John 17:9-19 - Jesus Prayed for His Disciples

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Most scholars who have sought to harmonize the accounts in the four Gospels have the Lord Jesus praying the prayer of John 17 in the Upper Room after He had finished His instructions to the disciples.  Then He and the disciples sang the traditional Passover psalms, left the Upper Room, and headed for the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus had been accustomed to meet with them and pray (see Matthew 26:30–46 and Mark 14:26–42).

Whether He prayed it in the Upper Room or en route to the Garden, this much is sure: it is the greatest prayer ever prayed on earth and the greatest prayer recorded anywhere in Scripture.  John 17 is certainly the “holy of holies” of the Gospel record, and we must approach this chapter in a spirit of humility and worship.  Think about this: we are privileged to listen in as God the Son converses with His Father just as He is about to give His life as a ransom for sinners!

No matter what events occurred later that evening, this prayer makes it clear that Jesus was and is the Overcomer.  He was not a “victim”; He was and is the Victor!  “Be of good cheer,” He had encouraged His disciples in John 16:33; “I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).  The word world is used nineteen times in this prayer, so it is easy to see the connection between the prayer and John 16:33.  If you and I will understand and apply the truths revealed in this profound prayer, it will enable us to be overcomers too.


A.                 Jesus prayed for His disciples (v.9-11a).

1.                  “I pray for them, I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me…”  (v.9).

a)                  Jesus does not pray for the world, at least not yet (v.9a).

(1)                 Jesus prayed for His disciples but He did not yet pray for the world.  Why? 
(a)                 It wasn’t because He and the Father don’t love the world.  They do (John 3:16).  The world was the very reason Jesus had come to earth: to save the world and keep it from perishing.
(b)                It wasn’t because the world did not need prayer.  It did, and He prayed for the forgiveness and conversion of men in the world (Luke 23:34).

Remember when He was on the cross?  Who did he pray for?  He said "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34, NASB95)

To not pray for the world, or lost, would go against Biblical teaching, Jesus said to "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44, NASB95)

Paul exhorted Timothy by saying "I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men," (1 Timothy 2:1, NKJV)

(2)                 There are four reasons why Jesus was praying only for His disciples.  Note that the reasons are part of His prayer.

b)                  Because they had been entrusted to Him (v.9b).

(1)                 Jesus’ disciples had been given to Him by His Father (John 17:9).  They belonged to His Father, but they had been entrusted to Jesus and He was responsible for them.  Therefore, He had to pray for them, that His Father would give them strength in the coming days.

Remember, God "chose us in Him (Jesus) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love," (Ephesians 1:4, NKJV)

(2)                 Also, this is a beautiful picture of Jesus interceding for those who are His (Heb.7:23-25).
(a)                 The Levitical priests had what might be called the ultimate disqualification for permanent ministry: death.  None of them could serve forever.
(b)                God gave Israel a dramatic and significant demonstration of this (Numbers 20:23–29).
(c)                 The power of salvation is in Christ’s ability (He is able – Heb.7:25).
(d)                The way of salvation is in Christ alone (those who come to God through Him – Heb.7:25).

Jesus said "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out" (John 6:37, NKJV)

!!!!!! (e)                 The security of salvation is in Christ (He ever lives to make intercession – Heb.7:25).  We can no more keep ourselves saved than we can save ourselves in the first place.  But just as Jesus has power to save us, He has power to keep us.

Paul puts it this way in Romans 8 "Who is he who condemns?  It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us." (Romans 8:34, NKJV)

There is no other way, or someone to intercede on our behalf, only Jesus "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus," (1 Timothy 2:5)

Jesus is our defense attorney sort of speak, John says "My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin.  And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." (1 John 2:1, NKJV)

2.                  “”All mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine…”  (v.10a).

a)                  Because they belonged to both Jesus and God (v.10a).

