Hello everybody. This is Dave Dawson. On the Anchored bible reading, we are in an extended time of reading the prayers in the new testament. Today’s reading is a prayer of Jesus to his father just before he was going up to Jerusalem to be crucified.
The context of the prayer is fascinating. This is a prayer post mission. It is mission complete. Jesus says to the father, “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.” You might say, wait a minute, in John 17 Jesus had not gone to the cross yet so how could his mission be complete? The part of his mission that Jesus is focusing on in this prayer is the disciples and the people who will become his disciples.
Jesus had a mission from the father and that mission involved people. His mission wasn’t to design a building or start an institution or form a theocracy. His mission was to raise up a people and build them into a people who will know God and follow God.
We get an insight into the relationship between Jesus and the father and the mission that the father gave Jesus. In verse 6 Jesus says, “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world.” Jesus made God’s name known. That is, he taught people about who God is, what he is like and what he expects of us. Jesus manifested God’s name by being the word who became flesh. Jesus told one of the disciples “Whoever has seen me has seen the father.”
During his mission, Jesus taught people the very things that he himself had received from the father. He was very purposeful in what he shared with his followers. In verse 8 he says, “For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and thy have believed that you sent me.” The result of his teaching was that his followers received his words and came to the conviction that Jesus was the Son of God who was sent to the earth by the father.
Generally, whenever we finish a big job, we want it to continue on. For example, if you build a shop, you want to be able to use it to work on projects. If you start a church, you want it to continue on to reach more people for Christ. There is always the possibility that your project will somehow go off the rails and not do what it was meant to do. We raise our children in the Lord but even when we have done our part and they are on their own, we know that they will face obstacles. So, we pray for them that their faith would be strengthened, no matter how small it is, and continue to follow Christ.
That is exactly what Jesus prays for. He says, “And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name." Jesus goes on to pray not only for his current disciples but for all the disciples that will come in the future.
This awesome prayer was captured for our benefit. So, let’s follow Jesus in this prayer. Jesus knew exactly who his people were. Who are your people? Your people are your mission. Your mission, and my mission, involves things that we do and say to them. Our desire, like Jesus’, should be that the work we do in their lives will continue long after we are gone. If this sounds overwhelming, remember that we have a powerful aid to help us complete our mission—we can pray to our father.