John 17: Yeshua’s Great Prayer


We have been walking with Yeshua through the book of John. We’re at the end of the life of the Most Important Man who ever lived. That man is also the Messiah and the Son of God and the one and only Savior of humanity, able to rescue us from the real and deadly forces of Satan and the demons, sin and the sin nature, death and Hell.

It’s Yeshua’s last day on Earth. It’s a special day – the first day of Passover. It’s the day Messiah will die a very special death, as God’s Passover Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. That makes this one of the most important days in history.

Yeshua will eat a final meal, a Passover seder, with His most important followers, the men He will entrust with His on-going mission of world salvation. During the meal, Yeshua gives His final teachings. He prays – which is where we are today. Then, He will leave, and be arrested, tried, tortured and crucified.

Prayer, talking to the Creator, is one of the highest, noblest things we can do. John records one of the greatest prayers of all time – if not the greatest prayer. It’s prayed by The Greatest Person. It’s prayed on one of the greatest occasions. It’s a prayer about profound truths and the greatest things.

It’s a prayer for Yeshua to endure His coming ordeal and return to His Father’s presence.

It’s a prayer for His disciples.

It’s a prayer for us.

After Yeshua said this, He looked toward Heaven and prayed: Note that while many Christians pray with their eyes closed and heads bowed, Yeshua prayed in the traditional Jewish way – with eyes open, looking up to God in Heaven.

Father, the hour has come – the hour being the time of Yeshua’s very special death, a death which would atone for the sin of the world.

Glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You. Yeshua was completely God-centered, not self-centered. Yeshua constantly thought about what was best for His Father, what would honor His Father; careful to avoid anything that would dishonor Him. He knew that just as a human father receives honor when his son does well, so God the Father receives honor when His Son does well. And so Yeshua asked His Father to honor Him by enabling Him to endure His sufferings and die well; and by restoring Him to His place of honor. Yeshua’s suffering and death and resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God honors Yeshua, and that also honors God. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You.

Yeshua acknowledged that God would honor Him in three very special ways: For You granted Him authority over all people that He might give eternal life to all those You have given Him. If my son was a mayor of a major city, or the governor of a state, that would be an honor for him, and that would also honor me. God the Father has authorized Yeshua to be the leader of not just one city or state, but all cities, all states and all nations, all people. That honors Yeshua, and also brings honor to His Father – God.

The second way the Father honors Yeshua is by giving Yeshua the authority to give eternal life to all those human beings that God the Father gives to God the Son. If someone gave me a million dollars, I would honor for his generosity to me. The sons and daughters of God are the most valuable things in the universe, worth more than all the gold and silver in the world. The Father has given these exceedingly precious treasures to His Son. That honors the Son which in turn honors His Father.

The third way the Father honors the Son is by authorizing Yeshua to give eternal life to His followers. I am almost 60. If I was close to death, and someone could add 20 years to my life, I would honor that person who did that great thing for me. God the Father has authorized Yeshua to be the One who gives not 20 years of extra life, but eternal life to every man and woman the Father gives to the Son. That brings great honor to Yeshua, which also honors His Father.

How are human beings given eternal life? On what basis? Sinai Covenant law-keeping? Our good deeds outweighing our bad deeds? Being a good person? None of those. Yeshua knew it was something else entirely different. Now this is eternal life: that they know You, the only true God, and Messiah Yeshua, whom You have sent. To live forever, a person cannot be an agnostic or atheist. He can’t have the philosophy that human effort or good deeds or any religion other than Christianity is sufficient. To experience eternal life, a human being must know there is only one God, who is Three and yet One. He must know that Yeshua is the Son of God, and the Messiah – the ultimate prophet, priest, king whom God the Father sent to rescue human beings from Satan and the demons, sin and the sin nature, death and Hell. People must know this and commit themselves to the Father and the Son. Anything other than that and there is no eternal life. Now this is eternal life: that they know You, the only true God, and Messiah Yeshua, whom You have sent.