(1)                 Jesus’ disciples belonged to both Him and the Father.  All the disciples were God’s; they belonged to God.  But all the disciples of God also belonged to Jesus.  This is the mutual possession of all believers by both Jesus and God.
(2)                 Again we see that all the believers are a gift to Jesus from the Father:

In John 10, Jesus says "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”  (John 10:29, NKJV)

Jesus says in John 6 "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out…"  "This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.”  (John 6:37, 39, NKJV)

In the current chapter we are in, John 17, Jesus says this in (v.2, 6, 9, 11)

3.                  “I am glorified in them…”  (v.10b).

a)                  Because glory came to Jesus through them (v.10b).

(1)                 Jesus’ disciple’s lives brought glory to Him. 
(a)                 They lived for Him by obeying His Word and working for Him and showing loyalty and allegiance. 
(b)                They lifted Him up to the world and proclaimed Him to be the Savior of the world and the Lord of the universe.  He was thereby glorified, honored, and praised.

Paul’s prayer for those in Thessalonica was "that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  (2 Thessalonians 1:12, NKJV)

Peter says that we are a "chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;" (1 Peter 2:9, NKJV)

(2)                 The congregations in Philippi and Thessalonica displayed the fruits of Paul’s work:

Paul called the church at Philippi “my joy and crown” (Phil. 4:1).

And of the brethren at Thessalonica he says that you are “our glory and our joy” (I Thess. 2:20). 

4.                  “Now I am no longer in the world…”  (v.11a).

a)                  Because Jesus was leaving the world (v.11a).

(1)                 Jesus was leaving the world and returning to heaven and the Father.
(a)                 The whole mission of preaching the gospel to the world rested upon His disciples.
(b)                They were the ones who were to go out into the world as His ambassadors to proclaim His Word (Matthew 28:19-20; John 20:21).
(c)                 As they went, they needed to be strengthened and equipped by God to stand against the forces of evil.  They definitely needed prayer!

!! B.                Request 1: That God would keep them, and keep them together as one (v.11b-12).

1.                  “Keep them through Your name, that they may be one as We are…”  (v.11b).

a)                  Because of the keeping power of God (v.11).

(1)                 In the Bible, “name” refers to “nature,” because names so often were given to reveal something special about the nature of the person bearing the name.
(a)                 In (v.6) of chapter 17, Jesus said “I have manifested your name.”  One of the ministries of the Son was to declare the Father (John 1:18).
(b)                But here in (v.11) Jesus’ request to the Father is to “keep them through Your name.”  
(c)                 The emphasis in this section is on the safety of the believer; God keeps His own (John 17:11–12).
(d)                Jesus Christ (the power of God) keeps the believer so that the enemy cannot get his hands on him.  Peter’s experience with Satan helps us to understand this truth:

You remember when Jesus said to Peter, “Simon, Simon,” “behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31–32).

(2)                 Satan cannot touch any believer without God’s permission.  Peter’s faith did not ultimately fail, even though his courage failed.  God restored Peter and Peter became a mighty and effective soul-winner.
(3)                 Whenever Satan attacks us, we can be sure that God gave him permission.  And if God gave him permission, remember that God will never permit us to be tested above our strength:

Paul makes this clear when he says "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”  (1 Corinthians 10:13)

(4)                 One of the characteristics of Christians is their ability to overcome the evil one (1Jn.2:13–14).

b)                  Because He had kept them and had lost none, except the son of perdition (v.12b).

(1)                 Jesus kept the disciples while He was in the world and He lost none except Judas, and Judas’ betrayal was to fulfill Scripture.
(2)                 If it is the power of God that keeps us, & Judas was lost, does that mean that Jesus failed in keeping Judas or did not have the power to keep him? 
(a)                 Judas was never really one of those given to Christ (18:8, 9).
(b)                He had never really been a believer (6:64–71; 1John 2:19).
(c)                 he had not been cleansed (13:11).
(d)                he was a dead branch (John 15:2,6).  
(e)                 Judas was with Jesus; he seemed like a “branch.”  But he did not have God’s life in him; therefore he departed; his destiny was like that of a dead branch.
(f)                  That the scripture might be fulfilled (v12)…   this does not mean that Judas was compelled to betray Christ in order to fulfill prophecy, but he chose to betray the Savior and in so doing the Scripture was fulfilled.
(g)                Man has his own free will (Acts 2:23; 4:28).        

