This week we conclude our examination of John 17 by asking, why did Jesus pray? To answer that question, I have come up with three reasons. First, Jesus prays because it is His most natural state. Second, Jesus prays because He loves us. Lastly, Jesus prays because it is a powerful gift to us.
In the first week of this study, I went a bit into the trinity when I introduced the theological term perichoresis. I did this to help explain that when Jesus prayed, He wasn’t playing a trick on us, or sitting there talking to Himself. Instead, Jesus was talking to the Father and Holy Spirit. Though the Holy Spirit is not directly mentioned in this passage as the Father is, the Spirit too is part of the prayer as the gifts bestowed by the Father in Jesus name are imparted by the Holy Spirit. The protection of God, our sanctification, belief in Christ, all the good promises of God to us, these are brought to us by the Holy Spirit. As Jesus is part of the trinity, being in constant relationship with the Father and Holy Spirit is Jesus in His most natural state. In many ways, you could sum it up by saying if Jesus were a computer, prayer is His default setting. Where humanity takes a breath from the world to turn to God in prayer, Jesus was in perfect prayer and came to the world. I see further evidence of this in Romans 8:34 which says, “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died –more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” Jesus has chosen prayer as His heavenly ministry. Even in heaven He continues to lift us up. This leads into point two.
Jesus prayed for us as we read in John, and continues to pray (intercede) for us as we read in Romans, because He loves us. John 17:23&26 reads, “I in them and You in Me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. ..I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it know that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” As Christians, we belong to Christ. And as His own, we are loved dearly by Him. So beloved are we that Jesus died a horrible death so He could present us back to the Father, clothed in Himself. This is the most loving gift that can be given.
Lastly, Jesus prays for us because prayer is powerful. Jesus words are not platitudes, well wishes, or a good luck *thumbs up* for the road. What we have the privilege of reading in John 17 is the very word of God, spoken by God to God. This is the same God who has no beginning and no end, who spoke all creation into being, whom all our reality is anchored upon, and upon who everything derives its meaning, the LORD God All Mighty. When Jesus prays, you’d better believe this is going to happen and the reason it is going to happen is because God spoke it, and now it is reality! The prayers of Jesus become God’s eternal promise to all Christians and that is something to rejoice in.