Lesson Notes: John 17:6-19

Friends,

Here are lesson notes from John 17:6-19. You can also download them from box.net in MSWord format: John 17:6-19. These notes follow no particular order. They are random and rambling. They are kind of like a play by play as I read through the verses again and again and again picking up a bit here or a bit there, reworking the outline, letting the text saturate my mind and heart. There are only a couple of books consulted in these notes, Peterson and Wright. You can access another sermon I preached on this text here. Be blessed. And preach the Word.

Lectionary Notes
John 17:6-19, May 24, 2009

“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name–the name you gave me–so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

Some Random Observations

Jesus prayed so many words that night. And he prayed them in the company of the disciples. I assume that he did so because he wanted them to hear these words.

I think, as I read this, what stood out to me in these particular verses is the word ‘world.’ The word ‘world’ was introduced early on in the story of John’s Gospel.

JN 1:6 There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.

JN 1:10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God– 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

The word is used in nearly every chapter of the book of John’s Gospel, but it is concentrated 13 times in chapter 17, in the verses for today’s lesson (6-19), it is used 8 times. It was this particular concentration that intrigued me; so I looked again.

• Verse 6: Jesus made revelation to those God gave him out of the world.
• Verse 9: Jesus was not praying for the world.
• Verse 11: Jesus said “I will remain in the world no longer.”
• Verse 13: Jesus was speaking while he was still in the world.
• Verse 14: The world has hated the disciples.
• Verse 15: Jesus did not pray that God would take us out of the world.
• Verse 16: They are not of the world.
• Verse 18: Jesus was sent into the world and he sends them into the world.

The world continues to beat upon the disciples of Jesus. The world—and all it’s trappings—the world and all its death, here we are. He won’t take us out of the world—but does pray for our protection while we are in the world. We beg. We plead. We ask. We cry. And here we are; protected and all.

We are out of the world, and yet some of that world still remains in us. And he will not take us out of the world. NT Wright notes, “‘The world,’ remember, in this gospel doesn’t mean simply the physical universe as we know it. It means the world insofar as it has rebelled against God, has chosen darkness rather than light, and has organized itself to oppose the creator. See from within that ‘world’, Jesus is ‘from’ elsewhere. So, too, we now discover to our surprise, are the disciples. In other words, ‘the world’ in this dark sense is not the place, the force, the sphere, that determines who the disciples most truly are.” (John for Everyone, vol 2. 95).

Maybe an outline looks like this:

• Verses 6-10: Seem to focus on the Revelation given by Jesus to those possessed (or given to) by Jesus. (There’s emphasis on the word ‘give’ [6 & 7 & 8 & 9 and ending with ‘all I have is yours and all you have is mine’]).
• Verses 11-12: Seem to focus on Jesus leaving the world and the protection he knows we will need while we remain. (That protection comes via ‘the name’ [‘name’ appears three times in these two verses])
• Verses 13-19: Seem to focus on the necessity of our being made complete after Jesus has gone. He uses a special word here ‘sanctify.’ But I think also ‘full measure’ (of his joy).

So we are introduced to him by Jesus. We are protected by Jesus. We are sanctified by Jesus as the journey continues. Never, though, does he remove us from the world. He keeps us here in this place where all this happens. We are introduced to him here—in the world. We will continue need protection here in this world—by the power of His Name. We will be sanctified here in this world. It all happens here. He spares us no unpleasantry in this place. But he is deliberate enough to pray for our protection.

But it might also be important to just pay close attention to the prayer itself. That is, many prayers are prayed out of the hearing of listening ears. Not this one. This prayer is prayed. This prayer, prayed to the Father, is heard also by the disciples. Jesus’ prayer became in time our Scripture. His prayer became God’s Word to us. So Eugene Peterson writes, “The disciples are in the room, but they are no longer asking questions and making comments. They are listening to Jesus speaking with the Father. As Jesus’ followers, we are most definitely included as listening participants.” (Tell it Slant, 217)

So what do we hear Jesus saying in this prayer? I hear him saying: Most of what is going to go on in your life as a follower of me, as someone I pray for, is going to happen right here in this world, this world that hates you, and I am not going to take you out of it until that work is done. Paul wrote that he will not fail to complete in us what he started. Jesus is the author and perfector of our faith. I hear him preparing us for here. And yet, the action is decidedly Jesus’. Pay attention: I have revealed; I gave them words; I came from you; I pray for them; I am not pray; all I have is yours; I will remain; I am coming to you; I protected them; I am coming to you; I say these things; I have given them your word; I have sent them into the world; I sanctify myself; I am not of the world any more than they are. And perhaps more. Jesus takes all the burden upon himself. He initiates all the action. He culminates all the action.

So we have to listen to him praying for us. Maybe it is more important for us to listen to Jesus pray than it is for us to break down the words he did pray.

“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name–the name you gave me–so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

This is not the prayer of someone who believes he has lost control of the situation. This is the prayer of someone who knows what he is doing and where he is going. This is the prayer of someone who wants his listeners to know something about the world they are in, about the God who protects them, and about what it all means in the first place. Jesus is concerned that we do not get sucked back into that world from which were pulled to begin with. Jesus prays a prayer so that we understand exactly what we are up against and who is for us.

