Jesus prays for us and prayed for us before he was crucified. We know he prayed the simple but difficult words of “Not my will but yours be done.” We know how he was so anxious about what was to come, he sweated drops of blood. This is very important to remember because it was here where Jesus made the decision to go through the betrayal, arrest, beatings, and crucifixion.
However, there is a beautiful prayer tucked in the book of John that Jesus prayers for us. Yes, us. You and me. This prayer was prayed after the last teachings Jesus taught the disciples on Maundy Thursday right before he entered the Garden.
Jesus was already nervous. He knew what lied ahead. However, he prays for all believers. He first prays for his twelve disciples and then he prays for us and all believers. John 17 is where this prayer is found.
Jesus begins the prayer by declaring he is the glorification of the Father here on earth. He accomplished all God had asked him to do. He knows his death and resurrection to follow was how he will be glorified just like he was before the world began.
He continues by praying for his disciples. He share how he taught them, giving them the words God have him. He reminds God how he watched over them. He gave them everything he had. He shared communion with them not just in the upper room but in his teachings and daily relationships with them.
In verse 11, Jesus said, “And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.”
Jesus prayed for his friends despite how anxious he felt. He prayed for them even before he prayed for himself in the Garden! Jesus wanted his disciples to be united as one. He knew he was longer going to be with them. As we see later before Jesus appears to the disciples after the resurrection, several of them went back to their earlier professions, such as fishing. God did answer Jesus’ prayer as they were united as one in the upper room waiting for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus taught the disciples so much. He knew that the world hated him and because the disciples were with him, they were hated as well. Jesus knew the trials and sorrows they were to race ahead. He asks God to no take them out of this world but sanctify them (make them pure and holy). Jesus was going to send them out into the world to tell the world the good news. Jesus asked God to sanctify them before and as they went out. They had to be holy as Christ is holy. This holiness would separate them from the world but also empower them as Christ would live within them through the power of the Holy Spirit (see Romans 8:11).
Then Jesus prayed for us. He prayed for all who would come to know him since his resurrection and Pentecost. He prayed for unity for us as he did for the disciples. He prayed we would be one so the world would see Christ in us and would come to know him as their Lord and Saviour. He asked God to give us his glory (his Spirit living within us).
In the mist of all that Jesus went through, he not only prayed for his disciples, he prayed for us. Jesus always put others before himself. Jesus death and resurrection was for our salvation. He loves us so much he prayed for us before his betrayal and the rest of the events of that Holy Weekend.
I am personally humbled that Jesus prayed for me. I am grateful for his unselfish love. What an example for all of us. I am amazed that even in the midst of the most anxious, terrifying, and sad moments, Jesus loved you and I so much he prayed for us. And, he continues to intercede on our behalf on a daily basis. “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25 ESV).
Be assured, we are so loved Jesus prayed for us and continues to do so. We are never alone. Christ is always with us, praying for us. What an assurance! No matter what we go through in our lives, Jesus knows, he cares, and he prays. He is our example for praying without ceasing.