father. As he reached heaven, the angels and other beings glorified him saying, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive might, riches, wisdom, power, honor, glory and blessing".

PRAYER: Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your Son has glorified you by his walk, prayers and sacrifice. We do not deserve to lift up our eyes to you. We thank you for pardoning our trespasses because Christ has died for us; you have made us your children. I thank you for transporting me to life everlasting by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into my heart. Help us to glorify you always and not snatch glory for ourselves, but obey your Son’s commandment and love one another, that others may see in our good works your fatherhood and glorify you by yielding to you.


  1. What is the basic thought in the first part of Jesus’ prayer?


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