Does It Honor God?
After the prologue, the Gospel of John divides neatly into two sections. The book of signs communicates the identity and message of Jesus. John 12–17 could be called the book of discipleship. John 13–17 contains some of the richest discipleship materials in the New Testament.
Jesus was One who prayed. In fact, Jesus was the great pray-er in the Bible. And within the fourth Gospel, John 17 is Jesus’ most focused and exemplary prayer. This prayer on the night prior to His death can be a model for us in terms of our prayer focus and the nature of our requests.
We honor God when we share about the eternal life Christ offers. (1–3)
Notice Jesus prayed at a specific occasion — “after He said these things.” To what things does John refer? Perhaps “after these things” refers to Jesus’ challenge to the disciples to be courageous because of His victory over the world (John 16:33).
Notice Jesus’ posture in prayer.
We often kneel or bow. Jesus prayed in the traditional Jewish posture of prayer: He looked up, a symbolic act of giving His full attention to God.
He stated, “the hour has come.” Jesus asked God to glorify Him so He could glorify the Father. God is glorified through Jesus as people receive the gift of eternal life. God is glorified as people know Him and experience eternal life.
Jesus provided a definition of eternal life. Eternal life is not a reference to the longevity of life. Eternal life is knowing God and Jesus in a personal manner.
In the fourth Gospel, eternal life highlights the quality of life. Like Jesus, each believer should pray he or she will glorify God the Father.
We glorify God by completing the work He has assigned to us personally.
We honor God when we continue the work He has given us. (4–5)
Jesus glorified God by completing the work God gave Him to do. In my Kingdom work, I often dream dreams and make plans, but I fail to complete many of my dreams and plans.
Each of us can become distracted and fail to complete the work God has given us to do when we focus on the small details of life rather than focusing on His plan. God is glorified when we complete what He assigns.
We honor God when we pray and disciple others. (6–9)
This passage describes the aspects of the discipleship process. Notice the chain in the description of discipleship duties in this brief unit. First, discipleship requires one who disciples. Jesus communicated God’s words to the disciples. Second, discipleship involves keeping the Word rather than merely hearing or reading the Word. Third, following Christ is evidence of receiving Christ’s words. Fourth, discipleship entails assurance. Jesus commented, “They know for certain.” Fifth, discipleship requires an individual to understand the mission of Jesus as One sent from God.
Learning to pray like Jesus honors God the Father.
Continuance in the faith is the steadfast assurance of a genuine relationship with Jesus. Finally, following Jesus in discipleship requires prayer for other believers.
By Mark Rathel
Professor at the Baptist College of Florida in Graceville, Florida