After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.
“I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.
“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, 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. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
“Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
I still remember when I first read through this truly awesome and inspiring prayer of our Saviour, nearly half-a-century ago. It awakened within me an amazing reaction that Jesus Himself should have prayed this prayer, for His followers and for all those who would respond to His call. This is so truly personal and insightful, and one’s heart can only bow in worship before a Saviour who is able to see ahead and anticipate some of the situations which his people were to get themselves into.
More than that is the desire of Jesus, for us – his followers – to share the same intimacy with him as he does with His Heavenly Father. This is really precious and humbling, showing Jesus to place our welfare ahead of any of his own personal preferences or desires. It also gives us a glimpse into the mystery of the Godhead, and the Oneness which has been there since the beginning of the world.
In this we see the great love which Jesus has for all who faithfully own His name. He is aware of the pressures, temptations and even the forces which would seek to lure us away from walking with Him in close fellowship. This was the one true intimacy and unity which God intended for us all when back in the Garden of Eden, he would come down at evening-time, to walk and talk with Adam.
The very fact that he realised how much we would need his prayers and wholehearted support is again evidence, of his love and Fatherly longing for us all. Is this not all absolutely mind-blowing, immensely humbling, touching our hearts deeply? This is Almighty God, revealed through His son Jesus praying for us all, in the places where He has ordained that we should be planted, and bloom and grow for Him. We all go through times of problems within Church life but Jesus had anticipated the fragility of our mutual relationships in the Church which he brought into existence. Such therefore is the comfort which He gives us, that not only as recorded in this wonderful chapter, but even now Jesus IS praying for us! How incredible is that!
Lord Jesus, we stand in awe of you! Your gracious presence, loving concern and prayerfulness. Reveal to us your majesty, your love and your Fatherly heart toward us. Keep us mindful of your longing to daily be a part of our lives, And to know deep in our hearts that you are praying for us. With thankful and deeply appreciative hearts, we ask this. AMEN.
Verena Walder is a Lay Preacher and elder at Tabernacle URC, Mumbles.