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Jesus Intercessory Prayer: His Unanswered Prayer - Part One - John 17:1 - 12

Posted on February 4, 2018

Jesus Intercessory Prayer: His Unanswered Prayer – Part One

John 17:1 – 12

Scripture Reading:

John 17: 1 – 5

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

Introduction: Quote: “A man cannot live without prayer. A man cannot live unless he takes his breath, nor can the soul unless it breathes forth its desires to God.” – English Puritan Thomas Watson

  • Prayer was essential for Jesus. Jesus prayed all night before choosing His disciples, He prayed for them while they were in ministry together, He prayed for them as He was about to die and He prays for them and us in heaven as the high priest before God’s throne.


  • This passage follows Jesus in the Upper Room washing the disciple’s feet and encouraging them to do likewise
  • Then Jesus give private instructions to the disciples about what to expect and what to do when He is gone
    • The transition from depending on Him to praying to the Father and depending on the Holy Spirit
    • Now Jesus will pray for Himself in chapter 17, then for His disciples, and then for us as believers down through the ages.

Purpose: Every Christ follower should honor God with our lives because of the gift of eternal life that He has graciously given to us.

Transition: Let’s look into what some have called Jesus High Priestly Prayer or The Lord’s Prayer.

May the Father be revered – John 17: 1-5

  • Jesus wanted to honor and treat His Heavenly Father with the respect and majesty that He rightfully deserves.
  • Through ending of Jesus life

John 17:1-2a

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh

  • My Father – intimate and personal prayer. Jesus uses this word as a picture of the relationship He possessed with the Father three times
    • It was a picture of the equality Jesus had with His Father as well as showing His distinctive difference from Him. He was physical and God is spirit
  • My time has come – Jesus knew it was time to unfold God’s redemption story. The plans God had made in eternity past were about to happen
  • Glorify Your Son – God would sustain His Son through the crucifixion, He would accept the sacrifice of the cross, and He would resurrect and then exalt His Son back to His rightful place in heaven where He first came from.
  • All that so that the Son would glorify the Father through that.
  • In verse 2, we see that Jesus was granted authority by the Father
    • Last week we pointed out that Jesus had the authority to judge
    • Now He is given authority to give eternal life
    • Through the giving of eternal life

John 17:2b-3

To give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent

  • Jesus is the source of eternal life and is one of the central themes in the writings of John the apostle
    • Jesus possessed divine authority in ministry, in His death and after the cross
      • He laid His life down, no one took it from Him and caused His death

John 10:17-18

For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

  • Many religious leaders and prophets claim to offer eternal life but Jesus is the only one who has the authority to grant it!!
  • The word know (ginōskōsin) here in the present tense, is often used in the Septuagint and sometimes in the Greek New Testament to describe the intimacy of a sexual relationship (e.g., Gen 4:1, “lay”; Matt. 1:25, “had … union”). Thus, a person who knows God has an intimate personal relationship with Him. And that relationship is eternal, not temporal
  • Eternal life is not simply endless existence. Everyone will exist somewhere forever (cf. Matt. 25:46), but the question is, in what condition or in what relationship will they spend eternity? -Blum, E. A. (1985). John. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 331). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
    • Blessed everlasting life in union with Christ
    • The life of God in the soul of man
    • The possession of never ending peace in your heart
    • Love
    • Joy
    • Predetermined life of shared fellowship
    • Quality of life not just quantity of life
    • Intimate, ongoing permanent fellowship with God
    •  Present reality
    • Fully experienced in the life to come
    • That is what it means to have eternal life
    • Through Jesus exaltation

 John 17:4-5

4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

  • Jesus is finishing His work on earth
    • He is revealing the confidence He has in God’s plan
    • He is setting an example to His disciple’s and you and I as fellow believers to trust in God’s sovereign control.
    • Jesus would stop at nothing to obey God’s will – even death on a cross.
    • In verse 5 we see that Jesus will be restored to His place of position and honor where He was before leaving for Bethlehem

John 1:1 – 2 – Face to face with God

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God

Philippians 2:5-8

5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross

Philippians 2:9-11

9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

  • These first five verses are all about Jesus telling the Father He can’t wait to finish His work on earth and be face to face to face with the Father once again.
  • How is your relationship with the Father?
    • Can you look back over last week and see how God has shown His special favor and love toward you? Have you had a joyous time communing with Him?

