Jesus’ Life and Ministry
Concluding Prayer in the Upper Room
MOVED by deep love for his apostles, Jesus has been preparing them for his imminent departure. Now, after admonishing and comforting them at length, he raises his eyes to heaven and petitions his Father: “Glorify your son, that your son may glorify you, according as you have given him authority over all flesh, that, as regards the whole number whom you have given him, he may give them everlasting life.”
What a stirring theme Jesus introduces—everlasting life! Having been given “authority over all flesh,” Jesus can impart the benefits of his ransom sacrifice to all dying humankind. Yet, he grants “everlasting life” only to those whom the Father approves. Building on this theme of everlasting life, Jesus continues his prayer:
“This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” Yes, salvation is dependent upon our taking in knowledge of both God and his Son. But more is needed than just head knowledge.
A person must come to know them intimately, developing an understanding friendship with them. One must feel as they do about matters and see things through their eyes. And above all, a person must strive to imitate their matchless qualities in dealing with others.
Jesus next prays: “I have glorified you on the earth, having finished the work you have given me to do.” Having thus fulfilled his assignment up to this point and being confident of his future success, he petitions: “Father, glorify me alongside yourself with the glory that I had alongside you before the world was.” Yes, he now asks to be restored to his previous heavenly glory by means of a resurrection.
Summarizing his principal work on earth, Jesus says: “I have made your name manifest to the men you gave me out of the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have observed your word.” Jesus used God’s name, Jehovah, in his ministry and demonstrated a correct pronunciation of it, but he did more than that to make God’s name manifest to his apostles. He also expanded their knowledge and appreciation of Jehovah, of his personality, and of his purposes.
Crediting Jehovah as his Superior, the One under whom he serves, Jesus humbly acknowledges: “The sayings that you gave me I have given to them, and they have received them and have certainly come to know that I came out as your representative, and they have believed that you sent me.”
Making a distinction between his followers and the rest of mankind, Jesus next prays: “I make request, not concerning the world, but concerning those you have given me . . . When I was with them I used to watch over them . . . , and I have kept them, and not one of them is destroyed except the son of destruction,” namely, Judas Iscariot. At this very moment, Judas is on his despicable mission to betray Jesus. Thus, Judas is unknowingly fulfilling the Scriptures.
“The world has hated them,” Jesus continues to pray. “I request you, not to take them out of the world, but to watch over them because of the wicked one. They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.” Jesus’ followers are in the world, this organized human society ruled by Satan, but they are and must always remain separate from it and its wickedness.
“Sanctify them by means of the truth,” Jesus continues, “your word is truth.” Here Jesus calls the inspired Hebrew Scriptures, from which he continually quoted, “the truth.” But what he taught his disciples and what they later wrote under inspiration as the Christian Greek Scriptures is likewise “the truth.” This truth can sanctify a person, change his life completely, and make him a person separate from the world.
Jesus now prays “not concerning these only, but also concerning those putting faith in [him] through their word.” So Jesus prays for those who will be his anointed followers and other future disciples who yet will be gathered into “one flock.” What does he request for all of these? “That they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in union with me and I am in union with you, . . . that they may be one just as we are one.”
Jesus and his Father are not literally one person, but they are in agreement on all things. Jesus prays that his followers enjoy this same oneness so that “the world may have the knowledge that you sent me forth and that you loved them just as you loved me.”
In behalf of those who would be his anointed followers, Jesus now makes a request of his heavenly Father. For what? “That, where I am, they also may be with me, in order to behold my glory that you have given me, because you loved me before the founding of the world,” that is, when Adam and Eve conceived their first offspring. Long before that, God loved his only-begotten Son, who became Jesus Christ.
Concluding his prayer, Jesus again emphasizes: “I have made your name known to them and will make it known, in order that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in union with them.” For the apostles, learning the name of God has involved personally coming to know the love of God. John 17:1-26; 10:16; Proverbs 8:22, 30.
▪ In what sense has Jesus been given “authority over all flesh”?
▪ What does it mean to take in knowledge of God and his Son?
▪ In what ways did Jesus make God’s name manifest?
▪ What is “the truth,” and how does it “sanctify” a Christian?
▪ How are God, his Son, and all true worshipers one?
▪ When was “the founding of the world”?