“I pray for them.”
Perhaps the best title for John 17 is, “The Lord’s Prayer.” As the hour of His betrayal, arrest, and crucifixion approaches, Jesus takes time to pray for His disciples. His prayer, while encompassing many things, seems to focus upon three thoughts.
First, Jesus prays for His followers that they may be one. Division within the body of Christ has been one of the most confusing things for the unbelieving world. If Christians all believe in the same God, are washed in the same blood, and filled with the same Spirit, then why is there so much division in the church? Some division is good. Worship styles are different. It is good to have lots of variety within the church in order to provide an atmosphere where people are able to connect with God. Also, cultures are different, and to some degree, the church should be relevant to the culture, in order to win souls to Christ. That being said, much of the division in the church is wrong and harmful. The church fights with itself over petty differences and misunderstandings. It is as if we believed that our church is the only real church. Thank God, Jesus is praying for us.
Second, Jesus prays for His followers, that we might be kept from evil. Christianity would be so much easier if the moment we made a decision to follow Christ, we were translated from this life into eternity. It would be easy to know who the true believers were, because they would be gone. It would be easy to give up the temptations of life, because we would be in Heaven. It would, however, make evangelism very difficult, because there would be no one left to share Christ. Jesus prays for us, that we would withstand the temptations of life. It encourages me to know that He faced what we face, and He overcame through the power of the Word of God, and the Spirit of God in His daily life.
Finally, His prayer is like a commission. In it, He makes mention of the fact that He is sending us into the world. We, His church, are His solution for reaching the lost. Later, He makes it clear that we are fully equipped when He states,
“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:18-19
We are sent into the world with the authority of Jesus, the blessing of the Father, and the empowering of the Spirit. As you go forth today, keep in mind, Jesus is praying for you, that you might be kept as you go.