Illustration: Personal on Tuesday

Application: Is your relationship with the Father becoming more intimate day by day?

Transition: Now Jesus turns His prayer to the disciples who had ministered and lived with Him for the past three years.

May Christ followers have an eternal place reserved for them – John 17:6-12

  • The evidence of belief

John 17:6

6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.


  • Verse six brings up the question we have seen throughout the Gospel of John. Where does God’s sovereignty begin and end with salvation and where does human responsibility begin and end. We see this in verses 6 – 10
  • Jesus said He manifested or put on display or to make something visible that was invisible
  • (Verse 6), In the Bible, “name” refers to “nature,” because names so often were given to reveal something special about the nature of the person bearing the name. Jacob was a schemer, and his name comes from a Hebrew root that means “to take by the heel,” i.e., to trip up, to deceive (Gen. 25:26). The name Isaac means “laughter” (Gen. 21:6) because he brought joy to Abraham and Sarah. Even the name Jesus reveals that He is the Savior (Matt. 1:21). - Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, pp. 368–369). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  • “Out of the world” – true believers are called out of the world system, the kingdom of darkness and are a gift of God to the Son. As believers, we are responsible to be careful not to be polluted by the world and try to be friends with the world

James 1:27

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

James 4:4

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Illustration: A [2006] medical study reveals just how difficult change is for people. Roughly 600,000 people have heart bypasses a year in America. These people are told after their bypasses that they must change their lifestyle. The heart bypass is a temporary fix. They must change their diet. They must quit smoking and drinking. They must exercise and reduce stress.

In essence, the doctors say, "Change or die."

You would think that a near-death experience would forever grab the attention of the patients. You would think they would vote for change. You would think the argument for change is so compelling that the patients would make the appropriate lifestyle alterations. Sadly, that is not the case.

Ninety percent of the heart patients do not change. They remain the same, living the status quo. Study after study indicates that two years after heart surgery, the patients have not altered their behavior. Instead of making changes for life, they choose death.

Change is that difficult. The majority of the heart patients choose not to change. They act as if they would rather die.

  • In verse six we see the words “Yours they were”

Ephesians 1:4

Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world

  • Even before their the conversion, the disciples belonged to God
  • The same for each of us who are Christ followers. We are gift to Jesus from God the Father
  • The disciples were true believers Jesus was saying because they “kept the Father’s word.” That was a result or evidence of their salvation
  • It is apparent in verse 7, the disciples are starting to understand more clearly the mission God the Father gave to His Son

John 17:7-8

7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.

  • They believed who Jesus claimed to be that He came down from heaven and only He spoke the true words of eternal life.
  • They believed the truths even though they may not have completely understood their significance
  • In verse 8, we see the disciples took those words into their heart and applied them and it infected how they behaved
  • Jesus is describing in verse 8 the culmination of the disciples’ spiritual journey.

Quote: “The response of these men did not seem like very much. But for them to see the source of these things was a spiritual miracle more wonderful than the miracle of a man born physically blind being enabled, for the first time, to see the wonder of a tree, the glory of a sunset, the mobile mystery of a human face.” - John Phillips – Exploring the Gospel of John

  • This was evidenced by them dying for the most part a martyr’s death for what they believed

How Did the Disciples Die?

  • Andrew: According to 15th Century religious historian Dorman Newman, Andrew—the brother of Peter—went to Patras in western Greece in 69 AD, where the Roman proconsul Aegeates debated religion with him. Aegeates tried to convince Andrew to forsake Christianity, so that he would not have to torture and execute him. But when that didn’t work, apparently, he decided to give Andrew the full treatment. Andrew was scourged, and then tied rather than nailed to a cross, so that he would suffer for a longer time before dying. Andrew lived for two days, during which he preached to passersby.
  • Thomas: Apparently Thomas preached the gospel in Greece and India, where he angered local religious authorities, who martyred him by running him through with a spear.
  • Matthew: According to legend, the former tax collector turned missionary was martyred in Ethiopia, where he was supposedly stabbed in the back by a swordsman sent by King Hertacus, after he criticized the king’s morals.
  • Now let’s turn lastly, Jesus turns in prayer to the preservation of life for His disciples both then and into eternity.
  • The eternal preservation

John 17:9

I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.

