International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday January 11, 2015
Purpose: To discern Christ’s call for unity among believers
Bible Lesson: John 17:6-21
Background: John 17:1-26
John 17:6-21 (CEB)
(6) “I have revealed your name to the people you gave me from this world. They were yours and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. (7) Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. (8) This is because I gave them the words that you gave me, and they received them. They truly understood that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.
(9) “I’m praying for them. I’m not praying for the world but for those you gave me, because they are yours. (10) Everything that is mine is yours and everything that is yours is mine; I have been glorified in them. (11) I’m no longer in the world, but they are in the world, even as I’m coming to you. Holy Father, watch over them in your name, the name you gave me, that they will be one just as we are one. (12) When I was with them, I watched over them in your name, the name you gave to me, and I kept them safe. None of them were lost, except the one who was destined for destruction, so that scripture would be fulfilled. (13) Now I’m coming to you and I say these things while I’m in the world so that they can share completely in my joy. (14) I gave your word to them and the world hated them, because they don’t belong to this world, just as I don’t belong to this world. (15) I’m not asking that you take them out of this world but that you keep them safe from the evil one. (16) They don’t belong to this world, just as I don’t belong to this world. (17) Make them holy in the truth; your word is truth. (18) As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. (19) I made myself holy on their behalf so that they also would be made holy in the truth.
(20) “I’m not praying only for them but also for those who believe in me because of their word. (21) I pray they will be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. I pray that they also will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me. (22) I’ve given them the glory that you gave me so that they can be one just as we are one. (23) I’m in them and you are in me so that they will be made perfectly one. Then the world will know that you sent me and that you have loved them just as you loved me.
(24) “Father, I want those you gave me to be with me where I am. Then they can see my glory, which you gave me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
(25) "Righteous Father, even the world didn’t know you, but I’ve known you, and these believers know that you sent me. (26) I’ve made your name known to them and will continue to make it known so that your love for me will be in them, and I myself will be in them."
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
Our text for this week is part of what is called “Jesus High Priestly Prayer.” This should really be called the “Lord’s Prayer.”
Our text is from the Gospel of John, and there are some differences between John’s writings and those of the other Gospel writers, often called the synoptic Gospels. While the other Gospels have the event taking place at the Passover meal, John says in 13:1-2 that the meal is an evening meal before the Passover Feast. For this reason John has everything moved up a day, and the crucifixion happens on Thursday instead of Friday. So Jesus becomes the Pascal Lamb of the Passover.
The Gospel of John goes into great detail about this High Priestly Prayer and the events of the evening. The prayer begins in verse 1 with Jesus lifting up his eyes to heaven. This might be a clue to us to pray with our eyes lifted up instead of bowing our heads. The first 5 verses of chapter 17 are Jesus praying for himself. Verses 6-20 are Jesus praying for his disciples. Verses 21-26 is a prayer for all believers, which includes us today. It should give each of us some comfort to know Jesus included us in this “High Priestly Prayer.”
In praying for the disciples Jesus declares they have received the word, and have kept the word. May he say the same about you? The disciples have received the words that the Father gave to the Son. Jesus also declares that they get it, that he is the Son of God.
Maybe shockingly, Jesus does not pray for the world. He only prays for those that have been given to him by the Father. Notice that the prayer is for unity between the disciples just as there is unity between the Father and Son. At this point the Holy Spirit has not yet been given to the disciples.
In this prayer, Jesus does not want the disciples removed from the world. He only wants them protected from the “evil one.” As believers we no longer belong to this world, but have already achieved for ourselves a holy nature, because of God’s word. Our holiness comes from the truth that we have received from the Word.
In these final verses Jesus is not only praying for the disciples, but for all of the believers that would come afterwards, because of the Word that came from the disciples. The growth of Christianity can be trace to God’s faithfulness in honoring the Word of the disciples and to each of those that willingly received that Word and shared it with the world. All of this to prove one thing, and that is that Jesus was sent by God to redeem those willing to accept the truth.
The truth is Jesus is God’s Son, and God has given Him you. “Whosoever believes shall not perish but have eternal life.”
“Thy Word is a Lamp unto my Feet.”