Read for This Week’s Study: John 17:1-26, 1 John 5:19, John 13:18-30, John 5:20-23, Mark 9:38-41, Rev. 18:4, 1 John 2:3-6.
Memory Text: “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:20, 21, NKJV).
The Gospel of John provides us with a window into Jesus’ immediate concerns as His betrayal and death loomed on the horizon. In five crucial chapters (John 13-17) we receive Jesus’ last words of instruction, culminating with what has sometimes been called His “high-priestly prayer” (John 17).
“It is a fitting designation, for our Lord in this prayer consecrates himself for the sacrifice in which he is simultaneously both priest and victim. At the same time it is a prayer of consecration on behalf of those for whom the sacrifice is offered-the disciples who were present in the upper room and those who would subsequently come to faith through their testimony.” - F. F. Bruce, The Gospel of John (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983), p. 328.
At the core of this prayer is Jesus’ concern for unity among His disciples and those who would later believe in Him. This was a key theme in His prayer: “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them” (John 17:9, 10, NKJV).
No meaningful discussion of church unity, of our oneness in Christ, can be complete without careful attention given to this prayer. What did Jesus pray for, whom did He pray for, and what does His prayer mean for us today?