John 17 Part 1

From the House of The Nazarene. This will be a very in-depth deep-dive study of the Book of John.

We are continuing in our series on the Gospel of John by looking at chapter 17, which in many ways, as it is often called, is the ‘high priestly prayer’ of Jesus. This is really to enter into the ‘holy of holies’. This is an actual opportunity for us to listen in to the intercommunication of two members of the divine Trinity. And so, there is a deep and profound understanding that this text gives us. Jesus has already been working with His disciples in chapters 13 through 16, and this represents His last message to His disciples before He is going to depart from them. We’ve seen that Jesus made it very, very clear that He was going away and that they could not follow Him now, but that they would follow Him later.
But, His point to them was that He needed to give them the resources so that when He was no longer with them in His physical manifestation, still He will be with them and the Holy Spirit will be with them. And so, this inter-relationship, where the Spirit is with them, and later being in them, shows that He was not leaving them as orphans and furthermore Jesus offered them three key things that we have looked at already. He says, “I want to give you My joy,” so that their joy would be full. He wants them to become lovers of one another, “Even as I have loved you,” and “Peace I give you,” not the kind of peace that the world offers, but a peace that will really last and endure. Those are the first three fruits of the Spirit when you think about it, love, and joy, and peace. Again, this would be surprising if you did not know Jesus’ understanding of His purpose. That is to say, His last words are other-centered, rather than fearful about Himself.
It is quite remarkable when you think about this. What He is doing is tying together all the threads of His teaching and only in the last portion, in John chapter 16, do the disciples finally and clearly understand what He has been saying. “Now we know that You know all things,” they say in verse 30, “And have no need for anyone to question You; by this, we believe that You came from God.” And so, in God’s remarkable timing, He always waits until the eleventh hour, but in this case, it really is the twelfth hour, because it is the very last night, and they finally catch on to what He has been trying to communicate to them all along. They did not get it, because they wanted to hear the part about the Kingdom, and they did not want to hear the part about His leaving them. They understand, now, that He will come in power and glory later on, but not immediately, but He would still be with them and in them. So, that was the part they really struggled with.
Now, at this point, when He says in verse 33, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace.” He also mentions that in chapter 14, as well. “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” He now uses this way of communicating the idea of His peace and also His provision, that “I have overcome the world.” He now, in the first verse of chapter 17, “Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven,” He speaks to the Father. I take it they are all already out there in the Valley of Kidron and that this is just before Jesus wrestles with His Father there is the garden of Gethsemane. And so, His disciples have gone out from the Upper Room and I take it, from chapter 15, that they were actually walking by a vineyard there, on their way to Gethsemane, and that is why He used the allegory of the vine and the branches. They reached the garden of Gethsemane and He gives these last words to His disciples there.
Then, in chapter 17, they are privileged to overhear His prayer to His Father. Then, in chapter 18, we will also see another prayer to His Father, where He wrestles with Him about the cup that He must drink. So, let’s take a look at these things in this chapter. One of the things we are going to see, as we listen to the Son converse with His Father, just as He is about to give His life as a ransom for others, we see that Jesus is, and was, the ‘overcomer’. He was not the victim. The Gospels stress this again and again. He was not a victim; He was, and is, the victor. Go back with me to verse 33, and He makes it very clear, “I have overcome the world.” And, as you recall, in chapter ten, verses 17 to 18, Jesus said, “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have the authority to lay it down and I have the authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”
So, from the ultimate standpoint, there were human agents involved in the crucifixion, but frankly, He was the One who laid down His life. No one could have taken His life from Him if He had chosen to remain. You see this point? This was a voluntary sacrifice, and, indeed, this was the purpose for which He had come. He knew from the beginning that this would be the climax of His ministry, whereby He would glorify His Father. Glorifying the Father would involve His death. Glorifying the Father would involve His burial. Glorifying the Father would involve His resurrection and, finally, His ascension to the right hand and then from that He would give gifts to men by sending the Holy Spirit. So, all of this was needful for us; the complete righteousness, to fulfill all righteousness.
So, it wasn’t ever the idea of His somehow being a victim. He was not a victim. He first prays for Himself in chapter 17, and then we are going to see how He moves to pray for His disciples, beginning in verses 16 and 19, and then in verses 20 through 26, He will pray for us.
