Lesson: Jesus’ Prayer for His Disciples

By Rev. Leo H. McCrary II – January 23, 2022
Taught From – John 16:19-33

Introduction

Our lesson this week is going to be the last lesson within the unit of lessons for this month which, again, is titled Teaching on Truth and Trials.  In our lessons this week, we have seen that our faith in Jesus truly is the medicine for the heart that is troubled and filled with sorrow.  In our lesson this week, we are going to take a look at Jesus’ prayer that Heprayed in Gethsemane just prior to His arrest.  This week’s lesson is being taught from John 17:6-19.

The Faithful Believer

Our lesson opens with Jesus opening His prayer by recognizing the Father and all of those that had received Him (v.6).  Again, in the opening verse of our lesson, we see that the Father and Son are one.  Not only do we see that they are one, but again, we see that Jesus came into the world to carry out the Father’s will.  Jesus ministered the word of God to both His closest disciples, and to all of those that watched and listened.

The genuine follower is also specifically spoken of in the opening of Jesus’ prayer.  We will see that Jesus states that He had given the world all things that were given to Him by the Father.  Specifically, Jesus says of those that genuinely believed, “they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You (v.7).”  Then, you will see Jesus state, “they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me (v.8).”

I point these things out to show you that Jesus specifically tells us who the genuine believer is.  You see, there are many people that profess to believe in the Lord, but they have not truly accepted Him because they have not accepted His only begotten Son or the word He ministered.  Again, the word that Jesus shared was the word that the Father had given to Him to minister.  So, in essence, not receiving (believing) in Jesus’ word is to not believe in the Father’s word.

Now, those that receive the word of Christ are those that not only heard the world but they accepted the word in their hearts.  So, if you are of genuine faith today, you are of a faith that has truly accepted Jesus in your heart.  Again, the word that you have accepted in your heart is the word that came from the Father.

Praying for His Children

After acknowledging and giving thanks to the Lord for those He had received, we will see Jesus begin to pray for those who have received Him – those of genuine faith (v.9).  Jesus, I want you to pay very close attention, specifically tells us that He is not praying for the world.  

God loves His children

He clearly states, “I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.”  Those that are of the world are all of those that chose and chooses not to receive Christ – sinners.  A sinner is someone that has genuinely made the choice not to accept Christ in their heart.  Now, does this mean that Jesus does not care about the sinner?  Let me take a moment to answer this question.

Jesus cares for those who are in sin and are open, in their soul, to receiving the word of God.  We know this to be the case because all of us who genuinely believe today was, at one point in time, someone that was living in sin.  As Jesus taught, “[the Lord] makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matt. 5:45).”  So, yes, the Lord does care about all people, including the sinner.

However, those that genuine come to Him in faith, the Lord loves especially.  As we know, the day will come where the Lord will separate that righteous and the unrighteous.  The righteous will live eternally with the Father in His heavenly kingdom, as we saw Jesus tell the disciples (John 14:2-3).  Those that are unrighteous, will be cast from God for all eternity because they do not have the love that God’s children have received from Him.  The reason why they do not have that love is because they have not loved the Lord, but chose to love the world.

Prayer of care and protection

Now, we are going to see why Jesus specifically focused on those that did and would genuinely follow Him as we continue through His prayer.

We will see Jesus say in this prayer, “ Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are (v.11).”  So, right away, we will see that Jesus is praying for His children because He was going to be leaving the world.  In fact, at this point, Jesus no longer says He will be leaving and going away but that He is already no longer in the world.

Jesus was literally about to be taken away from the disciples moments later when Judas and the Jews would come and arrest Jesus.  Jesus would be taken from the Sanhedrin, to the high priest, to Pilate, and then eventually be hung on the cross to die.  As I mentioned in last week’s lesson, the disciples would scatter from Jesus with only Peter and John attempting to follow and spy for a while.  So, Jesus prays that the Lord keep them.  

Everyday, I pray for the Lord to keep all of us.  When I pray for the Lord to keep us, I am praying for Him to keep us in His care and protection.  So, I am praying for the Lord to watch over us – not letting any hurt, harm, or danger come upon us.  I am also praying for the Lord to shield and protect us, and should anything come upon us, I pray for the Lord’s care to heal and to comfort us as well.  

So, I believe that Jesus was praying for all of these things and more for His disciples.  Let us remember, the Lord is our shepherd, and the role of a shepherd is to keep watch and care of His flock; He does not desire to lose any sheep of His flock.  Jesus served as the shepherd of the disciples while He was in the world but now He was leaving them (v.12).

The Lord desires for His flock to stay together as one, and to not be scattered and separated.  While Jesus was watching over His flock, one of His sheep was lost, and we see Him mention Iscariot, the son of perdition, by name in this prayer.  If one could be lost while Jesus was with the disciples, just imagine how many could be lost with Jesus now leaving.  So, you can see why Jesus was moved to pray for the care of the disciples.  Now, I want you to remember that you, as a genuine follower of Christ, is also a disciple of His.

Prayer for strength

In the next couple of verses, we will see that Jesus begins to pray for the strength of those that follow Him.  Notice that Jesus focuses on the hatred that those who follow Him will face in the world.  Jesus said, “the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world (v.14).”  

Jesus,as we will remember, had been focusing on the grief and sorrow that His followers would have in the world.  Though we did not cover it in a lesson this month, Jesus had spoken to the disciples how they would be hated because the world had hated Him (John 15:18-25).  Again, in last week’s lesson, we saw Jesus tell the disciples of having their sorrow turning into joy so that they could have peace during tribulation (John 16:33).

In this prayer, Jesus prays for His disciples to have joy in this world (v.13).  Jesus, again, prays for their protection from the evil one (v.15).  Then, I want you to notice that our lesson ends with Jesus praying that the disciples be sanctified.  Notice that He prays for us to be sanctified by the truth and Jesus states that the Lord’s word is the truth (vss.17-19).

I would suggest to you that Jesus prayed for our strength to be able to withstand the evil of this world.  I suggest this because we have seen Paul speak of wearing the whole armor of God to the Ephesians.  The protection and the weapon of the armor of God is the word of God.  Paul said of the armor, “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints (Eph. 6:17-18)…”

I believe Jesus praying for us to be sanctified in the truth, which is the word of God, is Him praying for us to be strengthened, not by something of the world, but by the word of God.  To be sanctified means to be set apart.  The strength of the believer is set apart from those that are of the world.  Those of the world are strengthened through worldly logic and techniques.  Whereas, the strength of the believer comes through the word and through the Spirit.

So, Jesus, in this prayer, was praying for the believer to be able to make it through every trial and tribulation we face.  Again, you and I make it through our trials and tribulations, not by our own might, but through the might of God!