When I give my son an important responsibility, and he completes that responsibility with excellence, my son shows me respect. He honors me. Yeshua honored His Father in the same way. I have brought You glory on Earth by finishing the work You gave Me to do. What was that work? Honor God in everything He said and did. Reveal what God is like. Teach human beings the truth. Die a sacrificial death to make it possible for people to be reconciled to God.

Yeshua is older than the world. He preceded the creation of the universe and everything in it. Before there was Earth, sun, moon and stars, Yeshua enjoyed unimaginable magnificence, glory and honor in the eternal presence of His Father. To accomplish His mission, the Son emptied Himself of some of the glory He had before He came to Earth. Yeshua was confident He would successfully finish His mission. He now asked His Father to welcome Him back into His presence and restore His former glory. And now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence with the glory I had with You before the world began.

Next Yeshua prayed for His disciples. There are several reasons why the Son came into the world. To teach us; to make atonement for humanity – something only He could do; and to reveal what the moral nature of God is like. I have revealed You to those whom You gave Me out of the world. Yeshua successfully revealed what God is like – especially to His disciples. While prior revelation gave us an idea of what God is like, Yeshua’s life and death gave us a much clearer understanding of who God is. Yeshua’s holiness; His hunger for righteousness; His wisdom and grace and patience and love; His willingness to endure rejection, humiliation, torture and death revealed things about the nature of God that Moses and the prophets were not able to reveal. Because of Yeshua, Christians and Messianic Jews are blessed with the greatest revelation about the greatest knowledge of all – the knowledge of God, blessed be He, the great Creator and Redeemer.

God the Father is superior to the Son in position and in authority. He sits on the main throne of Heaven. All things are under His authority, including the Son. All things belong to the Father, including human beings made in His image. But He gave some very special human beings, who obeyed God by believing in Yeshua, to Yeshua. They were Yours; You gave them to Me and they have obeyed Your word – specifically God’s word about Yeshua.

Yeshua had told the disciples the truth, and they responded to the truth with belief – which is fantastic. Fantastic things come from hearing the truth and responding to it with belief. Now they know that everything You have given Me comes 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. Yeshua told them that everything He had – His life, His wisdom, His words, His teaching, His miracles, came from God; and they believed Him. Yeshua told them that He had been with the Father before He came to Earth; and they believed Him. Yeshua told them that the Father had sent Him to Earth; and they believed Him.

Those who believe these things are in an entirely different category from those who don’t. They are in an entirely different relationship to God than those who don’t. They have a future that is different from all others. Yeshua prayed for those who believed Him – not for those who don’t. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those You have given Me, for they are Yours.

Not only is there a complete sharing of nature between the Father and the Son, there is a complete sharing of things – including us. I pray for those You have given Me, for they are Yours. All I have is Yours, and all You have is Mine. Just as we are concerned about things that belong to us, because we belong to Yeshua, the Son is concerned about us and prays for us. How special! How fantastic! To have the Son of God praying for us! What a blessing!

In this world, it’s not easy to have a lot of loyal followers. People are out for themselves and not particularly loyal to others. A man who has many loyal followers, whether he is pop star, blogger, politician, or religious leader, gets honor if he has lots of loyal followers – as does Yeshua. And glory has come to Me through them. Our faithfulness to the Son of God increases His honor; our service to Yeshua, our love for Yeshua, honors Him. And, Yeshua honors those who honor Him. And believe me – you want to be honored by the Son of God.

And He prays for them and their protection and their unity. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father (separate, unique from all others, pure), protect them by the power of Your name (because of who You are – because of Your nature, which is good, because of Your love and power), the name You gave Me (Yeshua shares the same name as the Father, the same nature as the Father, the same divine attributes as the Father), so that they may be one as we are one.

The world hated Yeshua. The world hates Yeshua’s followers. Yeshua prays we will be protected – not that we won’t ever suffer – we will, but that we will overcome, endure to the end, not fall away, that we will arrive safely to the goal.

Yeshua’s prayer for protection is connected to our unity. Yeshua prayed that we would be protected so that we would remain united. Christians and Messianic Jews need to be a united community.

We need to be united to help each other fulfill Yeshua’s ongoing mission which He has entrusted to us.