We should not think, however, that Jesus prayed this prayer once and then left us to our own made devices. Hebrews notes:

HEB 7:23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

Eugene Peterson writes:

“A major difficulty in taking this prayer to heart is that it doesn’t seem to have made much difference for twenty centuries now, and certainly doesn’t seem to be having much of an impact on Christians at the present. The Christian Church is famous worldwide for being contentious and mean-spirited, for using the words of Moses and Jesus as weapons to exclude and condemn. One of the identifying marks that Jesus gave his disciples is that ‘you have love for one another’ (John 13:35). But not many centuries had passed before outsiders were saying, ‘Look how they vilify one another!’ We kill with verbs and nouns, swords and guns, ‘Christians’ marching under the banner of the cross of Christ.” (Tell it Slant, 223)

There are a hundred different ways one could approach this text. It might be important to think about the context. In 13:1: “Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father.” Now here Jesus prays in 17:1: “Father, the hour has come.” He prays this prayer in the full knowledge of his own impending death. He prays this on the night of his betrayal. He prays this after he has washed feet. He prays these things so that we might have the full measure of joy within us.

Maybe it’s called the ‘prayer Jesus did not pray.’

• Verse 9: “I am not praying for the world.”
• Verse 15: “I am not praying that you take them out of the world.”

There are other negatives in these verses:

• Verse 11: “I will remain in the world no longer.”
• Verse 12: “None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction.”
• Verse 14: “For they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.”
• Verse 16: “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”

There’s the contrast between the Holy Father whom Jesus petitions to protect us and the evil one who seeks to do us harm. If he is praying for us, it must mean that we are in great danger. If we need the sort of protection that comes from God it must mean we are in the sort of trouble from which we cannot extricate or protect ourselves.

We have to listen to the things that Jesus prayed. What does Jesus say about those he prays for? They were yours; they know that everything given Jesus comes from God; they accepted his words; they knew with certainty where Jesus came from; they believed that God sent him; they are still in the world; so that they may be one; he prays so that they may have joy to full measure; they are not of the world; they are meant to be sanctified. They, then, are just as significant in this prayer as ‘I.’ They are the ones he prays for. They are the ones for whom these specific ‘goals’ are stated and prayed. He wants them to know what he prays for and what he does not pray for.

So the prayer he does pray and the prayer he doesn’t pray are equally significant.

But there might be one more part of this prayer and that is the ‘You.’ I have revealed you; those whom you; they were yours; you have them to me; they obeyed your word; everything you gave me comes from you; the words you gave me; I came from you; believed you sent me; those you gave me; they are yours; yours is mine, mine is yours; power of your name; name you gave me; I am coming to you; your word; not that you take them out of the world, but you protect them; your word is truth; you sent me.

So there is the pray-er (Jesus). There are those prayed for (‘they’). And there is the one prayed to (Father).

I want people to hear this prayer, so I plan on repeating the prayer at least 4 times in the course of the sermon. It is necessary for the congregation to hear what the Son of God had on his lips on the night he was betrayed, in that ‘hour.’ (17:1) There is all sorts of detail contained within the prayer itself that can be fleshed out, but I want to focus on the repetition in the prayer. Thus:

The action of Jesus: “I ______.”
The petition to the Father: “You________.”
The needs of the prayed for: “They/Them________.”
The place where we live and are prayed for: “The world________.”

And still the question remains: Why does Jesus leave us here? Why is he convinced that our perfection must take place in such hostility? Why is the world the place for us to be as we live and grow and learn and mature and are perfected? How can Jesus pray this prayer on the night of his betrayal, on the night of his trials, on the eve of his crucifixion—that is, if he knew he would face as much, how could he pray it knowing our lot would be no different? He deliberately leaves us here.

This should tell us something about this ‘here’ where we have been left.

Do we believe and trust that God will protect us? (11-12)
Do we understand this is all part of the sanctifying process? (19)
Do we believe with certainty even though the signs around us cause doubts? (8)
Are we going out as he has sent us? (18)
Do we believe and trust that all things are Jesus’ (7 & 10; much like Matthew 28:18-20, ‘all things, etc.’)?
Do we believe what he prayed even if we don’t happen to like it very much at all? (9, 13)
Do we trust that he is still praying for us? (Hebrews 7:25)
Do we believe that Scripture being fulfilled still matters as much now as it did then? If so, what has Jesus promised in Scripture for us? (12)
Do we listen to these words of Jesus with the expectation of being filled with the full measure of Joy? (13)
Do we understand why the world hates us? (14; because we have the Word of God)
Do we understand why he has left us in the world even though he has left the world? (15)

Remember, this prayer became Scripture for us. We are not just reading a prayer or even listening to a prayer, but we are listening to the Very Word of God, prayed on and remembered from the night of his betrayal, the eve of his crucifixion.

Finally, I notice that in verse 6 Jesus said he revealed God. In verse 7-8 we are told about their belief. Then we are told that we bring glory to Jesus 9-10. The point is that by the end of the prayer (11-19) he is saying that we are becoming like him. That is, the world hates him, and us; we are not of the world, neither is he; he is sanctified, so must we be. We become more and more and more like Jesus in our experience as we live in trust and obedience to the revelation we have received. If Jesus has revealed God the Father to us, and we have believed, then it is inevitable that our lives will take on the quality and character of that of Jesus. We become what we love. We become like Jesus.

So if we become like Jesus in our experience, do we also become like him in our prayer? It’s one thing to know that the ‘hour’ is upon us; it’s quite another thing to pray through that night.

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