Linda Clinard led the study this week on John chapter 17 (Connolly (22) Trial and Trust). She highlighted his prayer for the unity of Christ’s believers.

Here’s some notes:

Chapter 17 is part the final section of what’s called the Farewell Discourses. In this, the longest prayer we have from him, Jesus prays the prayer of self-consecration and pastoral care. He prays first for himself drawing attention to the Father, then prays for his disciples, and finally prays for all future disciples.

Jesus came

  • to do the Father’s will (we see that in 4: 34; 5: 30, 38; 6: 38, 39)
  • and the Father’s work (5: 36; 9: 4)
  • speak the Father’s word (3:34; 7: 16; 12: 49)
  • to bear witness to the Father (5: 36; 7: 28) and
  • to live in a close relationship with the Father (8: 16; 18: 29; 16: 32)

In the prayer for himself, we learn that self-surrender is key for our discipleship. We must surrender ourselves to God, just as Jesus surrendered himself to the Father. Believing, knowing and receiving Jesus means experiencing God. This is eternal life.

As he faces the cross, Jesus prays for the protection of the disciples that 1) they won’t be tempted into disobedience, 2) and just as the Trinity experiences eternal unity, so may believers. He asks the father to sanctify his disciples.

His prayer for the unity of disciples is very important because this is how the world will believe in Jesus/God. Believers will be brought together in the same spiritual life around the truth that saves – Jesus is Savior.

Biblical doctrines of election and sanctification are themes that occur in John 17.  Just like Jesus and the disciples were chosen (17:2) and set apart for holiness, so are we.  When believers are united, our faith grows, and we are able to surrender our individual wills to the larger group because of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.