We need to be united so that the world sees our love and unity and understands Yeshua’s reality as the reason for that love and unity. Sadly, Messiah’s followers have not done a good job maintaining our unity. But, before He returns, I think Yeshua’s prayer will be answered, and we will be one, as the Father and Son are one – sharing a unity of love and support and purpose.

We need protection from forces that will attempt to disrupt our unity – temptation and error and apostasy and pride and greed and the desire for power.

While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name You gave Me. Yeshua acknowledged that He had protected the disciples. He was able to shield them from error and temptation and the opposition. He had taken the brunt of the opposition. He was able to do that because of the name that the Father had given Him – the power and authority the Father had given to Him.

All of the disciples had been kept safe, all except Judas, and there was a reason for that. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled. Judas was never truly part of them. Yeshua was not responsible for Judas’ doom. And the Scripture had to be fulfilled. Those Writings reveals that great leaders, like king David, have frequently had betrayers. The Messiah, who had to be despised and rejected, abandoned by His followers and killed by the leaders who opposed Him could expect the same. The betrayal of the Son of David was in keeping with the Scripture and fulfilled the Scripture. And the doom of Judas fulfilled the Scripture because the Writings teach us that there has always been a faithful remnant who are saved and the traitorous who are doomed.

Yeshua’s teachings, including this prayer that is filled with truth, and knowing that Yeshua prayed these great prayers for us, brings us joy, an internal happiness not dependent on our circumstances. I am coming to You now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of My joy within them.

Joy – yes, but also opposition. Yeshua’s teachings, when implemented, bring the world’s hatred. I have given them Your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. Our loyalties, our values are radically different from anyone else’s, and the world doesn’t like those with radically different values and loyalties – especially in a satanically controlled world. We can expect the world’s hatred and opposition.

Yeshua knew we would be persecuted, but instead of removing us from trials, Yeshua prayed that we would endure our trials and not be seduced by evil. My prayer is not that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Protected from spiritual seduction. Protected from compromise. Protected from cowardice that spiritually paralyzes. Protected from falling away.

Yeshua prayed we would be set apart from the world and from evil by remaining loyal to truth. Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth. The Bible, although written by men, is “Your word.” It is God’s word, and it is impossible for God’s word to be wrong. The Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation is truth, pure truth unmixed with any error. When it is understood and implemented, it is able to sanctify us, set us apart, keep us holy and pure, and therefore safe and protected and victorious.

Yeshua’s followers need to be set apart to fulfill His mission. As You sent Me into the world, I have sent them into the world. Yeshua knew that the Father had sent Him into this world on a great mission. Yeshua sends us into the world with His ongoing mission – to teach; to lead people to atonement; to build up His Community. That means that as individuals, and as a community, we must have a deep sense of mission; we must have a purpose-driven life, the purpose being continuing Yeshua’s ministry to the world. I have never understood those who claim to follow Messiah and have no sense of mission, and are only concerned with improving their lives in this world. May that not be you!

When a leader does something wrong, it can have a devastating impact on others, especially his followers. Yeshua kept Himself holy, not only because it was right; not only to honor His Father; but also to make sure He would set a good example and not harm His followers. For them I sanctify Myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. There have been many times when I have been tempted to do something wrong. In those times of temptation, I consider various reasons why I should not yield to temptation. One of the reasons I consider that has prevented me from giving into temptation is that it might harm the people that God has allowed me to influence – my family, friends, people I have witnessed to, and especially the Shema Community I am privileged to help lead.

After praying for His disciples, Yeshua prayed for us! For you and for me. My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message – that’s us. Although we are many generations from Yeshua’s disciples, we are only one degree of separation from them in message. The message they gave their generation is the very same message we have today! It has been faithfully preserved for us in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and the other writings that form the New Testament.

Yeshua prayed that all of His followers, including us, would experience the same kind of unity that characterizes the unity of Father and Son – a unity that is real and profound. My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. Unity among Christians and Messianic Jews is very important. While the unity of Messiah’s Community has been fragmented over the centuries, it is something that we should pray for and strive for.

