When it comes to prayer, we can learn a great deal from this passage.
Jesus is in a very difficult spot; He is getting ready to go to the cross for the sins of the world. He knows that an impending danger with great stress is ahead of Him, yet He sees this opportunity as being done for the honor and glory of God.
As He prays in this text, He teaches us how to approach trials and tribulation while living for God in difficult times. Jesus models three things in this text:
- He practices intercession for Himself.
- He practices intercession for His apostles.
- He practices intercession for future disciples.
The first thing we see in this passage is the Master’s willingness to pray for Himself and request of the Father to work on His behalf.
Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said:
“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son also may glorify you,”
We also notice that Jesus could approach God in prayer because of their father-son relationship. He began His prayer with the word Father and used that word three other times in this prayer (Jn. 17:5, 21, 24), as well as Holy Father (v. 11) and Righteous Father (v. 25).
- He had access to God because of the divine relationship.
- He had a position of favor because of the divine relationship.
- He could approach the holy place of God with access, acceptance, approval and authority.
Only the believer is in the right relationship with the father! Unbelievers cannot in this way! As a child of the Father, we too can approach the throne of grace with confidence and assurance that He will hear us. Just like Jesus, we can exercise our own intercession because we have the relationship that transcends all other relationships.
When we are in good standings with the Father, this is what a good prayer life looks like. I am somebody because I can talk to God and He hears me when I pray. Unbelievers cannot pray in this way!
The second thing we see is that Jesus declares that the hour (time) has come!
“Father the hour has come. Glorify your Son that your Son also may glorify you.
The hour in this verse is a direct statement indicating that the time to fulfill the plan of the Father has arrived. It was the divine plan of redemption that god had for humanity and the time where the Son would be tested! The hour would be when He would endure the sufferings of this world.
Jesus had faced plenty of times when trouble had come, but now the actual hour of his trial was upon Him, and He needed the Father to do something on His behalf!
This is why he prays this way.
In His impending trial He wanted the Father to glorify Him! The word in the biblical Greek language is the word doxazo, meaning to share in something with somebody!
Jesus is asking here for the Father to share in this hour! This request for glorification included sustaining Jesus in suffering, accepting His sacrifice, resurrecting Him, and restoring Him to His previous glory.
Jesus is asking for His father to do something glorious on His behalf!
- Do something that will please yourself!
- Do something that will help me and please you!
- Do something so that you and I both are glorified!
The purpose of the request was that the Father would be glorified by the Son, so that God’s wisdom, power and love might be known through Jesus.
The believer can pray like this too!
When the trials of this life come upon us, we can learn to intercede for ourselves, asking God to do something glorious on our behalf that will please Him.
We can learn to pray for God’s glory to be seen in the midst of our struggle. We can pray for God’s perfect plan and for His name to be glorified, even in our trouble!
This is praying with wisdom, power, and love so that God might be known through our relationship with Jesus.
In the next part of our study, we see that Jesus is inspired in His reflection of what God had given Him to do as His Son.
2 as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.
During prayer, He reminds the Father that he gave Him something that no one else has! The Father gave Jesus authority! Translated from the Greek word exousia, it means that Jesus had “the rightful power and ability to do something on one’s behalf.” He is the first, and only, human being to be endowed with this divine grace!
Secondly, He is the only human being endowed with this power over all flesh! In His prayers He is reminded of what God had assigned Him to do; He sees that it has eternal ramifications and that the Father has entrusted Him to the souls of mankind!
Again, the text says, “You have given Him authority over all flesh that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.”
We see here that Jesus has a divine and supernatural assignment and ability to give something away—eternal life!
Did you know that no one can give eternal life but Christ? No one else has ever made such a claim! Jesus declares in His prayer that he has received this exousia and in turn, He can give the same power to as many as the Father has.
Christ is remembering that eternal life will not go to everyone, but rather only to those that God has appointed it to. This is the doctrine of election for the believer which says that only those who God has called will be saved. Scripture teaches that God has called all men, but not all will come.
As Jesus makes this statement, He is telling us that during His time on earth, He called the same people His father did!
- They were gifts of the Father.
- They were special to the Father.
- They were chosen by the Father.
They were given to Him so that He may reveal God’s plan for their lives.
The believer can also pray with inspiration like this. When we have done all that God has called us to do and have assurance that we have been used by God, we can pray with this inspiration.
When we are inspired in our prayer, we remember what God has done for us and through us. We also see the authority that God has given us to operate on his behalf.
- As a Christian family we have authority in the earth (we ought to start praying with it)!
- As a local church we have authority to work on God’s behalf (we ought to start praying with it)!
- As born again believers we have power to help people, change things, lead them to God and make a difference in the world (we ought to start praying with it)!
Because we are in Christ and have a relationship with the Father, we also have the divine assignment of using God’s authority in the earth, so we ought to start praying with it.
As we come to the close of our text, we see the invitation that comes through Jesus’ inspiring prayer. He defines for us what it means to have an eternal relationship with His father!
3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
Eternal life, as defined here by Jesus, involves the experience of knowing the only true God through His Son (cf. Matt. 11:27). It is a personal relationship of intimacy which is continuous and dynamic. The word know (ginōskōsin) here in the present tense is a “right now” event. It is also used often in the Septuagint, and sometimes in the Greek New Testament, to describe the intimacy of knowing another person.
Thus, a person who knows God has an intimate and personal relationship with Him that is eternal, not temporary.
We should also take notice that eternal life is not simply an endless existence. Everyone will exist somewhere forever (cf. Matt. 25:46), but the question is in what condition or in what relationship will they spend eternity?
As He reflects in this prayer he says, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You.”
The evidence of those that Christ has come for have the gift of eternal life. They know who the Father is!
Those who have this gift know what He does, how He operates and what He likes. They know what pleases Him, His name and attributes, His mannerisms and His word. All who receive eternal life have a relationship with the Father and it’s through His Son, Jesus Christ.
He also says that when they receive eternal life and have this intimacy with the Father through the Son, then they will get to know the ONLY TRUE GOD!
What a dogmatic statement to make!
- It’s authoritative.
- It’s in your face.
- It’s absolute.
- It’s uncompromising.
- It’s a mandate.
It’s a one of a kind statement—Jesus is saying that there are no others like His Father! He is the only true God, there are no other options, competitors or look-alikes! He is the only one of His kind and He gives eternal life through an intimate relationship with Him through His Son.
Buddha, Confucius and Muhammad can’t do this! Secular humanism, Mormonism and Catholicism can’t do it either. No one but the Father can give eternal life, and this life is only given through the Son!
When we pray, let’s remember who we are praying to! Understand that there is nobody like the Father.
When we pray, let’s remember that the Father is not on the same level with anyone. He is God and has given us eternal life in His son!