Jesus had just explained to his disciples one more time what was about to happen to him: “I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father” “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”(John 16:28). Jesus had been plain about it. The gospels record at least three times that he went into detail to explain to them what was going to happen. The chapters before our text record several times when Jesus tried to get them to understand. For example in John 14:1-3, They claim to understand but their words would leave you wondering.
Now Jesus begins to pray. One of the things we know about prayer is that it usually expresses what is on one’s heart so if we take a look at this prayer, we can find out what was going through his head as he entered into the time of his betrayal, trial and murder. There are at least three things that seem important to him.
First, he wants his Father with him to help him. He says, “Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed” (John 17:5). Jesus knew that his time on earth was about over. He knew what lay before him must take place and was planned before the foundation of the earth. Now he is asking for help from the only one who could give it to him.
Secondly, Jesus prayed for the group that we call “the apostles.” He prayed, “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. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours”“I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one” “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:8-9). He knew that they were going to be in a world hostile to God, himself and them. Therefore, he prayed, (John 17:15). He also prayed, (John 17:17).
The third part of Jesus’ prayer was for you and me. His words were: “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me”“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:20-21). He went on to say, (John 17:24).
So what was Jesus thinking about in the hours before his crucifixion? First, he was thinking about home and being with his Father and needing his Father’s help to make it through his ordeal. He was concerned about the ones he was leaving behind and the help they would need to carry on what God had planned for them to do. And finally, he was concerned about you and me and us making it to heaven.
As we participate in the body and blood of Christ, let us be thankful for his concern that allowed him to die in our stead.
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