Even though we have been very damaged by the Fall and sin has harmed every aspect of who we are; and even though we have done many things that are wrong, Yeshua is so loving and so gracious that He intends to honors us – not just a little, but a lot. I have given them the glory that You gave Me. Just as God the Father highly honors His Son, it’s Yeshua’s intention to highly honor us. Wow! Since that’s true, don’t you want to honor Him – by living for Him, by serving Him?

It’s easier to get along with someone we honor than someone we consider to be dishonorable. Knowing that Yeshua honors His followers should make it easier for us to come together in unity. If Yeshua honors His followers, can’t we honor the other sons and daughters of God and strive to be united with them?

Humanity is divided along many lines – language, geography, race, skin color, religion, ideology, politics, economic status. For thousands of years, the world has been plagued by people hating people; nation hating nation; racism, wars, genocides; holocausts. We must be different. I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and You in Me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me. The honor Christians and Messianic Jews receive from Yeshua and give each other, and the unity we experience will reveal to a divided world the reality of Yeshua; that God sent Yeshua; that God loves Yeshua; that we are united to Yeshua who is united to the Father; that God loves us.

Yeshua prayed that His followers would be with Him in Heaven and see Him in His glorious state. Father, I want those You have given Me to be with Me where I am, and to see My glory, the glory You have given Me because You loved Me before the creation of the world. Though the world might hate Yeshua and dishonor Him, God loves Yeshua and would highly honor Him. The disciples experienced Yeshua as a man – frail; dishonored by His enemies; humiliated, tortured, crucified. He asked His Father to give them another vision of Him – the Son of God in His glory, with all the magnificence the Father who loved Him lavished on Him before the first atom was made.

Righteous Father (the Father is not just a little right or sometimes right, but always and perfectly right), though the world does not know You (human beings are far from God, and don’t know Him the way they need to in order to be in a right relationship with the Righteous Father), I know You (better than anyone else), and they know that You have sent Me. Yeshua’s disciples believed Yeshua was sent by God.

I have made You known to them, and will continue to make You known. Yeshua’s words and actions had revealed God to them, in a greater way that anyone else or anything else. And He would continue to show them what God is like. Yeshua’s sufferings and death and resurrection, and the 40 days He with them after His resurrection, when He taught them many things; and His ascension; and His ongoing revelations after His ascension – would continue to reveal more about the amazing, infinite God. And, I think that Yeshua will always and forever reveal to us more about the infinite, eternal God whom we serve.

The better the disciples knew God, the more they would be able to experience God’s love and the closer Yeshua would be able to be to them. I have made You known to them, and will continue to make You known, in order that the love You have for Me may be in them and that I Myself may be in them. The more we know about God, the more we are able to be filled with His love, and the greater the degree that Yeshua is able to be in us – by means of His Spirit living in us. Makes me want to stay close to Yeshua so He continues to reveal more about God to me, so that the full extent of God’s love can be in me, and God’s Spirit can fill me to the maximum degree possible. How about you?

What a great prayer!

Let’s pray:

Father, thank You for Yeshua’s great prayer filled with great truths. Help us learn from it.

Help us learn how to pray better, to pray like Yeshua.

Thank You that Yeshua prayed for us, for protection, and for unity, and that we will be sanctified by the truth – and His prayers will be answered!

Thank You for giving Your Son the authority to give eternal life to all those human beings that You give Him.

Thank You that Yeshua made it clear and simple, that eternal life is knowing You, the only true God, and Messiah Yeshua, whom You have sent.

Thank You that we are no longer part of a corrupt, dying world, but we belong to You and Your world. Help us think and live like those who belong to You and Your world.

Just as You sent Messiah into the world, He has sent us into the world. Help us fulfill the mission Messiah sent us on – teaching the truth; declaring the Good News; building up Messiah’s Community. Help us fulfill our responsibilities with excellence.

Thank You that Yeshua intends to honors us – not just a little, but a lot, giving us the glory You gave Him. Wow!

Help us stay close to Yeshua so He continues to reveal more about You to us, so that the full extent of Your love can be in us, and Your Spirit can fill us to the maximum degree possible.