PFOA : John 17:6-12

Read John 17:6-12

Jesus’ ministry on earth is ending. Soon He will cry on the cross, “It is finished!” Over the previous three years, the disciples have been learning from Jesus, observing Him as He gave sight to the blind, healed the lame, cleansed lepers, restored hearing to the deaf, raised the dead, drove out demons and demonstrated His power and authority over nature. They have heard him preach the good news to the poor, speak to the masses that came to Him, debate with the rabbis on issues of law, and outsmart those who tried to trick and trap Him. They have spent much time with Him, walking on the roads, sailing in boats, visiting homes, sharing meals – always listening to what He has to say. They have watched and heard Him pray, and now, in their presence, Jesus prays for them, His disciples. After three years as an intimate community, Jesus is leaving them.

Who are the “ones” Jesus prays for? In the immediate context, these are the remaining eleven disciples (v.12). Jesus describes them as the ones belonging to the Father and given to Him (v.9). In the sovereignty of God, they had always belonged to the Father, chosen “in Him before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4). We usually think of Jesus as God’s gift to us; here we see that we ourselves are God’s gift to His Son (v.10). But there is a difference – God’s gift of Jesus to us is for the good of the recipient (us) and the glory of the giver (the Father); but God giving us to Jesus is for the good of the gift (us again), and the glory of the recipient (Jesus).

The disciples were given to Jesus for Him to reveal to them the truth that He was sent by the Father. The words He taught them were the words of the Father. The disciples had received these words, believed Him, and had come to know the truth. God in His sovereignty, mercy, grace and love had chosen these disciples, yet they had to hear and receive the word for themselves, accept the truth and believe it in their hearts. This is not fatalism, the disciples were not robots – the faith was the disciple’s believing faith, the obedience was their intentional obeying.

Jesus begins by praying for the Father to “keep them in [His] name”. As we shall see later, He also prays that the Father will protect them (v.15), sanctify them (v.17) and give them His love (v.26). But first, Jesus asks the Father to “keep them”, just as He has kept them. “Keep” speaks of the relationship, demonstrated by Jesus while on earth with His disciples, and now He prays for that same intimacy to be found in the relationship between the Father and the disciples.

Our relationship with God is not we desperately trying to hold on to Him. It is the Father who keeps us close, and Jesus who prays for us. The only barrier that separates us from God is our unrepentant sinfulness (Ps 66:18).