John 17 is a prayer, the sacerdotal prayer, that Jesus prays in the midst of the disciples, somewhat as a sermon. What is prayer? Jesus knew what was going to happen and what the Father was going to do, even after he ascended. But he prayed for His own strength, and that His disciples would be strengthened. In the prayer that Our Lord gave us, we ask for him to do things He has already done (“hallowed be Your name”), but we ask them because we are weak.
Throughout this prayer, Jesus connects himself to His Father, and then Himself to His disciples, and finally, His disciples to His church. It is through this line we receive the Gospel.
Jesus has spent the last couple of hours giving His final teaching to his disciples, and with this prayer, He first looks at himself. He needs His father’s help as much as His disciples. Then he turns His attention to His disciples, those He has trained and prays for their strength.
v. 20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,”
Note how Jesus connects the church to the Apostles. Jesus has first testified to the father, and now the disciples will testify to what they have seen and believed about Jesus. (16:30, and post-resurrection). Throughout this prayer, Jesus has connected his work (His “glory”) to His union with God, and the work that God sent him to do.
Grammatical point: the word of the disciples comes before in me. Faith always come through hearing the message, God’s word to us. (Mary conceived through her ears.)
v. 21 that they may all 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.
We have access to the Father via the Son. Through the Son’s work, we can stand forgiven before the Father.
Where are we one with Christ? In His supper. This is an uncomfortable topic. In the age of ecumenism and our ELCA cousins badgering us, we de-emphasize how we are united to our fellow believers at the Lord’s table. It is an easy trap to fall into-we only talk about the forgiveness we receive at the table, and then, we feel awkward when we tell our neighbors they can’t go to the supper, and they take it personally. We need to take seriously how the Supper judges us.
Through Christ word’s here, we can be assured that no matter what disagreements we may have, we will always be one in Him, because of how He is one with God.
v. 22 “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one” God’s glory is through suffering. Glory doesn’t just mean shiny stuff. Glory is the work of Jesus, that He would set His majesty and titles aside, all so that we should be forgiven.