Before us is a portion of the prayer which Jesus prayed just prior to crossing over the brook Cedron and entering into the garden of Gethsemane. In John 17, Jesus requests: (1) that He be glorified, (2) that His disciples have the same relationship as exists between the Son and the Father, and (3) that all who would ever believe on the Son be one as the Father and Son are one. Verses 6 through 19 is that which Jesus asks for His disciples. In verses 20 and 21, Jesus requests that all future believers be one with Him and the Father.
Jesus spoke to the Father saying: “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world” (v. 6). Jesus had delivered the words which the Father had given Him to the disciples (v. 8). Jesus, however, had not yet made the love of the Father fully known to them. Full manifestation of the Father’s love would wait until the only begotten Son should give Himself upon the cross as the sin payment for whosoever should believe in Him (Jn. 3:16).
In verse 11, Jesus, using the present tense, stated: “And now I am no more in the world.” The disciples heard these words when Jesus was present with them.
In verse 12, Jesus, continuing to address the Father, said, “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name.” Again, the disciples heard these words when Jesus was in the flesh and was present among them.
We know and the disciples knew that Jesus was physically present among them when He spoke these words. Through His prayer, however, we see Jesus in the presence of the Father. We hear Jesus pray the words of a high priest. We see Jesus interceding for the disciples.
The passage of scripture before us reveals that which the disciples heard and when they heard it. Our understanding of the picture before us is dependent upon the teaching of the Holy Spirit. The disciples saw that which the Father intended. They saw Jesus pray to the Father on their behalf. Their full understanding of that which they saw, however, would wait until Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4) when the Father would send the Holy Spirit to teach them all things and cause them to remember all the words which Jesus had spoken (Jn. 14:26).
Believers know the Father through the Son. The Son reveals the Father in this prayer. In verse 6, Jesus identifies the disciples as men which the Father gave to Him. Those which the Father gave to the Son heard Jesus say “Follow me” (see Matthew 4, Mark 1, Luke 5, and John 1). Whom did the Father give to the Son? The Father gave the Son them who would hear the Son and follow Him. The Father gave the Son them who would keep the Father’s word (v. 6). The Father knew the disciples before they knew Him. It is through the Son that we know the omniscience of the Father.
The Father would give to the Son them who would come to know with certainty that all that Jesus said and did was of God the Father (v. 7). The Father would give them who would surely know that Jesus came from God the Father and that God the Father had sent Jesus (v. 8). Through Jesus’ prayer, we know the Father chooses them who shall hear and obey.
Through Jesus’ prayer, we know that those who belong to the Son belong to the Father and those who belong to Father belong to the Son (v. 10). Through Jesus’ prayer, we know the oneness of the Father and the Son. The Father chooses them who shall glorify the Son (v. 10).
In His prayer, Jesus makes the Father’s will known to the disciples (and us). Because the Father and the Son are one, the will of the Father is the will of the Son and vice versa. It is the will of the Father that the disciples be one “as we are” (v. 11). The Father and the Son exist in perfect harmony. It is the will of the Father that the disciples (and all believers) be of one accord.
In v. 13, Jesus makes the reason known to the eleven why that He goes to the Father. Jesus would have the fulfillment of His joy be realized in them. The fulfillment of His joy is dependent upon the Son going to the Father. The fulfillment of His joy is dependent upon Jesus’ sending the Comforter. The Comforter (the Holy Spirit) will not come except Jesus be with the Father (see Jn. 16:7). Without the presence of the Holy Spirit, the disciples (and all believers) cannot have oneness with Christ. Oneness with Christ is the fulfillment of His joy.
Believers are in the world but are one with the Son who is in heaven with the Father. The disciples and all believers are made one through and by the Holy Spirit. Believers are no longer of the world but have become one with Jesus by the Holy Spirit (v. 16).
The world “hath hated” (past tense) [v. 14] the disciples because they are (present tense) not of the world as Jesus is not of this world. The rules of the earth do not apply to them who are born of the Son.
Jesus, in the very presence of the Father, asks Him to protect the disciples from the evil one (v. 15). Jesus asks the Father to sanctify them through “thy truth” (v. 17).
Would that all men hear the truth that the Comforter teaches. Would that all men know the love of God the Father.