In the chapter preceding His prayer, Jesus gave His final instructions: the world was going to hate and reject them for keeping God’s word; their Helper, the Holy Spirit, was coming to guide them; they were going to experience trials in the world, yet they were to take heart in the truth that Jesus had overcome the world. All of these final instructions were then sealed by Jesus’ prayer, first for Himself, then for His disciples.
Each of the three major elements in Jesus’ prayer for His disciples was important to their future ministry. Without coming under the guardianship of God, without unity, and without protection from the enemy, the effectiveness of the message of the gospel would be dangerously compromised. It was for this reason that Jesus prayed for his twelve disciples.
In this part of the series on Jesus’ Prayer for His Disciples, the focus will be on the guardianship of God over the twelve disciples. Out of these three things, first and foremost they needed to be certain to whom they belonged. In John 17:9-10 is recorded the first part of Jesus’ prayer: “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them.”
In these few verses, Jesus reveals that a great part of His mission had been accomplished: the twelve disciples were now fully ready to fulfill their destiny. Certainly, Jesus came to offer His life as a sacrifice to take away the sins of the world, and to break the power of death and the grave through His resurrection. But the disciples were to play a key role in bringing this hope of salvation to the world. Without them, Jesus’ sacrifice would have availed nothing.
These few verses hold incredible truths to which even Christians today can cling. The first is that the disciples belonged to God. And God had given them to Jesus, entrusting their discipleship to Him. Out of obedience, Jesus spoke the words of the Father to the disciples, teaching them the ways of the kingdom of Heaven. During His entire ministry, Jesus displayed God’s character through His works and words. The disciples in turn accepted these words from God, believing that Jesus had been sent by God. And it was to the glorification of the Son that these men believed.