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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

JESUS' PRAYER OF INTERCESSION, PART 1

John 17:1-5 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee: as Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him. And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent. I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.

In his gospel commentary, B. W. Johnson refers to this chapter of the gospel according to the apostle John as "The Real Lord's Prayer." He says that the prayer recorded in Matthew 6:9-18, which most people refer to as "The Lord's Prayer," was given as an example for His followers, and is more correctly known as "The Disciple's Prayer." It is a prayer that He, Himself, never prayed because, being pure, holy, and sinless, there was no reason for Him to pray for the forgiveness of any sin. Also, the commentary found in Barnes' Notes says that this prayer of Jesus "is the longest prayer recorded in the New Testament." Aside from these notes of trivia, this we know: all things done by Jesus during His sojourn on earth have not been recorded, but what has been written and preserved for us in the Holy Word of God, is intended for the learning of men and women that desire to become and remain followers of Christ. Therefore, this prayer by Jesus, although seemingly private in nature, contains many things that are profitable for our learning. He prays to God on His own behalf that He may be glorified, He offers a prayer for His apostles and their teaching, and He petitions God on behalf of those that hear, believe, and obey His scriptural teaching. This prayer serves as the point of transition between the earthly life of Jesus and His human death.

With His eyes toward heaven, Jesus prayed, Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee. Although most Christians humbly bow their heads in prayer, yet to pleadingly lift one's eyes to heaven in prayer is found in many scriptures (See John 11:41; Luke 18:13; Psalm 121:1; 123:1). "The hour," referred to here, and on many previous occasions, refers to the time, appointed by God, to complete Jesus' mission on earth by His humiliation, suffering, and atoning death on the cross of Calvary. However, it was not His death that brought the glory referred to in this text; rather, it was the fact that He conquered death by His resurrection. That event demonstrated to the world that there is life after death. Physical death does not completely end the existence of men and women that have been created in God's image from the beginning of time on earth. Each has a soul that will live on. His resurrection proves this fact, which brought glory to the Son of God, fulfilling the hope of eternal salvation planned by God before mankind inhabited the world. This being done, Jesus' resurrection brought glory to God, our Creator.

This spiritual fact is borne out in verse 2: As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him. Not only was Jesus given the power to overcome fleshly death by His resurrection, but afterwards He was given all power ...in heaven and in earth (Matt. 28:18). And it was by His atoning death that He gave eternal life to as many as Thou (God) hast given Him. This certainly does not mean that God gave Jesus a predetermined number of men and women that were destined for eternal salvation. Rather it means that salvation will be extended to as many as obey His gospel plan of salvation - repent of their past sinful life, believe, and confess before men, that He is the Son of God, and submit to baptism for the remission of all sins. Not one soul that will be saved is exempt from any of these acts of obedience - each is required in order to have access to the atoning blood of Jesus.

Verse 3 tells us that knowledge of Christ Jesus is the first requirement for salvation, but in order to attain it, one must also obey its tenets, having complete faith in His New Testament doctrine. During His short life of some thirty-three years on earth, He completed His earthy ministry. His earthly life would, within hours, come to an end. Realizing this, He prayerfully submitted Himself to God, saying, I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do. With Jesus' death and resurrection, He was glorified by His Heavenly Father on earth before mankind. With His ascension, Jesus prayed that God would grant Him the same glory which I had with Thee before the world was. And His prayer continued.