  • Jesus is not just praying for the disciples but also praying for you!
    • Not those that are lost in the world
    • God does show common grace and love for all His created beings

Matthew 5:45

For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

  • He desires men everywhere to repent
  • He extends the Gospel presentation to all who will receive it.
  • But Jesus is specifically praying here for those who are part of His fold and for His disciples to be protected through the time of His crucifixion and onward
  • In verse 10 we see that Jesus believed His disciples belonged to God

John 17:10

10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.

  • The disciple’s faith here brings glory to Christ. You and I bring glory to Christ as we faithfully live our lives for Him.
    • In the OT, God’s glory was displayed in various forms
    • In the NT, Jesus was God’s glory revealed in physical form
    • Then, we read here the disciples are for His glory
    • Then, we see the Church Age with the Holy Spirit, the Word of God and the believers bringing glory to God.

John 17:11

11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.

  • Notice the present tense verbs in this verse.
    • Soon His mission would be complete and He would be leaving
    • The disciples would remain in the world to spread the message of the kingdom
    • The disciples would face hostility and persecution
    • The hatred the people had for Jesus would now turn to the disciples
    • Jesus uses a different name for His Father – Holy Father. Only place this name was used. This name described the character and essence of who God was
      • Jesus is asking His Holy Father to keep them secure, to guard the disciples based on the strength of His holy character/ attributes
      • What would it mean to us if we could lose our salvation?
  1. 1.    He would be unable to keep His promise
  2. 2.    The grace of God would not be powerful enough to hold on to us into eternity
  3. 3.    Loss of Christ’s glory since we are considered His glory
  4. 4.    Loss of the meaning of the cross
  • Jesus would have to be crucified again according to Hebrews 10
  1. 5.    Man’s will to choose is stronger than God’s ability to keep us
  2. 6.    God would give Jesus the gift of those who had responded to the message of eternal life only for Christ to possibly lose the gift.
  • The disciples were secured to become perfect with new bodies and minds in heaven – I Peter 1:5 – reserved an inheritance
  • The Holy Father secured their unity with one another.
  • Jesus is praying here in verse 11 for the real, constant unity that is invisible, the oneness of believer and that they share in common eternal life
  • Beyond individual believers, we also have the fellowship of the church: “that they may be one, as we are” (John 17:11). The New Testament knows nothing of isolated believers; wherever you find saints, you find them in fellowship. Why? Because God’s people need each other. Jesus opened His Upper Room message by washing the disciples’ feet and teaching them to minister to one another. In the hours that would follow, these men (including confident Peter!) would discover how weak they were and how much they needed each other’s encouragement. -Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 370). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  • This unity is celebrated each time a sinner comes to faith in Christ and joins the unified universal church. Luke 15 says there is rejoicing in heaven over one lost sinner who has come to Christ
  • This unity crosses all denominational lines, all ethnicities, produces an effective gospel and testimony to the lost. Unity in Christ is produced ONLY by the Holy Spirit and all share a common love for God, a commitment to His Word and a love for His people. One who is unified with other believers in the church are separated from the world system.
  • These are some of the characteristics of Christian unity laid out in scripture

John 17:12

12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

  • While Jesus was with His disciples, He empowered them, taught them, and shielded them from harm
  • Now Jesus is asking His Father to first of all preserve and watch over them for the rest of their lives and to protect them from outside dangers.

Illustration: Watching your child at a playground – make sure they are safe and having fun and protecting them from outside dangers

  • Jesus speaks here about Judas Iscariot in his prayer
    • Remember that Judas willingly made the choice to reject Jesus and that God did not make Him
    • But, and that is a big but since Judas made his choice to betray Jesus, God used his choice to accomplish His purposes and bring greater glory through Him.
    • Examples – Joseph - what you meant for evil God meant for good – Genesis 50:20
      • Pharaoh

Romans 9:17

17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”

  • He allows these things; the choices men make, even evil choices, to turn it into good and to proclaim His name loudly to the world around us bringing glory to Himself.

Application: Are you drawing closer to God with your trust as you sense the Father’s hand of protection?

Transition: They responded to God’s truth by keeping His Word because they are a gift from God to Jesus from eternity past and kept into the future eternity.

Key Thought: May we honor God with our lives as we rest in His eternal protection

Three Questions to Ponder this Week

1.    How sincerely are you honoring the Father with your words, attitudes and behavior?

2.    How well do you know your Heavenly Father?

3.    Are you living confidently that you are kept and guarded by the Father into eternity?

John 17:3

And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.