!! C.                Request 2: That they might have His joy in all its fullness (v.13).

1.                  “But now I come to you…”  (v.13a).

a)                  The source of joy is from God alone.

(1)                 Notice that Jesus comes to the Father for joy, we to must come to God!
(2)                 Several things need to be said about the believer’s joy:
(a)                 Joy is divine –It’s not based on earthly or material things.  It is the joy of the Holy Spirit, a joy based in the Lord.  It is His very own joy (John 15:11; Acts 13:52; Romans 14:17; Galatians 5:22; 1Thess. 1:6).
(b)                Joy does not depend on circumstances or happiness – Happiness depends upon happenings, but the joy that God implants in the believer’s heart overrides all, even the most troublesome matters of life and death (Psalm 5:11; 2 Cor. 6:10; 2 Cor. 7:4).
(c)                 Joy springs from faith – (Romans 15:13; Phil. 1:25; 2 Tim. 1:4; cp. Matthew 2:10).

Paul prayed that "the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:13, NASB95)

(d)                Joy of future reward keeps one faithful – (Matt.25:21, 23; Acts 20:24; Heb.12:2).

But none of these things move me Paul says “nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God." (Acts 20:24, NKJV)

Sin will rob you of your joy, that is why we are to "lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2, NKJV)

(3)                 The source of the believer’s joy:
(a)                 The fellowship of the Father and His Son brings joy (1 John 1:3-4; Psalm 16:11).
(b)                Victory over sin, death, and hell brings joy (Jn.14:28; 16:20-22; Is.12:3; 61:10).
(c)                 Repentance brings joy (Luke 15:7, 10).
(d)                The hope of glory brings joy (Romans 14:17; Hebrews 12:2; 1 Peter 4:13).
(e)                 The Lord’s Word, commandments, and promises bring joy (John 15:11).
(f)                  Obeying and doing a good job stirs joy within the believer’s heart (John 15:11; John 17:13; Acts 13:52; Jeremiah 15:16).
(g)                Prayer brings joy (John 16:24).
(h)                 The presence and fellowship of believers brings joy (1 John 1:3-4).
(i)                   Converts bring joy (Luke 15:5; Phil. 4:1; 1 Thes. 2:19-20; Psalm 126:5).
(j)                   Hearing that others walk in the truth brings joy (3 John 1:4).
(k)                 Giving brings joy (2 Cor. 8:2; Hebrews 10:34).

2.                  “These things I speak in the world…”  (v.13b).

a)                  Jesus is speaking these things in the world (or, as we would say, while still on earth;

D.                Request 3: That God would keep them from the evil one or Satan (v.14-16).

1.                  “I have given them Your Word, and the world has hated them…”  (v.14a).

a)                  Because the Word of God is our defense.

(1)                 Notice that Jesus did not say to the Father, “I have given them, swords, clubs, and all kinds of physical weapons to defend themselves”!  He said “I have given them Your Word.” 

Our warfare is spiritual and Paul makes this clear by saying "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2Cor.10:4-5).

(2)                 Paul says we wage a war that is in our mind (Romans 7:22-23).
(a)                 Paul makes it clear that the law cannot deliver a person from sin (7:7)
(b)                In fact, he says without the law he was alive, but when he understood the law, it brought death (7:8-12).
(c)                 Then as we read earlier, Paul’s inner man, the new man created in Christ Jesus, delights and wants to do God’s will and loves His Word (v.22).
(d)                But he also realizes that his redeemed soul is living in an unredeemed fleshly body that constantly wages war against each other (v.23).

