Jesus' Final Hours Were Spent Praying for You


Today we’re going to visit a chapter that is often referred to as “The Holy of Holies” of the New Testament; John 17, the longest recorded intercessory prayer of Jesus. In this chapter, we get a behind-the-scenes, intimate glimpse of Jesus' personal prayer time with His Father. This time, He isn’t teaching us how to pray, or giving us an example, this is a peek into private, quiet prayer time between Father and Son. This is where Jesus, with full freedom of speech, brings His needs and desires before God. Isn’t it amazing to think about the fact that Jesus had desires and specific, important things on His mind that He wanted to bring to His Father? (And just wait until you hear what they were! We’ll get to that soon.)

It’s incredible to note that in the intercessory prayer of John 17, Jesus touches on every aspect of redemption. 

  1. Salvation (17:2) 

  2. Manifestation (17:6) 

  3. Representation (17:9) 

  4. Preservation (17:12)

  5. Sanctification (17:17-19)

  6. Identification (17:21)

  7. Glorification (17:22)

While we don’t know for certain when this prayer took place, we can see from Scripture that Jesus took this time to talk to His Father somewhere between the last supper with His disciples and when He entered Gethsemane. In fact, some even believe it took place on the way to the garden. Regardless of the precise timing, we can see that this prayer was said during some of Jesus' final hours here on earth. Things would have been intense and dark for Jesus at this time. We truly can’t even comprehend what He would have been facing and experiencing in His soul during these last moments of His life. And yet, He prayed. So this brings us to a really interesting question, what was Jesus praying about? The answer to this question is actually one we can know with certainty, because it is clearly laid out for us in Scripture. 

The answer is: YOU.

That’s right, in Jesus' final moments on this earth, before He would face an unthinkably tragic and horrific death for you, take your sin unto His perfect self, and for the first time ever be separated from His Father, YOU were on His mind. Jesus prayed for YOU. 

So, before we get started we need to note something that Jesus made clear and differentiated between as He began to pray, and that is that in this prayer He was not praying for everyone

I have revealed Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have followed Your word. Now they have come to know that everything which You have given Me is from You; for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me. I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but on the behalf of those whom You have given Me, because they are Yours; and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them. John 17:6-1

Here we see our High Priest praying for His own. Jesus makes a clear division stating that this prayer to His Father was not for the unbelieving world, but rather, for believers. Those who both heard and received the words God gave Jesus to say, who came to salvation through faith, and were then given by God to Jesus. Did you know that’s what happens when someone comes to faith? We are God’s gift to Jesus. How incredible is that?!

So let’s dive into John 17 and find out what Jesus said to His Father about you and what He wanted for you.


7 things Jesus prayed for you 


1. That God would guard and protect you

I am no longer going to be in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, so that they may be one just as We are. While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name, which You have given Me; and I guarded them, and not one of them perished except the son of destruction, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled. John 17:11-12

Jesus' time on this earth was almost fulfilled and He knew that He would soon be reuniting with His Father in heaven, but that His disciples and followers, the ones both then and to come, would remain here on earth. He took this moment to commit you into His Father’s hands for safekeeping, asking His Father to not only protect you, but that through the power of Jesus’ name you would experience the same unity that He and His Father shared. 


2. That you would experience His joy

But now I am coming to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. John 17:13

Jesus wants you to have joy, and not only in eternity. He desired that you would carry His joy within you now. He wanted that so much for you, in fact, that in His final hours, He asked His Father to give the same joy He experienced, His very joy, to you. 


3. That God would keep you from the evil one

I am not asking You to take them out of the world, but to keep them away from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. John 17:15-16

This is an interesting one to me because it starts with Jesus clarifying what He’s not asking! He wasn’t asking God to remove you from the world. There is purpose for you here, you are called to be in the world but not of it, you are called to a life set apart. Jesus knew what you would face in life and He took this moment to ask His Father to protect you from all evil. 


