This morning, my devotions took me to John 17, which is Jesus’ prayer to the Father before he is betrayed and crucified, and is also one of my favorite passages in the whole Bible. As I was reading, I noticed several repeated phrases throughout the chapter, so I started marking them until I found at least seven common themes throughout the passage.
- God has chosen and given a specific people to Jesus for him to save (v.2, 6). All throughout the Bible, we can see individual people or groups of people that God has specifically chosen for his purpose (e.g. Noah, Abraham, Joseph, the nation of Israel, Jesus’ disciples, etc.) Jesus says earlier in John that, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit” (15:16), and, “All that the Father gives me will come to me…no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (6:37, 44). All that we have, especially our salvation, is not our own and is a gift of grace from God (James 1:17). For more on this, see one of my previous posts, Seeing the Trinity at Work in Salvation.
- Christ and the Father are perfectly one in unity, and we have the opportunity to share in that (v.5, 10, 21-23). The unity of the Trinity is the core message of this passage and one of the most important doctrines of Christianity. We also see Jesus talking about this in John 14 when he says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another helper, to be with you forever” (v.15-16). We see all three persons of the Trinty in these two verses with Jesus asking the Father to give us the Holy Spirit. But while the Trinty does have perfect union with one another, Jesus tells us in John 17 that those who believe in him will not only have unity with one another, but that we will also share in the unity of him and the Father (v.21-23). We see this same idea in Romans 8 where Paul writes, “if [we are] children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (v.17). How cool is that! God not only gives us eternal life through salvation, but he also gives us unity and fellowship with himself.
- Christ and the Father have always had unity and glory together (v.5, 24). Not only do Christ and the Father currently have unity and glory together, but they have also always had it “before the foundations of the world” (John 17:24). We know this because “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8), and “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17).
- Jesus is going to his Father (v.11, 13). While his disciples are sad and confused about his going away, Jesus assures them saying, “It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7). It is understandable why the disciples do not understand this at the time, but it is all for their benefit that Jesus goes to prepare a place for them (John 14:2-3).
- We and Jesus are not of this world (v.14, 16). If we are truly disciples of Christ, then we are other-worldly. We have been “enriched in [Christ] in all speech and all knowledge…so that [we] are not lacking any gift” (1 Corinthians 1:5, 7). We are also told that while we are “in the world” (John 17:11), we are not to be “of the world” (v.16). We see this same idea in Romans, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (12:2). We are to be “set apart for the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1), and “holy, as [God] is holy” (Leviticus 11:44).
- Christ desires for us to be sanctified in truth (v.17, 19). It is the will of God that we are sanctified and drawn closer to him throughout the course of our lives (Philippians 2:12-13; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:13). There is only one way for us to be sanctified, and that is by truth, which is God’s Word (John 17:17).
- Christ has made known the name of the Father (v.6, 26). In everything Jesus did, his goal was to glorify God the Father. All throughout his ministry, we see Jesus’ submission to the will of the Father (Matthew 26:39, 42; John 4:34, 6:38, 14:24, 17:1). Likewise, we should submit to Christ and by doing so, we also submit to the Father.
There are many more truths from John 17, but there are the most repeated ones and when something is repeated, we know that it is important. I would encourage you to read through this passage and see these truths for yourself; do not just take my word for it.