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Jesus’ Concluding Prayer in the Upper Room

Jesus’ Concluding Prayer in the Upper Room

JOHN 17:1-26



Moved by deep love for his apostles, Jesus has been preparing them for his imminent departure. He now raises his eyes to heaven and prays to his Father: “Glorify your son so that your son may glorify you, just as you have given him authority over all flesh, so that he may give everlasting life to all those whom you have given to him.”​—John 17:1, 2.

Clearly, Jesus recognizes that giving God glory is of prime importance. But how comforting is the prospect that Jesus mentions​—everlasting life! Having received “authority over all flesh,” Jesus can offer the benefits of his ransom to all mankind. Yet, only some will be so blessed. Why only some? Because Jesus will impart the benefits of his ransom only to those who act in accord with what Jesus next mentions: “This means everlasting life, their coming to know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.”​—John 17:3.

A person must come to know both the Father and the Son intimately, having a close bond with them. He must feel as they do about matters. Further, he must strive to imitate their matchless qualities in dealing with others. And he must appreciate that humans’ receiving everlasting life is secondary to the glorification of God. Jesus now returns to this theme:

“I have glorified you on the earth, having finished the work you have given me to do. So now, Father, glorify me at your side with the glory that I had alongside you before the world was.” (John 17:4, 5) Yes, Jesus asks to be restored to heavenly glory by means of a resurrection.

However, Jesus has not forgotten what he has accomplished in his ministry. He prays: “I have made your name manifest to the men whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have observed your word.” (John 17:6) Jesus did more than pronounce God’s name, Jehovah, in his ministry. He helped his apostles to come to know what the name represents​—God’s qualities and his way of dealing with humans.

The apostles have come to know Jehovah, the role of his Son, and the things Jesus has taught. Jesus humbly says: “I have given them the sayings that you gave me, and they have accepted them and have certainly come to know that I came as your representative, and they have believed that you sent me.”​—John 17:8.

Jesus then acknowledges the distinction between his followers and the world of mankind in general: “I make request, not concerning the world, but concerning those whom you have given me, because they are yours . . . Holy Father, watch over them on account of your own name, which you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one. . . . I have protected them, and not one of them is destroyed except the son of destruction,” namely, Judas Iscariot, who is on his mission to betray Jesus.​—John 17:9-12.

“The world has hated them,” Jesus continues to pray. “I do not request that you take them out of the world, but that you watch over them because of the wicked one. They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.” (John 17:14-16) The apostles and other disciples are in the world, human society ruled by Satan, but they must remain separate from it and its badness. How?

They must keep themselves holy, set apart to serve God, by applying the truths found in the Hebrew Scriptures and the truths that Jesus himself has taught. Jesus prays: “Sanctify them by means of the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17) In time, some of the apostles will write inspired books that will also be part of “the truth” that can help to sanctify a person.

But there will in time be others who will accept “the truth.” Jesus thus prays “not concerning these only [those who are there], but also concerning those putting faith in [him] through their word.” What does Jesus request for all of them? “That they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in union with me and I am in union with you, that they also may be in union with us.” (John 17:20, 21) Jesus and his Father are not literally one person. They are one in that they are in agreement on all things. Jesus prays that his followers enjoy this same oneness.

Shortly before this, Jesus had told Peter and the others that he was going his way to prepare a place for them, meaning a place in heaven. (John 14:2, 3) Jesus now returns to that idea in prayer: “Father, I want those whom you have given me to be with me where I am, in order that they may look upon my glory that you have given me, because you loved me before the founding of the world.” (John 17:24) He thus confirms that long ago​—before Adam and Eve conceived offspring—​God loved his only-begotten Son, who became Jesus Christ.

Concluding his prayer, Jesus reemphasizes both his Father’s name and God’s love for the apostles and for others who will yet accept “the truth,” saying: “I have made your name known to them and will make it known, so that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in union with them.”​—John 17:26.