John 17:6-12

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, January 24, 2023 0 comments

by Eric Hansen

“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. 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. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 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. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.” - John 17:6-12

Verses 6 through 12 of John 17 are part of a section headlined as “Jesus Prays for His Disciples.” This whole section (vv. 6-19) ultimately applies not only to the disciples but to all believers, which will be covered in a future post. But for now I wanted to focus on vv. 6-12 specifically as it’s the bulk of Jesus’s prayer to us as believers.

The first 3 verses here essentially speak of how Jesus conducted His ministry while on Earth. He simply spoke the Truth as He needed to, when He needed to. It’s littered throughout the gospels how He conducted Himself in different situations and addressed certain people differently.

For example, when He healed the sick, He mostly just thanked the Father for being able to heal the person. When He met with someone struggling in life (the woman at the well, the paraplegic, etc.), then He was often in the middle of or started sharing some introspectives. He spoke to those individuals on a personal level, and the more “alone time” He had with the person, the more personal the discussion could be so they could understand the Truth. Then there were the religious leaders of the time, of course, with whom He was pretty direct and vulgar (for that time period). How Jesus spoke to them would be like in today’s culture if cancel culture was used for good instead of self.

In these verses, though, the important keywords are “you gave me,” “they have obeyed [your word],” and “they accepted them.” The Father puts people into our lives to minister to in some way, and that doesn’t look the same in all circumstances. He uses us to speak the Truth to others just as He used Jesus to do the same 2,000+ years ago. This is one of the reasons why we are and should be joyous of servitude, because even Jesus (part of the Godhead) was a servant in His first coming. However, it’s also important to remember that it’s not our duty to convert people but to share the Truth. The Holy Spirit works along with the Father to soften their heart so that they, too, may believe. We can hear it all we want, but if we don’t truly accept it and obey it, then it’s dead faith. Obeying is following God even when it’s inconvenient or painful, as we should aim to please God above ourselves, family, friends, career, etc.

Verse 9 strikes hard for me, as it is often taught as we should be praying for the enemies against Christ along with fellow believers. Yet Jesus says He is only praying for the ones the Father has sent Him – the ones brought to the Truth. The context of the passage makes it clear exactly why, but it also goes to show that while we should pray for those who are against God that their hearts will soften, we can’t forget to continuously pray for those already in the body of Christ as well. An analogy to this would be our health. If we focus on the external factors that can impact our health, we can’t neglect our actual health as well.

While I’m not a fan of prayers containing “hedge of [something]” like “hedge of protection,” through verses 10 and 11 Jesus asks the Father for protection over the disciples and other believers. As readers of the events that transpired afterwards, we can understand why this was said, but it’s pretty clear that Jesus was asking for parent-like protection over the children who would be doing nothing but fighting an uphill battle for as long as they remained faithful.

The word “protect” in verse 11 is an active imperative (a command), so Jesus isn’t just saying “Father, if it’s convenient for you to do so,” but He is saying, “Father, I know this is going to be a very difficult, very possibly deadly experience for all, so I need you to watch over them.” There is so much emphasis on these words that it’s almost a demand, but Jesus knows it’s all in the Father’s will. However, He can still express the importance and how much He loves the disciples (and us) by the emphasis. So, let’s rejoice as well in knowing that Jesus loved us so much that He came to the Father for us to protect us, to guard and watch over each of his sons, bought by the blood of Jesus into adopted sonship with the Father.

I’d like to close this out in a consideration of speaking the truth to those around us, and even ourselves. We should always lead with prayer, seeking to put God first in what we say rather than what we believe we should say. This removes us from the equation and lets God drive the conversation where it needs to be for His will. Then we need to remember that no matter the outcome, we have our protector in the Word and in our faith. With those, we have God’s blessing that His will be done not only through us but to us. There may be times we suffer for the truth, but there may also be times we plant that seed God waters to soften the heart and bring sight to the dead.

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