by Dr. Randy Quackenbush
We learn a lot about discipleship through the prayers that Jesus prays for his disciples. One such prayer is found in John 17:6. Here are some reflections on this mighty prayer.
1. Jesus reveals the Father to his disciples (v6a). Salvation is only possible through revelation. It is fitting that Jesus begins his prayer for his disciples with this thought. The receiving of revelation is necessary for discipleship formation to begin. And, each step of the discipleship path is governed and possible only through fresh revelation. Jesus talks more about such revelation when He refers to the Word later in this prayer. I am thankful for the revelation of the Father through the Son.
2. Disciples are “given to Jesus” and “obedient to the Father’s Word” (v. 6b) Prior to his purchase of souls with the price of his blood, Jesus declares that his disciples are his. Disciples of Christ are not their own, but rather belong to Jesus. Disciples are redeemed from the penalty of sin. Given to Jesus, it stands to reason that disciples are obedient to the Father’s Word. The proof of discipleship lies in one’s obedience to God’s Word. Thus evidence of Christ’s ownership of our lives exists. Disciples are not saved through obedience. Rather, obedience is evidence of our salvation.
3. A disciple of Christ knows that everything comes from the Father (v.7). Jesus prays, “Everything you (the Father) has given me comes from you.” This is consistent with James 1:17 which tells us that “every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of lights.” As we interact with the Triune God, there is clarification in our thanksgiving as we realize that it is the Father that is the source of everything good and necessary for living.
4. A disciple relinquishes all to the Father only to gain all the Father has (v. 10a). What a marvelous thought! Often, teaching on discipleship focuses only on the former – the giving up of all we are. While surrendering all to the Father is vital to the Christian life, just as vital is the realization that “all you have is mine.” In faith, we tap into all that the Father is and has as we render believing prayer as children of God.
5. A disciple gives glory to Jesus (v. 10b). On the heels of saying we have access to all that the Father has, we are reminded that recipients of good and perfect gifts we are to rightly ascribe glory to Jesus as we thank the Father. Jesus is the broker of restored relationship between the Father and humankind. We eternally owe a great debt to Jesus for being the mediator who restored us and made such blessings possible.
6. Disciples are protected by the power of the name of the Father (v.11a). A disciple does not look to escape the world, but to be protected from the evil one (v.15). Protection comes by “the power of the name.” The name of God is powerful and mighty. Disciples long to sing of the name, revere the name and call on the name. (I recommend the song “At Your Name” recorded by Phil Wickham for your edification and worship.)
7. Disciples embrace unity; the stated reason for the aforementioned protection (v.11b). Jesus prayed, “Protect them by the power of your name, so they may be one.” Based on John 17:11, we surmise that the evil one schemes to bring division among disciples. We know that the disciples who walked with Jesus struggled at times in this regard. How much more prone are disciples who did not walk with Jesus (us!) to such attacks of the evil one. Jesus prayed for the Father to protect (cover, shield) his disciples so they may be one.
8. Disciples may experience the full measure of joy that Jesus had/has (v.13). Even though He faced the cross, He states that He had joy. Joy is not circumstantial, but transcends situations and trials. If such perpetual “Jesus joy” was not possible, why would Jesus have included this in his prayer?
9. Disciples are sanctified by truth. God’s Word is truth. (v. 17). We deduce, then, that immersion in the study of God’s Word is vital to a disciple’s sanctification process. Sanctification represents initial and ongoing righteousness. All truth is, in fact, God’s truth. The revelation of truth is contained in the Bible. It is the clearest and most profound revelation of truth.
10. Disciples are sent into the world (v.18). “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” Disciples are not cloistered together in four walls or closed relational circles. Disciples are empowered and released to be salt and light in the world. Disciples are on a mission. Disciples embrace the one life they have to live and live it to the full for Christ’s kingdom’s sake. Let us walk in the full armor of God and be strong (Eph 6) as witnesses and worshippers of the living God.
Dr. Randy Quackenbush is Executive Pastor/Worship Arts Pastor at Lakeview Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. Dr. Randy can be reached at Randyquackenbush@lakeviewchurch.org