4. That God would sanctify you in truth

Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. Just as You sent Me into the world, I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, so that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. John 17:17-19

It is only through the truth of God, His Word, the Holy Bible, that you will experience sanctification. Jesus lived by His Father's truth alone and He tells us here that He sanctified Himself. He made that choice, for us, in order that we too would be sanctified.


5. That you would experience unity and union

I am not asking on behalf of these alone, but also for those who believe in Me through their word, that they may all be one; just as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I also have given to them, so that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and You loved them, just as You loved Me. John 17:20-23

In these verses, Jesus asks 2 things for you that sound similar but in fact, are very different. First, He asked for unity among believers. Jesus wanted us to experience unity in Him as brothers and sisters. Secondly, He asked that you would experience the same union with God that He Himself had. He says that He shared with us the glory that His Father had given to Him for the purpose of us being one with God, just like He and His Father were. He proclaims the outcome of praying this perfect unity for us is so that the world will see and know that His Father sent Him, and that God loves His children, just as He loves Jesus. I don’t know about you, but it’s quite humbling to think that God loves me just like He loved His precious Son.


6. That we would be with Jesus

Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. John 17:24

Jesus wants you to be with Him. I don’t know if we will ever fully understand how deeply we are loved by Him, how valuable we are to Him, or how much He desires to be near us both now and forever. While Jesus was praying here, His death was imminent and in the shadows of the not-too-distant future, He knew the Holy Spirit would soon be indwelling those whom God had, and would, give to Him. He was about to restore fellowship in a way no one could have imagined. You would be able to be with Him, and He with you, in a brand new inseparable way. 

And as if that’s not wonderful enough, in John 14:2, Jesus says that He has gone to prepare a place for you. Your bridegroom is preparing for your arrival where you will finally, once and for all, reside together with Him, right where He so passionately desires you to be for all eternity.


7. That God’s love and Jesus’ life would be in you

Righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them. John 17:25-26

Jesus' death brought about His resurrection which brought about total and complete redemption for all of humanity. Jesus knew how the story would end and yet He prayed for what was predestined to become reality. God was about to be reunited with His children, our separation would be over. In addition to that, every part of Jesus, all that He was and had, was about to enter into each child of God. And Jesus wanted that for us. He sought His Father and asked this for us specifically. As Colossians 3:3 says that you are hidden with Christ in God.


As we read through these verses we see what Jesus wanted for us. In fact, maybe like me, these are all the things you pray for yourself too and that desire is good and holy and pure because it lines up perfectly with Jesus’ desire for you too! In these verses, we also see a picture of what and how Jesus wanted us to live here on earth. He was leaving and He laid out a beautiful picture of how we should continue on in His place.


7 things the life of Jesus shows us to do

  1. Share God’s Word with others (17:8)
  2. Enter into His joy, the joy of fellowship with the Father (17:13)
  3. Live set apart, being in the world but not of it (17:16)
  4. Take God into the world with us daily (17:18)
  5. Know the truth of God’s Word so we can be sanctified (17:19)
  6. Know the glory of God through Jesus so we can be one with the Father (17:22)
  7. Know and experience the love of God and then share it with others (17:26)

It absolutely amazes me that leading up to the darkest times of Christ’s life, I was on His mind, and not just that, but He took time, His final allotments of time, and used them to bring me before God. And just when you think that it can’t get even more mind-boggling than that, it keeps getting more beautiful because we are still on His mind. You see, Jesus’ priesthood was different from all the other high priests because death prevented a high priest’s priesthood from continuing. But not so with Jesus:   

Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Hebrews 7:24

So, do you know what Jesus is doing now, what He’s done since He entered heaven? We find the answer to this in the book of Hebrews, where it tells us:

Therefore He is also able to save forever those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25

Jesus lives to make intercession for YOU. He prayed for you before you were even born and He continues to bring you before His Father, lifting you up in prayer, interceding for YOU.

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