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Jesus prays for all believers

Jesus prays for all believers
Jesus prays for all believers
The Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh
The Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh, Special Writer

Background text: John 17:6-19
Devotional text: John 17:20-26

For the past three weeks, we have looked at God and answered prayer. At this point, it seems fitting to look at the prayer of Jesus for his disciples and all future believers.
These prayers are found in John 17:6-26. The time and place are just after The Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples in The Upper Room. After their meal, Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane along with his disciples.

As Jesus went a short distance away to pray, he left his disciples to keep watch. The time was growing short when the Roman soldiers would arrest Jesus and take him away. As he prayed, his disciples fell asleep.

Before praying to God for the disciples, and subsequently for all who would become believers, Jesus prayed to the Father God concerning himself.

Beginning with verse six, Jesus began to pray for the disciples, saying to God, “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me, and they have obeyed your word.”

Continuing on, Jesus spoke to God about the beliefs of the disciples: “Now they know that everything you have given me came from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.”

Those who became disciples of Jesus had followed him in his three-year ministry and had come to believe that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah.

Previously in John 14:1-10, Jesus had spoken to his disciples about going to heaven and preparing a place for them. One of the disciples, Thomas, questioned Jesus about how could they know the way to where Jesus was going.

Jesus answered with the famous quote for all believers: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Another disciple, Philip, then asked Jesus to show them the Father. His response to Philip was, “Don’t you know me, Philip, after all this time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? … ”

Jesus spoke these words to his followers so they would truly realize that he, Jesus, was the Messiah (Savior) and that he and God the Father were the same. To see and know one was to see and know the other.

Now, as Jesus, the Son, prayed for his disciples to the Father, Jesus had begun his prayer by acknowledging that they did believe. This prayer for the disciples, known as one of the most important prayers in the Bible, would show all believers — past, present and future — the great love that God has for us.

After offering to God the faithfulness of his followers, Jesus said, “I pray for them.”
The next verses show us Jesus’ concern for his disciples. They speak to all believers in the same way today.

In verse 11, Jesus reminded God that “I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.”
Jesus continued in the next verse, “While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me … ”

How wonderful to know that Jesus kept his followers safe and protected when he dwelt on Earth with them. How wonderful that even as Jesus was about to suffer the passion, to die for our sins for our salvation, he was concerned about his disciples, just as he is still concerned about those who are believers today.

Not only that, but Jesus asked for God to protect us by the power of his name, that is, the name Jesus. Just as today, when we end our prayers to the Lord, we say, “in the name of Jesus, Amen.” In essence, based on the prayer of Jesus, we are saying, “by the will and the power of God who protects us, so be it (or it is true).”

As we come to verse 15, Jesus prayed, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one.”

These are important words for all believers to know. Jesus prayed to God for our protection from the evil in the world. That is also why, when we pray The Lord’s Prayer, found in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4, we say, in part, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” The Luke prayer leaves off “deliver us from evil,” and the Matthew prayer sometimes adds “but deliver us from the evil one.”

Keeping believers safe from temptation and evil (the evil one referring to satan), is important in prayer. Jesus prayed for us to be protected, and Jesus taught us to pray against temptation and evil when he taught us to pray in Matthew and Luke.

As we begin to see from the gospel of John, we understand that Jesus and God are one. We understand that as the disciples were taught by and came to understand the teachings of Jesus, they learned he truly was (and is) the Savior. Jesus taught them the power of his name, the power of prayer, and he sent them into the world to teach salvation to all would believe.

Next week, we will conclude the prayer of Jesus in John 17, as he prayed for all future believers.