So, He starts with Himself, then, He looks at His disciples and prays on their behalf, but beginning with verse 20 He will say, “I do not ask on behalf of these alone,” and He is referring to His disciples, “But for those also who believe in Me through their word.” He is talking about us, which is a remarkable thought. You see, there has been an unbroken chain, going from the first century to the 21st century. This message, this good news, has been carried from one changed life to the next changed life, in unbroken succession, right to the present day. You know, people are interested in their genealogical tree, aren’t they? Personally, I’m not very keen on it, and the fact is I don’t think I come from a very noble stock. Why should I bother learning about that? It just doesn’t interest me at all.
But, you know what is a more important genealogy? Wouldn’t it be fascinating if you could do a spiritual genealogy? Your spiritual father had a father. And he had a father who had a father, all the way down to the first century. Ever think of it that way? You will find out and you will discover, what was involved. You will find out, also, that we have many fathers and mothers, in the sense that there are many who prayed for us, interceded for us, and it is not just one person, but a constellation of people that He has used to ultimately bring us into this relationship with Himself. So, God mediates His presence through people.
So, I would be very interested to see how that line goes back. It does go back, unbroken, to the first century. And so, when Jesus says, “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word,” that will include all believers, from that first century on, who would come to faith in Him. I find that to be intriguing, that here He is praying for us, and He gives us privileges that we have. In verses one through five we have the privilege of sharing in and receiving His life. Look at verse one, “Jesus spoke these things; and lifting His eyes to heaven, He said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You’.”
So, our Lord’s burden was always the glory of the Father. ‘The hour has come’, we see in the Gospel of John, to be a significant theme because we saw before that often it would say, “His hour had not yet come.” Finally, though, the hour has come and this was seen there in chapter 13, “Knowing that His hour had come and that He should depart from this world,” and now He reinforces that here, “That hour has come, that hour for which I came.” He was living on a divine timetable. Psalm 31:15 says, “My times are in Your hand,” and it is true. Our times, really, are not in our own hands, but they are in God’s hands, and we just do not know what He has in store for us.
I have had, as some of you know, some really close calls with death and some were quite intense and I went through that stage of remembering my life, as it flashed by me. In each of those cases, I didn’t think I was ready to go yet and I felt there was some unfinished business left. In one way or another, I was rescued, and so I don’t know how long it will be before another, nor do you. You are called to labor in the fields of God for a period of time. He gets to determine how long that labor will be. He determines the amount of time you will have in His vineyard. Some will require much time, and some will require less time, but God’s purposes will be accomplished through us, regardless of how long that time will be. Now, look at verse two; “Even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life.”
So, He is saying, first of all, that His desire is that You would glorify the Son and that the Son would glorify You, which ought to be a preoccupation in our own lives. It should be our desire. If my desire is to be more pleasing to God than I seek to be impressive to people, that would be a healthy pursuit, would it not? To be more concerned about the glory of God than the glory of people. The glory of people is a vanishing thing and it fades very quickly. How long can you live on the accolades of the past? You understand that. It is the ‘what have you done for me lately’ syndrome. So, you can only rest on the laurels of the past so long.
But, here, seeking God’s glory, that will endure and never fade. And so, He says, then, that God has given Him authority over all flesh, so that, “To all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life.” The key here is that those who would come to embrace the Lord are actually God’s gift to the Son. That is a nice way to look at yourself, as a gift that God has given, the Father to the Son. Once having received that gift, now we are secure in His hands, as we are about to see.
Now, in verse three, “This is eternal life; that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” This idea of knowing Him, we know, is not just intellectual knowledge, but a personal reception. It is a relational knowledge. It is an experiential knowledge, and that is His desire. That is what He defines as eternal life. Knowing Him, “the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.” Knowing the Father through faith in the Son is eternal life, and eternal life, therefore, begins now. It begins here on this earth. It is not something we wait for, it is something we already experienced, and will experience more and more fully until finally the fullness of that will be manifest when we see Him face to face.
But, we progress, and we already have the life of the Kingdom, in the present tense. That, then, is how He defines eternal life. Remember, eternal life is not merely unending life, but, rather, a new quality of life. It is not just an unending existence, but it is a new kind of existence. You are a new creation. Previously, you were one kind of person and now God has redefined you and made you a new creation.



Continued in part 2

3 Replies to “John 17 Part 1”

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