Paul puts it this way in Galatians "For the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish."  (Galatians 5:17, NKJV)

(3)                 When we try and fight spiritual battles with carnal weapons, we make a mess of things (Matt.24:47-54) then the Lord has to clean up our mess (Luke 22:47-51).

2.                  “Because they are not of the world…”  (v.14b).

a)                  Because the world hated them.  Why (v.14).

(1)                 The Disciples of Christ have the Word of God.  It is God’s Word that reveals...
(a)                 God’s sacrificial love that gives all it has, is different from the love the world wants.
(b)                God’s holiness, justice and man’s depravity, man rejects and refuses to face.
(c)                 Christ demands total allegiance and commitment:

Jesus Himself said "“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon." (Matthew 6:24, NKJV)

b)                  Because they are not of the world (v.14b).

(1)                 Jesus came from God, “out of heaven” (John 3:31).
(2)                 The disciples are born again by the Spirit of God and given the nature of God.
(3)                 Jesus prayed that God would keep the disciples from the world and from the evil one or Satan. 
(4)                 The world and Satan stand against the love of God.  Why?  Answer (1Jn.2:15-17):
(a)                 We can have allegiance to only one master:
(b)                When we stand against all of what this world system is, we will be hated!

In John 7, when Jesus was speaking to His brothers, He said "The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil."  (John 7:7, NASB95)

He also said that "If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you." (John 15:19, NASB95)

We never want to fulfill Luke 6:26, when Jesus says "Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way."  (Luke 6:26)

The Lord says in Leviticus 20 "Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine." (Leviticus 20:26, NASB95)

!!!! c)                  Because they were needed in the world (v.15-16).

(1)                 The disciples were called to be ambassadors and messengers of God in the world:

The Apostle Paul said “God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.  Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20, NASB95)

(2)                 Now since the disciples were ambassadors of Christ, they needed the full armor of God:

The disciples were to “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:10-11)

Peter said that we are to “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert.  Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8, NASB95)

E.                 Request 4: That God would sanctify them (v.17-19)

1.                  “Sanctify them by Your truth.  Your Word is truth…”  (v.17a).

a)                  Two things said about the disciples or believer.

(1)                 He is to be sanctified.
(2)                 He is to be sanctified through God’s truth, His living Word.
(a)                 God’s Word would refer to the living Word, the full revelation of God in Jesus Christ Himself (John 14:6 the way, the truth & the life).
(b)                God’s Word would also refer to the spoken or written Word of God (2Tim.3:16).

2.                  “As You have sent Me into the world, I have also sent them into the world…”  (v.18).

a)                  Because they were sent into the world (v.18)

(1)                 They were being sent into the world just as Jesus had been sent into the world.
(a)                 Jesus had come into the world to bring men back to God through reconciliation.
(b)                The disciples had to be set apart to this same task.
(2)                 Just as Jesus Christ has sent His disciples into the world and prays for them, I must pray for my children’s sanctification while they are in this world. 

3.                  “For their sakes I sanctify Myself…”  (v.19).

a)                  Because sanctification is the way of salvation (v.19).

(1)                 There are three stages of sanctification:
(a)                 There is initial or positional sanctification: when a person believes in Christ.
(b)                There is progressive sanctification: allowing the Spirit of God to work on us daily.
(c)                 There is eternal sanctification: being without sin or failure of any kind!

(2)                 Jesus said “For their sakes I sanctify Myself.”
(a)                 Others are watching us; therefore we must set ourselves apart so they can see the power of God working in our lives. 

Paul said "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.”  (2 Corinthians 8:9, NASB95)

We are to live Holy lives "For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification."  (1 Thessalonians 4:7, NASB95)

I.  Jesus Prayed for His Disciples, 17:9-19


A. Jesus prayed for His disciples (v.9-11a).


B. Request 1: That God would keep them, and keep them together as one (v.11b-12).


C. Request 2: That they might have His joy in all its fullness (v.13).


D. Request 3: That God would keep them from the evil one or Satan (v.14-16).


E. Request 4: That God would sanctify them (v.17-19)

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